Lessons in Hospitality

Wow. I find myself thinking that the time is going a reasonable pace, that maybe the semester won't fly by, and then I wake up and realize that we are past the two month mark already.

How can I begin to touch upon all I have learned in these two months? From learning some of the Maori culture and language, the indigenous tribe in New Zealand, to in depth spiritual discussion of nature and our role in the world, to feeding baby lambs and cows get milked on a dairy farm-- there are too many stories.

It's strange, because I am getting so used to the little cultural differences of New Zealand that I hardly notice them anymore. I separate my food in the compost bins without thinking, hop on a bike into town, and have even begun practicing asking the important questions concerning where my food, clothing, and souvenirs are coming from.

But it is still remarkable the amount of hospitality that is continually shown to me and other Americans. On the last day of my weeklong trip my friends and I realized that we didn't have a place to sleep that last night, because due to unseen circumstances all the hostels in Christchurch were booked. We all began to panic, but the lovely lady we were staying with simply mentioned, "My cousin might be able to host you girls for the night."Five minutes later after a quick phone call she told us that we had the okay to stay, but that this was the family who had recently lost a young mother, the woman's daughter, a few weeks ago. My friends and I were shocked that this family had agreed to us staying there so last minute, and a little worried.
Yet from the moment we walked into the house we were shown such grandmotherly affection: homemade food and warm drinks, a shower, a room complete with mattress and blankets and pillows, a washing machine and drying machine, and even plans for our Saturday night! She drove us into the city to enjoy FESTA, a celebration of creative architectural art pieces, with lots of lights, music, and good food. And when we returned we were able to just sit and talk, about life, the world, even church. And even though we stayed up talking till midnight, she was still willing to drive us to our bus stop at 6:30am the next morning.

It is convicting to me, because I was so blessed by this woman that not only is not a professed Christian, but also has just suffered a tragic loss. Yet she still was able to extend hospitality and more towards us, three strangers who she may never see again, except perhaps to enjoy some more hospitality on future adventures. She blessed me beyond what I could have imagined, and even when I didn't think to ask for it.

If anything, I want to bring back such hospitality to the States, to my future homes and communities. It won't be easy; I can't imagine it was easy for her to host us. But the sacrifice was such a blessing, more than she could ever know.


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