Hospitality on the Mission Field

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Living in a foreign country and serving as a missionary can challenge you as well as bless as you learn new perspectives on life. One particular area where I feel I have been both challenged and blessed is in the area of hospitality. In the US, especially in the South where I grew up, I never felt like we lacked the virtue of hospitality, but as I have lived in Peru, I have noticed that life here is much less private than the life we live oftentimes in the United States. This can be a good thing and a bad thing, but I have learned to appreciate the constant flow of visitors in and out of our home. Part of this comes just from being displaced from my home country and having friends and family down for visits, but it also is a part of the culture here. Sharing meals together and just stopping by for a visit are integral parts of the community life in Cusco. Rather than mailing an invitation to a wedding or birthday party, it is delivered to you in person to your home. Most people here still prefer to have conversations in person rather than on the phone or by email. And with any visit, however spontaneous it might be, you can expect to share in conversation for anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours, as well as share a snack or a meal, or at the very least, a cup of mate (herbal tea). In the beginning of our time here, I must confess that these spontaneous visits often annoyed me and I usually had to fight the urge to just not answer the door. But the longer I live here, the more I try and make the decision to not worry so much about the state of my living room or kitchen – or constantly watch the clock and think about the other things I had planned to do – and just enjoy the company. We also regularly try to host friends from the church and other friends here for meals here at our house, and while it is difficult sometimes to manage the cooking and cleaning as well as caring for Cole and the twins, I always feel encouraged by these visits afterwords and it is always worth the effort. It’s hard sometimes to break out of our comfort zones and let people into our homes and private lives, but I have found that it really helps us to build better relationships with others when we share in our lives in this way.

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