When we first moved to Kenya, we often talked about our longing for community and to be reunited with friends and family. So, hosting a couple of family members this past year as well as welcoming a couple of our closest friends and fellow church members to Kenya were pure joy. After hosting a few different people, I think we are starting to pick up on the gift of hospitality that Kenyans have naturally and innately carried for generations.
In fact, we recently hosted someone that Jeremy had only met in person one time. A couple of years ago, it might have seemed unusual to welcome someone we knew to the extent we know Kyle. However, he’s been following our journey since we before we moved, and he’s been consistently keeping in touch, slowly building relationship with us and showing us his intent on truly caring for our mission. Even though he was only here for the weekend and we all had to deal with a sick child, his presence ministered to us as I’m sure it did for him. God can use Phase 10 (the card game) as a ministry tool, right?
In their meek way, Kenyans hold true to Paul’s instruction for the Romans: “welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Romans 15:7, ESV). They just love visitors, especially wazungu from America. They seem to really and fully appreciate guests as made evident in their universal, hospitable attitude. Furthermore, honor takes on a completely different meaning here than it does in the States. For us, we will be seated in front of the entire class, we are usually welcome to preach if we are visiting a church, and it often takes quite a few minutes to introduce us before a Youth Venture club can begin. No matter the circumstance we get a sort of special treatment, being held in high honor for taking a couple of hours from our day just to make an appearance.
Sometimes our Western need to get things done in an efficient and practical manner can look at such formalities with impatience; we have seen this in ourselves and in others. However, over the past year of living here we have come to appreciate this particular africanism. Kenyans are onto something that we Westerns could more readily adopt. Aside from a biblical command to have a welcoming attitude towards the sojourner as well as our brothers and sisters, visitors can give us something more valuable than we could ever repay as decent hosts; they fill our hearts. The least we can do is unconditionally honor and enjoy their presence without feeling like we need to be somewhere else.