I may miss things from my old life from time to time. Ready-made tortilla chips. A hot bubble bath. Old friends. But what I’m missing right now is church. Going to church had been a weekly habit pretty much my entire life. I realize that neither the building nor the act of showing up defines my faith and that some people are perfectly content in their spirituality without it. I’m not one of those people.
I miss it deeply. I have even felt a longing that only days later I pinpointed as church. I miss the routine and familiarity. I miss the warm community of people, brought together and connected. And oh how I miss the singing. Our Easter sing-a-long helped a little.
To quench this thirst, from time and time Isaiah and I listen to the services from my childhood church. You can too, if you’re interested (lower left sidebar). The other day I listened to Uncommon Expressions of Gratitude, which was based on Romans 12 and focused on hospitality.
The idea is that by extending pure hospitality to all those around us, we are playing our part in bringing peace to the world.
It got me thinking about the hospitality Isaiah and I have been offered here in Paraguay. Our host family took us in as children during our 10 weeks of training. I think back on that time and how much I struggled and struggled with getting my thoughts out of my head and into my slowly developing Spanish. Yet, the family was patient and loving and quite a lot of fun as one way I can bring a little more peace to the world.
They were hospitable to us and our fellow volunteers, offering up their house, their wi-fi and their time.
Upon arrival in our town, people were genuinely excited to get to know us. We were welcomed to join the soup kitchen steering committee and participate in the activities there.
People invited us over for meals or terere or just asked how we were doing when we passed on the street or saw them downtown. Their patience with my language skills or foreign accent, especially when most friendly conversations take place in Guaraní, not Spanish, is impressive and their desire to explain and invite us to share in their traditions and special events is sweet, generous, and fun.
Words about God holding out opportunities in our daily lives for us to offer hospitality to whoever is right in front of us jumped out of the recorded sermon and stuck with me. She says that the “moving spirit of Jesus calls us from our complacent routines” to genuinely offer love and uncommon expressions of gratitude through acts of hospitality.
The Paraguayan community we’ve been a part of for nearly two years has demonstrated this genuine hospitality to us. For that I am very grateful. It’s filled our time here richly. As we head into our last months among this community, I hope I can continue soaking that up. Not just so I feel loved, but so I can carry their spirit of hospitality with me and offer it to others throughout my life.