Trip Start Mar 04, 2007
34Trip End Jun 15, 2007
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In the Arabic culture, hospitality is central to their life. Think of the Bible stories of Abraham offering hospitality to those traveling by. Think of the central role hospitality plays in our understanding of God and how to be a loving presence in our world.
A few nights ago, I was welcomed back by the family I stayed with in 2005. It was as if I was a returning family member. Tea and food, laughter and joy began our time together. After catching up and noting how tall the boys had grown, we went to another apartment to meet other family members. The wife is expecting a new son in several days but still gave me two wall hangings of Biblical sites and an embroidered cloth that says "Home Sweet Home" in English. As I toured her home, I saw outstanding embroidery pieces framed in copper hanging on almost every wall. Here was a woman who spoke no English but was giving of items she had in her home to welcome me.
The guards at the Ramallah Friends School too are taking special care of me. Yesterday, Mohammad sent a panhandler on his way and then offered to bring me Arabic coffee tomorrow. I was returning from the vegetable market where a vender would not accept payment for the fesh tomatoes I was buying, and just kept saying "Welcome! Welcome!"
Today, I stopped by the pharmacy across the street from the school. She gave me a discount on my purchase even before I had a chance to visit and tell her where I was staying. Her reply was that she had seen me walking by and knew we were neighbors; since we are neighbors, I received a discount.
This hospitality is something I don't see in the American culture. We might not even know our neighbors by sight and may not stop and spend time visiting if we do see them. We are so busy we don't notice the visitor or the person who needs an encouraging word. We have much to learn from other people about taking the time to care for others and offer hospitality.