African Hospitality

Profoundly humbled, welcomed, and loved by a family I’ve never before met

As we drive home from the airport, Goreth and her husband, Evariste, tell me the miraculous story about how this vehicle found its way into their lives just a few months prior. Along the way, we stop to pick up their two middle daughters, Ula (10) and Leila (9), from a wedding rehearsal. Huddled behind me in the back seat, the giggling girls alternate touching my muzungu skin and hair.

On the edge of the slums

Continuing the journey home, Goreth and Evariste warn me about their house, which straddles the border of the slums. Evariste prays as we drive through the crowded, noisy alleys.

He prays for my safety and theirs as well.
He thanks me for choosing to come here and for the sacrifices I have made.
He prays that God might bless me richly for abandoning the comforts of life in America.

Arriving at their home, three smiling faces are peering over the edge of the porch: Eko (6), Duncan (5), and Keifer (3).

The Master Bedroom

Walking up to the house, I am shown directly to the room where I’ll be staying for the next several weeks. It is sparse, but beautiful. Perhaps it is their generosity which makes it even more beautiful. There is a clean double bed with two pillows. The walls are bare except for a light switch; the concrete floor is covered by a small throw-rug. The only other furnishings are a small table and chair as well as a beautifully woven basket where I might stow my dirty clothes.

Handing me a set of keys, Goreth shows me the bathroom just down the hall from my room. It is strictly mine. Although I’m not looking forward to bucket baths again, I am thankful for the proximity of a toilet given the instability of my stomach. The rest of the family, I am informed, will be sharing the other washroom…which is outside.

This place is bursting at the seams

This small and modest home has just 7 total rooms, 4 of which are bedrooms. In addition to the five children mentioned above, Goreth and Evariste have one adopted child, Sifa (17). They have also opened their home a nephew, Theo, and the ill sister of an Amahoro woman. Not to mention, their youngest son, Keifer, is autistic.

Here’s what I’m thinking:

I don’t know how Goreth does it.
I don’t know how I’m going to do it.
My heart aches.

Together we share a traditional Burundian meal: peas, carrots, ugali, meat and sauce. Then came the highlight of my day. All six children, in addition to the other guests, gather round the table for songs, prayers, and an evening devotion.

A costly gift

Overall, their place is much simpler than I anticipated, yet their lives are more exuberant than I could’ve imagined. I am pained to think of the sacrifices which this family is making in order to accommodate me. Maybe poverty is not as I once thought. Here the poor are rich because of an inexpressible joy filling this home. I can’t wait to experience more of their joy in the days to come.

Laying in bed that evening, I realize that’s what Christ did for me. He gave up the best, most luxurious room in His Father’s house, sacrificing what was rightfully His so that I might have an inheritance. That was his gift to me.

Oh, that I might demonstrate this same type of extravagant and generous giving…


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