While preparing my heart for Ethiopia, I knew my heart was going to break. I knew I was going to see things I’d never seen before. I knew we were going to see poverty firsthand. I knew the homes would be small and the possessions minimal.
After meeting Sendu and her siblings the morning we arrived at the Child Development Center, I was excited about meeting her mama and visiting her home that afternoon.
In anticipation for the visit, I tried to prepare my heart for what her home was going to be like.
There really is no way I could have prepared my heart fully for the home.
We arrived and walked into a courtyard area and were led to Sendu’s home where her mama was in the doorway waiting to greet us.
I was immediately shocked and my heart broke.
The mud house, their home, home for a family of 5, was smaller than anything I could have imagined. It looked like a playhouse and was about the size of a king size bed.
There was a small table in one corner, a few blankets on the floor for a bed, a bench along the wall and a stool beside the door.
We were warmly greeted by Sendu’s mama who invited us in. I sat on a small bench against the wall and in that moment wanted to weep. But, how could I start crying at that moment just by the sight of their home? I fought back the tears that were brimming so we could visit with her mama.
Then Sendu’s mama invited in Paul and Amanda (a couple from our church), Leah (our Compassion trip leader) and Facil (our translator).
Paul, Amanda and I sat on the blankets in the floor with Sendu. John David sat on the bench beside the door. Leah and Facil sat on the long bench and Sendu’s mama sat on a stool beside the table.
There were 8 of us in that teeny home.
We told her how happy we were to meet her, to finally meet Sendu and how sweet all of her children are. We showed her pictures of our boys and gave her a gift of kitchen towels and wooden spoons.
After she received our gifts, she passed around a bowl and pitcher of water for us to wash our hands.
Then we were offered coffee, bread, potatoes, popcorn and corn.
And, in that moment, I understood more about hospitality and generosity than I ever had in my life.
This woman has virtually nothing and lives with her 4 children in a home that is much smaller than any room in my house. Yet she offered us an array of foods and welcomed 6 people into her home.
I’ve often made an excuse for not having more than one couple over because our home is too ‘small’. Our dining room is not very large and our table ‘only’ sits 6. If she can fit 8 people in a house that small, I can fit many more than that in my home! Hospitality is not about impressing people with a big house, nice things and fancy food, it’s about warmly greeting and lovingly welcoming them into your home.
We prayed with Sendu and her mama, took a few pictures with their family and said our goodbyes.
As I climbed back on our bus, my heart was heavy, shocked and burdened by the fact that 5 people live in a home so small. More importantly, my heart was touched by the hospitality and generosity and so inspired by this precious mama.
This home visit is a moment in my life that I will forever remember.