A True Meaning of Hospitality

Yesterday I went to the house of one of the refugee girls, who I am working with, to speak to her parents.  Her dad is Ethiopian and her mom is Eritrean.  I originally went to make plans as to what time I will pick up Rivkah each morning, but I ended up staying for much longer…

…They live in a TINY 2 room apartment, all 6 of them.  There are 4 children, all under the age of 10.  Rivkah is the 2nd oldest at 7. She has an older brother, 10 yrs old, a younger one, 4 yr. old and a 6 month old baby sister.  And they all live in that 2 room apartment.

One room consists of 2 beds and a couch with a couple plastic chairs while the other has 2 more beds, leading into the kitchen (which is technically the same room).  There is a ridiculously small bathroom, which they all must share. There is no art on the walls, no decorations brightening the place, and certainly no “extras” as we all tend to have in our lives. They are all ‘refugee status’, but haven’t been given work visas yet.  This is the main concern of her dad, as he cannot provide for his family.  Looking around, my heart is breaking, but I must remain positive for them all.  They are beyond poor, not even having diapers for the baby.

YET, the first thing Rivkah’s mom did when I entered her place was offer me coffee.  She barely has enough food in the house to feed her 4 children, but she is concerned about my well-being and me feeling welcomed.  At this point I was almost in tears, thinking about this gesture of hospitality.

As I left their humble abode, I will admit I felt ashamed, angry, and sad. Ashamed for all the times I complained about where I live, what I don’t have, and how difficult life can be. Angry at how society perceives the African Refugees in Israel and how they are treated on a daily basis. And Sad because of the situation, not only that they were in, but for the other 20,000+ families who were in the same boat.

What I walked away with yesterday was this: It doesn’t matter how much you have or don’t have.  It doesn’t matter how much money is in your pocket or in your bank account.  It’s not about what car you drive or the size of your house.

It’s all about how you treat others.  Years from now the details of their apartment will probably be forgotten, but I will never forget how I was treated and welcomed by them.

A lesson I need to constantly remind myself of….

About Maureen Hochdorf

Writer. Editor. High Techi. Non-Profit Founder. Traveler. Sports Lover. Star Wars Fanatic. Tel Aviver. Michigander.... View all posts by Maureen Hochdorf

13 responses to “A True Meaning of Hospitality

  • kim

    your heart, love it! God’s heart and soveriegnty, how can we grasp it? Oh, how honored we are to simply be a part of His doings. Can’t wait to get there to meet Rifka, her sweet family and many others.

    and you, my friend … Keep shining! as you do so “brightly” He is using you to bring “refuge”, comfort and HOPE to many 😉

  • kim

    ooops, sorry for the name mis-spelling “Rivkah”

  • JamesBrett

    i am constantly given wonderful meals in the homes of tanzanians. meals of meat, which is harder to come by, and plenty, which is not the norm. i often feel ashamed and sad, humbled by their hospitality.

    i’ve tried lately, though, to add to my feelings happiness and joy. happiness that i’m able to bless these homes by being a guest (having visitors is at the top of the list of blessings here) and joy at being able to share this time with others in my community.

    mo, may you be a blessing to those who invite you into their homes. may your visits bring glory to God.

  • Joseph

    WOW WOW WOW….What a great stinking reminder and super timely for me.

    I have been complaining about my career a ton lately and how unhappy I am especially with all my travel and being away from family.

    The thing we never worry about is money, food, clothing, housing etc…but yet I whine about stupid things.

    Dang are we blessed or what!

    And yes, it truly is 100% about how you treat others…simple as that.

  • Kim

    Thank you for a reminder in what hospitality should mean.

  • @ngie

    you are a beautiful soul, Maureen.

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