One of the reasons we chose Ridley was its size – big enough to have a diverse student cohort and small enough to have access to the lecturers. Tonight we had dinner with one of our lecturers and his family. The kind of hospitality they showed us was very instructive for me. Here are a few highlights:
- There was no fanfare. One thing that can make me feel uncomfortable as a visitor is walking into a pristine home where everything is organised – such preparation makes me a little nervous. But as we walked into this house, we stepped over toys and dinner was still being negotiated with the children. They knew we were coming and we were warmly welcomed, but there just wasn’t a lot of fuss. There was something familiar about it.
- We were included in the normal routines, such as helping the girls with their Advent activities for the evening. Again, we didn’t feel like intruders into their family life, but like we were embraced into it. The girls were excited to have us helping them and we felt privileged to be involved in such a special activity.
- The overall atmosphere of the house was stable. There were clear boundaries for the children. Of course they’re not angels, but they were bright, confident and affectionate and I take it that’s because their home is a low-stress environment where they know what the expectations are. There was an air of peace and agreeableness between the parents. The kind of harmony we observed is hard to foster but when it’s there, it’s super appealing!
- The overall atmosphere was fun! Sure, there were moments of serious adult conversation, but from chatting with the girls to playing boardgames with the parents after dinner, the evening avoided the intensity and seriousness of some adult relationships. We observed both adults to have a childlike twinkle about them which made them great hosts.
As I think about the ministry years ahead, and in particular, the opportunities for hospitality that they may bring, I hope that we’ll be able to offer a similar feeling of including others as part of our family for an evening. And I hope that like tonight, it won’t come across as a big deal. For Christians, I hope it’ll be natural and fun, because we know we’re already family anyway. And I hope that for those who aren’t Christians, it will demonstrate the community of Jesus, and that they’ll want that too!
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.