The Culture of Hospitality

A Letter from Kay Day, serving in Rwanda

February 2020

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Dear Family and Friends,

Greetings from Rwanda. One of the joys of living here is becoming part of the culture. Two of the hallmarks of African and particularly Rwandan culture are hospitality and community. When those two come together, you know the delight of African life. I had that experience in early January. I was scheduled to teach at our Karongi campus. This is a “satellite” of the Protestant Institute of Arts and Social Sciences (PIASS) Huye campus, about three hours’ drive from the main campus, in the western mountains, so I would stay there all week. The campus has been operating for five years, but the first four were in rented space. This new school year, classes were moved to a new building constructed by PIASS. It is modern and well equipped with various sized classrooms, a computer lab and reliable internet connection, about four miles from the former campus site.

Karongi students

Karongi students

The challenge is that the house the school has provided for the visiting faculty is near the former campus. I was told that a motorcycle “taxi” was the most reasonable way to get to the new location. I am comfortable with riding on the back of a “moto,” as they are called, since that is how I travel around Huye, but Rwandan hospitality kicked in. The administrator decided that it just wasn’t hospitable for me to ride a moto. I needed something more comfortable. He arranged for one of the theology students, who owns a car, to provide daily transportation for me. The house PIASS has in Karongi sits on the side of a hill with no easy road access. So, I had to walk about a quarter of a mile to the wider road to meet the car. But, again, hospitality entered. Emmanuel, a delightful young man who cooks and cares for the house, insisted that he walk with me and carry my backpack since the road is steep and muddy from the daily rains and there are three narrow log bridges that must be crossed. Every morning, Emmanuel escorted me to the car and every evening my student-driver escorted me up the hill to the house.

Then community emerged. The first morning was the only time the driver and I traveled together without any other passengers. Since several of the students were staying between the house and the campus we, naturally, collected them as we drove to the school in the morning and then dropped them off as we returned in the evening. This was a time of informal chatting and catching up with one another’s lives, of seeing one another as part of a larger community rather than just part of the classroom.

Emmanuel fixing lunch

Emmanuel fixing lunch

Lunchtime was an expression of these cultural traditions as well. Since I was teaching mornings and afternoons, every day Emmanuel cooked at the house, packed the food in thermal bowls and, via moto, brought lunch to the campus for me. But I couldn’t eat alone. Community culture and hospitality dictated that the other staff on site had to join me. It was a great way to get to know folks I wouldn’t otherwise have gotten to know and to build a sense of community between the PIASS campuses. Hospitality and community merged to give me a delightful week in Karongi.

As I prepare to come to the States in April for three months, I am looking forward to broadening the sense of community as I share, with many of you, what God is doing in Rwanda and enjoying American hospitality together. Many of you have already contacted me about coming to your churches, but there are still a few Sundays available for me to visit with others of you. I am also eager for more informal meetings with small groups during the week, with Bible study groups, mission committees, or mid-week gatherings. This is a way of saying thank you in person for your faithful support of me and the ministry here in Rwanda. I could not be here without you. I am eager to thank you in person because I am so grateful for your partnering with me. I look forward to hearing from you.

Blessings in Christ,

Kay (Cathie to the family)

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