This article was originally published in the World Orphans Fall Insight Magazine 2018

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.

—1 Peter 4:8-9 (ESV)

Dear friend,

As you may know, Guatemala, according to The World Factbook, a CIA resource, “is a predominantly poor country that struggles in several areas of health and development, including infant, child, and maternal mortality, malnutrition, literacy, and contraceptive awareness and use.”

Guatemalans, myself included, are not surprised by this information, and much of these challenging facts are apparent to people who visit the country, too. Despite the seemingly insurmountable statistics, I want you to know that Guatemala is still a country comprised of friendly people who are welcoming to strangers. As you travel throughout the country, you will encounter people who will gladly lend you a hand, help you maneuver out of a tight parking spot, or even temporarily stop traffic for you. The words, “Buen Provecho,” meaning ‘May this meal set well with you,’ or “Buenas Tardes,” meaning ‘Good afternoon,’ will greet you as you enter a restaurant.

If you visit someone’s home, you will most likely be welcomed in with warm hospitality, regardless of your social class. Drinks and food will be offered to you. In Guatemala, we rarely visit with people quickly; instead, we take our time to relationally engage with one another, placing a high value on quality time. Thus, if you go to someone’s home, make yourself comfortable and plan to sip your coffee slowly. 

Guatemala is deeply hospitable. If you ever travel to Guatemala to visit us, we will welcome you into our churches, our homes, and any other social gathering on our calendars; however, we will also ask you to share a few words with us. Yes, we will put you on the spot, but we hope that you will relax, tell us about yourself, and give us the opportunity to get to know you better. We desire to include you—to have you laugh with us, cry with us, and pray with us. As a relational culture, we will be deeply impacted by these experiences with you, and we will treasure them in our hearts. 

What does hospitality mean to you in your culture? Perhaps, when you think of hospitality, you envision others serving you. We often think of ourselves as the recipient. But when was the last time you offered someone else hospitality, whether in the form of a greeting in your neighborhood or church or by welcoming people into your home?

I encourage you to make time in your busy schedule to invite someone into your home, offering him some encouragement. Remember just how important relationships are to each of us. You don’t have to wait for someone to invite you to their home first. Choose today to notice the people around you, engage with them, and intentionally love others through your hospitality. 

Sincerely,  Jose