Thursday, February 25, 2016

Reflection: Meeting Mac At Lake Floyd

During summer 2014, while enjoying the annual fourth of July celebration at Lake Floyd with Jamie and her family, I had the pleasure of meeting Jamie’s parent’s new neighbor, Mac. Mac is a business professor at FairmontState University, and is originally from Liberia, a country on the west coast of the continent of Africa. Liberia has gone through some incredibly challenging times in recent news including incidents of Ebola, a leader who was tried by the International Criminal Court, and uprisings and civil wars initiated by militia groups.

Les, Jamie’s dad, invited Mac over to hang out for the afternoon and have a meal with the family. Mac came over and we began talking about life and our experiences. Les told him about the work we have been doing with Nuru and he applauded our efforts. He said that based on my experiences of living and being in ‘the bush’ multiple times for short stints over the last few years, I was "more African than he was," but in all seriousness, he grew up in Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia. After some laughs about my “African-ness” as well as some serious conversation about lasting impact in addressing global extreme poverty, he shared something with Les and myself that was jaw-dropping.

He has been in the US for more than 20 years, and July 4th, 2014 was the first time an American invited him into their home, and invited him for a meal at that! He confessed to us that he was not sure what to do because he knew that Les was not just politely inviting, he really meant for Mac to come hang out. What started as a fun conversation among neighbors had taken on an unexpected additional layer of depth. Mac described experiences in the past where people in the US had made him feel unwelcome, uninvited, and even had sent falsified paperwork to his home encouraging him to leave.

We never really know the experiences, pains, and challenges of those who are around us. And for that reason, I think it is really important that we practice hospitality, and really strive to ‘love our neighbor as ourselves.’ Mac has been an incredible neighbor to Les and Kim, and vice versa. And none of this would have been discovered without hospitality.

May we each make the places we inhabit a welcome place for hospitality, conversation, laughter, and healing. The world needs it, and, truth be told, we each need it too.

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