My friend Debbie, one of the people behind the organization Buckets of Love, recently returned from a trip to Rwanda to minister to widows and orphans of the Rwandan genocide. In last week’s church service, she shared about some of the customs she learned about, mainly in relation to hospitality.
One of the customs was particularly intriguing to me. Every day, these women set a gourd full of fresh, drinkable water outside their homes. The water is there for a distinct purpose: to quench the thirst of passersby. Considering how scarce water is in this part of the world, it is no small gesture.
The most touching part of this custom is that the women will most likely never know who drank from their gourd. They simply know, when retrieving the empty vessel at the end of each day, that they gave comfort and refreshment to someone at the moment that they needed it.
I tend to think pretty hard about how I give comfort and refreshment to my husband and children and friends and extended family. Sometimes that means that I’m thinking about how much I’m failing. But I don’t tend to think about how I might be blessing the strangers that I come into contact with every day. I imagine that if I set a gourd (or glass) of water outside my house, people would just look askance at it and keep on going. Water is not viewed as particularly precious in this richly blessed nation. So I am trying to think of other ways to give comfort and refreshment that would be meaningful in this culture.
I would love to hear your suggestions.