Within the Bolivian culture, I have been observing the virtue of hospitality that seems to be infectious here. It is present in the streets, homes, churches, and the people. All it means is sharing what you have. It is nothing more than that. If you have extra food, then invite family members to the house and eat. If you have extra toys, then give them to someone who does not have any. If you have extra clothes, then give them to someone who needs it more. If there is extra space in the pew at church, then you make room for the person who needs it. If you are lost and need to find a particular street or a bus, there are people who will readily give the information. It is absolutely amazing to see and live in this hospitality.
As I witness this hospitality, I think about what it truly means to love the stranger. To love the stranger is really to give all what you can offer. Here in Bolivia, it is the gift of time. My host grandmother invites me to watch “Walker, Texas Ranger” with her every Sunday night. She says “Walker” and I head to her room to watch it. During commercial breaks, I ask her questions just to make sure that I understand the plot line. It is my favorite hour during the weekend. The guard at the Maryknoll Institute listens to my Spanish as we talk for hours. There is always a range of topics which challenges me to use my Spanish vocabulary. He and I both enjoy each other’s company. In these simple actions, I appreciate the time that is being given to me. This is more precious to me than what money can buy.
The Bolivian people are living out the Gospel spirit of loving the stranger with their hospitality. So, what is the best way to love the stranger? It is to spend time with each other.