This past May, I had the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia with Catholic Relief Services, as part of a group of youth ministry leaders to experience the work they are doing. CRS serves the poorest of the poor in over 100 countries and part of my job is now to be an advocate for their work throughout the world.
While in Ethiopia, I was particularly struck by two characteristics of the Ethiopian people: their joy and their hospitality. We went into the countryside and were welcomed into some of the poorest villages in the country. Villages that have no electricity, no running water; they barely live off the land. Yet, these people were not sad or destitute. These people were joyful; even though they didn’t have much, they were grateful for what they had.
The Ethiopian people were also hospitable beyond belief. Everywhere we went and visited, the people went above and beyond to make us feel welcome. We didn’t speak the same language; we were from very different worlds and many times had very different beliefs, but to them that didn’t matter. They felt honored by the presence of someone from outside their village and they welcomed us with coffee, food, song and dance.
The experience was life changing in so many ways, but most importantly, it has reminded be to be grateful for what I have and to be welcoming and hospitable to all those whom I encounter, no matter how different we may be, because they themselves are another Christ.
(For more information you can visit www.crs.org).
By: Evan Psencik
Coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Faith Formation
Diocese of Bridgeport