Hospitality 2 – Go by Sarah Blank

I (Jim) wrote last week about hospitality and how among other things it is a two way street. It’s not just about inviting people in but it’s also about going to them. Then I read this excellent account written by Sarah Blank of when she, her husband Danny, and baby, Anya visited friends in Slovakia. Sarah has consented to share her story here…

Bus #11 is the only bus that goes into Lunik 9, a ghetto on the outskirts of the city Kosice where the majority of the Roma community live. This bus is used almost exclusively by Roma people, not by choice but out of the fear that many others in Kosice have of Roma people.

As we waited for the bus # 11 we found ourselves waiting with 20 or so Roma men, women and children, also heading back to Lunik 9. Many looked at us as if we were lost or didn’t know what bus we were waiting for, which is understandable as we clearly where from out of town and looking very much like tourists with our big backpacks full of gifts and presents to give to our friends, Silvia, Vanesa, Sara and Robert.

A few of them smiled and motioned for us not to board the bus, one man came right up to us shaking his head and motioning with his hands as a warning not to take this bus, saying only “no no”. We smiled back, Danny explaining in Polish (a language similar to slovakian) that yes we knew which bus this was and that we wanted to visit friends in Lunik 9. We repeated “Lunik 9, yes” with a smile a few times and with curious looks from many of the passengers we paid our bus fare and took a seat. With Anya with us she was an immediate buffer as she smiled and laughed and pointed, interacting with many on the bus, and they smiled back, a few of them holding her hand and playing with her.

I remember thinking how amazing it was that in a few short minutes that we would be able to see our friends again, give them our hugs and love and presents from Michelle and Jared and their family back in Hamilton. I also remember thinking how amazing Silvia was when she received friendship from Michelle and Jared, Danny and me when they were living in Hamilton, often saying “no one who isn’t Roma treats me like a friend in Slovakia”. But it was the very friendship, born out of the love of GOD that has broken down these barriers between race and ethnicity.

It is easy to see that as we get to know people and develop relationships and consider one another friends, that any fear of environment or people really does fade. On that bus we knew who we were going to see, our friends, and we knew where they lived because they had told us many stories. There was no fear, but love and the joy at seeing friends again.

Sarah Blank


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