A Reflection on my Kitui Partnership Journey to Kenya, Africa.
By Debbie Keller
If there was one word to sum up our delegation’s recent pilgrimage journey to Kitui, Kenya, it would be WELCOME! Every encounter we had was seasoned with a robust and joyous “Welcome to Kitui! Welcome!”
I recall the first moments at the Kitui Diocesan Pastoral Center following a very long, bumpy, dusty, close-quartered van ride from Nairobi the day after we arrived. As we came upon the grounds, our hosts greeted us with a repeated chorus of “Welcome!” as they proceeded to exuberantly shake each of our hands. And this wasn’t just a handshake…this was a HEART-shake! If we had been suffering from jet-lag, it instantly vanished and our energy level soared. Talk about an oasis in the desert, a stark contrast to the dry, parched landscape we had just driven through.
As the days drifted by, we came to know that this style of greeting was not the exception…it was the norm. No matter how late we were in arriving (Kenyan time took some getting used to) or how exhausted we may have been, we always received the most joy-filled welcome, the biggest smiles, and the longest handshakes we’ve ever experienced. How good it was!
To be received in such a way does something to one’s heart. It infuses the desire to remain longer, to revel in the hospitality, to drink of its sweetness. We began to understand why the “time” factor was not as relevant as the “being present” factor was.
As we anticipate Advent, can we too have this same robust welcoming attitude? Can our hearts be exuberant when visitors come? Can we smile broadly in our encounters? Can we linger longer? Can we extend our hands without hesitation?
Wel-Come Infant Savior and Be With Us! What Joy there is in your COMING!!
Debbie Keller is the current Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women’s president of the St. Paul & Minneapolis Archdiocese. She and her husband John have three sons (one married), two daughters (one married) and a new baby granddaughter! For many years she was a stay-at-home Mom, though is puzzled by that title as she claims she didn’t stay home much, which probably explains her love of travel. In June, she was part of the Kitui Partnership Delegation through the Center for Mission of the St. Paul & Minneapolis Archdiocese. The ACCW, in solidarity with the Catholic Women’s Association (CWA) of the Kitui Diocese, is building a women’s dormitory near the University of Kenyatta. Once completed, she has hope to return, to exuberantly welcome the students who will be dwelling there!