Monday, January 5, 2009

My heart was strangely warmed . . .

I've experienced the unusual gift of hospitality here. I say it's unusual because it's just a type of hospitality that I haven't really experienced before. It could have something to do with the fact that I'm in a tourist town and tourist towns know how to keep its tourists coming back. It could be the fact that I am a minister and ministers are given special privilege. But I would like to think it's something more -- it's just who the Bahamian people are.

Upon hearing that I was coming to the island of Eleuthera, the Methodist ministers between that island and the island of Spanish Wells and Nassau worked out a plan that would allow me to stay overnight in Spanish Wells. Now get this: Spanish Wells isn't exactly a place most blacks hang out. Now you will see a few on the island. They have students who attend school there. But they don't live there. In fact, many years ago, blacks weren't even allowed to spend the night there -- at least that's what the native Bahamians tell me. I guess that's why some of the Bahamians looked so shocked when I said that I would be staying over on the island until Monday, when I would meet up with the rest of my group. I've learned that Spanish Wells, which got its name from the Spanish ships that used to stop over at the primarily white settlement to get water because of the islands many wells, is pretty much still all white. Fishing is its dominate trade. In fact, it's the Spanish Wells fishing house that provides lobsters to the U.S. Red Lobster restaurants.

But I can now say I stayed there. One of the pastors, who also welcomed me into his home for dinner and conversation later that night with his family, put me up in his apartment. Even offered to rent a golf cart for me so I could get around the next morning. I was even asked to speak to school-age children on their return back to school at their morning assembly. As I sat in that apartment, (which was really nice!) I wondered what this opportunity was all about. I so much wanted to share it with my other colleagues. I wanted them to be there. I wanted them to experience the Bahamian people within their own communities and on their front porches like I had the opportunity to do.

But then I was reminded that there are some things I must do alone. This was one of those times.

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