Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Culture and why we do what we do.

We heard it over and over and over again before we arrived to Honduras. The Latin American culture is all about relationships. It doesn't matter who it is - the person who cuts your grass, the bagger at the grocery store, or even your vet. When a person asks you how you are doing, usually they really want to know. When someone shakes your hand, it doesn't stop there. A kiss on the cheek accompanies it. Why? It's a sign of friendship - I accept your hand (a distant gesture), then kiss your cheek (a personal gesture). I took my dog to the vet last week and was ready to launch into what I brought him in for when the vet asked me about voting. Was I able to vote, who did I vote for, why did I vote for who I voted, what did I think about the state of things, what did I think about the candidates in Honduras...etc. There we talked for about 10 to 15 minutes about life. How fun, I thought. I can't imagine my vet in the States having the time or inclination for something like this. But it would have been considered the epitome of rude to just jump into the reason for my visit. Our friend, Roberto, who cuts our grass - he doesn't just come over and get to work. Typically our time starts with a cup of coffee, maybe a small bite to eat, conversation about how things have been since the last time he was over, how his family is, etc. About 30+ minutes later he starts to cut the grass.

Why do I write all this? Well - it's something you have to get used to. In the US - it's "get to business". Go to work. Share the gospel. Move on. Here it is about relationship building. We teach ESL classes to build relationships. I know about the families and health conditions of almost everyone in our class. I know about their children and their parents. I know if they are having a bad day or not. In the midst of that, we start to share things about our faith. We give bible verses to practice their English. They read them in Spanish first, then in English. We talk about the significance of each word, what the verse in general means. The last class? We will give a full gospel presentation. Guess what? We are no longer strangers approaching them on a street corner, sharing the gospel, and moving on. We are a presence here now - we have relationships - they trust us. Now it's the gospel coming from a friend. Someone they know personally and will hear the words from a different level. In my health clinics. We hand out tracks and talk to people. Pray for those who are struggling. Play with kids. This is what we have come to do. Make relationships. We have time for that. No need to rush. We love the people we minister to, and now we have built relationships, and the gospel is starting to be heard. Go God!

So understanding the culture and building relationships was the first of many steps that have happened since we have been here. Now we have friends. We have acquaintances, but they trust us. Now we share our hearts. Next ESL class? A new group of people to get to know. Each health clinic? People in need who have come for healing of their body. We share how to heal their soul.

This is what keeps us going each day. When we are exhausted, and at times feel like we are spinning our heels. Rome was not built in a day, and neither are relationships and friendships. The gospel will come - and it is coming.


The McClain's said...

Great post! Keep on focusing on the prize! Love you guys! Brooke :)

Becky Aguirre said...

Amen! This is so true! And you did a good job of describing it. :)

Rebecca said...

Great post....good advice for me to keep in mind!!