What should I write about this Monday, Lord Jesus? I am so very very tired. I just worked 7 days in a row. Today is my day off. I love to write, but, You know, I must dust the house and walk the dog who won’t poop unless he is walked. We must have breakfast–both physical breakfast and a good portion of Your Word and prayer. Ann says life isn’t a race. Ah, thanks for the reminder, Ann. Morning breakfast and devotions and prayers happen. Valentines are sent to the parent, sisters, brother, children and grandchildren. Birthday/Haitian reunion invitations sent for second son’s birthday at the end of the month. AND THEN. I nap. The day seeps away as I sleep from noon to 4:00 pm. I awake and dust. The preacher and I eat a sandwich and now…I know what to write about because first son posted his minister’s sermon on Facebook. It made me think how often we get the wrong message out of a story because of cultural misunderstandings. My son’s minister said that placing one’s hand under the thigh of another (Genesis 24:9) was like shaking hands in our culture. He said he was surely glad he was not born in a place where placing one’s hand under another’s thigh was the greeting. This squeamishness about the ways of others can sidetrack us. It can prevent us from taking them seriously and can be a stumbling block to our hearing God clearly through their testimony. Diversity is difficult. It demands we suspend judgement until we have all the facts, until we have enough context.
This Monday I am thankful:
#1072 for an education that enabled me to study culture
#1073 for Monique who showed me how to love African-style (Ubuntu).
#1074 for Joyce who taught me that sometimes a person reacts because you insulted them and you didn’t even know you did because you didn’t know the cultural rules. She taught me always to suspect myself first when there was a clash and try to find out what happened to cause the breakdown.
#1075 for Abby who loved the movie Crash with all its cultural misunderstandings interwoven throughout the storyline to show all its viewers just how easy it is to misjudge a situation.
#1076 for Yuki who helped us to see why confrontation was not a good way to problem-solve with the Japanese international students we housed from time to time.
#1077 for Hewitt who taught me what America looked like to a boy who had only known a 10 x 15 mile island for 33 years. “Hey, Mom, who washes the dishes in that dishwasher?” he would ask lying on the floor of the kitchen to see what he could see under the dishwasher.
#1078 for Angie who taught me that if you only have one piece of gum in Mexico, you count how many you are with and divide up that one piece into smaller pieces so everyone has a small bit to chew.
#1079 for the mothers of St Vincent who laughed when I held my diaper-less baby daughter at 7 months of age and she proceeded to wet all over me. They pointed and said, “You do not know your baby.” They explained that a mother who holds her baby all the time knows when she is going to relieve herself so she hold her out over the sand to go and then re-wrap her to her body, there is no need for a diaper.
#1080 for my esteemed Spanish colleagues in my doctoral studies program who taught me that dinner at 6 means you show up somewhere around 8. If you show up at 6, it is rude. You haven’t given your hostess enough time to prepare.
#1081 for Gennny who taught me that making nursing visits in poor Black and Hispanic neighborhoods was best done spontaneously. Appointments and future planning are foreign concepts to these “go with the flow” communities who think planning is begging bad luck, but if you show up unannounced they will welcome you joyously and integrate you into their group of friends, dropping all they are doing to get the health visit done and then get on with whatever they were doing like you hadn’t even been there.
#1082 for Ann who taught me that you can and must work with the choleric Arab male who just so happens to love Jesus as much as you do.
#1083 for Kerry who told me that the women in Belize thought my students were dirty because they would not throw their chamber pot contents in the ocean. My students thought the people were dirty because they were throwing their chamber pot contents in the ocean. The lesson for the day: When in Rome…and, by the way, whales eliminate in the ocean.
#1084 for Janelle who taught me that there were so many different words for snow at the Arctic Circle because their life depended on its properties and they had a word for all of them.
There are so many who wove their DNA into the life of my community and I became the beneficiary of a larger worldview. This is just a small sampling. Thank you, God, for each one.
He is with us,