Interesting how people across different cultures deal with business. WE recently sent a cooperative agreement to establish the parameters under which our mission in Brazil would operate in association with local church. We worked very hard to write a document that simply laid out the expectations we had, the expectations they had expressed, and set simple parameters for dealing with things that might come up from conflict to excess costs to other issues. WE told them it was not a final version but needed input from them. And apparently they were a bit put off by it. The only feedback I have gotten is from the Associate Pastor, who discussed the document with us before we sent it, translated it for them, and who has been our main point of contact. And he is for the document. We know the document is not legally binding but feel it is helpful to have some concept on paper related to expectations, needs, especially since unlike past trips where I have travelled with a team and only for two weeks, I will be going there alone for at least six months. If we had issues during two week trips, it seems reasonable to expect the possibility of issues arising during a six month mission.
Truth is, we honestly don't have all the facts about the objections but I was told they thought it was more serious than they expected. Culturally I don't know how to gage this. From the perspective of Anchored Music and our Board of Directors, sending someone alone to a foreign land in a city where he does not know anyone well, has spent all of six days before arrival, has to learn the language and culture, etc. is always serious. So it should be handled and treated seriously and a handshaked deal is probably not the most advisable route to do that. Makes sense to me. But anyway, in January, I will be there and meet with the leadership to understand better why they might see this differently.
The only reason I comment on it here is that it interests me that perhaps the more relaxed Latin American attitude toward such an arrangement might make such an arrangement seem overly serious to them. Now that is culture clashing. My Board does not want to operate without a cooperative agreement and neither do I. After all, it is my personal possessions that people have asked me to leave behind for them on past trips, implying that Americans are wealthy and could always buy them more easily. It is me who dealt with demands that we pay for various things which were not originally agreed to or necessisarily even our idea. And I do want to protect not only myself but them by clearly defining on paper what we are all expecting and agreeing to in starting this partnership. TO me that is common sense. And wise. Maybe not to everyone. WE will see. But either way, this cross cultural living holds many interesting lessons.
hitting the ‘becoming known’ reset button
5 weeks ago