Sunday, March 19, 2006

Mexican Hospitality

I am the world's worst blogger. Why? Because I just never come here and write. And because I have a hard time figuring out what to write. Most of that is due to my present circumstance, preparing for a longer term cross cultural assignment but only actually travelling for a few days or weeks at a time in the meantime. So what I have to say is limited unless I delve into my personal life, which I rarely do because it is PERSONAL. Yes, I am engaged to a Brazilian, which means I am cross culturally reacting every day. But that is not the type of thing I mostly want to write about here. As I get to Brazil and Mexico and start working full time in cross cultural reality, I expect to write a lot more frequent and interesting posts. Meantime, I hope I have not bored you to tears or caused anyone to lose interest by posting few and far between.

That being said, I just thought of something that I wanted to write about from my time in Mexico in October. Since we go back in September and are starting a program there which will eventually involve my living there full time, it seems appropriate to start discussing Mexico more often.

When I was in Mexico, the missionaries introduced me to a family from one of the church plants. The wife was involved in the church music group I was to sing with that Sunday. Since the missionary's son had a birthday the next afternoon, and I was scheduled to rehearse with these folks, the family, who didn't even know me, graciously offered to host me for the lunch and early afternoon.

What was interesting to me is that they had a nice lunch with me before the father and two youngest daughters went with me to the soccer game of the older daughter. But this lunch took place two hours after I arrived and did not begin until the soccer game was already going. And it was conducted at a very relaxed pace.

Why does this suprise me? Because if I were a parent, I would have wanted to be at that game. If I were the daughter, I would have wanted my family there. And especially since they had a crushing defeat, I wonder how the daughter felt that they only saw the ending of the game. I know she was crushed at losing, even though, as goalie, we did see her make an amazing block. YAY!

It just got me thinking that perhaps the cultural duty of hospitality is a higher calling than the calling to support your child at one of what is probably 20 + soccer matches she will play. And I am not sure what I think of that. One on hand, as someone whose father missed out on some events that were important in my young life because a busy surgeon and Emergency Medical Director of the city's paramedics had other duties, I admit to feeling sympathy for any disappointment the daughter may have felt. She expressed none to me. And showed no antipathy toward me. But still, she is a teenager. And you need someone to root you on, especially your family. On the other hand, I am flattered that a complete stranger would be so important to them. The meal was pancakes, nothing fancy. But that they stayed home when they had somewhere potentially more important to be sent a clear message: Hosting me was their most important duty at that moment.

I respect that greatly. And admire them for that. And it intrigues me to find out more about a culture that places this kind of emphasis on hospitality, especially when Latin cultures are known for resistance to outsiders. Of course, in my experience, they are also big on hospitality. And this is an example of the kind of generous hospitality we read about in the bible.

Truth is, I don't know if I would have done that if it were my kid. I won't know for a decade or so when I finally have kids old enough to have soccer games, I guess. But I would like to think I am a good host who makes the proper sacrifices and shows the proper respect to guests, even strangers. I know Jesus did. And I thank this family for modelling that to me.