As I write, I hear a steady drum beat and the mournful chanting I assume has to do with the end of the Señor de los Milagros (Lord of the Miracles) month. One month of rituals and devotions aimed at getting miracles out of God, and many I assume are left with the same physical handicaps, economic nightmares, and spiritual emptiness.
Who is this lord, and where are his miracles? I suppose our neighbors will go back to “passing the egg” or the crumpled up newspaper over sick loved ones in the hopes that the bad spirits will take up new residence. They pay their witch doctors absurd sums of money to give them advice on how to win back unfaithful lovers. They burn fat candles to wooden saint figurines in corners of their living rooms. There are no miracles. Only pain and confusion.
No, this cross-cultural adventure doesn’t feel so very removed than the one I’m reading about. Crossing cultures is a theme I identify with, if not the specific challenges. Feeling out of place, missing the comforts of home, loneliness, being surrounded by a people whose traditions and superstitions seem so odd to me. I understand their language, but I don’t understand the assumptions and experiences that prompt their words.
We came here believing that people are all the same deep down and that we could identify with and minister to the needs of this community. When it comes to the essential message of the gospel, I think I believe that more completely today than I did one year ago. In terms of relating to people on the other hand-- loving, understanding, being understood—our experience is rewriting the theories we invented from our kitchen in Charlotte on rainy afternoons.