I am not Honduran and I never will be. On the plane here, though, as the news of our approach to San Pedro Sula came over the speaker in Spanish and English, I reflected on the culture that I would be joining for a small while. The simple turkey and cheese sandwich on the flight, the hot tea the flight attendant had made me…food here is energy for work, often very hard work. Life centers on that which feeds us, the families, the community, faith and always gratitude to God, at least in the villages.
For two weeks, I wanted to leave behind the trappings of our American life. Not that Honduras is without trappings. Those with resources dress much more formally and everyone treats each other with a more formal type of politeness. Americans are more casual about so much. We often take for granted our blessings, our confidence, our waste.
When I am here, I try to blend in with the customs, attitude and pace of the people. To wear capris instead of shorts, for example. Although yesterday I wore my bathing suit when suddenly presented with the plan of going swimming. I’m not sure what else I would have done. Later, my interpreter Karina told me that Honduran women don’t usually wear bathing suits, but she wishes that they would.
The people here who I respect the most, the ones whose lives are as I would live mine, are quiet people, usually, though there are exceptions.
I close my eyes and return to the kitchen of José and Patty after church on Wednesday. There was hearty side-stitching giggling over some story shared about their boys who study finance together. The giggles continued as they walked me home through the dark velvet night. There is passion, too, sometimes loud, in those who lead the worship services and in the drumming of William, aged 9, the son of the pastor.
But in their demeanor, their ordinary conversation, Hondurans are quiet. I wonder why Americans are so often boisterous and silly? It makes me want to be someplace else, to apologize. So in the days that lie ahead, may I become as Honduran as I can be, to communicate my caring and respect with more than just my words.
NOTE: Part of our mission team was stuck in Miami last evening with a cancelled flight, giving me in unplanned day to relax at my hotel!