“You’ve been here three weeks and you don’t know the language yet!” I heard. I quietly responded peacefully “No, not yet. I’m becoming a better hearer than speaker. My first week here I had a cold and couldn’t hear much of anything.”
I go on to tell her, I haven’t once become frustrated, worried, concerned, or not been able to communicate a need. She looks at me as though I’m crazy. I go on to say there’s beauty in not knowing. “How do you mean?” she responds. Well, I’m not saying language is not important or learning the language is not important so hear what I am saying and not what I’m not saying.
Communication is complicated even in America between two English speaking people. If your not careful much can be lost in talking if your not aware of what else is going on. Again, she looks at me as I’m crazy and I’m ok with her thinking I’m crazy. She’s still quite young. I tell her that the expression of love and compassion doesn’t always require words. Our eyes can speak love boldly and are smiles speak loudly, that too is it’s own language. Love is being communicated. The heart knows.
Mother Theresa said,
“I have the feeling that we are in such a hurry that we do not have time to look at one another and smile.”
“Peace begins with a smile.”
“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”
“We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.”
And so what I’ve realized is a simple smile says more than a whole sentence in Spanish. No matter where you stand in what country or zip code people want to be seen and that includes where your “casa” resides.
How often are you talking to someone and you wonder; Do they hear me? Are they really seeing me? Do they accept me? Or are they judging? This is the human condition.
Although, it may look different in a foreign land, it’s really not? We are all the same species and have the same desire to love and be loved.
During my time here I’ve met many people. The people of Piura and other missionaries from all over the states. In all their stories I listened to joy and sorrow. It exists no matter where you live. The question then becomes, how aware are you?
I’ve heard so many missionaries say everyone here is so full of joy! That’s true many are and maybe the surprising thing to them is not just the joy, but the joyfulness and having so little.
When I hear only about the joy, I think are you blind? Do you not see the despair, the worry, the anxiety, the tiredness, the sorrow? I know that I do. And if you don’t see that then you are missing a significant part of life here and the person in front of you. And if you can’t see it here, how can you possibly see it at home – in your neighbor, co-worker, family, or friend.
Recently a missionary said, there are so many stories of abuse here and a parent who abandoned them – we don’t have that at home. That’s some bubble to live in I thought because I know many men and women who’ve been abandoned by a spouse. It looks slightly different back home, but the wounds of abandonment and rejection are the same.
So here, in Piura a man leaves his wife and kids for another woman and starts a new family in another village. Is it really different than a man back home hooking up with a co-worker or old flame at the high school reunion and moving on. Trust me, that to breaks a heart and devastates a life.
Then another missionary said, so many here go to school hungry – we don’t have that in the states. What? Gee, I have many friends in education and they tell me how kids in their schools or districts come to school hungry regularly. Yes, if a child is hungry they can’t learn regardless of what side of the equator they live on.
Certainly, some of these issues are products of poverty and greater in improvised areas, but if you think it’s not happening in the states you need to look again and listen more. Ask the Lord to break the bubble that keeps you from hearing and seeing because many people back home need the same smile and the same Jesus that we bring to the people of Piura. Lastly, you do not have to know Spanish to come to Piura. Just come.