Lessons learned

Living in a different culture is hard! Some things are done here that I will probably never understand why, and quite honestly might not want to know why or need to know why. I also know that there are cultural things that I do that they will never understand and quite possibly might not ever need to understand about me. I could write about a million cultural things that I struggle with or have seen and not understood. One of these cultural things, or maybe we could call it traditions, that has bothered me since living here that I recently feel I have been able to put to rest is the fact that in the village of Santa Rita they have church services every night of the week except Monday. Why not Monday night, you may ask? Well, I have asked that very same question to the church leaders in Santa Rita, and the response has always been “I’m not sure why we don’t have one on Monday night, but I do know that is the way we have always done it.” It’s not the fact of why they don’t have a service on Monday that bothers me it’s the fact that for six nights a week the poor pastor has to prepare a sermon and deliver a sermon and on and on I could go why I don’t feel this is good. Now, as I said earlier there has been a lot of cultural struggles for me and a lot of these struggles through time have seemed to lessen, but this one, no, it just kept grinding on me until recently. I had taken a small group of missionaries to Santa Rita to put on a small teaching conference. I was explaining to this group how here in Santa Rita they have a full on 1 ½ to 2 hr. Church service every night but Monday. I’m also quite sure I was telling this story in a voice and a way that enforced my righteousness about this situation. It also enforced my position when the people I was telling this story to, agreed wholeheartedly with me. Man, did I feel good about all this, I also felt confirmed that this was probably the right time to address this “wrongdoing” by the church and it was time to fix this situation. This is when I heard this small, faint voice, from God, whispering in my ear. “Joel, isn’t this just like you to come here to tell about my love for these people and now you want to go and tell them that they are worshipping me too much? Who are you to tell them that, just because their style of worship doesn’t fit with the way you think it should be, is wrong? Do you think when I meet them face to face I am going to tell them, good job, but, man, I think you spent way too much time worshipping me, six days a week is a bit much. NOOOO, who are you to judge them on this? If they want to worship 24/7, let them worship.” OOOUUUCH, GOD, THAT HURT! As always, though, God was right, and that is why it hurt me, I knew this. I immediately turned back to the small group of missionaries that I had been talking to and told them how I was wrong in saying what I had said about this. 
I love how God knows us so well, and He knows me so intimately that He has known my thoughts and feelings of this the whole time that I have felt this way, yet God knew me, and He knew when I was ready to receive the correction. Had He corrected me before this, I’m not sure I would have accepted it or, I might have just ignored it. In fact, the thought just popped into my head while writing this. Maybe he has tried to correct me before, and I have ignored it, if that is the case, I’m sorry God, thanks for always loving me the way you do and thanks for continuing to mold me into the person you created me to be.

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