As several other single missionary women and I were sitting at the hospital bus stop waiting for the church van to pick us up this morning, we started talking about culture. I am not entirely sure of what started the conversation but Julie said, “Sometimes I feel like as an American I don’t really have culture.”
“Sure you have culture!” exclaimed Annie, “You have a very mixed culture. An American culture. Americans are very independent, value their individuality and privacy, have high expectations, and very success driven.”
We went on to talk about the difference in American versus Honduran culture. Hondurans are very dependent on each other as a family unit and there is no such thing as privacy. Everyone knows everything about everyone even without Facebook. As a Honduran, if you are admitted in the hospital, everyone in your community knows you are there and what is wrong with you even if they don’t personally know you. You might even get curious visitors who stop in your room to find out what is wrong with you. Another difference is that is highly unusual for the father of the child to be present in the delivery room but usually the laboring mother is hovered over by her mother, grandmother, aunts, female cousins, or occasionally her mother-in-law.
It was at this point in the conversation that I piped in with a rather amusing story of prime example of this major cultural difference. I can’t remember exactly when this happened but I feel like it was in the past two months or so.
It happened when one of our amazing missionary doctors, Cortney, and I were delivering a baby. The patient’s mother and aunt were at the the bedside giving her support. The aunt was especially helpful to the mother and to us. She was very supportive to the mother, very excited about the baby, and jumped at the opportunity to cut the umbilical cord (which they are typically hesitant to do). She was even the first to hold the baby before passing it off to the grandmother.
Cortney and I thought that this woman was the aunt of the patient but the patient and her mother thought that she was one of our medical staff. It turned out that this unknown lady was the daughter of one of our admitted patients who became curious and decided to lend a helping hand. Stranger things have happened!
1) Strength as this is my first Christmas away from my family
2) Unity for our missionary staff as a whole
3) for receptive hearts
4) effective communication in spite of the language barrier
5) that ultimately God is Gloried through all that we say and do