Entering another culture always brings surprises! Some team members of our short term project team had previously been to Honduras, but most had not. Similarities abound, but it’s always the differences that catch us off guard.
The coffee was strong and smooth, since Honduras is a top producer of coffee. Our team managed to take a tour of a plantation and learned that ripe coffee is actually red. The outside fruitlike exterior is removed and the inner bean is roasted, providing the rich flavor of coffee. Our tour was managed with much sign language and mutant Spanish, since we had no translator with us, but we still came away with a good understanding of plantation operations.
Our initial observations gave us both familiarity and uniqueness. Roosters crowing early in the morning gave us a familiar cadence to the beginning of each day. We saw some beautiful roosters as they patrolled their individual yards. Gracious people with smiling faces opened their homes for us to stay and put us at ease instantly. Oropendola birds construct very large teardrop shaped nests and sound hauntingly like prehistoric ancestors as they hang—sometimes upside down—on the tree!
As with any trip into a different lifestyle, food was a primary area where we needed to be willing to experiment and try new options. Deep fried, whole tilapia was delicious, but presented new options. Do we eat the tail and the eyes? We discovered that are perfectly fine to eat—the eyes with a particular chewiness and the tail with great crunch! Green bananas were a delicious first for me. Baleadas and pupusas also received a “thumbs up.”
The tendency as we go into a country is to decide that if it’s different, it’s not right. We tend to use our lifestyle as the measure of correctness. For instance, our team quickly discovered that there are many ways to flush a toilet (even not flushing at all). Being a good guest often calls for adapting our actions to reflect our hosts.
People pray differently in other cultures, while praying to the same God with the same love for him. Our Honduran friends pray aloud all at once, while we prefer to pray singly. We joined our voices in praise, each in different languages, but with matching spirits.
Celebrating the differences in cultures requires a welcoming attitude. Are you cultivating that in your family?