Yesterday afternoon Ian took me on a guided tour around his world. We rode bikes, tried to find different ways to help “ninja lego guys” survive a Tonka truck crash, and explored the garden. He showed me all of his favorite plants and kept up a steady stream of Spanglish conversation about his toys, and the dog, and his climbing tree.
After our walk, I suggested that we sit down on the terrace. He had a different idea. He sat down on the hill in our backyard right in the grass and said, “Down here is better Mommy.” I was hesitant because the grass in El Salvador is really sharp (weird, I know…just how it is) but I agreed.
Ian was right. It was better. From our view on the grass we could look right up into the trees and see the birds flying back and forth. There were yellow and brown birds, squirrels, and butterflies. The big leaves and bright flowers of the tropical plants around our house were at eye level, and we had the perfect view to watch the dusk roll in.
The longer we sat, the more birds we saw. While we watched, a beautiful torogoz swooped over our heads and settled on a branch nearby. For all you bird fans out there, the “torogoz” is the national bird of El Salvador and is known as the Turquoise Browed Motmot. It’s a bright colored tropical bird with turquoise, yellow, and reddish feathers.
Ian was transfixed. As we watched, the bird’s yellow breast moved in and out and he sang his distinctive croaking song. He sang for a few minutes, hopped from branch to branch and flew out of sight. Ian took so much joy in that little moment, and his point of view had given us a front row seat.
If I didn’t stop and look at things the way Ian saw them, I would have missed that moment. I would have missed the shadow of the plants as evening fell, and I would have missed the torogoz’s song. I forget to do this. I forget to get down on the grass and look at things a different way. I forget that my way is not the only way to see the world.
As I thought about my time with my son, I realized that living in another culture is constantly about remembering that my point of view isn’t the only one. I have so many ideas about what is “right” and “efficient” and “makes more sense.” But maybe my way doesn’t make sense at all, and I’m missing things all along the way. It takes humility, and a desire to learn, to begin to understand someone else’s point of view…it’s hard work. Sometimes I have to get down low, to places I really don’t want to go, to understand how someone else thinks.
But it’s so worth it. There is so much beauty in the world that I will never understand from my own point of view. There are so many things to experience and learn when I let someone else show me what they think is valuable and beautiful and worth doing.
My life in El Salvador is a gift. It is hard work, but it is a gift. I daily have the opportunity to do this. I daily have the challenge to think on someone else’s terms, I daily have the task of laying my own rights aside for the privilege of entering into someone else’s world. To be honest, most of the time I don’t want to do it!
But the struggle is changing me. Profoundly. God is making me into someone new through my life here, because this daily challenge leads me to Him again and again. It leads me to ask for his help, and to walk with Him through the frustrations, and annoyances, and stresses, and fears. The truth is, I am the one who is most changed by my life in El Salvador. God is making me more like Him and the greatest gift of all is the opportunity to be led by God into seeing things from His point of view.
I didn’t have a camera handy…but I did find this picture of a torogoz.