I’m Not a Gringo!

For those of you know my son Ian, you know he doesn’t talk a whole lot. He’s a quiet kid, and nowhere near as outgoing as his big sis.  But when he does speak, he makes it count for something.

Today a man stopped by the YWAM base. Ian went with Judy, one of the other staff members, to answer the front gate. The man asked Ian where he was from. His response was classic Ian, “Yo no soy un gringo, soy salvadoreño!” The English translation is, “I’m not a gringo (that means American by the way) , I’m Salvadoran!” Because in his mind he is. And of course he had to be forceful because he’s sick of people thinking he’s American because El Salvador is his home, darn it!

Anyway, the thing about Ian’s comment is that he sees himself as part of El Salvador. He embraces, loves, and relates to the culture of El Salvador. He has stepped out of his birthplace…and honestly I don’t think he remembers too much about the ol’ U.S. of A. He can love and grow and learn in El Salvador without all the  judgementalism, paternalism, cultural baggism, and all those other isms that I get hung up on.

So, I guess that’s why Jesus said acting like a kid wasn’t such a bad idea. Because kids are open to new things, and are willing to love and relate to something different from what they knew…something different than their own frame of reference. They accept and love and trust so much more easily than adults.

I wish I didn’t still get frustrated with El Salvador. But I want to be honest and so here’s the confession. El Salvador still makes me crazy! I’ve been here 19 months and I would love say I’ve completely adjusted. Will I ever adjust? Honestly, I don’t know. But there is much to love. I want to see this country with the eyes of Ian. As a beautiful country, with loving people…as home.

2 Responses to I’m Not a Gringo!

  1. Part of laying down your lives may be laying down your children. Here in Angola, there are missionary children and grandchildren that have no links with their “home” country, and some that even have a love-hate relationship with their “home” culture. And of course, there are others that live in a compound as “them” and “us”. Guess which ones will have an impact beyond one generation in the place where they serve.

    There are also missionaries who remain “temporary” after many years, and others who cannot go “home” after less years. Guess which ones are accepted, and therefore have an impact. Perhaps the children make the difference…

    We think it’s important to be committed to where we are until and unless God “orders us away elsewhere” – which in Portuguese, has rich implications. At the same time we have our true Citizenship in Heaven, which sets us above and apart from all of the above considerations.

  2. This is a great perspective. Sometimes, the “laying down my children” is difficult as I find that there are things from Jon’s and my childhood that our children will never experience. But they do have other, rich and soul-shaping experiences and I think they are the better for it. We are committed like you said until God “orders us away elsewhere” and Tori and Ian consider this to be their home. I hope that we can have an impact on this country for generations to come.

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