Cross-cultural contact (2)
Well ,here’s the second part of my story about taking a group of White, Afrikaans-speaking Christians to Black, Siswati-speaking Christians. If you missed out on the first part, read it here first.
After leaving Manzini with three seriously confused people in a house without a pastor, we drove through to Mbabane. The other single lady was placed with an older married couple and then I drove the older couple who had come with me through to the house where they would be staying. What happened there I only found out months afterwards and it was also told with great embarrassment.
Not knowing what to expect, the lady had packed a clean set of linen in her suitcase so that they could put this on the bed if they suspected that the linen may not be clean. In the meantime, the couple who was housing them had even painted out the bedroom in preparation for their coming! (We tend to think that cross-cultural contact is only difficult for us Westerners, but for the Swazis doing it for the first time, it is equally difficult.)
After a lovely meal they retired to their bedroom, only to find that their hosts had gone out of their way to make everything as comfortable as possible for them. Needless to say, the linen remained in the suitcase.
The next morning when I drove to fetch them for church, I had the same reaction that I later had in Manzini. With tears in their eyes the older couple put their arms around me and thanked me for one of the best experiences they had ever had.
Cross-cultural contact need not be painful. A lot depends on the attitude. Most of us enter into such a relationship with the idea that we are on a slightly higher level than those we have come to meet. It is only when we really allow the Spirit to open our hearts for other people that we really come to appreciate them. And sometimes we have to be “tricked” into a situation that we would normally not have entered into to really learn to appreciate others for what they are.
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