Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Color Matters, Part Two

There is a nice (read: actually has grass!) park not far from our home in Iquique, situated amidst a rather exclusive group of beautiful, large houses. Because the development is not gated and in years past the park was almost always empty, we felt comfortable taking our children there to play occasionally. Recently we returned for the first time since coming back to Chile.

As usual, the park was almost empty but this time a seven-year old boy and his nanny were there. The boy and Owen quickly struck up a conversation and soon a game commenced, as the boy had half a dozen little toy guns on hand to fight a "war." One of his buddies showed up, and a two-on-two battle (Owen and Ian versus the two neighbors) was waged.

I sat and chatted awhile with the nanny, who is from Bolivia. More and more the live-in "help" in Chile is from outside the country, many like her from Bolivia and others from Peru and Colombia. She was a lovely lady, and I enjoyed talking with her. I was reminded that every person has a unique story and is uniquely valuable in God's eyes. Sadly, I know too well that many women in her position are overlooked and looked down upon here. Early in our first term while living in Santiago, a Chilean neighbor told me that she had to remind her Bolivian nanny to bathe frequently because in her words, "they have another smell." I was honestly too shocked at the time to respond!

As degrading as that comment was, I share it to set the stage for what happened next at the park. While I pushed Alec on the swing, across the way the "battle" continued with a third neighbor child coming to join the fun. The first boy gave her the instructions. "You have to shoot the black ones!" he directed.

Immediately the nanny reacted and said, "No! You do not call them that!" In an almost humorous lack of understanding, the boy seemed puzzled and obediently responded, "Okay ... you have to shoot the brown ones!"

I honestly believe he did not intend to be racist, because he was really having a good time playing with our boys. But I loved the way his nanny instantly went to bat for them. She continued to insist, "No! Those children have names! You call them by their names."

Can I just say that this Bolivian nanny showed way more class and cultural understanding than most of the upper-class people in this country who probably look down their noses at her every day?? I wanted to run over and give her a big high five. I was honestly blessed by her and I hope that I will be just as assertive and clear the next time I am given a chance to defend the "underdog" in this country.

On a spiritual plane, I am so glad that in Christ there is no distinction of persons. I am so blessed that God knows our names and calls us by them. And I can't wait for the day in Heaven when black and brown and white and Bolivian, African, Chilean will all sing together in joyful praise to our worthy Creator. When "cultural understanding" will no longer be an issue because there we will all be ONE culture - His own!

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