Monday, July 04, 2005

breaking down barriers...

Reading Mary E. DeMuth's blog where she speaks of missed opportunities.

I think this is something that a lot of modern day American Missionaries fail to see, and so I applaud her insight into what it is that puts a wall between the missionary and the people she wants to reach.

Growing up as the daughter of a Filipino missionary, I've seen my share of missionaries come and go. Mind you there are lots of missionaries who do make the effort to learn the language.

I'll never stop speaking of that American family who pioneered Bethel Temple in the Philippines. It is a point of admiration when Filipinos say that they speak Filipino like Filipinos and eat the same dishes that local filipinos eat. What higher praise could there be? It's also a point worth noting that unlike other American missionaries who employ several maids and own several airconditioned cars, this family lives very simply, just like us.

In his visit to the Philippines, Jaco, my husband's nephew, made a remark about an American pastor who was invited to speak at our local church. This man, did not even bother to tone down his very southern accent, and proceeded to give a sermon in pure southern English. For those who have grown up listening to English spoken, following such a sermon would not be so difficult, but for the massa, the people who attend this local church, listening to a sermon delivered in pure English and with that southern accent, it would be like listening to someone speaking Greek.

Another comment generated from an American traveller ( a non-christian ): he stated his disbelief at the total arrogance of the American, and his own feelings of shame when on a visit to Spain, a fellow American complained about people in Spain not speaking English.

Needless to say, the love-hate feelings the world has for America are generated mostly by observations of how Americans comport themselves within the context of another culture.

Perhaps if the American learned to approach people with more humility. If he showed more openness and willingness to bridge cultural gaps by shedding his own skin and his too much awareness of "I am an American and I come from a BIG country and I know it better", perhaps there would be less resistence to his presence in a foreign community.

So, I'm applauding Mary's determination to speak French. Vive le France, Mary...en Vive le Mary :)


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