Relationships are so important here. I know I’ve mentioned this before but I just want you to understand it’s everything to these people. Let me share some thoughts with you about three relationships I’ve seen.
Relationships With Families – Families live together as in the same house or maybe gated area or no further than down the street 99% of the time. Usually a family takes up most of a street. Their relationship to each other is also important. They always want to know about your family. Always. In the States, we tell people about our grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. Here, they have a word for your aunt/uncle on your mother’s side and a different word for the same relative on your father’s side. I tell them about my aunts/uncles but then they ask about which side they are on. Their family relationships are so important that they know who all their cousins are. And by all their cousins I mean all their cousins as in they know all the way up to their 7th cousins. So yes, they know all their cousins! Family is very important and the relationship with your family is very important to in the community.
Relationships With Friends – Friendships are also very important. Whenever you see a friend in the street, in the store, anywhere, you stop and talk to them. Sometimes you might spend just a few minutes and sometimes you might spend 10 or 15 minutes. Which isn’t bad but if you are walking to a meeting and you pass 4 friends and you spend 15 minutes with each of them, that could potentially put you an hour behind schedule. But that doesn’t matter if you are late. Speaking and maintaining those friendships are much more important. More important than keeping a schedule…completely opposite of the western mindset. The other day, Dawn, Nicole, and I walked Heather over to a friend’s house where Heather was going to spend the night. We were planning on just dropping her off but we were invited in and they wouldn’t take no for an answer. So we stayed. For about an hour. But no one thought anything of it because nothing is more important than maintaining and growing a relationship. (I really don’t know why people even wear watches here)
Relationships With Jesus – What I can’t understand is why, for a culture so focused and built around relationships, do they all claim a religion that has no personal relationship. Jesus wants a personal relationship with each of us. Instead of looking to Him, they look to other things to try and fill Jesus’ role. All the houses have “charms” in the form of horseshoes, stuffed animals, dolls, etc hanging on the outside of their houses to ward off the evil eye. They focus on using charms and superstitions and actions rather than focusing on building a relationship with the only one who can make them whole: Jesus. Jesus is the only one who can fix our broken, shattered, wounded hearts and make them whole. He is the only one who can help us reach our full potential in Him and it all starts with a relationship: our relationship with Jesus. That relationship is more important than any other relationship we could ever have and yet it’s the one relationship this community does not see a need for.
In a culture focused on the value of relationships, they are missing the most important one: a personal relationship with Jesus.