I very much enjoy learning about different cultures. I have been to Nepal, the Philippines, Italy, Mexico, Canada, and all over the United States. I’ve met people here in the States from Poland, Mexico, El Salvador, Japan, Belize, South Africa, England, the Czech Republic, Brazil, Kenya, and many other places in between. As I travel, I thoroughly enjoy learning the local culture and history, becoming acquainted with the people I meet, and taking in the sights and sounds of all that is around me.
I did not realize this when we married, but the union of Courtnee and I has turned out to be the merging of differing cultures. I am the typical American Caucasian mutt (mostly Norwegian), and Courtnee is half Mexican and Caucasian.
Over the past few years I have been introduced to my Mexican father-in-law’s side of the family, but a trip to Florida, as it turned out, has provided the best opportunity to get to know some of them. Last Fall, Courtnee and I achieved a certain level of results in our LIFE business qualifying us for a visit to Florida. At the time we learned of this trip, we knew Courtnee had relatives living in Florida, but we didn’t know where. We knew we would be spending time in Port St. Lucie, and as it turned out, her aunt Patricia (Courtnee’s father’s sister) and uncle Graciano (I just love saying that name) live in Stuart which is only twenty minutes away!
In a previous blog, Subway to Metropolitan, I wrote of the amazing people I met while in Tennessee and Kentucky and the wonderful conversations I had with Cyrus and Jim and others. A trip to Florida has proven to be just as wonderful. With the new information of her aunt and uncle living in Stuart, our weekend trip turned into a week-long vacation! And what a vacation it was.
I have only met a few of Courtnee’s cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. Due to the location of where Courtnee’s aunt and uncle live, we stayed with them while in Florida. Graciano is Puerto Rican, and Patricia is Mexican, and much of their native country’s culture comes through in how they live. First of all, Graciano has the coolest Puerto Rican accent I’ve ever heard. It sounds silly, but I love just listening to him talk. Secondly, the food aunt Patricia cooked (and she cooks a lot!) was wonderful. And thirdly, they are a tight-knit family. We met all of their children along with their families and children. We met Jay, Yolanda, Alicia, Maggie, Noemi their spouses and children. Most of them we saw nearly daily. They were great!
Yet what I enjoyed even more than the idea of finding a wild gator (all of our efforts were futile to find this giant lizard), was the common language Graciano and Patricia spoke together with Courtnee and I. And no, we don’t speak Spanish.
The language I am speaking of is a language of faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. This amazing couple knows what it means to put complete and total trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. They have not a care in the world because they completely trust that He will lead and guide them in everything that they do. And they have done and do a lot. It would take a book to write all their stories, so let me simply say this. They have been on mission trips to Peru, Guatemala, Haiti, and Mexico. And these were not your traditional comfy-cozy trips. Their stories would be difficult to believe for many. And through all the danger, spiritual attacks, and horrific circumstances, they demonstrated complete trust, love, and compassion and continue to do so today. Having the opportunity to stay with uncle Graciano and aunt Patricia was pure joy.
I realized that despite the fact that they can speak Spanish and have different cultural backgrounds, ultimately, we speak the same language. It’s the language of faith and triumph. We speak the same language of love and compassion for people. We speak the language of “nothing is impossible to them that believe.” It is the language of the Lord Jesus Christ and ultimately, it is the language of heaven.
I enjoy getting to know people. And the typical conversation with a new person is usually along the lines of their occupation or hobbies. Topics such as sports, recreation, and work is commonplace. And I truly appreciate all that. Honestly, the only conversation I will not engage in is the one that is just plain wrong. But when I hear a man or woman speak from the depths of their heart sharing from the well of their being, I am stirred to the core. When I hear a man or woman speak of unyielding faith and an understanding that “greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world,” I get excited.
Ultimately, may we all have the opportunity to learn and speak the language of victory, faith, truth, love, and compassion. And one day may all of us learn to speak this same language!