April 10, 2011
You know, there are some things that drive me crazy about Peru. It's true, I'm sure I've written about it. But the longer I live here the more I realize that in some things they've really got the right perspective. I'll just tell you about it...
Here, where I am living, it doesn't matter what you wear. Stripes and plaid- go for it. Pink and red- totally acceptable. Shoes that don't match with your outfit- no big deal. Your hair doesn't need to be done, make-up doesn't need to be perfect. None of that matters to them. They look beyond all of that and see the person that you are. They want to know you. I mean, I go out with my hair piled all crazy on top of my head, running shorts and an old shirt on and guys still whistle at me. haha. Ok, not the best example, but seriously- it's not important here.
Beyond physical appearances there are houses. Most of the houses in my community are made out of scrap wood and are just one big room. Occasionally they will have maybe 2 rooms, but the majority don't. The kitchens are typically outside with some sort of roof over them- they consist of a wood stove and a table or two. Most people don't have a refrigerator or regular stove and a kitchen sink is pretty much unheard of. The bathrooms are smelly little shacks in the back, and showers are a wooden frame with some tarp around it. But again, it doesn't matter. What they have works for them. It functions and they are fine with it. Even though the houses are small, they are always full of people- family, neighbors, aquaintances. In the evenings it is very common to see neighbors relaxing at one another's house, just talking and enjoying life. There is no stress that the house may not be in perfect condition or that there might not be enough room for everyone. There is always enough room when you live in Peru. :)
A personal car is a luxury here- the majority of people don't have any sort of transportation. Public transportation is a thriving business here. It's not about who drives the nicest SUV or who has the fastest sports car. In fact, most people would probably not know what to do if they did have thier own car.
Lastly, I have grown to love how people take their time with things here. No matter what it is- they don't stress about meeting the next appointment, when church is going to be over, or when their friend is going to leave the house. Schedules are almost non exsistent. If you wanted to talk to a friend they would probably drop everything for you and talk as long as you needed. Granted, there are times when the lack of timeliness is annoying, but with other things it's just so much more relaxed if you aren't always stressing about the time. It's not important. Whatever happens, happens. And somehow, things always work out.
At home people stress about everything- the clothes they wear, the car they drive, the house they live in, the friends they have, the schedule they "must" follow... But, my question is why? Why stress? Do you gain something great from stressing about everything? Do you make better friends because your shirt has the words "Abercrombie and Fitch" written on the front? Are you better than your friend or coworker because you drive the nicest car around town? Does the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in your house put you in some sort of "best house" ranking? I DON'T THINK SO. I wish people at home could understand and experience how life is in the rest of the world. You have no idea how lucky and spoiled we are to live in the USA. I just want pepole to see that life is just NOT all about material things! I mean, really, if that's all life was about then what's the point? It's about people and relationships. It's about so much more than what you wear, what you drive, or where you live. It's about looking beyond all that stuff and caring about the people.
Now, here is my disclaimer- I'm not trying to come across that everyone and everything in the US is awful. In fact, I miss it a lot and I feel extremely lucky to live there. It's just that living here has helped me realize SO many things about life. You really have to experience something like this to completely understand where I'm coming from. It's ok to have nice things, but if that's all that matters to you then I'd suggest a step back and a litle change in perspective. Why do we care so much about material things when in the end none of it will matter? You aren't going to take that nice Mercedes to heaven. Your flat top stove and granite countertops aren't going either. I guess what I want to say is be thankful for what you have, reach out to others whenever you can, spend time with God everyday, and just take time to enjoy life. Everything just really isn't that important.
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves creak in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."