Crossing Cultures

We in SEND North are blessed by teammates who come to us from across the globe to do ministry in Alaska and Canada.  They bring a perspective that is invaluable.  I want to share some of that perspective with you from Danilo John (aka Dan).  He is from Wiesbaden, Germany (close to Frankfurt) and he just finished a one-year short-term ministry assignment in Alaska.  I so enjoyed my conversation with Dan that I want to share pieces of it with you over the next few blog posts.

The obvious question I started with was his impression of  American Culture.  He quickly shot back that he really couldn’t say.  He spent all of his time in a village, and their culture is unique.  Let that sink in for a moment.  Life in the Far North is not typical.  He only got two days in Anchorage at the end of his year, but at least that included a baseball game.

So then we talked about village life and what he learned.  Dan was shocked at how much relationships were prioritized over work.  Germany is the polar opposite.  Over the year Dan’s patience was stretched as he learned to let the silence hang in the air instead of filling it with small talk.  Indigenous culture is more appreciative of silence and simply being in the moment.  That also means they are not in a hurry to answer a question either.  By the end of his year, one thing was very clear to Dan, “They don’t listen until they trust you”.  Dan had plenty of opportunities to build trust.  We’ll cover those next week.

Before you click away from this article and go on to the next thing, I would ask you to ponder those same lessons since they apply to all of us.  How many people do you know who don’t listen until they trust someone? Do the people you know want to be valued more than getting the job done? 

Will you stretch yourself and learn to listen well to someone in need and just be silent with them if necessary? 

Give that a try and see what God can do with it.

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