Long Jeans in Mexico…mmmmmokay
Picture this: blazing sun, sweaty glands, no matter how much water you put into your body it somehow just sweats right back out. Then picture being near a hot cement mixer and running it by hand, shoveling gravel and cement mix into the churning barrel of water. Oh yeah, and then dumping the cement into wheel barrels in which we then walk the cement over to the desired place with make shift wood planks to carry us across the treacherous terrain…haha. Just another work day in Mexico.
Here I (Jed) am wearing shorts and a t-shirt for this. I see most, if not all the Back2Back Mexico staff wearing long jeans and t-shirts. No way would you catch me in long jeans to work like that and in that kind of heat. I continued to tell my wife that I will wear shorts down there because it is way too hot to wear long jeans. Little did I know that God was about to humble me.
Here is a little cultural context for you:
1) Wearing long clothes when working in the sun is pretty common in Hispanic countries.
2) Wearing jeans looks more appropriate and professional. Like you’re taking your job seriously.
3) Wearing long jeans is just smart. When working with heavy machinery or cement type mixtures your bound to have stuff nick you in the shins or get on your skin. Having a layer of protection helps. Also, it is easier to clean off jeans than skin, especially when you’re dealing with skin irritating cement mix.
4) Lastly, it is the Mexican way of life when working.
You see those points did not matter much to me. I just wanted to be comfortable. For our B2B Mexico Orientation we are reading a book called, “Cross-Cultural Servanthood” by Duane Elmer. This is an amazing book for anyone living it out for JC.
Now comes the Holy Spirit convicting my heart about how ethnocentric I am. Ethnocentrism is the belief in the inherent superiority of one’s own ethnic group or culture. Basically, I believe my good ole ‘Merican culture is better than all the others. You see God came to serve and not to be served and to give His life as a ransom for many. Joseph is a great example of a servant. Here was a man that was thrown into slavery and could have been angry his whole life. He actually exalted God more, even when he did not know what this slavery was intended for. He served the Egyptians so well as the author Duane Elmer states, “Joseph always welcomed people into his presence and made them feel safe. By embracing Egyptian culture and by embracing those God put around him. Joseph revealed the presence of the Lord and the aroma of heaven in all his conduct.
You see, it says in Romans 2:4, “God’s kindness leads us towards repentance.” By embracing a culture and a people that you are not accustomed to you are exhibiting the first quality in being a servant “humility”. As Duane states again concerning humility, “This virtue, when prominent in a person’s life, always features God as the source of all that is good.”
My prayer and please pray for our family in this, that God will continue to humble us. We are striving to adopt a culture that is foreign to us and to do it humbly. Because it is in this that we show God’s kindness. It is in this that we show His humility. It is in this we can show His love.
Buy a couple pairs of work jeans and pants- checked that off my list today.
(Hopefully it is the aroma of heaven they smell and not of me sweating)