Thursday, June 6, 2013

"I'm American Too"

Due to our years of working in Latin America, we are well aware of the sensitivities of many Latins toward our use of the term "American" to describe someone from the USA.  They generally object with the comment, "I'm American too!"  Which is true...the Americas stretch from Canada down to the tip of Tierra del Fuego.

This past month we spent an afternoon with two couples from Central and South America.  One couple is newlywed and praying about the possibility of coming to live somewhere in this part of the world.  The other is closer to our age and well into the process of getting jobs and visas to live in one of the most restrictive countries of the 10/40 window.  Our team had lunch with them.  Amazingly, all but one or two of our teammates here in Central Asia has a good working knowledge of Spanish, so there was very little need for interpreters.  After lunch, we talked about the work in our region and had a time of prayer for these two families.  During the conversation, one of our teammates made the fatal mistake of referring to us, the US passport holders, as Americans in the context of Latins being able to get visas to countries that Americans are barred from.  The South American brother laughed, and said he wanted to tell us a story.

On his last visit to the country where they hope to work, a man on the street asked him where he was from.  Our friend told him his nationality, and the man responded with something along the line of, "You should have your head chopped off.  Your president is corrupting our country by being friends with our president."  To say that our friend was upset would be an understatement!  He went back to where he was staying and began to ask himself what he should do the next time someone asked where he was from.  Finally, he hit on a truthful answer that would still avoid such hostility.  Now he tells people who ask where he's from, "I'm American!"  Their response?  They grab him and whisper in his ear, "I like America."

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