the bottomline

Cultural Faux Pas
Friday, January 13, 2017 by Dan Allen

“Dan’s Diary from Delhi & Other Places that Don’t Begin with ‘D’” (Vol. 3, #3)

    It doesn’t rise to the level of an international crisis, but it will be one at home . . . I might have an Indian wife.
    The children at the orphanage were pumped. Not only where they about to receive an excellent Indian meal of flavored rice with shrimp, chicken curry and other stuff about which I have no idea what it is, but the big guy bearing gifts from the USA was there to see them. It is always a highlight of the trip for me to see the kids. They are so welcoming and fun. They laugh and clown around. And this time they seemed even more excited than on previous visits.
    After the late lunch and a time of singing we played the whispering game and I shared how gossip can be damaging and what the Apostle Paul wrote about speaking the truth in love. Gossiping is not doing this. Then it was candy for all and opening up the big duffle bag to see the backpacks and school supplies (thanks Nelson Randolph). The director of India Village Ministries, Suresh, presented to me a plaque commemorating 15-years of the orphanage  and hung a beautiful lei around my neck.
    During picture time with all the kids in front of the complex I just happened to lay the bottom of the lei on the shoulder of the gal in front of me—looked like a corsage. Knowing I cannot take the lei with me, afterwards I gave her the lei by putting it over her head. This was greeted with stunned laughter by the female staff members who, through the director’s wife, Roja, informed me that it was the Indian custom for a suitor to propose by putting a lei over a girl’s head.
    The various colors of red I turned matched some of the flowers.
    Although this is my eighth trip over here, it seems I’m just one mistake away from causing a major international incident. If it isn’t something I say, it will be something I do. And now I’m trying to figure out if I have give this girl’s father a couple of goats or if they come along with her. That could cut down on the mowing of the back forty at the house.
    Over the years I’ve learned a lot about the India culture and customs. Many of the differences are minor and cautiously observing others help minimize mistakes. I do know this, as a part of the human race, Indians need the Savior just as much as we do. That’s because they sin just like us and they are unable to save themselves just like us. Fact of the matter is, they are just as doomed to a Christless eternity as we unless they come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. And therein lies the challenge which is beyond me on an individual, one-on-one basis because of the language barrier. This is why training the national pastors is so important.
    While over here we’re investigating if “The Nathanael Project” will play in Hyderabad and the many surrounding villages. Pray as the ministry leaders evaluate the program and figure out how they can Indianize it and adapt it to their culture.
    And I’m all ears as to how I should approach this with Vonnie.


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