We often joke that Peru time means whenever they get around to it. My expectation for a schedule was just to be flexible. After being in Peru for 3 days, Matt Haak helped me make a connection I’d never seen before.
Savannah: It is so interesting that Peruvians just hang out and are so relaxed all the time. We are often feel an urgency in America to always do something, and risk failing to meet the actual needs of people.
Matt: Yes, that is because American culture is run on schedules. Peruvian culture is run on relationships.
Savannah: That is a perfect way to put it, Matt. Schedules are so impersonal and that is exactly what we live by every day. We always have somewhere to be or something to do.
Matt: I mean we are always so busy and focused on the next thing; they don’t have a next thing. They live their lives based the needs of each other, relating to one another.
Savannah: Yeah, we are so focused on ourselves and pursuing the American dream. They just want to be together and take care of each other. And we are so taken care of here: our meals are prepared for us, we have our laundry done, we are together all the time.
Matt: I know. It really puts things into perspective to not have to run around and feel the pressure to achieve to feel loved.
This conversation was a major turning point in my understanding of both Peruvian and American cultures. We made this observation because although morning worship at the orphanage was supposed to start at 8:00am, when we would arrive at 8:30, they would have just started. They do not want to leave anyone out, and they are perfectly content being around each other doing nothing, waiting so that no one is left out. They just want to take care of each other and be around one another. The children at the orphanage do not have a frame of reference of the American lifestyle and culture. They only know what they saw in us. They don’t watch movies or have any other social media to give them an expectation of what to look like, or how to act, so they do not know what the cultural context of where we are coming from. They had no clue that our culture is more about schedules and stuff.
There were multiple times that we had to just wait. We did not have Wi-Fi, or TV to entertain us. We were left to talk to each other. When you remove the distractions it is a whole lot easier to be focused on people and relationships than on schedules and yourself. I think we often use technology as an excuse for not being “present” in the moment. Instead of an excuse, we should put down the distractions and be genuinely interested in what people say and do around us. I think Christ would want us to be focused on people, instead of a schedule. I have been trying to put this into perspective while being back in America with all of the things asking for my time and attention.
I hope that I can live my life based on people and not on institution. Peru taught me to look at serving and loving on people, not just concerned about the next thing. I loved the time we got together to just be human beings, not human doings.
Always growing in Christ,