I have a very dear friend from Peru who speaks what can best be described as “Peruvian-American Spanglish” – a complex mix of Spanish, American English, and her dialect of Spanish from the region of Peru where she grew up and completed her education and career as a pharmacist before coming to America. Her husband died 13 years ago or so, and she lives outside town in a house that sits on a beautiful piece of land at the end of the lane.
At church, she is always so glad to see me, and I am glad to see her as well. She is in her early 70’s and most people stay away from her, which is unfortunate, because she has a wonderful sense of humor and is one of the most intelligent people I have ever had the privilege of being friends with. Why do they stay away from her? It’s a stupid, selfish reason – it’s because they have trouble understanding her. They don’t understand her speech and they don’t understand how much she understands about what we, in our church, believe. Most people think that, because they can’t understand what she’s saying, she’s uninformed and doesn’t know what’s going on, much less does she know what she is “supposed to believe”. It really makes me angry, but more than that, it breaks my heart.
People don’t want to have to actually listen to each other in order to know what is being communicated. For instance, I doubt that anyone besides myself and maybe one other person know how incredibly important the Sacrament is to my friend. She lives by herself, and therefore gets lonely. Yes, she likes to talk, but she is so much fun to talk to if you just take the time to understand her! People tell me that they can’t understand a word she’s saying, and I tell them to listen to every third word she says, and it helps them to understand at least the gist of what she’s saying. I’ve had people come and tell me, “Hey, she’s pretty funny!” and, “Hey, I understood what she said!” Well, yes, you did, because you had patience and actually listened. You paid attention to her.
I love my friend dearly, and I’m so glad that I have the opportunity to know such an awesome lady. If we were in the wilderness and we had to survive, I’d want her with me. She’s that intelligent and resilient. She was a pharmacist in Peru, meaning she can make her own medicines! She has a science education that you wouldn’t believe! Yes, I would always want her with me. I’m glad that we’re friends. She calls me her “especial friend”. I always tell her I love her, and she feels the same. Have patience with one another. You never know who you’ll meet and what kind of blessings you might get from knowing them! Just because they’re different doesn’t mean they’re stupid, ignorant, or less than you. As a matter of fact, it may be just the opposite! Think about that…think about it really hard, and appreciate one another’s differences. Try to make as many friends from other cultures as you can. It will enrich everyones’ lives! You might actually learn something!