Making Friends in the Neighborhood
It didn't take much time for us to be noticed in our neighborhood. As the new white people with four kids, we didn't exactly "blend in." The neighborhood kids have been very welcoming and our kids enjoy having friends to play with. The adults have been friendly as well, but there is one family in particular that has befriended us.
Through this relationship, we have learned to appreciate Peruvians' commitment to follow through. For example, when you say, "We should do dinner sometime," they ask, "When?" and establish a time and date before parting ways. They are great at asking for what they want and accepting whatever answer may come. We love this about our friends.
One example is when our friend asked us to cut her son's hair. She had asked if we cut our boys' hair. She was apparently pleased with how it looked, because she immediately asked if Geoff would do the same for her son. Geoff, of course, said yes and an appointment was made with the new neighborhood barber (i.e., Geoff).
Now it is one thing to cut your own child's hair, but quite another to try to avoid butchering the hair of a one-year-old Peruvian. Our little amigo didn't appreciate my effort to clean up his overgrown mop and let us all know that we should not count on his cooperation. If you've never cut anyone's hair, you may not understand how difficult it can be to shave straight lines while the tiny head you're working on is imitating a bobble-head doll on the dash board of a Winnebago cruising the dilapidated streets of Brena (a poorer district in Lima - lots of pot holes and road construction).
One of the other things we have grown to appreciate about Peruvians is their commitment to breast feeding whenever and wherever their baby is hungry. They have no inhibitions when it comes to nursing in public and would never think to attempt to conceal the act to avoid offending the sensitivities of their American friends. We have grown to love this about our friends as well.
So...our friend restrained her son the best way she knows how. She pulled up her shirt and began nursing the boy while Geoff continued to chop away at his hair. While Geoff and I have grown accustomed to seeing mothers nursing in public, this was a first. Geoff kept his composure and finished the haircut to our friend's satisfaction. But, needless to say, Geoff was a little shocked, feeling slightly uncomfortable with using sharp, electric clippers so close to such a sensitive part of the body.
And this is how life goes in Lima...our friends are constantly challenging our presuppositions about what is normal. We thank God for the doors that He has opened in the neighborhood and we pray that these relationships will continue to challenge us and our friends to trust and follow Jesus.