February 22, 2002
The Chaplain's Corner
I was describing some of the challenges faced by our service-learning team as it worked with Nicaraguan immigrants in Costa Rica on the construction of a church and childcare center last month.
"Yeah, and you were working in one of those 'siesta cultures,' too," my conversation partner added.
During eleven weeks in Central America, I have never seen a local over age 8 take a nap. But the assumption is widespread among gringos: Latin Americans are lazy.
God has ways of falsifying arrogant assumptions. In this case, it was the juxtaposition of two hard realities of that culture:
1. The construction team experienced for itself how brutal and unforgiving the tropical sun can be from noon to 3:00 p.m.
2. The medical team reported that 100 percent of the patients who came to their clinic had parasites, and close to 100 percent suffered from chronic low-grade infections. Cures for both maladies are available but unaffordable.
Combine those two facts. Anyone with an IQ above room temperature can figure out that a body compromised by parasites, disease and tropical heat is bound to be less than optimally productive.
It's not a non-existent "siesta culture" that hampers productivity; it's a world that hasn't yet learned to care enough to share the resources the Creator has given it.
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