We talk a lot in today’s culture about being introduced to countries around the world. A lot of time we get that information from the Web or books or TV – but talking to someone who has actually lived there can give our kids insights that you can’t get by looking at a picture.
In growing missions-minded kids, we need to take the opportunity to expose our children to people from the country or people who have lived in the country and allow our kids to listen to their adventures and/or to freely ask questions. Which is why I am so excited about today’s blog post.
Our guest blogger is Linda Crouch. Linda grew up in Nigeria where her parents were missionaries. (Linda’s sister Ruth is my daughter’s mother-in-law.)
Linda also raised her own kids in Nigeria – she and her husband, Jim, taught at Kent Academy (a boarding school in Miango, Nigeria (near Jos) for forty years. So Linda’s life has been centered in Africa.
What’s it like to live there? Linda gives us a list of customs – many of them having to do with hospitality … and how awe-inspiring to think that these believers with whom they worked worship the same God we do and are our brothers and sisters in Christ. What a great message to get over to our kids.
*When someone visits your house, you walk them part way home showing gratitude for the time spent together.
*You show respect by giving a gift with your right hand and always receiving a gift with both hands.
*The neatness of your house. the discipline of your kids, or the food you offer your guests to eat is not near as important as the calm, kind way you receive them at the door. Hence the proverb: “the way you show your face is more important than how you spread the mat.”
*If a friend you know experiences a death, it is critical that you leave immediately, if at all possible, to go and greet at the home, showing your love and respect.
*After an absence of a few months, you show friendship and respect to go and greet your friend on your return, Also, if you plan to be away, you should go and greet before you leave.
*Your friends expect a gift for them on your return from a leave away for several months.
*Children are often taught NOT to look an adult in the eyes when spoken to as it shows a lack of respect.
*Age is respected. Often three generations live together in one compound.
*Children are loved dearly, but are often not disciplined well when they’re small. Friends didn’t understand us being so strict with our children.
*Greetings are extremely important and often take a lot of time. Don’t rush them! Jumping into a conversation without taking the time to greet is most rude.
*Time is relative. Being on time means showing up sometime during an event. Lateness is not rudeness.
*Fruit trees and farms are not exclusively yours. Especially fruit trees are public property and there’s no shame in picking fruit from other’s trees to enjoy.
*Children are everyone’s responsibility. I will watch for yours and you can watch mine without necessarily setting up plans to be away for a short time.
*Books are not common to have in a home. The culture is generally not that familiar with owning and reading books as a family or as adults. We worked HARD to encourage parents to buy and read to their children, When it’s often hard to find food for the family, books are too much of a luxury. But when we introduced reading clubs among staff and students and read to them and with them, the value of reading really took off.
*In village churches and homes, men and women sit separately to worship and to eat! Men eat first with their friends and then women and children eat in the kitchen,
*Though this is slowly changing, in most churches, women wear a head covering of some sort.
*Nigerian friends will walk to the market to spend their last money on a bottle of Coke or to serve you a chicken to cook for your dinner to show you hospitality.
*The thought is “anyone can teach children!” You only teach children until you’re given a more respectable position teaching secondary school or high school kids, and teaching HS is a stepping stone to teaching at a university. Jim and I spent all our years emphasizing the opposite: give us your little ones to train when they’re impressionable. It’s much easier than having to ‘Panel beat’ them when they’re older. (Panel Beaters are the Nigerian car mechanics who work hard to restore damaged, dented cars!)
Thank you so much, Linda, for giving us insights into Nigernian hospitality.
And thanks too, for sending along pictures that give us a glimpse into your ministry.