I don’t know what to think

31 Oct

Did the curtains guy flat out lie to me? Or did we just miscommunicate? I feel severely handicapped by lack of facility in the language. The way things worked out, we paid the curtains guy before we saw the final product. Upon inspection, one set of curtains was not the pattern we wanted. I went back to the store and negotiated, I thought, for him to give us some discounted tulle (lacy white curtains in front) to compensate for my having to buy new curtain material. He came today, on time, installed the missing galleries to hang the tulle, and brought the right curtains. But no tulle. I was flabbergasted. There are a couple clues that he might not have understood me correctly. There are also clues that he was taking advantage of me. I don’t know what to believe. I desperately want to believe that someone so punctual, efficient, and talented (a rare combination anywhere) is not taking advantage of me. I do know, however, that I can shop around for tulle elsewhere, as it doesn’t all have to match, so maybe it’s best to call it “curtains” on this one.

Shortly before the curtains guy came, Ricardo called (taxi driver whom I’ve invited to a Bible study the last several weeks) and said he wanted to talk to me and could he come to the house. He came about 15 minutes later and I met him at the gate. He did not seem himself. He said he had a serious problem and didn’t know how to tell me this, but he buys and sells cars and he is waiting on a car to sell but in the mean time, his daughter at university cannot take her exams because she can’t pay the bill. He is asking his friends to help and he thought of me and could I possibly loan him $200. So I says to myself, “Right, I’m going to loan money to a used car salesman in Peru…” I told him politely that we had just paid the rent yesterday and now was not a good time. He left pretty quickly thereafter and never called back about going to the Bible study tonight. I am not sure that I will hear from Ricardo again. Our friends here tell us that this is extremely common and that I absolutely did the right thing. If you loan money, you will never see it or the borrower again and the relationship will be ruined. Even supposed brothers in Christ whom they have known for years have run off with money and stopped returning calls. So Shakespeare was right: “he who loans money to a friend loses both it and friend.” In the future, I might even quote this to would-be borrowers and suggest that in order to preserve our friendship, it would be best to keep money out of it.

On a positive note, today is Reformation Day. The impact of the Reformation has become more real to me every day in Peru. False religions share many common characteristics. There is a lot of outward “holiness” (dress code for meetings, clerics in robes or tunics, repetitive prayers, mandatory fasting or abstinence from certain foods, observing holy days). There are lots of traditions. There is a lot of emphasis on the importance of the One True Church (think Rome… or Mecca) and families get hostile or distant when their loved ones are converted away. But there is little evidence of real holiness, little evidence that “love thy neighbor as thyself” has ever been taught or practiced. The only fear of doing wrong is that of getting caught. Thievery and connivery are so common that you must be vigilant always. You never leave a worker in your home unattended. Or take an unregistered taxi. Or leave your phone lying on a table in a restaurant. Or loan money to anyone. Or take your hand off your camera when sitting on the bus. Why don’t you have to think about these things daily in Fayette County, GA or Tama County, IA? Because of the Reformation. Because of the recovery of the Gospel of grace. And the corresponding rediscovery that holiness is not defined by outward appearances and observance of holy days, but by whether we love people as Jesus did. In the final analysis, it comes down to the Word and the Spirit. As the Scriptures became available in the common language, aided by the printing press, the Spirit moved in a powerful way in northern Europe, the UK, and eventually America. We pray for such a revival to now sweep through the rest of the globe.

4 Responses to “I don’t know what to think”

  1. michael CHANDLER November 1, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

    Harry Truman had a vestige of that reformation original fire.  He summarized the golden rule “Do as you’d be done to”.  True Christians ask the question of some questionable act “would Jesus do that?” No matter what one thinks of Jesus, he should ask, “would I want someone to do that to me?”  Well of course not! BUT he’s rich enough to buy a camera and I am not.  And I deserve one!  And he can afford to buy another one, anyway! And he should be more careful about watching his unattended baggage. 

    Sorry about the incident with Riccardo.  You did the right thing. You may have lost a friend but not your money.  And friends don’t steal from one another.

    Love,   Dad 

  2. David M November 1, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

    Two books help train a person in these situations, which are common to workers:
    1/ When Helping Hurts (Corbit & Fikkert)
    2/ African Friends and Money Matters (Maranz)

    • David Chandler November 1, 2013 at 10:52 pm #

      Thanks, David. I read a book review of When Helping Hurts a while back and the locals have confirmed many of the same risks in this context. The prosperity gospel has great appeal here because everyone thinks money is their biggest problem.

  3. Susan Greco November 16, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

    Your family is often on our minds… Thankful that The Omnipresent Great I Am is with you. Daniel, David, Jonathan, and Sophia shout a big hello across the globe to Daniel, Timothy, and Anna.

    Michael appears so grown-up, and Rebekkah often responds to questions of how she is to her focus on her siblings. Surely those heartstrings are tugged tight and the Chandler family never realized until now how much love is betwixt them.

    S Greco

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