Doing Your Country Proud

This weekend, two-hundred kilometers from home our car lost power and stranded us on the side of the highway. The old girl had the decency to die under a tree that first shaded us from the sun and then gave us some protection from the rain. Four hours of texting later, a tow truck picked us up and delivered us to a little repair shop on the back edge of Santiago.

Most of the time I feel pretty at home in Panama, but a stressful situation in an unfamiliar city, needing a new set of Spanish vocabulary, heightened my awareness that I am a stranger. I am an Extranerjo.

After four hours of laboring, Roberto finally gave us the bad news that the head gasket was blown. That was almost enough to make me want to spend my money on an airline ticket instead of car repairs … but it didn’t. That’s because of a guy named Roberto. Here’s how Roberto the mechanic treated us:

·       He warmly welcomed us into his little shop and insisted on changing his TV to English.

·       He wouldn’t allow Sue to use the shop restroom (solo hombres) instead he welcomed her into his home.

·       He charged us a modest fee for his labor … even though we were obviously at his mercy.

·       He was patient with our lack of Spanish.

·       He was patient with our indecision even though he had worked well past supper.

·       He asked if we were hungry and showed us where we could get some food.

·       He reassured us that he would keep our car and its contents safe until it could be hauled to Coronado.

·       He eventually took us and our luggage across town to the bus stop.

·       He insisted on parking, finding the right bus and making sure we were on it safely.

I hear a lot of disparaging comments about Panamanians … and I, to my shame, have produced a few of my own. It’s a less than noble way of dealing with the stress of living in a different culture. I just want to be sure I’m as quick to notice the good and give praise where praise is due. Roberto did his people and his country proud!

Are you doing your country proud? Look at this …

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 1 Peter 2:11–12

Peter uses two words to describe followers of Christ; “foreign citizens” and “sojourners.” You, Christian, are an extranejo in this world. Heaven is your true country. When the native-born of this world watch you … what conclusions do they draw about your people and your country?