Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Ethnocentric Thinking ?

I likely did not spell that right, but what I am always aware of is something called Ethnocentric Thinking... that is to take my own cultural expectancies and lay them over the culture that I am trying to fit into. This week, I have been battling with this in a huge way, then it all came to a head, and I found out that our friends where just as outraged as I was.... something had to be done....
let me back up a bit.... I was invited to a wedding celebration of one of our sponsored kids , she turned 16, 6 weeks ago, and as soon as she turned 16 she was married. Then I found out that her new husband was 34 years old... I was spitting nails that this had happened.... To make things worse, they were having the wedding celebration, and she wanted her Canadian Poppa there to represent her "Family".... I found myself in the most awkward situation It have been in in a long time.... Non of our workers had been able to find were she is now living, and she was surrounded by the new family, and a very overpowering Mother in law.... There was no way that we were going to be able to get her apart so we could make sure she was OK....
So when it came time for presents, I left mine in the car, and told them that for their wedding present, I wanted to take the two of them to the market for a new outfit each, then take them out to a nice restaurant for supper.... knowing that he had likely never been in a restaurant before he was sure to take the bait.... I had Acell and Anya ready to shop with our Girl, and Sergey and I to shop with him... that way we could get them apart and better analyze the situation.... then they arrived at the apartment ....with the mother in law....now what.... We invited them in for tea.... now this is a must by Central Asian tradition...also I MUST serve bread...did I say MUST... well the only bread that I had was about 4 pieces of stale bread that I had tossed into the garbage a few hours before because one of the pieces had mold on it.... Great..... well I cut it off and managed to put together cute little pieces and every one was happy, then Mother in law announced that she was content and that she would leave us to go shopping now... so we were back on track..... when we got to the market, the ladies went off, and we took him for his clothes... Something strange happened... I started to get this incredible piece... he really was a genuinely nice man... he is gentle and shy.... and when ever we even mentioned Umute, he was almost week kneed....
The girls where able to have a good talk with Umute, and had a chance to make sure that she was happy, and not there under duress... When they where talking to her , she said that he was very kind and gentle... she then said something that really struck me... she said that although she like him a lot , she did not love him, but he really loved her, and she really liked feeling loved..... so where do you go from there ? she is a wonderful young girl, and she deserves to have someone really love her..... I can't say that our system is any great shake... All you have to do is look at the devorce rate...
We brought them to the playground where we had all the young kids from the orphanage, and they had a chance to play with the kids and have a little party with them complete with ice cream , then we took them back to the apartment where they changed into there new clothes, then we went to a different park to take some wedding photo's for them before dinner... I had Acels husband drive them home so we would know where they live, and I am scheduled for a visit now to there home next week at which time I will bring the photo's out to them....
As I walked back into the apartment tonight, I realized the stress I was feeling over this... the day could have gone either way, but I must say, I am genuinely happy for her . now I can sit back and relax and enjoy the "coffee" my butler is making me.... I think I am going to name him Benson....

6 comments:

Mala said...

That is so difficult. It's hard to look at the situation without our own notions influencing our feelings. She's so young. It's a shame to not marry for love.
Ugh, all I can say, is I'm glad I'm not in your shoes. But you did a wonderful job in the way you handled the entire situation. Very smart. If she's happy then I guess all we can to is pray for her continued happiness.

(oh and the "Benson" thing had me laughing! You take care of so many, enjoy a little VIP treatment for yourself!)

Anonymous said...

Wow....what a conundrum....Umute looks happy, her eyes are bright and her smiles are real. I understand that each one of the orphans is like a daughter or son to you, the emotions are imense. I know how much control you must of had just to take the time to find out for yourself how Umute realy feels about this.
We all pray into this relationship that they can share the Fathers love with each other, they will be way ahead of many western marriages if they can do that.

Truly impressed with your handling this situation.

As always, be safe, stay in His light and expect the unexpected.

Blessings - Dan and Ingrid :)

Cindy LaJoy said...

John, thanks for pointing out something that many would have left untouched...the cultural differences and our own expectations that those who live life differently would change to fit what we feel is right. While I can completely understand your initial fears about this marriage, I am glad to read that it appears to be safe.

We often forget that years ago these kind of marriages were the norm here is as well, and as you said who is to say it is wrong when compared to our abysmal divorce rate.

thanks for shining a light on this interesting subject!

Anonymous said...

Most "insightful" blog to date.

Ron (PR)

Ben Wright said...

you spelled "ethnocentric" right.

Ben Wright said...

Dad, I'm proud of you. And not just for spelling ethnocentric right. I believe God was at the centre of this experience and that through it He is preparing you to think openly and outside the box about a great many more things to come.