Let me paint you a picture of this place:
You’re walking down a cobblestone street,past buildings with such intricate designs and impressive columns that you can feel they’ve stood there longer than your grandparents have been alive. Every single person you see is beautiful with smooth tan skin under dark, rich hair and beautiful coffee-brown eyes. Your barista at Starbucks (yes, they have Starbucks in Spain) could easily be an Abercrombie and Fitch model. But these stunning people see you as unique–that is, if you have red/blond hair and blue eyes.
The men are particularly attentive. You go out for your first night on the town, and as you go over a crosswalk, a young man comes right up behind you–so close you can feel his breath on your bare shoulder. “Qué bella,” he says, and the rest of his compliment is lost in the crowd and your own confusing embarrassment.
Despite this forwardness, the people here are closed-off. They are friendly, but not interested in building lasting relationships. Your teachers explain that it’s because Sevillanos are born here, go to school here, marry here, and die here. Those 40-year-old women sitting together in church have literally been friends for their entire lives. These people build relationships on shared lives over many years, so wehn the refrain of the Spanish hymn is “Eres mi amigo, Jesús,” you understand the deeper meaning to it. These people have learned to love and trust each other and Jesus over time–relationships are for the long haul.
Instead of seeing these people as rude, your perspective changes. People don’t smile at you on the streets because they don’t need to. They have a lot of security in their relationships. Sevillanos are locked to new deep relationships because they already have them. It’s all a matter of perspective.
As I begin classes tomorrow in this 40 degree Celsius heat (you do the conversion–that’s hot), I’m praying for some deep relationships with some of these beautiful people. I would love for you to pray for that, too.