My Spanish is limited and her English was restricted to “hello”, but as I watched, I could tell she was half-playfully arguing with “A”, the staff member who was trying to get her started on a little bit of Saturday math homework. As she settled her nine year old self onto the concrete with a page of long addition and subtraction, I offered to help. A quickly agreed to let me help her.
As I started to sit down the little girl protested in Spanish, and I could make out enough of A’s words to understand that she was essentially explaining, “Math is the same in Spanish and English.”
So with a little bit of translation assistance from A (who speaks three languages), I helped her through the page of complicated-for-a-second-grader addition and subtraction.
Math is the same in any language…
…but I was still surprised by by how much harder it is to communicate simple, universal concepts when you only know numbers in the other’s language.
Math is the same in any language….and so is homework and trying to get kids to do every problem on the page and convincing them put their notebooks away properly when they’re finished.
It reminded me of the time, a year ago in this same orphanage, when I sat with three other American women in a little circle of Mexican women for a little mid-week bible study. We took turns sharing through a translator what a typical day looked like in our very different lives.
Mexico and America
So many differences
Cultures and languages
Opportunities and skin color
…and yet we all found that in the end our lives weren’t that much different at all.
We all took care of our homes.
We all cooked meals for our families.
We all got out of bed when we needed to and most of us went to bed late.
We all did chores and laundry.
We all struggled to find time for ourselves.
And most of us looked a little bit self-conscious to be sharing, wondering what the others would think.
And as I discovered that math is the same in any language, I was reminded that so much of humanity is the same no matter where you live.
The joys and struggles and heartaches and monotonies of the day-to-day don’t disappear in different cultures. They may take on different shapes and forms or be expressed differently in accordance with the culture you’re in, but they are still there.
Somehow the concrete reminder of this fact gave me a greater love for the whole of humanity.
And the words of that well known verse come to mind…
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
“For God so loved the world…”
And I’m thankful for the little glimpse of a different corner of the world. Thankful for the reminder that we’re all created in the image of God. Thankful for the reminder that the beauty of our uniqueness will never be so distinct that it will remove our ability to identify with each other. Thankful for the reminder that God so loves me and you and the people I’ve come to love in a rural town in Mexico and the people I’ve never met halfway around the globe.