Independence Across Cultures

It hit me yesterday afternoon. Today is the U.S. Independence Day. No matter that my daughter, born on July 2nd, blew out candles the day before yesterday. No matter that my Facebook feed has been lit up with pictures of, comments on, and complaints about fireworks. It still snuck up on me. I’m gifted with linear time obliviance that way.

With Costa Rica’s bid for the World Cup over, the streets around me are quiet. Fruit stands dot the roadsides, rather than firework tents. Our schedule is packed, hosting a mission team of 21 at the children’s home where we serve. I share my testimony tonight and have two more dinners to feed them.

Happy 4th of July. I’m trying to figure out how I feel about it.

I’ve never been great at “special days.” In the states, native rhythms did the heavy lifting for us: days off work, neighborhood displays, family gatherings. Colorful flyers shouted discounts for snaps and ground flowers. We stuffed ourselves at picnics and laughed at the smoke bombs that puffed a little less each year.

Here, Independence Day is September 15th and celebrates liberty from Spain, won without a fight. A nighttime parade of festive lanterns, carried by school children, ushers in the holiday as a reminder of the freedom cry spread by word of mouth through the country in 1821.

It may be a regular workday in Costa Rica, but everything about our home country affects the life our family lives here: all of our financial support, the spiritual covering of our sending church, the freedom granted by the eagle on our passports. Now, more than ever, we appreciate the privilege of our birthplace.

blake-guidry-722181-unsplashJust across the northern border, Nicaragua’s streets are choked with blockades. The citizens of that nation marched peacefully in mid-April to protest corruption and injustice. The presidential leadership unleashed months of harsh violence in response. What doesn’t rate high on the news feed has sent missionaries we know fleeing to safety, crippled business and services in Nicaragua, and flooded the borders with people seeking refuge.

We of the land of the free and the home of the brave, we don’t have utopia, but we can’t even fathom living that.

The red, white, and blue twirls my daughter hung up this morning speak something deeper to me than national identity and the faces I miss in my homeland. I did nothing to earn the benefits my country gives me; but everything about there, makes it possible for me to serve the Lord here.

Today is business as usual in Central America, yet I can feel the picnics and starbursts in the stateside air. They shine in memories of the ones we love, deep gratitude for the liberty geography gave us, and reverent honor for the long fight of many to keep us free.

May we all use it well.

I think it will be a Happy 4th of July.

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.  1Timothy 2:1-2 NLT


What’s your culture for Independence Day?

Passport Photo by Blake Guidry on Unsplash


8 comments

  1. To characterize you as a wordsmith is so inadequate in describing your artful writing skills. Once again you convey both fact and feelings with vivid expressions from your mind and heart. I was thinking about posting a piece for today but declined, forgoing a wistful lament about our country’s current divisive state of anger and political turmoil. I don’t know what happened to “e pluribus unum” and “In God We Trust.” Nonetheless, the flag flies free yet again this morning outside our home while I’m trying to balance the duality of “proud to be an American” with “our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Thanks Kris for your continual encouragement. Well burn a couple red, white and blue smoke bombs this evening just for you!

  2. Oh my goodness! Reached into my heart. I know what you speak of so eloquently because it flows from deep and because I was privileged to experience a small bit. Prayers for sure.

  3. Pingback: Reflections on the Fourth – Modern Missionary Mamas

  4. Wow. To say you have a way with words is a vast understatement! I was a missionary in Russia for 7 years, and all the American ex-pats got together on American holidays to celebrate. They were especially poignant because the people we were there for were living such rigid, stilted lives that lacked the hope and freedom of individuality that we take so much for granted here at home. Oh, how badly the world needs Jesus! Thank you for staying the course and fighting the good fight.


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