When the rubber hits the road
In March 2016, nearly one year ago, I wrote an article entitled 'Is family living outdated?' after having spent one month with my husband's farming family in Peru and subsequently returning to the highly individualistic nation of Australia.
In the article, I compared the two cultures in question, and presented some ideas about 'The Father's house' from the Scriptures.
Now that I have been living in this Peruvian family network for over two months, it seems appropriate to review how the experience is working out in reality!
The family business
As a member of a farming family, manual labour is the most highly valued currency on a day-to-day basis. Helping out is not only a matter of showing love, appreciation and solidarity, but is also a matter of survival. If there are no flowers or guinea pigs to sell, there is no income and we do not eat.
The upside of working on a family farm is being able to spend time with my husband, his parents, sister and the other workers while we have a task to do. This means that the focus is not on one's conversational prowess, but on enjoying daily activities together and creating memories at the same time.
Meals are extremely important in this family – firstly because the workers are ravenous after harvesting in the field, and secondly because communal living (five adults sharing a kitchen, washing machine, car, expenses and housework) requires everyone to plan and make decisions together throughout the day.
If someone is missing from the family table, that person's views are not taken into account and they will have to go along with whatever is decided in their absence. As far as meal planning, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law are teaching me to cook Peruvian recipes that everyone likes, and are always ready to explain the next step and check my progress.
As mentioned previously, this 'sharing economy' with communal vehicles and appliances requires a high degree of timetabling and constant communication so that no one is left 'in the lurch' when they most need to use something.
The way this usually works out is that my parents-in-law have priority over the utility truck on Tuesdays and Fridays when they take the flowers to market, and all other outings (for shopping and visiting relatives) are fairly spontaneous. If the ute is not available, taxis are a good option for getting around town, as there are always plenty of empty taxis circulating and they are not expensive. As far as washing clothes, it's a matter of getting in first when the machine is free!
Making one's own choices in a family system
In any family, it can be difficult to strike a balance between 'wanting the best' for one another (with advice-giving and so on) and giving each other the freedom to make choices independently, whether for the best or for the worst. In a family which shares almost all day every day together, this balance becomes extremely important to avoid arguments, bitterness and resentment.
So far, the guiding principle in this family is to be concerned for one another's physical wellbeing ('take a coat, it's cold out' and 'don't eat that if you already feel sick'), but to stay out of one another's spiritual walk and relationship issues.
This proved extremely helpful for me as I recently reached a point in my own spiritual walk where I started to question the way I had been taught to follow the Creator, and began the transition to 'Torah observance' (obeying the Law of YHWH as revealed in the first five books of the Bible) – complete with Sabbaths, Biblical festivals, clean and unclean foods, tassel-wearing and abstaining from pagan-origin festivals and customs.
As long as I don't impose my beliefs on others in the family, I am free to put them into practice myself. I always have a respectful answer ready if asked 'why', but otherwise just focus on my own obedience to the Father and join in with every family activity that is lawful according to Scripture, to promote peaceful and strong relationships.
The principle of staying out of each other's relationship issues is also essential for avoiding situations of being 'triangled', and has stopped small frustrations from dividing the family unit.
The household of YHWH
In the household of the Creator, His children are also to live in peace with each other, without complaining or arguing (Philippians chapter 2, verse 14), but are not to compromise on matters of obedience to His will, which is clearly spelt out in the Torah.
When asked about his family, Messiah Yahshua (Jesus) responded by explaining that his mother and brothers are those who hear YHWH's word and obey it, referring to his disciples (Luke chapter 8, verse 21). However, he also made sure his physical mother was provided for (by John the apostle) before going to his Heavenly Father (John chapter 19, verses 25-27).
As we seek to honour our spiritual and physical families, are we putting obedience to YHWH first? Or are we compromising in an attempt to please those we love?
Rosanne Menacho has recently moved to Peru with her husband to spend time living with his family. She has begun apprenticeships in 'Latina house-wifery' (specialising in Peruvian cookery) and guinea pig farming (also specialising in Peruvian cookery!) under the tutelage of her mother-in-law. In her spare time, Rosanne enjoys playing music, dancing, translating and drinking herbal tea. Her heart is to worship and represent Messiah in spirit and in truth, and to see YHWH's Kingdom come on Earth.
Rosanne's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/rosanne-menacho.html