Women who haven’t lived in a third world country will never understand the disgust that I felt every time I left my house in Guatemala to go for a walk, or to go wherever. No matter where I was or who I was with, the fact that I had white skin and red hair indicated to men that it was time to start whistling. It started happening even before I was twelve. It made me feel unsafe, especially if I was alone and a group of men were being rowdy. I learned to make a hateful, angry face to make them stop whistling. Either that, or I would simply turn around and walk the opposite direction, which was often the opposite of where I wanted to go.
When our maid got married in her 40′s, she was so pleased that she had found a godly man. This happened while I was away at college, and I used to write back and forth to her because we were friends. Back when I was living in Guatemala, I would knock on her door across the courtyard, and she would let me in. We would talk about God for hours, and what God was teaching us. She was a lovely, sweet woman who had the gift of evangelism. She would ask me questions about a particular topic, and I would open my Spanish Bible and find the answers. She would write them down on scraps of paper, and later she would tell me how she had counseled a friend, and how the verses had helped her friend.
Well, now that she was married, I wanted to go see her. I always thought of her as my equal, and I loved her. She had written me that she had found a wonderful man who wanted to marry her. He had lived in the States, and he had concluded that all the American women were snobs and mean. This man said to her that it was impossible to find someone beautiful on the inside and on the outside, and that the inside mattered more. So they got married.
I went to see my friend way out in the middle of nowhere, where a stray chicken can be seen crossing a dirt road, and a three-legged dog hobbled around, looking like a skeleton.
She lived in a cinder-block house, probably the nicest house in the town. The floor was not dirt like most houses, but it was a real floor. I hugged her tightly when she opened the “porton,” the metal door with bars. I almost cried to see her sweet little baby that she never thought she would have, not having gotten married until she was in her 40′s. We chatted for a long time, and we laughed together.
When her husband came home, I was so disappointed when he gave me “that look.” He took one look at me, and even though he didn’t audibly whistle, I was disgusted. Anger filled my face, and I just looked somewhere else. I was so mad when I found out that my sweet friend (who deserved to be loved completely) had a husband who was gawking at some other woman. To be that other woman was disgusting to me. I couldn’t wait to leave.
This is just one of the struggles that a missionary kid has if she is a girl living in a country of people who do not have the same skin color. I mention other teasing that happened when children called me “Fire” and ran away from me because of my red hair. To read more missionary kid stories, click here.Tweet