Learning A New Culture

My family and I have lived on Maui, Hawaii, for nearly ten years now, and it has been an amazing experience. We are happy to announce we have recently taken the Citizenship test and oath to officially become American citizens, with all the rights and responsibilities that come with it.

One thing that is really interesting, coming from a different culture, is to understand and learn to appreciate the different cultures here in the Islands. A week ago we were listening to the radio and laughing about the local jokes, but it took us quite some time to understand the background of the jokes and appreciate them, now we can laugh out loud.

This learning process has been a real experience to me since 1990 when Gary and Marilyn Hargrave went to Brazil for the first time—how they just loved the people and the culture of Brazil. In a very real sense, they taught me to love my own culture! I started to see things that I had never seen before, and because of that I started to become proud of my culture and history.

Now back to Hawaii. There is such a diversity of cultures and amazing gifts and different expressions here in the Islands. It may sound silly but this is how I think: God is the Father and He gave gifts to men (Ephesians 4:8), and even though a Father may have many children, He loves the differences and peculiarities of each one individually, because they are all unique. Each nation is like a child, and each nation has something that was received as a gift, and has something that the Father loves in the expression of that child.

When this happened to me, I had to see my own culture in a different way. It was like getting rid of years of a “religious” point of view that certain things are “bad”—like samba was labeled in Brazil, and different expressions like hula were labeled here in Hawaii. I grew up with a limited understanding of my own culture, so it took a spiritual mother and father, like Gary and Marilyn, to come with the love of Christ in their hearts, and show us that there were gifts from God that I was not open to see. I want to love and respect every culture, and find in each one the gifts and anointing from God in their peculiar way of expressing it.

I am blessed to live in Hawaii—in many different ways—but one way is in being exposed to the local culture and seeing the amazing gifts of love and family, the music and Hula and of course ALOHA!

For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; (1 Corinthians 12:14–22, NAS)

Now think of each part of the body as one different nation and culture! What a great picture of the amazing things God has created!

Daniel Oliveira

Daniel Oliveira

Daniel began his ministry as a scribe and youth pastor at A Palavra Viva, a prophetic community in Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Now he and his wife live in Maui and oversee Hale O Nā Kāula church. Daniel is a man of the Word with a true shepherd's heart who is driven to see God's Kingdom established in the earth.