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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Hispanic Culture: Tiempo

Hispanics (as other cultures as well) are notoriously known for being late, according to those who go by their watches and not by the Hispanic cultural watch.  If for example, you invite someone to a party they will can show up two or more hours late.  I’m not kidding here. Not too long ago we went to a birthday party that started at 5 pm and we arrived after 5pm and only a few were there. People arrived a few hours later. To Hispanics, this is not late. Their focus is on the event and being part of it and enjoying the moment.

They see time differently, especially as it relates to social events. When Hispanics invite to a social event they tell ballpark beginning time but no end time. Time is at best an estimation (9:00 am means between 9-10 am).  This drives people crazy, especially those who adhere to “American” time.  It is rude to be late. For them, parties start on time and end on time. Not so, with Hispanics. Parties have an estimated beginning and no end.  The party ends when everyone leaves.  

Hispanics are not always late to everything.  Most get to work on time. For the most part, the social events are the ones that have a different "clock".  Don’t be surprised next time your Hispanic friend is not on time.  Remember he carries a watch, a watch you can’t see. It’s internal. You can’t change that!

When reaching Hispanics with the Gospel it is important to understand that they will be likely late for church. Some do learn to be punctual but many will continue to arrive late no matter what. It is important to not make it a serious issue that ends up discouraging them to attend church. Services in Hispanic culture run longer than your typical American church. Worship is longer and spontaneous, the preaching is longer and things linger for a few hours. Hispanics don't mind this because once again, time is relative. It is the event that is important.
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