I’ve never quite had an experience like crossing the border south of the border between Costa Rica and Panama. We arrived at the border late Wednesday night, the evening of January 31st, after a long eight hour bus ride from San Jose through the mountains that caused me to regret having eaten as much as I did for breakfast. Nevertheless, we arrived at the border around 7:00 PM. It had already grown dark. We obtained our exit stamps from the Costa Rican authorities and proceeded to obtain our entrance stamps from the authorities of Panama, but they wouldn’t authorize the stamp without return tickets for the Costa Ricans which we didn’t have because we were being shuttled by car in Panama. To make a long story short, we called our Panamanian friends and they came to our rescue. Yet, about two miles down the road from the border was a check point, a document inspection station, to ensure that we didn’t cross over illegally. We were all asked to exit the car and to state the purpose of our visit in Panama. I was asked if I knew Spanish and after the bus ride, the border fiasco, and the various inspections, my reply was somewhat muddled. The border guard said, “Your Spanish is machucado.” I didn’t hear what he said at first, but the rest of the party got a pretty good laugh out of it. Later I learned what was said and what the word meant. “Machucado” means “mashed” or “chopped” depending on the context. So my Spanish was mashed, is what he had said. The laughter was understandable.
Over the course of the next week and a half we found new and various ways to use the word “machucado” as we recounted the story in the presence of our friends and brethren back in Costa Rica. Maritza served us papas machucado, yes, that’s right, mashed potatoes. I illustrated the meaning of the word with a banana, or, I thought to. I stopped short of making a big banana mess on Martiza’s kitchen table. We had eggs machucado for breakfast, and fish machucado for lunch (though this was more of a joke by this time). And I eventually was able to incorporate the word into describing Moises English as well. We even told Isaac to get out of the road, one time, because his mother didn’t want him to be machucado! It seemed that we were able to apply this word to just about anything. Carlos Ulate translated the word best when he said the word, when applied to language, means “choppy.”
Perhaps, however, instead of looking to apply this word solely to physical things, we ought to ask the question, “Is our Christianity machucado?” That is to say, is our Christianity choppy? There are practice Christianity in fits and starts. There is no consistency to their efforts. Perhaps being a Christian is just a once a week event for them. Or maybe they decide they are going to be Christians only when it suits their mood or acquaintances. To be a Christian requires a twenty-four seven commitment. Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:24-25). I’m working on my Spanish and hopefully in the future it will be less machucado than it has been in the past. But let us all resolve not to let our Christianity be machucado, but instead live each day consistently as a Christian.