South Sea Lass

Fr. Jose Kaimlett

Two South Sea girls came to the Padre and wanted him to bore a hole through their upper lip. “For heaven’s sake!” he exclaimed. “What’s the matter with you two?” They explained that they wanted to be beautiful and have earrings and nose rings and pearls and necklaces and bracelets as was their local custom.  The missionary was not sure he wanted to help the two girls so he tried to talk them out of it: “Look, why do you two want all those trinkets? Why don’t you stay the way God made you? You’re both good-looking girls. Now why would you want to spoil the beauty which God has given you?”  The girls puts their heads together, held a small conference, then returned the Padre’s question with one of their own, “Then why do you shave every morning?”                                               – Adalbert Balling

There is no common denominator for beauty. What is beautiful in the eyes of one may be altogether otherwise for another. Many a time the different elements of beauty are determined by the common conscience of a people. Overcoming the limits of prejudices caused by one’s own upbringing, and the ability to appreciate the elements of other cultures would be a great asset for anyone, especially missionaries. How do you do it? Just by doing. It is not easy; I can well remember each first time the bottom of my stomach coming up to my mouth in revulsion when for the first time I tasted frog, monkey, cat, snake etc., and for that matter, during a dinner organized in my honour, for the first time I came face to face with the dirty looking tentacles of tiny octopus in the ante pasta.  In each case it was not the taste that was terrible, but my own preconditioned idea of ‘good’ & ‘bad’.

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