Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Are We Speaking the Same Language?!

True story from this morning. One of our watchmen came to me to ask for some time off for a funeral. This was our conversation.

Mathew: Last night, my father died.
Meg: I am so sorry! How many days off do you need?
Mathew: I need today to prepare and tomorrow is the funeral and burial.
Meg: That is so sad, was it your father of birth?
Mathew: No.
Meg: Who was it?
Mathew: It was... say my step-father.
Meg: Oh, your mother's husband.
Mathew: No. It was... my father-in-law.
Meg: Oh, the father of your wife.
Mathew: No. It was my father's brother.

At this point I stopped the guessing game because "brother" could mean sibling or friend or cousin, and if I asked if it was his uncle, the answer would be yes! because uncle is any male older you than you, that you respect. Most likely it was a close friend of Mathew's father.

Mathew dressed as the equivalent
of a boy scout leader
We do have the privilege of serving in a part of the world where English is a common language, but we have found that many of the words we use do not carry the same meaning here. Always an adventure!

In Uganda, the family is very important. Relationships here are more valued than anything else. So this "uncle" who passed away was probably a close friend of the family and yet Mathew cared enough to call him "father." I struggle daily with communicating, but I am learning so much from our friends here about the value of others in my life.

2 comments:

Philip and Kara said...

awww that is funny meg:) I liked your onion story too...tonight I decided that I missed the Rambo family...a lot. God is good though and is doing wonderful things through your family and you!!! ---oh and tell scott that we woke up this morning to more SNOW...yeah it is pathetic...can we come visit?

Dan and Rachel said...

That sounds so familiar! But, I'm also dealing with the language barrier too. I had a picture up on my computer of my brother-in-law and my househelper wanted to know who it was. I said it was the husband of my husband's sister. She didn't get it and kept asking me if he was unmarried. Later I realized the proper title for him would be my "chief" (the same title I use for my husband)! Anyone who is a man related to my husband, like his brother or brother-in-law is also supposedly my "chief". Funny huh!