Page 9 - 2022 June/July Newsletter
P. 9

Page 9                                                                Southern Pennsylvania District

                                   Africa Great Lakes Updates

           For four short months Grace and I lived among the Brethren in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Con-
           go, Rwanda and Uganda. In so many ways we grew close to them and grew to love them dearly. Because
           I had visited there a number of times over the past few years, I figured I had a pretty good handle on the
           culture. Hang out some place for a while and find out how much you don’t know! As our farm veterinari-
           an told me many years ago, “The longer I’m in this business, the less I know.” It is really amazing to me
           the difference in cultural understanding that comes from a visit of one or two weeks versus four months.
           Now I am sure it is years that’s needed. A major component of it is the language. When someone does
           their thinking in one language - their heart language - and are translating those thoughts into another
           language, the thoughts simply do not convey accurately. There is so much of the nuance and descriptive-
           ness that gets left in the dust. When preaching or teaching, I would say a few sentences, stop talking,
           wait for my interpreter to say a few sentences, then move on. Occasionally, the interpreter would stop
           me and say that he wants to “explain it well.” Then he would proceed in Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, etc. with
           a few paragraphs. What this tells me is that every language - every culture - has ways of describing things
           that aren’t a simple word-for-word exchange.
           Grace has mentioned in her writing that sometimes the differences and misunderstandings are annoying
           and sometimes they are amusing. Sometimes it depends on the mood I’m in. Being an American and
           wanting to be on time can lead to annoyance with people that don’t really care what time it is. Watching
           someone trying to locate lost or misplaced items can be hilarious. Last week as we were leaving the vil-
           lage to head for the airport in Kigali, Papa Timo had the revelation that the lug wrench was in the other
           car. We were only a kilometer or so from home yet, but rather than turning back to pick it up, he called
           Mama Timo. There was a rapid exchange of Kinyarwanda as he tried to explain exactly what he was look-
           ing for and where it was located. Then we parked at the end of the road and waited until the carpenter
           that had been working on Papa Timo’s chicken house ran out the road to bring it to us. It was perfectly
           fine and likely faster than driving, considering the road’s condition. Just not the way I would have done it.
           Well, now we’re back in the US. But we’re still living in the shadow. The shadow of Mt. Niyirigongo. The
           shadow of the Church of the Brethren in the Africa Great Lakes. The shadow of the Almighty God. It’s a
           great place to be.

           For the Master, Chris Elliott - in the US - but in my heart still with the Church of the Brethren in the Africa

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