Thursday, January 12, 2012

Suffering Mosea Christopher

Suffering Mosea Christopher is the one talking, as was often the case.
The term “suffering” is commonly used here in Uganda, but I’ve learned that its intended meaning differs significantly from how Americans understand the term. A Ugandan might say he’s really suffering and leave it at that. An unsuspecting American might think he really has no food for his family, he has some sickness that cannot be treated, or that some immediate condition threatens his livelihood. However, because many of the languages here have fewer words than the English language, the term “suffering” is used to mean many different things. For example, one might suffer because the sun is in the eyes, because the dust is too much, or because the clothing has a spot of dirt on it. The term, from an American perspective, is overused (but logically so). Everyone is suffering somehow and few conversations pass without hearing that someone is somehow suffering.

One morning the pastor group in Lira, including Augustine and I, chatted over breakfast. Mosea Christopher – mosea is a term of respect for an older man – said something about how he was suffering. I initiated a conversation about the term knowing the distinction but hoping to help the men understand that to write that they were “really suffering” in their proposals might be viewed differently than they intend.

From that point, poor mosea Christopher was called to task each time he used the term…which was frequently. The group renamed this good-natured man Suffering Mosea Christopher. He was absolutely the life of the party and the receiver of much ribbing. I’ll never forget this funny, compassionate, and tolerant man.