One of the challenges of living and working cross-culturally happens to be one of the greatest joys too. There is just so much potential for miscommunication which can be dangerous or hilarious and sometimes even both together. We’ve lost count of how many times we’ve dissolved into helpless laughter in the course of our conversations with our colleague Rirei, or Rev as we often call him.
The other day he told us this story.
Quite a few years ago there was a European missionary working here in the interior. Part of his ministry involved preaching at Sunday services and he was very passionate about it. In fact he was so passionate that his heavily bearded face (the stereotypical missionary beard?) would quiver with the intensity of it all.
One Sunday he went to a new parish and was very touched by an old man, who wept profusely throughout his sermon. He went home, greatly encouraged that his words had had such a profound effect on the man. Clearly God had been deeply at work….
After the service, someone asked the old man why he had been crying.
It transpired that his prize billy goat had recently died and that the preacher’s passionately quivering beard had so reminded him of the goat that he was utterly overwhelmed by the loss all over again.
Rirei still laughs every time he tells this story and says that at least one of the two parties went away contented!