Saturday, June 4, 2011

Coming Full Circle

Yesterday was Martyr's Day here in Uganda (a national holiday), but I had forgotten about it.

Our day guard did not show up at work, and Doug and I got concerned. Right about the time I was going to call and check on him, Alice came to work. After we greeted each other, she said, "Jeremiah is not here because it is Ma-ta's Day."

That is what I heard, so that is the conversation I continued to have.

I thought she was saying "Mother's Day."

I told her she should not have come to work. She said, "No, it is okay."

I said, "What do they do in your culture for Mother's Day?"

Now, I don't know if she heard me correctly, or she just thought that is how I said "Martyr," but she didn't bat an eye.

She continued, "Some people just go to church, but that is all."

I said, "Will you do anything for your mother?"

She said, "No," and laughed.

I left her and texted Doug who was at a pastor's training conference, and typed, "TODAY IS PUBLIC HOLIDAY. MOTHER'S DAY. THAT'S WHY JEREMIAH ISN'T HERE."

I know what you are can't get any worse right?

You are wrong.

Patrick came for night duty that evening, and after greeting me, he said, "You know today is Ma-ta's Day?"

I said, "Yes, Alice told me. Did you do something nice for your wife today?"

He laughed and said, "No."

I said, "Alice says some people go to church. Did you go to church?"


You would think the humiliation would have stopped there, but I even told him we celebrate Mother's Day in America, but it is on a different day than Uganda's.

I also told him how I had been worried about Jeremiah that morning because he hadn't come in, and then I found out it was a national holiday.

Fast forward to dinner.

Doug had been gone all day to the conference and then to baseball practice. He says, "I got your text, but you know it's Martyr's Day and NOT Mother's Day?"

I was mortified!!

I ran all those conversations through my head, cringing with every thought, and I was so grateful I hadn't had anymore conversations than I did.

Tonight, I humbly approached Patrick to apologize. I told him what I thought he was saying yesterday, and I even asked him to repeat it, and again, I would have thought he was saying "Mother," if I didn't know better.

He was so gracious.

So, now I await Alice coming to work on Monday morning, so I can apologize to her.

Then, my humiliation will have come full circle.

I will take my bow now.


Nancy said...

That was a fun read. :) It would have been nice to have a heads up when your guard is going to be a no show. That could be a security risk if everyone in town knew he was not showing up. I am having a similar challenge "hearing between the lines" with my new friend from Iran. It is easy to convert to the closest sounding word.

Kaye Harkness said...

Ha! Thanks for sharing!

Brandy said...

This made me laugh!!! Horrible when we can't understand their English!!!!

davidtulrich said...

"Did you do something nice for your wife?" I wonder if Patrick thought this was some high-brow American sarcasm, calling a man's wife his "martyr" and acknowledging that he should thank her more often.

Really hilarious, and definitely worth laughing about on a good blog post. And the rest of your posts are great, too! I've looked through a few!

Our funny stories are here (, and my main blog, a more focused project I'm working on, is here (

Thanks again for your friendship to us, so quick even though we are so new!

David (and Sean)

Georgia said...
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steph7777777 said...

Hilarious! I felt like I was right there with you as I read this! Missing you guys! The kids are getting so big!