How do you refer to your father’s sister’s son? Most of us would call him our cousin. But, surprisingly enough, people groups like the Crow (a Native American group) would call that man their father. You see, they are matrilineal, so they trace their ancestry only through their mother’s side of the family. They then consider themselves to be more closely related to their mother’s side of the family, and so refer to most of the men on their father’s side of the family with the same term they use to refer to their father. So their cousin and their cousin’s son would both be called “father.” And to make it even more interesting, they would call their mother’s brother’s son (another cousin) “son.” Confused yet? So was I.
So why am I telling you this? To make your brain hurt? No. This is one of many things I am learning here at New Tribes Mission’s Missionary Training Center in Missouri. Am I planning on living with the Crow people and translating the Bible into the Crow language? No. But there are other people groups around the world who think of their family members in the same way, so as part of our training here we are learning the different ways people around the world categorize their family members. When I live with a West African people group, how they think of their different family members is just one of many thing I will have to learn as I try to understand life from their point of view. Just think – how might your life be impacted if you called one cousin “father” and another one “son?” And by the way – another cousin is called “brother.”
Thank you for your continued prayers for me as I continue to learn all that I can here in preparation of living overseas in the future. As you can see, there are lots of things to learn and I really appreciate your prayers!