I’m sure you’ve all been there – someone greets you as if they know, and they may look familiar but you can’t place them. Where do you know them from? Do you know them? And then it dawns on you, perhaps with a little help from them – you do know them, but it’s from a completely different context. If you had seen them where you usually see them, it would have been no problem. But seeing them here just threw you off guard.
That’s often how I feel here, especially now. I saw some of My People at a funeral the other day; they looked familiar, but I didn’t know where they were from. I thought I knew, but when I went to that house the next day, the ladies there didn’t seem like they had seen me the day before. Hmm . . .
There are other people that I’ve visited in a village several years ago now, and with my white skin they easily recognize me. But . . . let’s just say I have a harder time recognizing all of them, especially when I now see them in the city. Who are you and how do I know you? I was grateful the other day when someone who obviously recognized me told me straight up where I knew her from. Thank you!
Besides being confused when I see people I know out of context, the same happens with words. My language helper probably gets rather frustrated when he uses a word I know, but it’s not in the same story or the same context and so I have no idea what it means anymore. Sometimes he’ll then tell me, “A thing. A good thing and a bad thing,” and point to where I drew a happy face and a sad face. Ah yes. This word means “thing,” and I learned it when we were discussing the pictures on that page; I learned it in the context of “good thing” and “bad thing,” but logically it can just come as “thing” without a “good” or “bad” attached. (It doesn’t help that there are about 4 or 5 different words that are all pronounced almost exactly the same as the word for “thing,” and several have pronunciations that can change slightly based on context, sounding more or less like “thing” at any given moment. I ran into one today, and through a bit of acting, I found out that one was the one that means “to climb or go up,” not “thing.”) It’s similar to what I posted a few years ago about languages being like a mosaic.
Anyway, for anyone you know who’s becoming part of a new community, you can pray that we can recognize people, even when we see them in an unfamiliar context. And for anyone you know who’s learning a new language, you can pray that we can recognize words and grammatical constructions, even when we see them in unfamiliar contexts.