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Language Challenges

Fr. Jorge arrived at Waterval Mission, Mpumalanga in South Africa at a mature age. In his first years in the mission, he made a great effort to learn the Northern Sotho language of Sepedi and he reached a certain level of proficiency, which allowed him to celebrate Mass and even to preach in Sepedi.

Quite often, when the faithful started to interact in fast conversations he would easily get lost.

One day, Fr Jorge had a meeting with the Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) and several issues were discussed. At the end of the meeting, Mr. Ndlovu, then chairperson of the PPC, addressed the parish priest privately saying: “Fr. Jorge, I think you did not understand much of what was discussed today.”

“Why do you say that?” Fr. Jorge replied.

“Because when you were supposed to say ‘Yes’ to our proposals you were answering ‘No’ and when we were expecting you to say ‘No’, your reply was ‘Yes,’” said Mr. Ndlovu. They both had a great laugh and life continued.

NB: The names of the characters have been changed.

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