Taking the Lord’s Name

28 01 2006

They call me Essowedeu. In Kabiye, this name literally means “God is good”. I’d say it’s a pretty good name to be remembered by.

Now, I couldn’t tell you what meaning lies behind my given name (I’m sure Bryan means something), but here in Kabiyeland, the meaning of everyone’s name plain as day, for better or worse.

God names are especially popular. We know people named:

Essowe – “God is”

Essosinam – “God helps me”

Essosimna – “God knows”

Essodrong – “God’s strength”

Essohanam – “God gives to me”

Essoyamewe – “God calls and I am”

Essodeke – “God only”

Akiliesso – “Who is greater than God?”

and Mansimaesso – “I know God”

We even have a friend whose name is just plain Esso, “God”.

One of my favorite God names, in the Old Testament prophetic tradition, is Essodizinawe – “God destroys them.” A name like that will make people pause before crossing you. I’m glad the guy is one of our night guardians!

Just about everyone on our team has a God name, which can be a bit confusing at times. Dave is called Essolaba, “God did it”. Matt’s Kabiye name is Essolaki, or “God does it”. Maybe they should have named me Essogalabo which means “God will do it”!

While God names are abundant, they aren’t the only type of name given. We’ve had visitors named for their appearance. For instance, Abalokisemo – “Red Man” – was so named for his red hair and complexion (not because he chewed tobacco.) We’ve also had fun introducing friends with a humorous name like Palolamtombolo, which means “I was born naked.”

Apparently, names are often given to children so as to send messages to others or to mark a recent event. Patamesam, “They can’t hide from me”, was named during a family feud. So were Pewelesinam, “They listen to me” and Taawelesi, “Don’t listen”. (These two names faced off when the former went to the latter’s house to preach the Gospel. Sadly, Taawelesi held true to his name.)

I don’t know the circumstances behind the naming of Aninam, “Who understands me?” and Powokinamle, “Where are they taking me?”, but I bet it is a good story. As a former youth minister, I like to think that it is possible they took these names for themselves when they were teenagers.

Manchasiba, “My father died” was probably named when her grandfather died around the same time as her birth. Sim, or” Death”, was so named because when he was born, a bunch of people had died. (No, he does not wear a black cloak and carry a sickle!)

Still, none of these names are as bad as they could have been. I know a man named Mankpafeye which literally means “I am ashamed”. Yikes!

Like I said before, I’m not sure what Bryan means. So maybe I’m not one to pass judgement.

Still, here’s hoping that Bryan isn’t in the same class as Mankpafeye!


Customer Service — A Foreign Concept

24 01 2006

This past Saturday, our phone mysteriously went dead.

Our bill was paid up. The phone line to the house hadn’t been knocked down. Lightning hadn’t hit (it has not rained since Oct.). What was the deal?

We’d actually had this happen to us before, so I knew I needed to get to the phone company and alert them to the situation. Unfortunately, when I got to their office early Saturday morning, no one was there. A call to the office (on our cell phone) yielded nothing but rings.

“Okay, gotta wait until Monday,” I told myself. “Get there first thing in the morning and they should have the phone back up by the afternoon.”

I got to the phone company’s office around 8:30am on Monday. The lady behind the desk took down our phone number, called it to make sure that it was truly out of order (it was) and then made another call to get their “service” guys on it. Or so I thought…

By 4pm on Monday, we still had no phone and I went back up to the office.

When I inquired as to why our phone was still out of order, I was informed that the repair guys didn’t get my phone number in time and that I’d have to wait until the next day. “Sorry,” they said. “Be patient.”

Patience isn’t just a virtue over here in Africa. It is a necessary tool of survival. If you don’t have patience, all of the waiting you do here (for restaurant food, the ‘man with the key’, the next time you see family, people to come to a meeting, cows to cross the road, your phone to get repaired, etc, etc, etc.) will drive you absolutely crazy.

Well, since I had already waited two days, did my best to get to the phone office in a timely manner and witnessed the woman giving our phone number to somebody on the other line (maybe she was trying to fake me out — if so, it worked!), so my patience was pretty thin. Grasping for straws, I asked to talk to le chef, the man in charge.

They told me he wasn’t there. Considering how things were going, that didn’t surprise me. I was left to nothing but grin and bear it, make sure they had my number on the next day’s “service” list and go home.

Happily, our phone came back on this morning, we are reconnected to the world and I can post this silly blog.

The phone company should be happy too. I was going to have to call the Better Business Bureau!

Wait. There isn’t a Better Business Bureau here!

Oh well. If there was one, their customer service wouldn’t be much better. I guess then we’d need a Better Better Business Bureau or a Better Business Bureau Bureau…

Guess, I’ll be better off cultivating the virtue of patience.

Mr. Potato Head

17 01 2006

Guess what Owen got for his birthday…

We tried to explain to him that the pieces go into the potato head, not his own. He seemed to have more fun doing it this way.

What a wise guy!

Sporting Event Memories

16 01 2006

My buddy Dave Parks recently e-mailed a list of the ticket stubs he had saved from various games he attended with me and/or our good buds Forrest and Chris. It was treat to think about those good times with good friends and it got me to thinking about all the special sporting events that have been a part of in my life.

So to add to Dave’s list, I’ve noted a few of my own sporting event memories. The list isn’t as impressive as a sports writer’s might be, but it is special to me.

Unlike Dave, I’ve not been good about saving the ticket stubs, so exact dates (and in some cases, visiting teams) are a bit fuzzy. Good thing the memories aren’t!

Early 1980’s –
Harlem Globtrotters v. Washington GeneralsWharton Fieldhouse, Moline, IL

Dad took me to see this game when I was just a little kid and we had good seats near the court. Here is what I remember… The big crowd, amazing ball-handling displays by Curly, the ‘ball on a string’ freethrow act and jumping out of my skin thinking one of the ‘Trotters was throwing a bucket of water on us only to find realize it was just confetti. I saved the confetti as a souvenir.

Summer 1984Chicago Cubs v. Philadelphia PhilliesWrigley Field, Chicago, IL

First-time to attend a Major League game. Cubs lost both games of the double header and remember thinking my brother Andy was a traitor for cheering for the Phillies and his hero, Mike Schmidt. At the end of the season, the Cubs went on to blow the NLCS vs. San Diego – breaking my heart in the process.

Spring 1992 – Chicago Bulls v. LA Clippers Chicago Stadium, Chicago, IL

Accomplished one my ‘lifetime goals’ of seeing Michael Jordan play in person. It was also the last season the Bulls played in the old stadium. Because of tickets were scarce, we had restricted view seats under the mezzanine but that didn’t matter. When MJ got the ball on a fast break, my heart stopped as I thought I was going to witness one of his signature dunks in person. Alas, he was hacked and I had to settle for watching my hero shoot free throws. Former Iowa Hawkeye B. J. Armstrong had a bigger game than Jordan so that was cool. The Bulls won and I had one less thing I ‘had to do before I died’.

Nov. 1992 – Iowa Hawkeyes v. Minnesota Gophers – Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA

The only Iowa football game I’ve been too. We got the tickets the day of the game, drove to Iowa City, watched the Hawkeyes win the battle for Floyd of Rosedale – the bronze pig trophy the schools play for each year and listened to a rowdy, mostly drunk student section sing the unoffical Iowa fight song “In Heaven There Ain’t No Beer! (That’s Why We Drink It All Here!)”

Dec. 1993 – Iowa Hawkeyes v. Duke Blue Devils – Carver Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City, IA

I’d been to a couple of Hawk hoops games before, but those were games against the likes of Athletes in Action and Colgate. Dick Vitale and ESPN was in the house for this heavyweight fight and the crowd was pumped. Iowa led for awhile and kept it close to the end. But the Hawks were toast when Duke started to let future NBA all-star Grant Hill take his man 1-on-1. Even though the Hawks lost, it was a fun game to attend.

Summer 1995 – Chicago White Sox v. Cleveland Indians – Cominsky Park, Chicago, IL

Carter Davis and I drove up to Chicago to pick up Chris Williams. The three of us were to leave soon for a summer in Uganda, but not before eating brats with sauerkraut and watching some baseball! I think the Sox won, but more importantly, we survived the forray into Southside Chicago.

Well, that’s it for now. More to come later….

Who Is That Masked Man?

8 01 2006

Hint: He turns 2 on Thursday.

Amazing How It All Fits Together!

3 01 2006

Over the past few months, I’ve been praying through various scriptures to help focus my thoughts. Recently, I discovered that three of the passages I’d been praying separately – Psalm 119:36-7, 133, 41; 1 John 2:14 and 1 Thessalonians 5:23-4 – fit together amazingly well.

Having been blessed by praying these passages together as one piece, I’d like to share them with you in that form. Maybe you’ll find some blessing in them as well!

Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.

For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, the boast of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world.

Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.

The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.

May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

May your unfailing love come to me, O Lord, your salvation according to your promise.

The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.

Psalm 119:36-7, 133, 41 – text in italics
1 John 2:14 – normal text
1 Thessalonians 5:23-4 – bold text


Uncle Rico’s Togo Comeback

1 01 2006

For you Napoleon Dynamite fans out there!
Happy New Year’s everyone!
Go Hawks!
Crush those Gators in Tampa!