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Apples and Bananas

4 May 2010

Image owned by The Suss-Man (Mike) on Flickr

One of the common challenges in South Africa is trying to teach people who really struggle with the English language. Most people speak it, but it is a second or third language, and for those who haven’t yet fully learned it, missionary discussions can be a struggle. They can also be a little humorous.

Wilson and his family were one of those families who barely knew English at all. Lessons took quite a while, since we’d have to explain most concepts 2 or 3 times in order for them to understand.

On one particular visit, we were reading 3 Nephi chapter 11, where Jesus Christ comes to visit the Nephites. After reading verses 1-8, and then explaining who’s voice they had heard from heaven, and that God was introducing His Son, Elder Adolphe asked them, of verse 8, “Who was this man?”

After a few moments pause, Wilson’s wife responded, “Moses!” Then Wilson, thinking he knew far more than his wife, said, “No, it’s Joseph.”

By now we were having a hard time keeping a straight face, and one of the kids shouted out, “Abraham!”

We finally pointed them to verse 10.

Later we got to verse 21, where we read, “And the Lord said unto him [Nephi]: I give unto you power that ye shall baptize this people when I am again ascended into heaven.” After reading it, we asked the family, “In this verse, the Lord gives something very important to Nephi. What did Jesus give Nephi?”

There was another long pause with mumbles of “important… important…”, and then quietly but confidently, Wilson said, “Apples and oranges.”

I almost burst into laughter. Then I realized that he may have been talking about something totally different, so I asked him again, “What did Christ give to Nephi?”

Then, after the family mumbled a few things back and forth to each other in Sotho, Wilson turned back to us with another try. “Apples and bananas?” His answer was given with such seriousness that I couldn’t keep from laughing. I turned my head downward to avoid letting them see me, but that didn’t help, because Elder Adolphe was already shaking with laughter. Wilson and the rest of the family laughed too, since we were laughing, but it was clear that they had no idea why we were laughing.

Elder Adolphe had to explain all the rest of the verses, because I was using every ounce of capacity I possessed to maintain my composure – and I wasn’t doing a very good job of it.

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