Wednesday, December 14, 2016


When we lived in Nigeria, "Theresa" was a recognizable name. I even had a student named Theresa. When I said my name, people could hear it (once they got past my difficult English) and would say my name in a manner that sounded "normal" and familiar to me.

In South Sudan and Kenya, I was "Ter-A-sa". As long as I said it like this, people understood the name and could hear it well.

Here in Fort Portal, "Theresa and TerAsa" are not understood. When I pronounce my name this way, I get blank stares and big eyes. They just can't hear it. It's like when someone here tells me their name is, "Araali" or "Atooki", I have to hear it several times before I think I heard it well enough to attempt saying it, and then even after that I feel like I'm completely butchering it (because I most likely am).

Here my name is pronounced "Tree-za". It's the only way they can hear it. If I attempt to say it any other way, the name is completely lost on them. So, Treeza I am. This is now how I introduce myself and the name I respond to when I am called (well that and "Momma-Baby" as Moses prefers to call me.. hehe).

When we first moved to Africa I remember feeling really particular about how people pronounced my name. I wanted to be known and I felt like I would only be known if people fit into the box I was already in and used to. Anything outside of that was unfamiliar and didn't feel natural or normal. After our 4 years in Africa, I'm learning that the most loving way to approach culture is to enter as a learner. When I come in admitting that I am needy and that I don't have it all together, I am much better received than if I tried to pretend I have it all figured out.

Each time we move around in Africa, I learn how the name, "Theresa" is pronounced in that culture. It is a familiar name in most countries we have visited, but they don't realize it's familiar until it said the way they pronounce it. When I am willing to take the time to adjust the pronunciation of my name according to the culture I'm currently in, it ends up saving a lot of time and miscommunications. It's also a simple way for me to adjust to the culture and approach the culture as a learner rather than someone who needs others to fit into my box and my "normal".

For this season, I am Treeza. My prayer is that God would continue to give us grace as we are learning yet another culture and people group. I hope we would have humble hearts as we come here needy and as learners- willing to stumble in our speech and adjust our names to the culture we are serving.

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