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Kossi has certainly been given a gift with his language abilities. Nevertheless English is a little bit more of a struggle for him.

While working as a missionary you have to learn how to speak with simple sentences and simple words. You learn to try and avoid words that we might think of as more intellectual and keep it simple. Not only because it is more likely the translator will understand you but also because it makes it easier for him to translate.

In Togo however this learned behavior is sometimes counterproductive. Because Kossi is far more fluent in French than he is in English often words that we would consider more intellectual are easily grasped by Kossi because of their French roots. A good example is what happened this last Sunday. I was teaching the congregation to pray the confession of their sins.

I said, “I deserve God’s wrath and punishment.”

Kossi looked at me and said, “We desire God’s punishment?”

“Deserve” I pronounced slowly, but the confusion on Kossi face did not go away. For the life of me I couldn’t think of another word for “deserve.” Finally I said, “The punishment for our sins is God’s wrath.”

After the service of course I realized how to explain it to Kossi. “Deserve means merit,” I said, “We merit God’s punishment.” Instantly the light went on.

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