Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Lost In Translation Part Deux

In Creole, this is a bef...
Now it's time for the rest of the story. (Insert Paul Harvey voice if you wish.)
Monday afternoon, after returning to the mission in a full state of Tet Chage (see previous Lost in Translation post)...I had the following items to take care of:
Peanut's reminder that she is unhappy Britt is gone - #2 all over the porch
Move Isaac and Hope's beds outside in the sun because of possible bug infestation
Wash all bedding, blankies, mattress pads, etc. belonging to Hope and Isaac
Unload groceries roasting in the back of the truck
Try to help mother and eight-month-old baby - he was sick, wouldn't eat, needs formula, etc.
Change bandages and dressings on two patients that waited for me all afternoon
Tet Chage ANPIL.
(Head Very Loaded)
In the middle of this chaos, Pastor Rony showed up, and by the look on his face I knew something was wrong. I could also see that he was somewhat amused by my flustered state. (I know you are all feeling the same way, and I've already forgiven you...maybe.) I knew it must be serious, though, because Rony left his English class to come talk to me.
Here's where I totally got lost... This is the literal English translation of our conversation:
R: I have a problem with Eric [he's the mission's gardener and accordion virtuoso]
T: What is the problem?
R: Eric went to move my cow near the dam. He/she/it fell.
Ok, I have to stop here. See anything wrong so far? Let me help you. There is only one Creole word for He. It is the same as the word for She. Also the same for It. Everywhere in this conversation, I went with the "It" option. There have been a few cow accidents of late, maybe that led to my decision...Let's see if I was right...
T: Oh, that's not good. Where did it fall?
R: Yes, it's not good. Near the dam. You remember the place where the hill is big above the river?
T: Yes
R: Where we moved the rocks last week?
T: Yes
R: It fell there.
T: Oh, that's very bad. That is a big... searching for word, can't find it...bad place
R: Yes, it is hurt badly
T: Do you need me to help with anything?
R: Yes, I want you to come with bandages
T: Is there a lot of blood?
R: Yes [points to arm] here. It is not a big cut, but it is deep.

Ok, hold on a second. I love Pastor Rony. He knows me pretty well, I think, and knows my limits when it comes to asking for help with things. I'm starting to get freaked out that he wants to use our limited supply of medical supplies to put a bandage on the leg of a cow. I figure it must be really bad, and I know what this sort of livestock investment is worth to his family, so I continue to search for ways to help. I started pulling out the leftovers and medical stuff we don't really use, and twine to stop the bleeding, and old rags for bandages, and a crusty old tube of ointment, etc. You get the idea.

R: I want you to make bandages while I massage it.

Thought that was a little weird, but it wouldn't be the first time I saw a strange medical misconception or practice here. Plus, remember, I had a "loaded head".

I kept bringing out my second-rate medical supplies, Rony started looking at me funny, and I asked if he thought we needed anything else.

R: Do you have medicine for the pain?

T: Ummmm, no, I don't think so. We don't have medicine for cows here. The medicine I have would not work because it is too big.

R: Eric is not that big. And he's not a cow.

(Insert screeching brake noise here)

Ok, so this whole time, I'm thinking "li" means 'it' - referring to a cow.

He actually was saying "li" and meant 'he' - referring to Eric.

No good. We both laughed hysterically as we realized what was going on and I discarded all the junk in exchange for real medical supplies for treating an actual person.

Here's the short version of the rest of the afternoon - We walked through the village to Eric's neighbor's house where he was laying on the floor. I patched up his (not the cow's) scrapes and one large hole in his arm. We gave him medicine for the pain and Rony began giving him the massage he mentioned. (I'd still like to see how one massages a cow...) We found Eric's thumb was dislocated. It was causing him (Eric, still not a cow) a lot of pain. Rony looked at me as if I'm the expert. I told him it should be put back in place, but that would really hurt. I was starting to cringe already at what was about to happen. Eric closed his eyes, signalling that he was ready and understood. I wanted to blow a whistle and stand up and say "time out...hang on...hold the phone..." while I found a better solution. Meanwhile Rony was holding his wrist and palm and telling me to "pull". So I did.

OUCH. I'll never forget that cracking noise, or the strange "pop" I could feel under my fingers. Eric is one tough dude. He let out a little tiny squeal when we pulled, and then a big sigh afterwards.

I'm not as crazy as Britt is for that medical stuff...but that was pretty cool. And I'm glad it wasn't a cow.

The story about the miscommunication has now spread throughout the village (thank you, Rony).

Everyone is very amused.

This is Eric. (Even in Creole, not a bef.)

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