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Awkward address or missionary mishap?

This story bears telling, both for humor and for the presumptive emphasis on the importance of precise language. And, because today happens to be a Sunday in the middle of back-to-school season, this seems particularly apt.

Here’s what happened.

A young American couple, fresh out of Christian theological seminary, was headed to the mission field. They completed their board applications, passed all their interviews and raised the required monthly support.

Assigned to a Latin American country, they brushed up on their Spanish language studies.

Finally, they were ready to go.

Eager and ready, they arrived at their host church, where the pastor and his wife greeted them wholeheartedly by inviting them into their own home for a lovely meal and evening of fellowship. Several long-time church members were there to welcome them as well.

The following day, the young missionary was asked to speak to the congregation, who would be assisting him with the mission outreach.

Straightening his freshly pressed collar and picking up his favorite Bible and well-rehearsed sermon notes, the young clergyman stepped up to the microphone at the front of the crowded auditorium. As a special courtesy, one of the church elders stood with him, in case he required translation help.

The fledgling minister cleared his throat and began.

First, he asked his lovely young wife to join him on the podium, so the people could become familiar with her.

“Antes de comenzar a predicar, quiero ofrecer mi esposa maravillosa la oportunidad de decir unas palabras,” said the young missionary.

(Translated into English, this means: “Before I begin to preach, I would like to offer my wonderful wife an opportunity to say a few words.”)

Expressing gratitude to the host minister for his hearty hospitality, she said, “Estoy embarazada y es el pastor de la culpa.”

The congregation suddenly roared with laughter. The young and demure missionary wife turned to the elder in confusion. “¿Fue algo que dije?” she asked in bewilderment.

(Translated into English, this means: “Was it something I said?”)

Wiping tears from his eyes, the faithful elder quietly explained the faux pas.

“In Spanish,” he whispered, “’Embarazada’ does not mean ‘embarrassed,’ as in English. It means ‘pregnant.’ You have just explained to the entire congregation that you are with child, and that our pastor is responsible.”


Perhaps that was not exactly what the welcoming congregation was expecting.

Adapted by this user
from public domain art

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1 comment:

  1. Ooops!
    Thanks for the warning, for I am studying Spanish this term!