Written on November 20, 2016
Flying airplanes was never a personal aspiration. However, today, I almost became a pilot, quite by accident. Today’s story starts where many of my days start – Mariana’s house. She is not only a friend, but one of my best teachers.
Our morning lesson was on the topic of transportation. I already knew how to say boat, airplane, motorcycle, car, and bicycle, but didn’t know which verbs to use for each one. Drive, ride, fly, etcetera. So I started asking questions and learning how to use the verbs in sentences. As Mariana and I conversed, I asked some questions that were ridiculous, just to test the verbs and verify their correct use. ”
“Did she go to the city by bicycle?” That would be a long trip, unless you are my sister, so the obvious answer was no, but Mariana understood that I was just experimenting with the language.
Then she asked me if I have ridden an airplane. She already knows that I have, so I assumed she was just testing my understanding of the language, and replied affirmatively. I could tell by the look on her face that she was quite impressed. Which sort of makes sense, considering that she has probably never gone farther than Ji-Pa, which is neither large nor famous. Traveling anywhere by airplane is probably an incredible thought, especially to and from the United States! Although one of her sisters has traveled to São Paulo and a couple other Brasilian cities by plane, so the degree of her reaction was a bit surprising.
So the linguistic wheels in my brain started turning, slowly rolling over the phrase she had used. Uh-oh! Did she ask whether I have TRAVELed by plane or whether I know how to FLY a plane? Big difference.
So I reverted to Portuguese to clarify this doubt, and sure enough, Mariana had asked if I know how to FLY a plane. And I had said yes. Obviously.
Good thing I realized this mistake and was able to clarify the truth quickly. Or else soon all the Neno people would have heard and spread the news that an American missionary undercover PILOT had arrived in their midst. I can just imagine the conversations.
Yesiree folks. We’ve got ourselves a real missionary here. She’s from far, far away, from the United States. She is very, extremely, exceedingly white, because there is lots of snow and cold where she comes from. She has already learned quite a lot of words and phrases in our language and sometimes she even gets the tones right. She makes delicious cake and bread. She is so intelligent that she already learned how to weave our traditional mats. She knows how to drive cars, ride bicycles, and get this – fly airplanes. Definitely a keeper.