I have a new name

September 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

Emma has given me a new name!

I’m sure it doesn’t rank up there with some of the best known name changes in history, like when Jesus changes Simon’s name to Peter (John 1:42). But I sort of like it.

In case you have forgotten, Emma is Joe and Paulette’s three-year-old middle daughter. She is as precocious and precious a three-year-old as I have ever seen. She seems to always look at me out of the corner of her big brown eyes with a sly “I know I’ve got you right where I want you” smile on her beaming little face. On Sunday in church, you will often find her sleeping in my lap. She has now “baptized” me twice while doing this.

Within a month of my arrival in Senegal, Emma and Mavis, her four-year-older sister, started calling me Peppe. Paulette explained to me that “Peppe” was Walof for grandfather. Of course, that pleased me greatly. Whenever I come walking in their front door, the girls come running to me with arms outstretched yelling, “Peppe! Peppe!” just like Carly and Addie Ruth, my adorable seven and five-year-old granddaughters, do in the United States, except they yell “Papa! Papa!” It has always been a nice taste of home.

But Emma apparently felt the need to distinguish me from her African grandfathers, whom she seldom sees, for she has started calling me “Peppe Toobob.” Toobob, you see, is the Walof word for “white man.” They use it here as a term of endearment and affection; at least, I am told that is how they use it! Often, when I am out on a street or in a village, I can hear the children whispering “Toobob! Toobob!” when I walk by. They are usually smiling, but will go running behind a tree or an older sibling if I look at them.

As you all know, grandparents are happy with whatever name the grandchildren tag them with. But I really like Emma’s name for me: Grandfather White Man!

Can you top that?

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