What’s in a Name?

Reblogged from Opening our Hearts to Make a Home, by Melissa Johnson.

I love names.  I like thinking about them.  What they mean, where they’ve come from.  So much is wrapped up in a name.  It’s a huge part of our identity.  In many ways it tells who I am and who I belong to.  This really struck me when I got married.  No longer was I Melissa Sieperda, but Melissa Johnson.  Especially when I had been called Miss Sieperda for the previous 9 years.  On a daily basis I was reminded to whom I now belonged.

Seth and I are now the parents to seven beautiful children and our home is in full swing of everything chaos. 🙂   Throughout the course of the week, I have been called Mama, Madanm Set, and Sister. 🙂  Each of these reflects unique relationships I now have in Haiti.

Mama – Jean, who has been with us almost two months, has called me Mama almost the entire time, but now six more children are learning to call me that.  Wow! What a unique and amazing calling to be called Mama! What a relationship that needs to be cultivated and grown with these kids in my home!  What an honor and a responsibility! I am only their temporary Mama, but I’m asking for God’s grace to be the Mama they need right now. To be patient with their tantrums, to laugh with them, to guide them in God’s ways, to cuddle, to comfort . . . to show love.

Madanm Set aka Mrs. Seth –  No, that is not a typo, Seth’s name here ends with the “t” sound.  No “th” sound. 🙂   I love being called this because it is again a reminder that I am not here on my own.  I am here with my husband.  I’m identified as being his wife.  Again, this identifies a key relationship here in Haiti.  Seth will be my husband no matter where we live, but with our life in Haiti our marriage faces daily challenges that are different than any we faced in the United States.  I’m thankful for a name like Madanm Set to remind me that we are in this together.  We need to stand united as one to face whatever challenges may come our way.

Sister – One of the nannies that works in the house doesn’t call me Melissa or Madanm Set, but Sister.  I love this!  When first talking to the nannies about working in our home, we emphasized that we were in this together like a family.  They would be aunts (tant) to these kids.  This nanny is close to me in age and she totally grasped the concept and has called me Sister ever since.  Another unique relationship identified in a name.  She is now a part of my family as much as these kids are, as are the other nannies that work for us.  We have the same goals in caring for these children.  But much more than that, she is a sister in Christ.  We ARE part of the same family in a much more real way spiritually.   I am honored to be called Sister.

Each of these names represents who I am, what I have been called to do, and responsibilities that I can not fulfill without the grace and love of God.  I’m excited to see how each of these relationships develop in the coming weeks, months, and years.

Written by Melissa Johnson on November, 1st.



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