Post 49 / The Next Language
July 13, 2021
Two Weeks, Two Months, Two Years
Only now have I noticed the symmetry between the numbers associated with the last two weeks and the future. If the last two weeks are a harbinger of the next two months and then the next two years – then I will be pleased and I know God will be honored.
Our mission to Chihuahua was primarily a recording trip. But in the end it resulted in being a distribution/promotion project with several outreaches, a ministry in a couple of local churches, and an orientation to recording techniques for half a dozen potential recordists. Fifteen of us participated in a great time of team building and shared responsibilities.
Our initial contact with a Mixteco: Zoyatlan de Juares speaker resulted in our confirming it to be a new language by playing existing Mixteco variants and taking a word list. The LH was very reluctant to record because he couldn’t read and his Spanish was poor. In the end he sang a Mixteco song with his guitar and surprised us with a 500 peso contribution to our expenses. Another Mixteco lady showed up one day with tortillas and fruit. It is always encouraging to participate with believers who are investing with you in the ministry. The church that hosted us in Pancho Villa graciously loaned us the use of several guest rooms and the air-conditioned sanctuary. One room in the church complex was dedicated to outreach materials for past distribution projects that they had hosted. We put those diagnostic kits to work and even had more than enough SD cards to copy language material to for distribution.
Turned out that the man in charge of outreach for the church was a speaker of the new Mixteco variant. He was a capable language helper and obviously grounded in the Word. One of the recorded messages was his own testimony which told his story about leaving the home town in Zoyatlan in Guerrero and getting a job and finding Christ in Pancho Villa. This should speak powerfully to other migrants working in the same area as well as back in the home town which is the only other place that is home to this language of about 1000 active speakers.
Another language we were looking for was an unrecorded speech variety of Tarahuamara. In answer to prayer we found a lady who was contracted to teach Tarahuamara children whose parents worked in the agricultural projects. She did not speak the variant we were looking for but she told us that she was married to a Tarahuamara who was from an unrecorded speech variety that had 3000 to 5000 speakers. He was not normally around but he “just happened” to be there that week. Furthermore, he was a professional translator! It was obvious God was working in answer to many prayers. Because we didn’t have more speakers of that language we will be back checking and evaluating through other venues in the near future.
It was heartening to see the participation of church members in the outreaches. On the evening of our special service with them, the altar was full of members dedicating themselves to the Lord and His service. One young man named Estefan was especially gifted at witnessing and counselling contacts. He told us that he had no idea how responsive these tribal migrants were. He asked for and received maps to seek out other unrecorded languages in the area. He also indicated interest in visiting our training course in Oaxaca in August. I hope he is a first fruit of a new kind of worker who will be able to do survey work to seek out and contact the unrecorded languages and set things up for recording teams to follow.
We had a good mix of experienced techies with us who brainstormed and tested a lot of new ideas that could lighten both the weight and the expense of the current recording kits (which run over $3000 each). Nathaniel even had spectral analysis software to visually evaluate the sound quality of different microphones and recorders.
The last day we were in Pancho Villa was a market day. Our guys were really encouraged when they started talking to people in the market and soon were surrounded by speakers of many languages of Mexico, including the Mixteco we had just recorded, and they eagerly requested copies. Imagine, it was the first time in history that they had heard anything digital in their mother tongue – let alone the Gospel. Some prayed for salvation right out on the projects. The last Sunday we were there we were met by a migrant who had confessed Christ on the first outreach. He had since attended the church twice and was now requesting a Bible.
If the last two weeks is instructive of things to come, it is fairly safe to assume that our highest estimates of unrecorded languages are going to be below the reality. We recorded two new languages and confirmed a third and none of those languages were even on the existing unrecorded language lists that we have for Mexico.
For the first time Nathaniel and Marcos and I were able to be in the same place at the same time about the business of seeking out every language. We came away with a sense that God has put us together for a special purpose and we are united in that purpose and excited at what God is going to do.
Also confirmed was the Biblical understanding of the all inclusiveness of God’s plan for the church. In I Timothy chapter 2 notice the number of times that “all” is repeated.
[1Ti 2:1 KJV] 1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made for all men; [1Ti 2:4-6 KJV] 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5 For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
The plan is for Nathaniel and myself to drive into Mexico starting July 15, meet up with Marcos, and spend the next two months contacting and recording unrecorded languages and training and mobilizing eight young men who have signed up for training. Pray that this pattern will multiply as we head overseas later to repeat the process in other countries.
Larry DeVilbiss | Executive Director
Global Recordings Network USA