Post 54 / The Next Language
August 16, 2021
[Eze 34:6, 11-12 KJV] My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek [after them]. … For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, [even] I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep [that are] scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.
[Luk 15:8 KJV] Or what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find [it]?
[Luk 19:10 KJV] For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
In our quest for every language, and especially in breaking down the task to fit a team setting, we have initiated the concept of seekers, or in Spanish pescadores – fishermen. Often the time it takes to find a language and an appropriate language helper exceeds the actual time it takes to translate and record a language. We began our recordist training course in Oaxaca on August 2 by dedicating the first day to train young men to become pescadores.
Nathaniel, Marcos, and I had just completed a 3000-kilometer venture through two states (Narina and Durango) looking for three languages that had been identified in our database as unrecorded. The first was Cora de Nayar: Presidio de los Reyes. We learned early that approaching strangers and talking about the language in a traditional village is very different from approaching migrants in an agricultural camp. The very first person we asked said we would need to talk to the governor about those things. After sorting through conflicting opinions about who the actual governor was, we approached Braulio who quietly and confidently, and I should say respectfully, listened to us and allowed us to record him speaking our word list. He listened to the GRN material in dialects spoken in neighboring towns and agreed to give us an opinion in one month. A Mexican pastor who was with us will return to find out if the governor thinks they need new material or if the existing recordings will be appropriate for distribution. At very least we hope that the community will host a viewing of the Jesus Film in the central plaza.
This process was repeated for about a week as we collected half a dozen word lists in both Cora and Huichol (though disappointingly not in Nahuatl). We did get important contact information from missionaries working with both Eastern and Western Nahuatl. We also learned that most people called the language Mexicanero. We learned that there are numerous San Diego and Agua Caliente place names in the state of Durango. Finding that out took a lot of driving around and even more seeking.
In the process of collecting and analyzing the word lists, Nathaniel came up with a relatively speedy way to break down those lists and play selected words side by side to assist in the analysis. Marcos was great at breaking the ice and getting leads. At the last Cora village he asked for the governor and was told that he had just been killed but probably the judge would be able to help us.
And “seeking” was what it was all about. We were seeking not only lost languages but also seekers within those languages who would be sympathetic language helpers. We will probably be sending recordists to follow up on recording needs in at least one of these languages. We were in good-sized villages that even so didn’t have enough cell service to find them on google maps.
As the confusion about the language variants of Mexico gives way to more data collected, we expect to be able to take measurable steps to deliver the Word to every variant.
One pleasant surprise was to find faithful workers and believers in some areas, and a strong interest in the use and preservation of the languages. In one obscure village we even found a radio station that was transmitting four native languages to four adjacent states. We invited them to include in their programming our materials that are found on www.5fish.mobi.
Although Jesus is the seeker and the lover of the lost it is clear from His teaching that He seeks the seekers, He gives drink to the thirsty and bread to the hungry. In our capacity as seekers in Jesus’ stead may we never out grow our need for Him.
Larry DeVilbiss | Executive Director
Global Recordings Network USA