Post 57 / The Next Language

The Gospel Arrives in Zapoteco: Elotepec

It’s pretty unusual that a language goes from discovery to the audio Gospel being distributed in one month, but that is what happened for the Elotepec speakers of San Juan this August.

If you are following these blogs you know that early in August we did the pescadore routine. We were invited back to record with potential volunteers. I went with trainee Joel to record this Zapotec dialect and in the process discovered we would not be able to depend on social media for thorough distribution. We didn’t see any cell phones – not that uncommon in the subsistence economy of rural Mexico. We were able to purchase small speakers with SD card drives for about $3 each here in the city and uploaded the finished Elotepec language program plus a simple Spanish New Testament and Spanish Words of Life. The mission had recently been given 1700 SD cards of 1 gigabyte each. We had 300 of those sent down from Tucson and were ready for a distribution trip.

Marcos and I pulled into the village of San Juan de Elotepec in the public shuttle service after 5 or 6 hours of rattling over mountain roads. Unknown to us a group at the diner we had frequented for meals and wifi service was in the process of wondering if we would ever come back. One of the elder Elotepec, Demetria, was asking because she spoke the language and was really sorry she hadn’t found us when we were recording. Right then the shuttle van pulled in front of the diner and we stepped out. Everyone was amazed and they were very grateful to receive one of the speakers for the diner owner’s mother who had originally recorded the word list for us.

We were in a hurry to get to the church service in the next village of Llano Monte- about a one-hour hike over the mountain to the next valley. We were heading out and Demetria implored us to come back to her house later. She showed us where it was and we promised to find her in when we got back in the afternoon. I really think she figured she would never see us again.

We enjoyed a meaty service with the believers in Elotepec over the promise of God in Exodus 32 to never leave His people. We were warmly received and following the service broke out the players and played back the new content in the language along with the Spanish content. They were happy to receive the players as missionary tools in their own village and agreed to take them to two more villages where the language is still spoken. They quickly gave us a meal of tamales and waved us off as we attempted (unsuccessfully) to beat a rain storm that was moving in — a fringe benefit from a cyclone on Mexico’s Baja coast plus Hurricane Ina pounding the Gulf Coast of USA.

Afterwards we found Demetria’s house and were welcomed in to enjoy elote — boiled corn in the husk. We played the Elotepec for her and she told us why she was so anxious that we visit. She went into another room and came out with her very elderly mother, blind and very stooped. She only spoke Elotepec – one of the few monolinguals in the language. She grasped the little speaker and was obviously amazed to hear it speaking in her only language. Her daughter translated for us. She told the whole story of the lost sheep and Jesus’ invitation for us to come to Him.

This moment reminded me of two times in this project when we nearly gave up. Once was during our very first entry into this area, when our van got stranded in the air on a corner that was way too sharp and on a very steep road. We realized it was going to take an extra day to get to San Juan de Elotepec and that we had no gear for over-nighting. The second brush with giving up was when some questioned if this whoe project was necessary because so few were monolingual and their language that was listed as moribund.

We know now that for years to come there will be hundreds of Elotepec that understand the language but don’t speak it well enough to translate. They will be grateful to hear their mother tongue and this whole project may very well bring some into the fold. Praise God He kept us —  more than once – from giving up.

God Bless,

Larry DeVilbiss | Executive Director

Global Recordings Network USA


Previous “The Next Language” posts
Fishing – GRN Style – Post 56
A New Day in Mexico – Post 55
Seeking – Post 54
Pick Your Battles – Post 53
How Big Is Your God? – Post 52
A Muted Gospel? – Post 51
Dedication Service for Marcos – Post 50
Two Weeks, Two Months, Two Years – Post 49
What Will You Give to Jesus – Post 48
Special Assignment – Post 47
The Good and the Best – Post 46
How Many Languages Are There? – Post 45
Verifying Speech Varieties – Post 44
Those God Things – Post 43
Meet Notch, the Desert Cottontail – Post 42
The Lost Languages – Post 41
The Rest of the Yoke – Post 40
What About Those Last Languages – Post 39
A Yoke That Fits – Post 38
The Other Side – Post 37
It Is Finished – Post 36
On the Ground in Culiacan – Post 35
I Will Go With Thee – Post 34
Unseen Warfare – Post 33
God of the Gaps – Post 32
The Father of Faith Missions – Post 31
WAIT – Post 30
Our Ultimate Weapon – Post 29
What Are You Doing Here – Post 28
Recordist Training Course Update – Post 27
Still Shameful – Post 26
Numbers Update – Post 25
The Gospel and Idolatry – Post 24
Could Ye Not Pray – Post 23
John the Baptist and the New Normal – Post 22
Genesis of a Script – Post 21
Embena Experiences – Post 20
An Easter Like No Other – Post 19
Go Or Stay Home – Post 18
The Next Language – Post 17
The Next Language – Post 16
The Next Language – Post 15
The Next Language – Post 14
The Next Language – Post 13
The Next Language – Post 12
The Next Language – Post 11
The Next Language – Post 10
The Next Language – Post 9
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