Post 77 / The Next Language

Corn in Mexico

Nothing is more basic to rural indigenous life in Mexico than corn – plain white corn. Farmers there have been careful to preserve the same genetics they have been using for thousands of years. Without corn they would have to buy wheat to make tortillas, and a meal without tortillas is not a meal in Mexico. I believe Mexico has outlawed GMO corn imports to the country even for animal feed.

As a farmer I have noticed a lot that is to be commended in the subsistence lifestyle that revolves around corn. When economies crash or outside food distribution chains get disrupted by things like covid, life in rural Mexico goes on as it has for thousands of years. The word for corn in Nahuatl means “our sustenance.”

According to the Wilson Center statistics, 1.5 million Mexican corn farmers produce 27 million metric tons of corn. In my travels across Mexico I have only seen one commercial corn combine. Most of the 1.5 million corn farmers are growing corn on land that would be considered unusable in the USA. The mechanization we practice would not be possible. Most of the corn in Mexico is planted, weeded, and harvested by hand. Local pairs of bulls are yoked together to plow hillsides that are difficult to stand on. If OSHA were in charge down here they would probably require parachutes in some of these corn fields.

The corn is grown for the most part for family consumption. Corn for animal feed is actually imported from the US. Most of the farms are dry land farming. Numerous farmers have told me that the advent of commercial fertilizer multiplied production but admit that if the right amount of water doesn’t show up it is a bust because the ground will no longer sustain corn in drought conditions. I have encouraged them to begin incorporating organic practices. The ancient practice (called milpa) of planting corn and beans and squash simultaneously is more sustainable. This is still practiced in some places.

Unfortunately the corn production and active farms are going down every year. Higher-paying outside employment has made it difficult for families to sustain corn production with remaining family members. Studying the hillsides, it is evident that a lot of traditional corn ground is no longer in production. Many of those fields are in terraces that were maintained thousands of years ago by hand.

I respect the fact that Mexico has tried to slow the exodus of corn producers by subsidizing corn at $300 a metric ton. Of course this is no benefit to families that are eating their corn.

So, what does all this have to do with reaching every language in Mexico?

Without sensitivity to the lifestyle in rural Mexico we miss many opportunities to communicate the Gospel. This environment is so similar to the one that Jesus lived and taught in that much of Jesus’ teaching is more understandable to the Mexican villager than it is to us. A typical family, besides the corn, has a mix of animals that includes sheep, goats, donkeys, turkeys, and chickens, with maybe a couple of bulls. Most of those animals live on the corn stalks left after the corn harvest. The house dogs are expected to hunt at night and live on the rats that raid the corn.

We need to respect the fact that just surviving in rural Mexico is a full time job. The American fantasy of Mexicans swinging in a shaded hammock most of the time is something I have not seen — especially in Christian homes. It is humorous that when I excuse myself to take a siesta I apologize that I learned that habit in Mexico 55 years ago.

If we show up to record and expect them to drop everything we are really challenging their economy. On this trip we have offered to help with some of their chores — especially with heavy stuff like corn harvesting. This can give them more time to record with us.

When we show up with a request to record their language and expect them to feed us in the process, we are being unrealistic. So we try to show up with corn and beans and evidence that we are not going to be a burden for very long. We usually offer to pay them if they are housing and feeding us. Sometimes they refuse, willing to do without themselves for the sake of the Gospel. After living with a family and translating and recording and participating in their activities, we always leave feeling enriched and as if we have been part of the family. Americans could learn a lot about Biblical hospitality from these rural Mexicans!

God Bless,

Larry DeVilbiss | Executive Director

Global Recordings Network USA

If you are interested in learning how to share links on social media that will promote use of our recordings and the Gospel in general, please contact RolandHeck@GlobalRecordings.Net

Previous “The Next Language” posts
When the Church Says No – Post 76
War – Post 75
Theirs Is the Kingdom – Post 74
The Hippie Era Lives On – Post 73
Genesis of a Recording Set – Post 72
Back Tracking – Post 71
Witnesses- Post 70
Who Is Your Owner? – Post 69
An Unsolicited Endorsement – Post 68
Oral Tradition – Post 67
Works of  Man – Post 66
Deliverance – Post 65
New Discoveries – Post 64
The Wall of Pain – Post 63
Is There a Place for the Gospel in Your Story – Post 62
The Love Pyramid – Post 61
Obsession – Post 60
Verb Tenses in Hebrews – Post 59
The Unseen Weapon – Post 58
The Gospel Arrives in Zapoteco:Elotepec – Post 57
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
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