Thursday, March 01, 2007

Each day brings opportunities for service that I could never have devised by my own endeavors and that emphasize the fact that, "This life is not about 'this life.'" I find myself flabbergasted at the constant interconnection of people, circumstances, and timing that could only happen by supernatural appointment. A prime example of that divine dovetailing is that of the Kansas City Baptist Temple > The Seed Company (TSC) > Wycliffe > Mellberg > Huichol connection. Who would have dreamed over thirty years ago, when Kirt and Debbie, two very inexperienced but determined young missionaries to Mexico, met Jeff Adams, missionary to El Salvador (now the pastor of the Kansas City Baptist Temple), at one of Kirt and Debbie's first support-raising missions conferences, that the relationship one day would build to be a part of the impetus behind the project for making the Old Testament available to some very deserving Huichol brothers and sisters? Thirty years ago, those two young people didn't even know what a Huichol was, nor even how to pronounce the word "Huichol"! They had no idea that twenty years prior some very humble and committed linguists were diligently reducing the Huichol language to written form and collaborating to produce the New Testament in that tongue. Nor were they aware that their arrival in Tepic would be the answer to the prayers of an old Huichol who, since his decision to follow Christ, had been expecting God’s provision of a partner to reach his people scattered throughout the Sierra Madre Mountains with the Truth.

The question has been raised, “Why is it necessary that the Huichols have a complete Bible in their language? Not long ago, in one of our frequent “front porch pow-wows” a couple of Huichol pastors and laymen were discussing this very issue. They recognize that they are among the privileged, and they are grateful to God that He has provided them with the New Testament. As they have read, studied and applied God's Word, they see that Jesus often referred to the “Scriptures,” and they realize that His references are to the Old Testament, which they still don't have. They have concluded that if it was important for Jesus, then it’s important that they also have the complete Word of God. They are committed to whatever work and sacrifice is necessary on their part, and they are eternally grateful for the outside help they are receiving in getting the Old Testament translated into their language.

With the encroachment of “civilization” on the Huichol communities, there are Christian Huichols who have received schooling in Spanish. Some have gone through high school and a few, like Primitivo, have some university studies. Primitivo is currently employed by the government to teach in a remote village school. Though his Spanish is excellent, he told me that he prefers to speak in Huichol. He shared that it is impossible for him to pray in Spanish; for him, “God speaks Huichol.”


January-February 2007

As always, I am forever grateful for your love and care that allows me to be here sharing God’s love. Thank you so much for your sensitivity and supportiveness of not only the work here in Tepic, but also for me personally. Many of our prayers on behalf of every aspect of this ministry have been answered; the following are highlights of the past 2 months.

The Kirt Mellberg Memorial Scholarship is available once again this year to be awarded the final week of July. Members of one family asserted that God has blessed them with so much that they opted to donate to the fund the equivalent of what they would have spent on Christmas gifts this past year. They and other interested sponsors have chosen to make a living investment for the purpose of recognizing and encouraging selected students who, like Kirt, have distinguished themselves as leaders, who exemplify the servant qualities of our Lord Jesus Christ, and who are actively preparing themselves for ministry in missions or in a local church vocation. The rationale, criteria and application information are available here. Completed applications may be mailed to North Village Baptist Church or emailed to me at:

Normally about 60 children attend the AWANA club that meets weekly on Saturday afternoons in our little church in Tepic. We began promoting praying for and inviting 3 friends each, to a big “fiesta” in which we would be giving each child who came a special gift that had been sent from friends in the States who lovingly prayed for their recipients as they packed them to send to Mexico. We announced that just as this undeserved gift was sent with love, God sent a much greater gift, the greatest gift of all, His very own Son, because He loves us so much.

Before the big party, AWANA club leaders got together and worked tirelessly to made papier-mâché masks and costumes, and they prepared a motivating dramatic presentation in which several of the leaders acted out assorted animals who represent various characters that try to take control of and reign on the throne of our hearts: a snake that represents lies, a selfish pig, a peacock that represents external good looks and charm, a lazy turtle, a disobedient goat, a tiger that represents controlling power, a toad that enjoys gossip and making fun of others, and the lamb who is the only true, selfless, beautiful, life-giving, obedient, powerful and compassionate one who is worthy to sit on the throne of our hearts. For the culmination of the presentation, the animals and their “trainer” bowed before the lamb who paid the ultimate price for their wrong and was the only worthy one to be seated on the throne. Then the children, nearly 200 of them in all, were invited to ask Jesus, the Lamb Who gave His life to save us from our sins, into their hearts, and many prayed asking for forgiveness for their sins and salvation. We will follow up on every child who raised his or her hand to indicate that he or she wants Jesus to reign on the throne of his or her heart! We extended the evangelistic outreach to four Huichol villages as well. In all, over 500 children received gifts and heard the Gospel story this past month. Click here for slideshows of pictures from the Tepic and Huichol fiestas.

Pastor Montoya from Las Varas called me on January 26 from the General Hospital in Tepic. As he was leaving Tepic to return to Las Varas, he received word that his boys, Hugo (16) and Ezequiel (8) had been hit on their motorcycle, and they were being transported to Tepic. The news spread like wildfire among the believers of the Tepic church, and an army of supporters was on hand at the hospital when the boys arrived 2 hours later and throughout the night. After a long and futile effort to save Ezequiel’s life, he went to heaven in the early morning hours. In spite of our great sadness, God’s grace has been sufficient again, and His unique preparation of the Tepic church family to reach out and offer comfort to hurting brothers and sisters is evident. We have learned that accepting God's plans, giving thanks for them, refusing paralyzing self-pity, and getting involved in overt action to overcome the inertia of grief is the only solution for healing. Hugo is back home in Las Varas recuperating from lacerations and multiple surgeries to repair fragmented bones. Please keep praying with us for the Montoya family. They have displayed an awesome attitude and living example of Christian hope and forgiveness.

For 2 weeks, Wycliffe consultants, Joe and Barbara Grimes and Libby Willet, worked non-stop alongside the four chosen Huichol translators, José, Emilio, Hilario and Manuel. The plan was to carry out a workshop to teach them beginning translation principles. The Huichol brothers chose to keep their noses to the grindstone and apply the newly-learned principles, and we now have in hand the first draft of the entire book of Ruth and chapters 1-3 of Jonah. They are so excited. It was difficult to peel their project-driven hands off the computer keys even for dinner! This seems like an insurmountable task, and I find myself with a perplexed expression on my face as I ask God what in the world He is doing adding it to my already astonishing collection of crazy things for a grandmother to be involved in! Our Huichol brothers look upon the job of translating, not man’s words, but God’s, with inspiring and exemplary seriousness. The divine dove-tailing of funding (lots!), consultants (few), and Wycliffe and The Seed Company approval (unexpected) for the project are still ANOTHER miracle in which Kirt and I became unwittingly involved over 30 years ago, but that’s a tale too lengthy to chronicle. Check out a few digital pictures of the activities here. Read the rationale behind the translation project in “God Speaks Huichol.”

I am grateful for the opportunity God has given me to participate in His work and for your part in making it all possible.

Quick Reference Version of January-February Prayer Requests:

1. Kirt Mellberg Memorial Scholarship
2. Festiniño follow-up – Tepic and Huichol
3. Pastor José and Margarita Montoya and family
4. Huichol Old Testament Translation Project
5. Distribution of MegaVoice Ambassador Mp3 players to Huichol communities