Saturday, November 10, 2018

September/October 2018 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you ~Isaiah 43:2

September/October 2018
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you ~Isaiah 43:2  

Isaiah, the last of the Old Testament books to be drafted for final public reading in the Huichol communities, was edited, revised, printed, and transported to the respective villages in the hands of each of the mother-tongue translators (MTTs) who diligently have been persevering and fulfilling their commitment to translate the complete written Word of God into their heart language. Nearly three millenniums ago, God breathed the words of this book into the heart of the prophet Isaiah, who precisely proclaimed them to God’s people. They were applicable then, and His timely words of caution, counsel, and comfort are applicable now. They are brought to the forefront in the exact moment of need. The all-knowing, all-powerful, and everywhere present Father declares, not “if,” but “when” you pass through the waters, I will be with you.

We agreed at the last two-week workshop in May that, for safety reasons in travel, we would hold off meeting again in Tepic until after the rainy season was over following the first week of October. Meanwhile, the translators (MTTs) were at home meticulously reviewing their drafts, reading them aloud to everyone in earshot, checking for understanding and naturalness, and anxious to get together to collaborate their notations. Four months of tropical rains had washed out large portions of the airstrips near the villages of La Quemada and Los Aires leaving dangerous deep ruts and exposed boulders. The MTTs worked along with other volunteers from their villages using picks and shovels for renovating them in order for the UIM-A pilots to make successful landings to transport them back to Tepic for the workshop. Praise God, everyone arrived safely in Tepic, and the long hours of revision, completion, and audio dictation continued full steam ahead. Then, the waters of Hurricane Willa threatened. Though she had been rated Category 5, evacuating was not an option for us, or necessary, and damage in Tepic was minimal. Outlying towns and villages, however, were hit hard. Román and Venancio from La Quemada and Hilario from Los Aires lost all communication with their families left behind in the villages. They were concerned that they may have lost their houses or parts of them especially because of their composition (thatched or laminated-roof, adobe), and there was no way to get to their families. The freshly repaired airstrips near their villages were likely washed out again with the storm, and all other rural ground transport was impassable...other than on foot, and that's a very LONG days. The MTTs, without missing a beat in the task they set out to accomplish, anchored their trust in God’s promise in Isaiah completing their final book for revision:  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.

And all the while, still not missing a beat, they enthusiastically applied God’s Word and cared and prayed diligently for their brother Jacob (my son-in-law being treated for Lymphoma cancer). Jake may not be passing through ravages of the waters of Hurricane Willa, but he is passing through other storms, and they care and are committed to praying for him. They wanted their 41st workshop memento picture taken this time with their #TeamHantla bands held high. The Huichol MTTs know all too well that it is not chiefly for healing we pray, but for this, and any storm, to bring glory to our Creator. We remembered that exactly two years ago this past week, Pastor Manuel (MTT from Zapote) and Dolores lost their son, Emanuel, to cancer. His young wife, Elvira, and his little 4-month-old son, Salem, discovered that it is not always God’s will to heal, but it is always His will that we acknowledge His promise along with Isaiah: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. Two-year-old little Salem now calls his Grandpa Manuel, “Papá.”  May Salem learn to trust God in life’s deep waters and determine to bring glory to Him alone, along with the next generation of Huichol children who will soon have a complete Bible in their heart language. 

As the workshop was coming to a close, still there was no communication with the villages back home. UIM-A pilots, Clif and David, flew over the villages and dropped out the window onto the airstrips some very creative “message bombs” Clif dreamed up, requesting that the villagers get them in shape in order for Román, Venancio, Hilario, and Emilia to land safely the following day. 

That would be the only way they would be able to make it home for a long time. Román’s sweet wife, Bernarda, took off on a three to four-hour trek on foot through the mountains to a higher village where she was able to get phone signal and call Román to let him know that the airstrips would be ready for landing. That’s an eight-hour round trip she made to get the message delivered! I can just imagine the leaping in her heart as she hears Román read from the hot-off-the-press Huichol version of Isaiah: How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him [her] who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, "Your God reigns."  Isaiah 52:7  The MTTs are only a part of the team for sharing the Good News.

We all face storms in life. No one is exempt. The storms are countless, difficult, and wide-ranging, like illness, opposition, pressures, unemployment, relationships, disappointments, and death of loved ones. They serve to prove the strength of the Anchor Who promises: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. ~Isaiah 43:2                 


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