I’ve heard rumor that we have some friends (maybe even family??) who have said “what are Nathan and Julie doing down there, anyway?” This makes me think that maybe I haven’t done a good job of portraying our world via the monthly e-mail updates I send out. So I figured I would just sit down and write a “what we do” note, to sum it all up very clearly. At least, as clearly as I can! Here goes. Hold on, I need to make myself a mocha first…
Ok here goes! So I’m sure you already know that my little family and I live in Chiapas, Mexico. If you look on a map, you’ll see Chiapas at the veeeeery bottom of the “chili pepper” shape. We are as far South as you can go, without running into Guatemala. The name of our city is San Cristobal de las Casas… though San Cris is much easier! San Cris is one of the 10 oldest colonial cities in the country… or maybe it was South America? Anyway it’s really truly beautiful, either way. It’s easy for me to imagine what the climate in the Garden of Eden was like after living here for almost 5 yrs. A hot day for us is 80 degrees… most days we’re between 65-70. We don’t really have a distinct summer/fall/winter season change here. The big change happens between dry season and rainy season. Typically, rainy season means that we get rain for several hours every day. There are days when we wake up to rain, watch it rain all day, and go to bed with it still raining! But those days are pretty rare. Generally, we wake up to fog, then the sun comes out for a few hours. By early afternoon the clouds roll in and we see rain for several hours… usually clearing up by dinner time.
According to Wikipedia, there are 63 languages spoken in Mexico. That seems awfully low to me (like, 200 lower than I expected) but I think it’s due to the definition of languages. When a dialect becomes SO different from it’s original language that the two can’t communicate anymore, we (and the organization we get our info from) call it another language. But even at 63, people are surprised! We all expect that if you live in Mexico, you speak Mexican! Er, Spanish. While that is generally true (the majority of people in Mexico can communicate basic ideas in Spanish if they’re not fluent), there is a HUGE number of people that are much more comfortable with their native language (or “heart language”). That huge number of people is why we are here.
Something like 80% of the indigenous people of Mexico are illiterate. That means that *even if* there was a printed Bible or evangelistic or discipleship materials in their language, it wouldn’t do them any good. What good is a Bible if you can’t read it? So how do you communicate the Gospel to a person that can’t read? This is where Nathan comes in. He (and his parents) have been working for years to get audio and video materials translated, recorded, and distributed. You may be familiar with “The Jesus film” made by Campus Crusade. (http://www.jesusfilm.org/) We’ve worked to get that made in several of the local languages here. This is an EXCEPTIONAL tool! Many of the jungle trips include at least 1 showing of this movie. While some of the people may have heard of Jesus, it’s a whole `nuther ball game to watch a film about his life, death, and resurrection in their own language!
Right now, we are focusing on 2 indigenous people groups. The Zoque (pronounced SO-kay) and the Ch’ol (pronounced chole). One group is about 6 hrs West, the other is 6 hrs East. This is why we’re located in San Cris… it’s very much in the middle of many different people groups! Right now, as far as we can see and have been told, there are no missionaries working with either of the groups I mentioned. They both have a printed Bible, but like I mentioned earlier that doesn’t do anything for the majority of the people.
Currently, we’re only a few chapters away from getting the Zoque New Testament finished, and Ch’ol is completely done! Then, Nathan will go to a village to install water filters (you can read about this project on our website… www.terrelltimes.com under the Projects page and Pure Water Project). The filters are a huge need and we have more requests than we are able to fill right now! They provide a perfect open door for Nathan to say “hey, while I’m here, let me give you a gift!” And when he goes back to a home to check on their filter, he brings another book or two of the New Testament while he’s at it. He takes as much time as he needs to in each home, asking if they enjoyed the last CD, if they had any questions, etc. I am so proud of him! When I’m with Nathan in these people’s homes, I can’t get over how they just open up and talk him. I love how accepting he is of everyone, and they obviously feel that too.
This brings me to my next point. Yes, he goes to the jungle without us! I have spent MANY hours dreaming of a travel trailer that we could all go together in. But since he goes to so many villages, and just sleeps in his truck or a hammock that he carries with him, there is nowhere for me and 3 little girls to stay! So for now, we stay home and hold down the fort while Daddy goes to the jungle. He’s usually gone for about a week out of every month. During the summer, when we have lots of teams coming down, he’s gone MUCH more often. But we love teams, so it’s all good in the end.
Does that cover everything? I’m sure it doesn’t. Tell ya what, if there is something I missed or a question you still have, send it as a reply (or e-mail or facebook) and I will write up an answer post. 🙂 But this is long enough for now. If you read all the way through, congratulations! Here’s a cyber-gold star for you!