Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"Ponder anew what the Almighty can do" - Pt. 3

Visits and visitors were what made up most of any variety of life in Guagueyvo. Our daily schedule was pretty predictable most of the week, but a visit by any of the villagers called a cease to all tasks at hand, and full attention was given to them. Often, I would be kneading bread, helping the children with school, or bent over my Spanish grammar book, when the call would come up from one of the children. "We have visitors!" They were never wrong.

Unannounced, unscheduled, and varying in length, we never knew what to expect. There were only two things that were always predictable. Their greeting, and their departure. "Cuida," their only "hello," though oftentimes given shyly, was never neglected. Even the smallest children were trained to be polite, and all who were able went to each one in the host family and shook their hand. The Tarahumara greeting is rather unique - just a slight brush of the hand, or the fingertips if that person if excessively timid.

Marivele and her family. 

I always enjoyed Marivele's visit's. The little nine-year-old goat girl would often stop in both on her way to and back from the nearby ungrazed mountains, bringing her herd of around 30 goats with her. Completely illiterate and uneducated, her life revolved around the menial tasks of bare survival. Despite this, there was a sparkle in her eyes, and a spunkiness that dared to use the few Spanish phrases she knew. She would often only stay for a few minutes and a cookie, and then dash out the door, calling out "Sakatan Tur" and "Adista!"  The first is a customary phrase always spoken on departure essentially "giving back" the chair that was lent to sit on. The last is their only farewell.

The girl with the red blouse is Marivelle.

Oftentimes, the visitors would be women coming to see Yolanda. Extremely shy, most of them would sit for an hour or two, accepting the traditionally given Nescafe (instant coffee) and a bit of food or baked goodies, but offering little in the way of conversation. The Gospel would always be shared with them, whether in the form of direct conversation, the wordless book, prayer, or singing.

Singing and music was a huge part of the Byler home. Designated morning and evening singing times were regularly kept, and it was pretty much assumed that we would sing for most visitors. I was glad! Though I couldn't communicate much with my limited Spanish, I could sing the Spanish songs I knew. Every evening, we gathered outside on their little dirt patio outside the house, and sang for 15-20 minutes over the village.

Yolanda and I would frequently go to visit other houses. Most of these were fairly local, but the occasional 45 minutes hikes didn't bother me one bit. :-) Sometimes down the mountain, sometimes up the mountain, and sometimes around... This part of the Copper Canyon is about the most rugged in the area, and the hiking is not for the faint of heart! I enjoyed the exercise immensely, though, and couldn't help but often think of all the poor people back in WI stuck inside because of the snow. :-)

The type of stove they do
all their cooking on. 
They use this machine to grind their
corn for tortillas.
The culinary experiences these visits provided weren't as interesting as they could have been, but I definitely came back with stories to tell. Thankfully, the people's diet is very simple, and I greatly enjoyed the homemade tortillas and beans served 75% of the time. Any sort of meat I generally tried to fish around, but sometimes the strong billy goat flavor in soup was just not avoidable. :-) Dirty dishes and lukewarm food and coffee added to the experience, and at times provided me with extra reasons to silently ask God's blessing and protection over my food.

Hiking down to the river.

One of the highlights of my trip to Guagueyvo was my trip with Elisha and a few others down the river to have a Bible study with the 7 believers. Every Thursday, the 8-mile hike is made to meet with these baby Christians. The 7200 feet descended and then climbed again tested all the levels of my endurance, but it was so worth it to observe the simple faith in the lives of these believers, and their enthusiastic, though oftentimes off-key singing. Seeing Elisha's dedication in making this weekly trip was also a challenge to me. What am I willing to give of myself, not only that people may hear the Gospel, but also that they may grow and be discipled in the ways of God?

Most of these adults are the believers at the river.

Mid-way through my two month stay there, we help tent-meetings near the village center for a weekend. This was a highlight for me, as I not only was able to play the small keyboard for the music there, but I got company for three days! Four ENGLISH speaking girls and a young family drove out to help with the tent meetings. The girls taught a Bible club for the children, and also provided me with some much-craved fellowship. Though I had never met three of them before, our spirits connected in a deep way, and provided much-appreciated challenge and encouragement.

The four girl along with the Byler's oldest daughter teaching a
Bible verse at the tent meetings. 

Rapt attention was give as Andrea gave the Bible story. 

The children enjoyed candy afterwards. 

One highlight of their stay was an assignment we were given by Elisha. He had been given large amounts of groceries for the widow ladies in the area, and these needed to be distributed. In America, this would be easy, but when you are considering a 45 minute hike and bags of flour, beans, pasta, and soap, many hands (and backs) is a welcome help. I was assigned as the leader of the group since I (supposedly) knew the way to this widow ladies house. To make a long story short, we had quite the adventure getting lost, hunting down one of the women, walking in on a beer party, and getting stuck in a downpour. Cold and wet, but happy, we straggled back home, overjoyed to find Yolanda making a rare treat! Homemade hot chocolate! :-)

Sonya, Zaida, Andrea, Me, and Gloria ready to distribute groceries. 

Our hearts were well-satisfied with the task that had been given us, but at the same time, yearning with the burden for lost souls. So many of these people are hungry, but not yet desperate. Open, yet not willing to make the sacrifice to give their all and follow Christ. Sick of their current life, but still bound in the snares of drugs, alcohol, and Spirit-worship. Or worse yet, loving their life, satisfied with the pleasures of sin, and wanting nothing to do with Christ, Christianity, or change. Pray with me that God would not only open the hearts of these thousands of Indians, but that He would send more laborers into this immensely needy field...

I'll wrap up this series next time with a post on some final memories. Thanks everyone for your patience!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Loaves and Fishes Principle

"And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men: Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance; for ye serve the Lord Christ." Col. 3:23

"If you want to make your life count, give all you have - give the best you have - and do whatever you do for the Lord. Be an ordinary person living your life to the fullest for an extraordinary God. If you will offer God your very best, He will take it, multiply it, and make it a blessing to many. "

"Whatever the cost, it will be worth it all."

-Joy Punnoose

*I'm hoping to resume blogging about Mexico in the near future. Pressing obligations (namely study/school) have kept me from having concentrated writing time. Hopefully this weekend! :-)

Friday, March 05, 2010

"Ponder anew what the Almighty can do" Pt. 2

My first morning in Guagueyvo was an early one, despite our rigorous travel the day before. One thing I learned quickly was that the days always started early in the Byler home. Sleeping in was unknown in word and actuality. Though it was not always easy pulling myself out of my warm blankets at 5:00am every morning, I grew to deeply appreciate this quiet, still time of seeking the Lord. Something about those early morning, peaceful hours are very precious... At times I would conquer my laziness and urge a fire to life in the little stove in my bedroom. Other times, the nuisance seemed too much and I would just bundle up against the morning chill. This early morning bite certainly aided my senses in staying alert! :-)

My room was simple, bordering on primitive, but a very welcome haven nonetheless. The Byler's had built this room on as an addition to their 12x24 foot house. It was entered from the outside, and was also home to their canned goods, many mice, and an occasional centipede or scorpion. These creatures gave me much grief of heart and mind at first... The mice merely from their nuisance and the loud racket they would make at night, and the poisonous creatures from the horror stories the natives would tell of their bites. In my naive northern mind, they were certainly lurking in every dark corner, waiting for unsuspecting me to walk past so they could jump out. :-) Yes, silly, I know, but they were fears I had to deal with. Jesus' promise to us of power over scorpions in Luke 10:19 because very personal and precious to me during that trip!

Despite the fact that I had to share this haven with unwanted creatures, this room became a place to seek the Lord earnestly. For my own needs and direction, and for the indigenous people group I was now living among. As I have already written some of the history of these Indians from my first trip three years ago, I won't go into it here, but suffice it to say they are a nearly completely unreached people group. Though I could not speak their language, I could pray for them, and I was there to serve alongside the Byler's as they lived and worked every day among this fairly primitive Indian tribe.

Our day together started at 6:45 when we would meet for corporate prayer. We also met together every evening before bed. These were times of intercession for whatever the Lord laid on our heart. I was encouraged and challenged deeply through these times, and convinced of the absolute necessity of prayer in a Christian's life, not only for his own spiritual well-being, but for effective ministry. This was fairly new ground for me spiritually, but God's presence was so near tenderly teaching me, and I rejoice to say that God answered some specific requests in beautiful and exciting ways. This was extremely faith-strengthening for me, and encouraged me to pursue after God in this way more faithfully.

Praise to the Lord, who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires ever have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Breakfast followed this time of seeking God, then family devotions and singing. I generally helped with housework and the children's schooling during the early and mid-morning hours, and spent the late morning and early afternoon in language study. Paying and receiving visits were a regular part of our week, generally in the afternoon, but flexibility was the key word. No two days were the same, and our loosely planned scheduled could change drastically with the visit of one person....

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Meditations from Mexico

"For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" - Hebrews 2:2-3a

Many unbelievers question how that God, whom Christians claim to be one of love, could send anyone to hell for all of eternity. The answer is simple. It is the only consequence severe enough to match the crime of man's rejection of the most immense and lavish gift God could have bestowed upon man. The consequence of rejection and unbelief reveals to us how great was the sacrifice Christ made and how precious the offering of His blood was.
Ye that think of sin but lightly,
Nor suppose the evil great;
Here may view it's nature rightly,
Here it's guilt may estimate.
Mark the sacrifice appointed;
See who bears the awful load.
"Tis the Word, the Lord's anointed;
Son of man and Son of God.
-Thomas Kelley