Update and Prayer Requests: February 2023
Valerie and Nicasio Martinez
Translating God's Word with and for the people who speak Quiatoni Zapotec
February has been a busy and a hard month. The sad news first: Nicasio’s dad passed away on Feb. 18th. Even though we knew it was coming since he’d been declining for months, it’s still a big adjustment. Nicasio, Beto and another young man from church went that night to be with his mom and help get things ready for people visiting his mom. Since everyone is given a meal when they visit, an outdoor kitchen was set up, a room was set up as a dining room as well as Mom and Dad’s bedroom made into the visitation room. I went the next morning, after picking up Nicasio’s sister and her husband in Oaxaca City, who had come from Mexico City.
We stayed until about 2 pm, not waiting to walk with everyone to the cemetery, which is across town, because the town hall is often on the look out for people (men, especially) who haven’t done town service. (You can think of “town service” as “city taxes” except that it’s paid in work and time rather than money.)
Nicasio has never done town service, which starts the calendar year a male turns 16, because he hasn’t lived in Quiatoni since he was in his early teens. Apparently his dad’s death brought Nicasio to the mind of someone in the town hall, so Nicasio’s brother-in-law was told that he wouldn’t receive Dad’s death certificate until they’d contacted Nicasio. We spent more than a week waiting, wondering, and discussing options but finally heard that the certificate has been given to his sister and brother-in-law. (See below if you’re interested what “town service” would have meant.) So it seems that Nicasio won’t be called for town service but he will need to continue to keep a low profile while in Quiatoni.
Just days after Dad’s passing, we went to Quiatoni’s second largest town for the closing program with the bilingual teachers we’ve been working with. What a delightful time! The teachers had done so much work and it showed in the presentations that their students did. It is, of course, a special challenge for the teachers who don’t speak Quiatoni Zapotec but the results were so good!
All the students were anxious to buy our Zapotec books. This school has another school smack-dab next to it and when the other school’s children came out for recess, they wanted to buy books, too! We sold about $110 worth of books, which is a lot considering that most of our books cost 30 cents, 55 cents or 85 cents. (We sell the books to give them more worth to those who want them. The price is how much it costs us to print the book.)
We are very encouraged because the town hall people (from this town) that attended the closing program were really happy with what the teachers have been doing. They told Nicasio that they’d be happy to cooperate with him with other programs that he’d like to do. They and the PTO served us a delicious dinner after the program. They said that we’d come so far (it’s about 2 hours away) that the least they could do was give us a meal!
Nicasio has done a couple of special things for the university. The head of the Department of Languages asked him to make a video about how Quiatoni Zapotec would express the idea of “collaborative” and what I expect from someone who asks me to collaborate with them. He also did a presentation for the International Day of the Mother Tongue (Feb. 21) on Indigenous Linguistic Identity. And he facilitated an SIL colleague to help the upcoming students for the Translation and Interpretation Master’s Degree have keyboards where they could easily type in the special characters required by their indigenous languages. Previously, they had been copying and pasting each special character each time they needed to use it.
I (Valerie) have been busy with getting the children’s library, the homeschooling resource room and the three classrooms used by the homeschoolers for their classroom experiences, ready to be reroofed. I’m thankful for being able to work with my buddy (and who was the director of the classroom experiences) Marge, sorting out stuff, what to keep, what to get rid off. We’re thankful for four gals that helped in boxing everything up and labeling it, ready for storage. Thank you for your prayers about this.
Those are the highlights from February. We did have some normal (whatever that is!) days during the month. Our Zapotec church service is always a delight and so great to see how much people are learning and applying. One day we visited with the new pastoral care couple from Commission To Every Nation. We appreciated getting to know them. And we enjoyed a couple of visits with friends we haven’t seen in years: she and I taught together here in Oaxaca; she and her husband now serve Bible translation in the Solomon Islands.
Thank you for your prayers, interest and support of us and our ministry of Bible translation with and for those who speak Quiatoni Zapotec. We appreciate you so much!
love, Valerie and Nicasio
Details about the town service:
Town service is a full time job for one to three years, depending on the service, or it could be a very expensive one, such as footing the bill for the town’s annual fiesta. Males whose births are registered in Quiatoni are required to participate in the system from 16 to 60 years of age, with years of “rest” between services.
Nicasio has always tried to keep a low profile when visiting Quiatoni. Had the town hall required him to do town service, he would have had two (main) options: just not do town service and not go to Quiatoni for the three years that this administration will be in the town hall, or he could negotiate with the town hall to do a service that he can pay someone else to do in his place. In that case he would also have had to pay for not attending town meetings and not doing town service all those years.