Update and Prayer Requests: March 2023
Valerie and Nicasio Martinez
Translating God's Word with and for the people who speak Quiatoni Zapotec
March brought another death and another disagreeable surprise. Our pastor passed away on March 21st; he was 83 years old and diabetic. He was the first protestant in the Quiatoni area and was persecuted in the early days when he was evangelizing in the area. He was the spiritual father and grandfather of most believers in the Quiatoni area. He has pastored our local church for more than 30 years; we were the first couple to be married by him in our church. ♥
Max, who had started the church after becoming a believer in Jesus, was named by Pastor Delfino as assistant pastor some years ago, and we all assumed he would become the pastor when Pastor Delfino wasn’t able to continue. So imagine our surprise when during the funeral, the national-level man from the denomination said that the denomination is giving us an interim pastor for three months while the church finds a new pastor! The denomination has many rules about how this will happen, who are the possible candidates, how the voting will happen, etc. Almost everyone in our church is resistant to the idea of an “outsider” (not someone from Quiatoni) being the pastor; almost everyone wants Max to be the pastor. (You might remember that all the church members are from Quiatoni or married into a Quiatoni family. One non-Quiatoni family recently joined the church.) We appreciate your prayers for this very difficult situation.
To add to the general upheaval at church, this Thursday and Friday (March 30 and 31), our church is hosting the state-wide pastors convention. We are expecting 150 pastors and whoever they bring (wives, assistant pastors?) so there is lots of cooking and organizing going on, as well as physical work getting the church and area ready for so many people. We appreciate your prayers for this to go well.
Nicasio has been going over the Gospel of Mark (which we started translating in the early 1990s!), especially going over notes left by others on the translation team. We are going through Mark at the beginning of each Zapotec church service; Nicasio or Fernando read a section and then give a short lesson on it.
We are finally finishing up studying the Book of Acts in the Zapotec service! We started studying it in April 2018, had one year off during covid, and are now seeing Paul in Rome. It’s been an amazing journey and we’ve all learned a lot. Nicasio has chosen Peter’s letters for us to study next, so he’s been going over and revising 1st Peter in preparation for that.
Beto has been busy with his regular jobs and now has another job: teaching English to 6th graders. This is for the community service that each university graduate is required to do in the area of his degree. We all are thankful that his service is here in Tlacolula and that he will be able to complete his hours fairly quickly since it’s three classes of 6th graders three times a week.
Beto has also been going over the “key terms” in our translation. Key terms are words that are important in Bible translation like glory, redemption, kingdom of God, salvation, and Gospel. These get refined over time and also when they occur in different settings in the New Testament. Beto considers how each one is translated and how it’s used in each place in the New Testament, and puts notes for Nicasio where he thinks it might be improved. He looks especially at words that have different meanings in different contexts. (Look up “glory” in a concordance and see how many different meanings it has!)
The end of February, I had my computer completely reset. It’s running much better now but it took about two weeks to get all my data up to date and in the places it should be. It was a very frustrating time but I learned a lot and am glad that it’s pretty much back to normal.
We haven’t heard anything more about Nicasio having to do town service. He’s considering going to talk to the town authorities and see if he can be given a town job that he can pay someone to do for him. This would allow him greater freedom and solidarity with the Quiatoni community in the future. We appreciate your prayers for wisdom and timing for this.
Nicasio’s mom is doing as well as can be expected; she’s missing Dad, of course. She continues to live with their daughter and her family in Quiatoni.
Mike writes, “We're doing well and excited about Royan continuing to expand his vocabulary. Tara wrapped up vision therapy and her eyes are doing great.”
Rusty writes, “I am happy to share that I recently had my 2 year post diagnosis cancer screenings, and so far everything looks good! I'll meet with my oncologist on April 10th to get the official all clear. Two years down, three to go! I continue to enjoy my job at the Lilly Center and spending time with friends and family.”
As always we appreciate your interest, support, and prayers for our ministry of Bible translation into Quiatoni Zapotec. Your prayers sustain us and encourage us. Thank you!
love, Valerie and Nicasio
Update from Julia Schatz - March '23
Dear Pastor Mike,
WHOEVER? You may be wondering why this is the word I have chosen to highlight in my news. Last Sunday I attended the same church where 38 years ago I first heard the Good New that Jesus is the Savior for lost sinners and 'WHOEVER" believes in Jesus, God's Son, who paid the penalty for their sins, their sins are forgiven and they are given the free gift of eternal life! Yep, that's me! I'm one of God's WHOEVER's, and now His daughter and a member of His family. Also, my favorite story from the Bible was taught and preached at that service I attended. It is a story about another one of Jesus' WHOEVERS. The Samaritan Woman in John 4, Jesus spoke with her at Jacob's Well. As my friend Mike so powerfully said when he gave this beautiful sermon, "There was no greater example of WHOEVER! Jesus cuts through all the social, moral and spiritual boundaries of the day and declares unequivocally that when He says "whoever" He means "whoever!"
I love that story so much! That woman was at at best disregarded and cast aside. Most would avoid talking with her. A sore in the eyes of her community. But it was probably much worse! She was scorned and shamed. Her reputation was stained by one failed relationship after another. She was desperately looking for love in all the wrong and many places. Then she met Jesus!... He knew her! and all about her shameful life of failure and poor decisions. And Jesus did NOT avoid her. He went to her on purpose! And she believed Jesus when He told her He is the Savior. When she believed that day she received Living Water and was restored to a right relationship with God. She left the water in the bucket behind to run to tell others about Jesus! She began a relationship with Jesus that would both mend and fill her broken and shattered heart. He gave her purpose. Go and tell "WHOEVER"! I love that story because it's my story too. What is your story? Who are your "WHOEVERS?"
I am preparing to mobilize a team to the Middle East, soon. Why? To tell that world about Jesus! We have a message of hope from God for"whoever!" A gift from God we will eagerly extend to "whoever" for their response to believe and to receive, this compassionate, merciful and very expensive gift. John 3:36 "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on them" He wants to mend and fill their broken hearts and broken lives and give them a new purpose, so all people in this broken world will hear about Jesus.
As always, I am deeply and forever grateful for your loving, caring and generous gifts of financial support and for your prayers. Romans 10:13 - 15 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him if they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?
Thank you for sending me!
Update from Ryan & Kelly - Mar '23
Blessings to all of you, and happy March!
We have started off the new year here in Honduras in a whirlwind, and we know we haven't updated everyone yet about what's been happening these past two months.
But God is good! His faithfulness always seems to amaze us, and we are thankful that we are able to serve Him here as a family.
We have posted our newest newsletter on our site, called Firm Foundation. We hope that you will take a moment to listen and pray for the people here.
Thank you as always for your love & support!
Ryan, Kelly, Ezra, Kezia & Isaiah Saurers
Click here to view the "Firm Foundation" newsletter
For His Glory; In His Love,
Ryan & Kelly
"Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all people" - Psalm 96:3
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.