From Rusty, with some editing for clarity by me:
Great news! Everything appears to be stable in my blood work and lymph nodes! My lymph nodes have not enlarged since the last time I came in, so I'll get lab work and a CT scan done again in 3 months. The doctor says there is a possibility that cancer could still be hiding in the nodes, but he says there's a higher chance that they are just a reaction to everything. But he/we will be monitoring closely!
The doc said some doctors report lymph nodes sizes differently, sometimes they're so small that they're "non enlarged by CT criteria", so on the last CT they may have seen it but said it wasn't worth mentioning. The lymph nodes going back to normal would be ideal, from what I understand! Because that would be a clear indication that they were just reacting and aren't hosting cancer. If there's no change in the lymph nodes he said he'd order another set 3 months later. Typically they'd wait another 6 months, but he wants to keep a close eye on them.
So our next prayer request: may those lymph nodes go back to the size of their brethren!
Rusty, and we, thank you for your prayers. We are grateful for your continued prayers.
Valerie and Nicasio
May is often the month that graduates are celebrated and Nicasio was included in SIL’s* May meeting honoring graduates. This is my paraphrase of what he shared during that meeting:
I continue studying because I want the tools to meet the challenges that I face from the bilingual teachers and others. Tools that I can use when I talk about literacy and languages. SIL focuses more on the languages whereas my studies have focused more on the effect that languages have on people, especially when languages are used by those in power or authority and how that affects people.
The first classes in the doctorate program were very difficult and complicated but I wanted to do the doctorate program to help the bilingual teachers. They are in a difficult position: they are often not assigned to teach in a community where their own language is spoken but they are supposed to grade their students on the use of their (the students’) own mother tongue.
I thank God for helping me through the classes, which I’ve finished; I haven’t finished my thesis yet. I also want to thank Valerie for standing with me and encouraging me along the way. And I want to thank SIL folks for inspiring me and giving me room to grow. I hope SIL folks will continue inspiring people, especially the indigenous people since they are the ones who will have the greatest impact on their communities.
A few days later, Nicasio was one of two panelists on a live online program to answer some questions about indigenous languages, culture, and identity. My paraphrase of parts of his answers:
Our culture and language are important and need to be encouraged but even before that we need to be proud of who we are. I say that because we can see from history how we have been treated. The mistreatment that we’ve received over hundreds of years are like wounds that have never been healed. For example, in the year 1537 Pope Paul III declared that the indigenous people of the Americas are humans. All these sorts of things have wounded our forefathers and they have passed those wounds down to us and have not been healed. When our children go to school, it’s like going to a different country since the teachers don’t speak the children’s language. When we go to a doctor, he doesn’t speak our language, either. We indigenous people are like foreigners in our own land. We need to give importance to our language and culture and we can do this best by speaking it with our children and teaching them our culture so they can be proud of who they are.
My greatest achievement is not just my achievement but a team achievement: the writing and publishing of Zekre rkaa diidx zah (This Is How Zapotec Is Written) in 1999, We worked with a group of people, including bilingual teachers and others who were interested in writing our Zapotec, to finalize our Zapotec alphabet. After this book was written, the teachers found funding to have it printed and distributed a copy to each school in the area where Quiatoni Zapotec is spoken. Now many children have learned to read and write in Zapotec and there are teachers using the book to help their students learn to write their own language.
Some might wonder why we spend so much time with the bilingual teachers. We are happy to help them since they are helping us by encouraging their students and their parents to read and write in Quiatoni Zapotec. When God’s Word is available, many people will be able to read it!
Beto has continued revising the Psalms that he’s translated. He and Candi have also been learning a lot—and putting into practice—how to evangelize people. Beto found a method for opening the conversation that he really likes, involving showing two curved pieces which are the same size but don’t look it. On the back, he has printed in Zapotec how to use the pieces to share Jesus with others. He made a lot of them, cutting them all out by hand, and then shared some with the youth group since Nicasio has been teaching them about evangelism. Beto said that he gave some to his brother-in-law to use, too.
We would appreciate your prayers for Rusty’s upcoming CT scan and bloodwork on June 4. He’ll see the doctor on June 11. We are praying that the suspicious lymph node will not have changed or maybe shrunk some and that his bloodwork will show no sign of the cancer. Thank you for holding him up to the Great Physician.
Royan just had his six month check up and is healthy and happy! Tuesday (5/25/21) he was shopping with his momma, and fortunately they were still in the store, when a car hit Mike and Tara’s car in the parking lot. They are still waiting to hear from the insurance company about their car. Thank God with us that Tara and Royan were safely inside the store when this happened and pray that the details about the car will be sorted out quickly.
Mike has decided to change jobs for a position that will allow him to work from home. He starts June 1st and is excited about this new opportunity!
Thank you for making all these things possible with your prayers. Thank you for praying for us, our family and those who work with us as well as the translation itself. You are a blessing to us!
love, Valerie and Nicasio
Our May Quiatoni Crier is attached. We hope it is an encouragement to
you in some way. (If you are a picture lover, there are pictures on the
second page. :) )
If for some reason, you'd rather not receive our newsletters, please let
me know. There'll be no hard feelings!
Thank you for your interest in our ministry of Bible translation in
love, Valerie and Nicasio Martinez
Update and Prayer Requests: April 2021
Valerie and Nicasio Martinez
Translating God's Word with and for the people who speak Quiatoni Zapotec
Our biggest news this month is that Nicasio graduated from the PhD program Friday, April 23! Classes finished a year ago but due to covid restrictions, graduation kept being postponed. The ceremony was smaller and less formal than usual but it happened and Nicasio has his diploma! He said that the best thing about graduation was that it relit the fire for him to finish his thesis so that he can truly be done with the PhD program. Please pray for him as he works on it and also deals with the external hard drive that isn’t working and has on it the videos of the course he taught to the bilingual teachers for his thesis.
Nicasio and I have given final (we hope!) read-throughs of the book documenting the Quiatoni Zapotec numbers from one to one hundred. It’s almost ready for printing!
Nicasio has been continuing to revise the Book of Acts as we continue to study it during Zapotec church service. (Zapotec church service is still online only.) Interest is high as we work on Chapter 19 and discuss things like “Do people need to be rebaptized?” “Does God heal only through the use of special cloths?” “Who can pray for someone to be healed?” “Why is it that sometimes people don’t get healed, even after we pray for them?” It’s wonderful to see how feel the freedom and confidence to ask questions. Please continue to pray for these folks, especially for more understanding of God’s Word, which is what one lady asked as a prayer request for herself.
Nicasio is also going through the scripts for dubbing the Deditos videos. (More information about Deditos here: https://mailchi.mp/7d67344ed722/deditos-eng) He continues to teach (online) two people to read and write in Quiatoni Zapotec. (They speak it and want to be able to write it well.)
Please pray for unity within our (local) church since there is disagreement about how to deal with government covid restrictions. (We have heard of similar problems in other churches; if yours is one of them, we’d like to pray for yours, too.) Recently the pastor has started an inperson youth group, without saying anything to Nicasio about it, even though Nicasio continues to have online meetings with those of the church’s youth who want to meet with him. Today (April 25) the online group went on a bike ride as an outdoor activity where they can safely spend time together.
I spent the first two weeks of April in Mitla, doing an inventory of the Children’s Library. The library is self-serve (you check out your books, your return the cards to your books, you reshelve your books) so there’s lots of room for mistakes. Add to that the fact that I haven’t done an inventory for five years and that there are about 14,000 pieces in the library! I was very thankful for three friends helping me for many hours and an afternoon of four teens helping me.
Rusty thanks you all for your prayers and asks that you continue praying for him, specifically that his scans and bloodwork in early June will come back clear. He’s back to normal work and normal life. We thank you, too, for your prayers for him.
Mike, Tara and Royan hope to visit us this summer so they’ve gotten Royan’s passport! Royan is five months old and starting to eat solids. Tara says this is a real blessing since the formula he is on, due to colic and a milk protein intolerance, is quite expensive. Mike would like you to pray for him as he’s in the process of applying for a new job.
Thank you for standing with us and making God’s Word available to those who speak Quiatoni Zapotec! You are blessing many people!
love, Valerie and Nicasio
Thank you for your continued prayers for our son Rusty. Please continue to pray for him; specifically that the suspicious lymph node will not grow any larger. He will have another CT scan and bloodwork done in early June to check on it.
This past week Rusty went to IU Health (the world's center for testicular cancer) for second opinions with an oncologist and an urologist. A few days later he saw the oncologist that he was referred to by urologist/surgeon that operated on him on March 5. All three doctors concur that active surveillance is the way to go, meaning to keep an eye on it, have another CT scan and bloodwork done in two months to see what that suspicious lymph node is doing. (It is enlarged but still within "normal" range; it's not the node that they would expect to be affected by the testicular cancer, if it had spread.)
If it has grown (please pray that it won't!), they recommend surgery to remove it. If it hasn't grown or has shrunk, they recommend CT scans every four months for a while, then every six months, then every year. Even if there should be a relapse, the cure rate is still 99.5%!
Rusty says that he's still pretty peaceful about it. Thank you for praying for him and for us. We are thankful for you and how you've stood with us over the years. Thank you!
Update and Prayer Requests: March 2021
Valerie and Nicasio Martinez
Translating God's Word with and for the people who speak Quiatoni Zapotec
Nicasio continues to work on revising the Book of Acts, keeping ahead of where he and Beto are teaching through it for the Zapotec church service. Last Thursday we studied Acts 19:1-7 and got into an interesting discussion about baptism and being rebaptized. One lady told us how she was going to church because she enjoyed listening to the sermons (in Spanish) and how people talked about God. She was encouraged to be baptized and she finally was but didn’t really know what baptism was for. Beto’s wife Candy said that she was raised in a Christian home and thought that she would go to heaven because her parents were believers. She said that it wasn’t until they began studying the Bible in Zapotec that she understood that each person needs Jesus as his Savior to be able to go to heaven. We love to hear our Zapotec church family share how much they are learning through studying God’s Word in the language they understand best! Thank you for praying for the Zapotec church service, for those who attend it and for Nicasio and Beto as they teach.
In January, Nicasio participated in a presentation of a story book in Quiatoni Zapotec since he had helped with editting the Zapotec. After the presentation, a man asked if he could interview Nicasio on the radio! Nicasio agreed and that interview happened the last day of February. I was glad to go along and also glad to not be interviewed. As we walked with the interviewer to the radio station, he asked me why it was important, almost asking what was the use, of preserving indigenous languages. I told him that each language has its own world view, its own knowledge, and what would people like my parents-in-law do if they couldn’t speak their own language? Then I asked him how he would feel if “they” said that Spanish wasn’t allowed any more, that only Russian could be used, only Russian would be taught in schools. He thought for a minute and then said, “It would be very difficult.” Nicasio said, “And that’s what’s happened to us indigenous people.”
We had taken a set of all the secular books we’ve produced in Zapotec, since they had met at the Quiatoni storybook presentation. He was fascinated by the books and especially by the non-fiction. He wanted to know how indigenous languages deal with technology that they don't have words for. Nicasio used "rocket" as an example, since we have a book about the first time man went to the moon. He explained that lots of things in Quiatoni Zapotec are "metal" and sometimes have a phrase with them to indicate what kind of metal (metal that one hunts with--gun, metal for the ears--earring, metal to write on--typewriter, etc.) and sometimes the context gives the needed information. So a rocket is "a metal that goes to the moon."
We were pleased with how the interview went and how interested the interviewer was about indigenous languages, especially Quiatoni Zapotec.
I’m happy that I’ve been able to concentrate more—thank you for praying for me in this!—on the dictionary assignments. I’m making progress, although it’s slow. (I thought I was a year behind but it’s only 10 months!) I’ve also been able to work on some corrections for our Peek at Quiatoni Zapotec Grammar book. I have hopes of seeing it published this year!
Now for family news:
Nicasio’s parents have adjusted well and are happy in their new home next door, which used to be Nicasio’s office. Mom and Dad are doing well, keeping busy with living more independently (making meals, keeping house, taking care of their chickens, cleaning up the yard that had become a wilderness, etc.). Their children and their families come to visit; even their daughter and son-in-law from Mexico City came for a weekend! Both Mom and Dad are getting stronger from the exercise that living independently entails. Nicasio is over to see them several times a day; we get groceries and whatever else they need from stores. They do like muffins so I keep them supplied with those. Thank you for your prayers for Mom and Dad.
Nicasio has turned out guest room back into his temporary office while he looks for a place to rent. He has found a possible office--actually a whole house! It's on the outskirts of a little town near us. Apparently the house has been broken into (when it was empty) so he said that if he decides to rent it, he'll ask the owner to beef up the security especially on one room where he'd have the important stuff. Thank you for continuing to pray for an office for him.
Tara and baby Royan (now four months old! and “talking” and laughing) are doing well at home together. They would appreciate prayers as Mike is looking for a new job this year. We are thankful that Tara is so thoughtful in often sending us pictures and videos of Royan! And we enjoy video calls with them, too.
We thank you for all your prayers for Rusty during this hard time. We are thankful that the doctors moved quickly, that the seminoma (testicular cancer) seems to have been contained and removed, that his recovery has been good, for Mike and Tara taking such good care of him. Rusty has two appointments for second opinions on March 29th and an appointment with an oncologist, referred by the surgeon, on April 1st. We appreciate your prayers for these appointments, for wisdom for the doctors and for the best treatment for Rusty. (Not necessarily the “easiest” treatment but the treatment that will be best for the best outcome.) Thank you for standing with us and Rusty—and our whole family!
Thank you for being part of our ministry of Bible translation and part of our lives! Your part is important and we thank God for you.
love, Valerie and Nicasio
Dear praying friends,
First of all, my apologies for not sending out my first prayer request for Rusty as a BCC.
Second of all, thank you all for praying for Rusty and for us. We so appreciate your lifting him up to the Great Physician. Please continue to pray for him as cancer was found but thankfully seems to have been contained. More details below.
And now, here is Rusty's update, written by him:
Thank you so much for praying as I went through surgery last week! Recovery has been quick and stress free. I spent the week after surgery with Mike, Tara, and Royan, who took excellent care of me.
As in all things, there is good and bad news. I received the pathology report of the tumor in the middle of last week. Unfortunately cancer was detected in the tumor, labeled seminoma. At this point it appears that the cancer was confined to the testicle. And while there is no indication that the cancer has spread, we will be keeping a close eye on one suspicious lymph node. According to my urologist, seminoma "is the good one to have." It spreads slowly and has a 95% to 99% cure rate, which is incredibly encouraging.
For those interested in the technical stuff, this is currently labeled as T1B.
Last week I also wrapped up my CT scans with a scan of my chest. Praise the Lord it came back clear! In addition, the urologist ordered one more round of blood work, called "tumor markers" yesterday after my post op. They also came back normal!
I'm thankful to have many more answers than I did two weeks ago. So where do I go from here? Based on the suspicious lymph node, I've requested a second opinion from IU Health in Indianapolis. Unknown to me, IU is the world center for testicular cancer. In fact, Lance Armstrong was treated for advanced testicular cancer at IU and lived to tell the tale! So the last week of March I'll spend seeing several oncologists and one more urologist to cover all my bases.
Then we'll be able to make a decision on whether to continue observation or move ahead with a specific treatment.
Thank you for your support during this difficult time. My community here in Warsaw and around the world (literally) has been incredible! Please continue to pray that tumor markers would be clear and that this one lymph node would behave itself!
Please pray for our older son Rusty as he will have surgery this coming week to remove a tumor. Please pray that it all goes well and that the tumor is not cancerous.
The day after Rusty got back from his trip to the Dominican Republic (Feb 19), he had an appointment with his family doctor. The doctor was concerned about a lump and sent him to a urologist. He had that appointment this morning (Feb 25), which led to a CT scan of his abdomen this afternoon. There were no signs of cancer other than the lump/tumor, for which we are thankful. The doctor scheduled surgery for Friday March 5 at 4pm to remove it and in a week will have results about what, if any, cancer there is.
Mike and Tara will take him to the hospital for the surgery, which will be out-patient, lasting about an hour. Then Rusty will stay with them for his recuperation. After seven days, Rusty will be able to return to his normal activities and he'll go in for his post-op check-up, where he'll find out the results of the testing on the tumor and what further treatment might be needed.
He and we appreciate your prayers for him, the doctors and staff that will be attending him, for his recuperation, and for the results of the testing on the tumor.
Thank you for standing with him and us in this. Words can't express our appreciation for you holding Rusty up to the Great Physician as we ask Him for healing.
love, Valerie for all of us
Dear Father Mike,
Thank you for your and your church's interest in our ministry! Here is what we are about:
We are translating God's Word into Quiatoni Zapotec (pronounced key-ah-TOE-ny SAP-of-tek), which is Nicasio's first language. One of the more than 350 indigenous languages spoken in Mexico, it was being spoken before the Spanish arrived so it is completely unrelated to Spanish. (Like all living languages, Quiatoni Zapotec borrows words from Spanish and other languages.) There are about 14,000 people who speak Quiatoni Zapotec, which is located in southern Mexico in the state of Oaxaca (wah-HAH-ka).
Our main goal is Bible translation but since Quiatoni Zapotec doesn't have a written tradition, we also are involved in literacy activities so that when the translation is published people will be able to read it. We are thankful for the bilingual teachers and other individuals who are interested in writing and teaching reading and writing in Quiatoni Zapotec.
We have produced four volumes of songs in QZ, a small Bible dictionary, a workbook for studying the Gospel of John, some Bible story books, and we have dubbed the Jesus film into QZ.
We also work on documenting the language and culture by writing a grammar explaining how the language works (for example, QZ has no equivalents for "yes" and "no"), by compiling a bilingual (QZ and Spanish) dictionary as well as writing up aspects of the culture.
Thank you for your interest in our ministry of Bible translation!
Father Mike, if you would like to include links to materials in QZ:
Scripture Earth gives a list of all the QZ materials available: https://www.scriptureearth.org/00i-Scripture_Index.php?sortby=lang&ISO_ROD_index=252
You'll find links there to read and listen to the Book of Galatians, the Jesus film (also available directly at: https://www.jesusfilm.org/watch/jesus.html/zapotec-san-pedro-quiatoni.html), a link to the SIL site where you can find our literacy books, and links to other information.
We have posted two videos on youtube of QZ songs:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCPWvYwuYgo&ab_channel=VNRMMTZ (Nicasio, our sons and a friend)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mSUdVE7z0k&ab_channel=VNRMMTZ (with photos of the Quiatoni area and the words to the song in Zapotec, Spanish and English)
Thank you again!
from Valerie and Nicasio Martinez
Translating God's Word with and for the people who speak Quiatoni Zapotec
How was your February? We’re guessing that many of you dealt with more snow than you had for a long time! This last week has been quite cold for us, down in the low 50s and high 40s at night.
Nicasio is still doing youth group meetings and the Zapotec church service via Zoom. People seem to like it better and better as they get used to using Zoom and talking to a camera instead of people.
Nicasio has also revised some of Acts and finished checking the first part of Deditos (videos made using fingers for puppets; see deditos.org) scripts and songs to dub the videos into Quiatoni Zapotec. These have gone back to Beto for his consideration of the corrections and comments since he’s heading up this project.
Nicasio and Beto have also worked with the two other authors of the book about Quiatoni Zapotec numbers. After I went through it and made some suggestions and corrections, they all went through them. After they made some more changes, Nicasio asked me to read and comment on it again, so I did.
Beto has, for several years, been helping to teach a workshop for indigenous people on how to use LibreOffice. Because of the covid restrictions, the director asked Beto to make a couple of videos for the online students to watch. (Here is one: https://www.powtoon.com/s/gcZRv6veFlD/1/m)
Beto also continues to work on and revise the book of Genesis and the Psalms.
After Nicasio’s parents showed so much interest in reading in Zapotec through the simple puzzles I made them, I decided to make “large print” editions of a couple of our Zapotec books. They have both enjoyed looking at the two volumes of picture dictionaries that we’ve done. Each picture has a word, sometimes a sentence, by it, so it’s pretty easy to read the words.
Nicasio and his siblings have been having weekly meetings to talk about Mom and Dad’s living situation, their fields and house in Quiatoni, etc. About 10 days ago, Nicasio suggested to them that he move out of his office and we make it into a house for them so they can live more independently. (Nicasio’s office is on our other piece of land, right next door to our house and yard.) Dad was all for it right away but it took Nicasio pointing out to his mom all the advantages they would have. She finally agreed to a two month trial, and then there was no stopping them as they got excited about having their own place! Nicasio, on the other hand, was realizing how much he was going to miss having a separate office but had already decided to ask the owners of a couple of unoccupied houses near us if we could rent a room for his office. (Still no answer on that. We’d appreciate your prayers for a good office situation for Nicasio.)
One week from actually starting the change, including building a new bathroom for them, we moved Mom and Dad into their own little house. They seem to be happy there, especially since they have six chicks! Dad is enjoying clearing out the “wild field” that that piece of land had become. Mom’s settling well into the house. When we took them a few more things that they needed, Mom said she felt like a bride, getting so many new kitchen things! We are thankful for friends who gave them some kitchen things, too.
Rusty went to the Dominican Republic for three days as part of his photography job at MudLOVE. You can read and see why they went on MudLOVE.com “What’s Possible in Three Days?”
Meanwhile Mike, Tara and Royan stayed home and battled all the snow the hit that area.
Thank you for your support and prayers for us and for our ministry of Bible translation. Even though we don’t have any special events coming up, we appreciate your prayers for us, for our kids, for Nicasio’s parents, and especially for those who speak Quiatoni Zapotec, that they will come to know Jesus.
love, Valerie and Nicasio