In late August, my friend Sergio and I rode 17 hours on an overnight bus trip. After three more hours on a second bus line we spent the night with a UIM pilot, then flew to our destination in a small mission aircraft. Around 42 hours after leaving Chihuahua we finally arrived in Las Moras: the Nahuatl village where my family expects to move near the end of 2017!
It was eight months since my family first visited Las Moras – primarily to learn about the local Nahuatl people group, and to get to know the team of church planters working there among them. Now having joined that team, I was back (Amy and the kids weren’t able to come along)… this time, to begin preparations for the years to come!
The first goal of this trip was a discussion with local leadership. After accepting an invitation to join the NTM and Pioneer church planting team working there, we needed the community’s permission to move in and build a house on their land. We asked for a meeting so I could make that request, and I felt just a bit nervous as the appointed hour arrived!
In the end, the meeting could not have gone better. Our teammates had worked hard to set things in order, and God’s blessing on that preparation was apparent in how this request was received. “We’ve already talked about this,” one man said. “It’s good that he is here to speak, and we have agreed before that they may come.” After hearing several similar responses, our part of the meeting came to a close far more swiftly than I could have imagined, and we left with the permission needed to move forward!
Another goal while in Las Moras was preparing for house construction! Amy and I inherited an existing U-shaped concrete foundation (to be filled before construction), complete with septic already in place and ready for use. This will be a huge blessing, saving significant expense and man-hours! The foundation has lain exposed for over five years, so I wanted to evaluate its condition and placement before drawing up plans.
First of all, we offered our future neighbors the work of making 2500 adobes (earthen bricks we’ll use to construct our exterior walls). The village judge (an annually elected leader) will administer that project. Next, Sergio and a couple of my coworkers went with me and measured the foundation’s edges and diagonals, also noting the placement of existing septic tie-ins. Everything was photographed in detail, including our coworkers houses (to serve as references). These notes have already proved highly useful back in Chihuahua as we begin considering how to plan a house which will be an asset during church planting!
All this completed, we began the long and difficult drive from Las Moras to Mazatlan (our supply town). Pete and Liesl were returning to the United States for the birth of their second child, but we are in the middle of rainy season and our normally incredibly difficult road is impassable more often than not. We anticipated getting stuck in mud and worse, and Pete needed a couple guys – enter Sergio and I! – for the drive out. This was the final purpose of our trip, and when we were blessed with four straight days of sun (unheard of at this time of year!) we decided to make the attempt a day earlier than planned.
Pete had sent Liesl and their son Kester out on the same airplane which brought Sergio and I to Las Moras, so we drove out together with Rachel (our other coworker on-site at the time) early in the morning. The road was terrible, and we constantly slid and bumped around… Pete described the conditions as the worst he’d ever seen in five years out there. However, God provided us a safe journey and we made it back to pavement without getting stuck even once! (We did then get a tow truck for the 100 paved miles, thanks to mechanical problems with the 4×4… but that was a comparatively easy problem to manage).
After a few days getting the Hypkis’ truck repaired in Mazatlan, we returned to Chihuahua. Reuniting with Amy and the kids after nine days was wonderful, and we bid Pete and Liesl farewell as they headed north to the United States. Rachel remained in Mazatlan, where she is working on the Nahuatl Bible translation, and Sergio hopped on a bus back to his home here in the city.
Sometimes, the daily grind of studying language and culture narrows our field of vision. It can be hard to see past daily goals, challenges, failures, and achievements – no matter how excellent our reasons for pursuing them! This trip to Las Moras ended up serving an unexpected purpose: it reminded us of the ultimate goal God has given us, being part of making disciples of Jesus among the still unreached Nahuatl people group. We had never forgotten that aim… but the reality of being among the very people we work to reach re-awakened a sense of God’s larger purpose for our presence in Mexico. There is still a lot of work to do, but we are grateful for God’s kind encouragement through this trip as we press on in His service!
Vehicle Search Update
Our search for a vehicle continues, as we look for a truck capable of driving the rough mountain road which leads to Las Moras. In addition to searching for vehicles in Texas, New Mexico and the Pacific Northwest, we’ve expanded our search to vehicles in Chihuahua and nearby towns. There are challenges in language and culture to buying a vehicle in Mexico, but that would bypass the cost, logistical hurdles, and time investment of nationalizing a US-bought truck. The market is fairly limited, but we are keeping our eyes open to see how God provides!
We plan to return to Las Moras in January. There is much work to do between filling in the foundation and checking on adobe construction; also, Rachel hopes to make on-site translation progress while we are there. Flying is a possibility, yet supply needs would require multiple flights, and without a truck we couldn’t move finished adobes to our house site. For those reasons, our hope is to purchase a truck in the next couple of months.
Amy and I are grateful for each of you who God has used to so quickly provide the funds now on hand, and we are excited to continue watch as He meets this need. We ask for continued prayer over this situation – God knows what truck we need, where it is, how to get it to us, and how to grow us more like Jesus as we wait on Him! For those interested in participating financially: thank you for thinking of us in this way, and please feel free to contact us with any logistical questions for that process which remain unanswered by our Give page.
Praise God with us!
- He gave Sergio and I a safe trip to Las Moras, allowed us to accomplish everything we needed to there, and protected our team while driving a treacherous route back down from the mountains.
- 44% of the funding needed for our mountain truck came in very quickly, most of it before we even shared the existence of this need.
- I finally had an opportunity (again with the help of Rich Agnew) to repair one of our swamp coolers, allowing Amy to be much more comfortable in these final days of pregnancy.
Ways you can pray:
- We are one week away from Amy’s due date of October 2nd! Please pray for her and the baby both in these final days of waiting, and the delivery to come.
- Ask God to grant us wisdom as we plan for the future: working on continuing studies of language and culture, beginning to plan the construction of our tribal home, and considering the timing of a furlough between those two tasks.
- Pray too for the goals of today, and the ability to balance our priorities – everything in the previous request, God-honoring relationships with friends and neighbors, faithfulness in raising our children, and continuing to grow more like Jesus.