I’ve talked about Andrea in other posts, but I wanted you guys to be formally introduced. Andrea is about my age, but I usually think of her as much older. I think she thinks of me as younger, too, since she suggested I marry her 18 year-old son. Like many people in this relatively new village, she grew up in another spot and then moved to Las Moras as an adult. She has six children and one grandson and lives on the ridge across the creek from our house.
I met Andrea on my very first visit to the tribe and noticed right away that she wasn’t nearly as shy as many of the other ladies and spoke right up. She is friendly, frank, and loves to talk. Although at that time I didn’t plan on learning language full-time, I remember God putting the idea of her being a language helper into my mind.
Fast forward a few years and Andrea is my main language helper. We meet twice a week. On Mondays she comes faithfully to my house to study. I put a movie on for her three youngest children (a special treat!) and then sit down to work on things with her. It’s sometimes hard to get her away from the DVD player, but eventually we get to it. She gives me great recordings about things that have happened in the past and the Nahuatl culture.
She is always very curious about our culture, too, and wants to know if we grow babies in our bellies, fight with our siblings, walk the dead, and know how to curse other people. For a while she was convinced that people didn’t do bad things “on the other side” (the US). I try to assure her that people are basically the same everywhere, but they have different ways of thinking and doing things.
About a year ago I began teaching Andrea’s daughter to read. She was in 5th grade at the time and had just gotten the news that she was going to have to repeat the grade. Andrea told me, “She’s sad because she’s big now and she will study again with the smaller children.” The Nahuatl are a very stoic people, and that day I saw tears brimming in her daughter’s eyes. I asked her if she wanted to work on reading over the summer and she was excited to begin. She now reads quite well and I take her a new Spanish book each Wednesday.
Eventually I started teaching Andrea herself to read in Nahuatl. Despite some obvious learning disabilities, she is sticking with it like a champ. I have been learning lots from the experience as well, and tucking away vocabulary about how to say “big letter” “top to bottom” and “sentence.” There aren’t really any words in Nahuatl for many of these ideas, so it takes some time to learn to think of them and describe them the way they do. Since it will eventually be part of my ministry to teach the village to read, this time with Andrea is a benefit to both of us.
At the beginning of rainy season, Andrea asked me if I would be her youngest son’s godmother. He was graduating from pre-school and it is a custom here to ask someone to bring them a present and be a part of their life. Since then, Andrea always refers to me as “her co-mother.”
I am hopeful that this friendship with Andrea and this connection to her family will give the right to speak truth to them about our Heavenly Father. I am hopeful that her learning to read will mean that one day she can sound out the letters of encouragement Paul wrote to other believers. And I am hopeful that the love I try to show her will be a tiny reflection of the love I know God has for them.
Thank you for your part in reaching Andrea and the rest of her village for God’s glory.