…the headquarters for New Tribes Mission Aviation?
Because McNeal is located in the desert land of SE Arizona, many people think that it is a warm climate year-round. Some people wonder about our autumn season. Now that we have lived in McNeal since early July and have seen the transition of the seasons, I can tell you a bit about fall and winter here in our new home. Of course, we’re only beginning the winter months. First, I can say that we did experience changing color on some of the trees back in October and November. The hot days did taper off, leading us into a cooler and more moderate season of temperatures. Since December, the temperatures get quite frigid during the night. Just prior to Christmas, our kids’ school notified us parents that there were to be record overnight low temps, and the busses might not run. It got into the single-digits that week for those overnight lows. It does get up into the 40’s and 50’s, for the most part…sometimes even 60’s. We’ve seen snow in the mountains this winter, and a light dusting of snow on the ground the day after Christmas.
What is it like to live in McNeal from a cultural standpoint? I have to say that we as a family have experienced a degree of culture shock since living here. For instance, I found myself not too long ago in a friendly conversation with a Mexican man down a Wal-Mart aisle (this is the store we frequent because it is the closest chain shopping store to us, requiring a 30 minute drive one-way). It was a conversation that I probably won’t easily forget. The man started out by asking me if I spoke Spanish. I replied in his heart language to the best of my ability, “A little.” The fact is, I had studied Spanish for 3 years in high school. I enjoyed learning a foreign language and even received a Spanish Bible from my teacher when I graduated. I treasured it and always thought I’d learn more Spanish and even minister to Hispanic people sometime in my adult life. But instead, God called me and my family to a different part of the world…to Papua New Guinea, where the official language is English and the trade language is Tok Pisin. So while in my 30’s, I had the privilege of learning a second foreign language in my lifetime. I learned it by God’s grace to the point that I was able to converse fairly comfortably in it with the Papua New Guinean citizens. I have a Bible in that language, and I read it with Esra (my house helper at the time) on a regular basis when we lived and served over there. I even had the occasional dream in the trade language of Papua New Guinea. Now that I’m back in primarily Spanish territory, I am trying to resurrect the first foreign language I learned. Let me tell you, it’s not so easy.
So back to the aisle in Wal-Mart. When I told the friendly gentleman that I only knew a little bit of Spanish, he was not in the least bit deterred from talking to me. He continued in his Spanish, and I listened with rapt interest in what he was saying. I was able to ascertain that he was looking for sugar. Standing on my tip-toes, I saw the sign advertising the baking items a couple of aisles over. I was able to communicate with him that he could find the sugar there. However, in the midst of my “baby sentences” (I now can’t remember if I even spoke one complete sentence to him, or not – I’m guessing not), I was mixing in Tok Pisin with my much-more limited Spanish! In fact, Tok Pisin is my “default” foreign language. It has nearly completely replaced my Spanish. I wonder sometimes if I will ever re-learn my Spanish enough so that it becomes my default foreign language once again. Funny how the brain works.
There is certainly more I could say about the culture down our direction of the USA, but I’ll save that for another entry or conversation (hopefully in English!). Whatever language you and I speak, God speaks our heart language. He has written His Word, which contains example after example of His desire and initiative to communicate with individuals down through the ages of time. He is the same, never changing. He has written us a Love Letter – the Bible. All of you reading this speak and read English. Our English versions of the Bible are many in number; we have many options to choose from. Today the Bible continues to be translated into the heart language of many remote people groups because God cares about individuals from every tribe, language, people, and nation (see Revelation 5:9). That includes you! If God cared enough to write us a letter and preserve it this far throughout history, don’t you want to know what He has to say to you?