Recently I had the chance to do something I have wanted to do for a long time, for over four years actually. One of our tribal works here in Mexico is among a dialect of the Nahuatl people and they recently received a new family to the team, the Husband family. This is very exciting of course and meant that the Husbands needed a house built in the village. I was asked to be one of the cooks providing meals for one of the building teams that would be traveling out to the village to build the house for the Husband family. Of course I said I would do it because going out to visit the Nahuatl work is the very thing I have wanted to do for so long. I was thrilled to be able to be a small part!
This blog will be a long one with lots of pictures but I promise I am only giving you the fast version. 😉
My trip began with an overnight bus ride from where we live to the coastal city closest to the tribe I would be going to. My missionary hosts picked me up from the bus station and so began the prep for the cooking trip! I had already done all my meal planning of course and had made lists upon lists of every ingredient I would need, having done careful math keeping in mind that each person might want 2 servings of each meal I made. If I didn’t calculate correctly we could run out of food and that would be stressful. There is no corner grocer in the tribe so the list making was very important!
The missionary couple I stayed with were very generous in that they helped me shop and get everything done! In order to safely get all the beautiful produce into the tribe it was important to let it all dry well (overnight) and then individually wrap each item in paper and pack it into cardboard boxes carefully. The food and produce would be carried into the tribe in a truck and the hours and hours of terribly bumpy roads can turn fresh things into mush if they are not packed properly. I was glad to be taught the system the missionaries already had established and knew worked well! As you can imagine, it is a time consuming job.
Jordan Husband (the guy who’s house is being built in the village) and my brother-in-law Don Chubb (who is heading up the construction of the house, he’s the forman if you will) drove out of the tribe in order to meet me and the construction team from one of the Husbands supporting churches. The night before our travels into the village we were up late and packed up Jordan’s truck with all the important supplies. There were building supplies, food stuff and of course the luggage and construction supplies the crew had flown there with. Every container that wasn’t air tight had to be bagged so that it would be protected from the incredible amounts of dust that get into the truck on the drive. Even under the truck cap everything still gets covered in dust so the bagging is not a step you should skip I learned.
We would all be traveling into the tribe in two ways. Some of us would be going in on two mission plane flights and the rest would ride in with Jordan in the truck. I was quite pleased to be chosen to take one of the flights because it was important for me to be there first to start food prep! What a relief! 😉
It was a smooth trip into the tribe and we had a smooth landing on the dry landing strip. Two of the single missionaries who work with the Nahuatl people met us on the strip along with a few little Nahuatl boys who were interested in checking out the airplane. Katie, one of the missionaries patiently explained things to them about the airplane as we unloaded and talked for a bit.
Soon it was time to make our way down from the airstrip to the village. I got to ride on the back of the 4 wheeler as Katie drove it which was a total treat because it was “off roading” down the mountain. I’m not gonna lie, it was so fun! We made it to the house before the others who had to hike down and we were covered in dust. My hair had never been so full of dust!
And so began my time in the village, in a swirl of dust. 😁 There were only 2 members of the missionary team in the village at the time, Rachel & Katie. They kindly let me stay with them and use their kitchen to cook for the team. The first few hours of my time there involved learning the ways I would need to go about my cooking and activities while I was there, in light of the fact that it was dry season. There was very little water and that meant everyone needed to be on extra conserve mode! The girls were only going to be there a few days and then would be leaving the village to do some paper work so I was glad to have the time with them! They explained the water situation with filtration, where I could haul it from, how I should handle washing dishes and which plants to prioritize watering with dirty water, etc. The shortage of water meant we would be using the outhouse as much as possible, and if we used the indoor bathroom we couldn’t flush with anything other than dirty dish water- only a once or twice a day. And showers would be rare.
Once I had the system down for how I should be going about things my work began. I was able to feed the group 3 times a day and enjoy a few wonderful days with Katie and Rachel there as well. I am very thankful for the fact that my calculations paid off and we did not run out of food. I enjoyed getting to know each member of the construction team who had come out to build. We had lots of good conversation and laughter over meal times.
It was such a treat to be in the village with Katie and Rachel to help out a little and get to see how God is using them (along with their team) there. Honestly, it made me miss living in a village a lot even though it is a very challenging ministry at times. I am so proud of the ways the girls serve one another and the Nahuatl people. It takes a lot of God-given patience and self-sacrifice to serve in the ways they do.
Back to the construction for a minute. The guys worked hard each day and made great progress. The goal for this team’s work was to “dry in” the house to prepare it for rainy season which is on it’s way. When we arrived the house still didn’t even have all the walls on the second floor let alone a roof so there was a lot to do.
For those of you who are wishing for a blog detailing every bit of the construction I am sorry to disappoint you. My focus was keeping everyone fed and helping when I could, so that’s what I did. Actually, before I left on the trip I had thought to myself how fun it would be if I could get in on a bit of the construction work myself as well but thought for sure I would have no time for that. The first few days while Katie and Rachel were still in the tribe I spent a good amount of time with them- which was wonderful. When they left however I suddenly found myself with a lot more time on my hands! So my dream of helping a little bit on the construction actually became a reality! Each day I was able to get a little more time in to help on the build several and I was so happy about that! It just feels good to work hard on a team and see things get done! I loved it.
Now I want to move on to my favorite part of my time in the Nahuatl village. It’s really the bottom line, the whole reason there is a house being built at all, that is so that Christ can continue to be shared among the Nahuatl, that the church there would grow (in maturity and numbers) and become self sustaining and outreaching.
It was a huge blessing to meet some of the believers and worship with them on Sunday. Katie and Rachel were sweet to let me borrow some traditional Nahuatl clothing to wear to church. I borrowed a traditional skirt, an apron and a beautiful necklace. I am considerably taller than every Nahuatl woman as well as Katie and Rachel so the skirt was fairly short on me, settling above my ankles rather than past them as it was supposed to. I didn’t mind though and it made the ladies giggle to see how “silly” I looked. Ha. We gathered under the car port of the Hypki’s house and brought our own benches and chairs for seating.
Since the Hypki family was not in the village at the time, Katie and Rachel planned some things to share with the small group of believers. The church among this dialect of Nahuatl is still young and is made up of mostly women for the time being. The missionaries are discipling the believers in many truths that are crucial for them to understand in order to continue to grow in their faith and become people who understand God’s Word and rely upon it. It was wonderful to be able to sing songs in Spanish, attempt to read along and sing some songs in Nahuatl and hear what Katie shared (and Rachel translated into English for the team and I who do not speak Nahuatl).
This day Katie shared about how the Bible teaches us about who Jesus is and what He is like. Sometimes Jesus compares himself to certain items but it doesn’t mean he is literally those items. There are different things God compares himself to in order teach us about His character and who He is. She taught a very clear lesson using things she brought with her to show the people. Things like a stethoscope, to talk about how Jesus is like a doctor who comes to make the sick well, a flash light to talk about how Jesus is the light that helps us see/understand the right path, a piece of bread because Jesus calls himself the bread of life because He himself gives us life. And so on. I was so encouraged to hear this lesson taught and to see the responses of the ladies and children as they processed what they were hearing. God’s Word is alive and active!
My time in the village went by very quickly and it was a huge privilege to help in a small way and see how the Lord is at work there. Now it was time to clean up, pack up and prepare the girls house for rainy season. Rachel & Katie had left us a list of things we should do to the house to leave it in a good way to be ready for unwanted pests, leaks and the heavy rains that are on their way.
With some good team work the house was ready and the last day came before anyone was ready for it. Half the group left in the truck and we parted ways early in the morning. Two flights would take the rest of us out of the village and the first group left early and were on their way.
The last of us were escorted up to the airstrip by one of the believers and her grand daughter. It was a decent hike and we made it up in time for Don to check the airstrip and make sure there were no animals in the way and we were ready for the pilot the land. While we waited it was nice to chat with the lady who walked us up and get to know her better. She shared about her family, those who have believed and those who have not-including her husband and some of her 12 children. I told her I was glad to be her sister in Christ and would remember to pray for her and her family. She was kind enough to let me take a picture with her. There is nothing like the gift of the unity we have being part of God’s family to make people who could not be more different feel close.
The airstrip was ready and we soon saw our plane hit the dirt in a cloud of dust. We thought we would be taking off quickly but as so often happens in ministry, things did not go exactly how we had planned- but in a good way.
Almost as soon as the plane had come to a stop, a truck came speeding up filled with about 8 Nahuatl people. There was an elderly lady who was very ill and they wanted to get her to a hospital as soon as possible. They did not have enough gas to drive her out of the village because it is a very long trip. The old woman hadn’t eaten in 5 days, had severe stomach pain and was vomiting. The group asked if we could please take her with us to a city in the opposite direction from where we needed to go. Our pilot wanted to help, we all wanted to help, but we only had so much fuel and each flight can only hold so much weight. We gave the sick woman water and a pain reliever while the pilot spoke to the people for quite a while about what could be done and immediately began doing calculations to see if we could make it back to the coastal city that was closest. It wasn’t where they had wanted to go but it was the only possibility, so after checking and double-checking his math he said we could take the woman as well as her son with us on a detour to the coastal city. We were very grateful that we could take them on the flight! Things like this are very common and of course whenever the missionaries and mission pilots can help, they do.
The flight went well and the pilot called the airport in flight and let them know we were carrying a sick passenger who would need medical attention as soon as we landed. The ambulance was waiting when we arrived and it was great knowing this poor woman was in good hands. I am so thankful for our pilots! So many things would be impossible without them! In spite of our unplanned detour to the coast our pilot had us back in the air in no time on our way back home to Chihuahua.
We were very excited to get home to our families! The flight was an eventful one, about 3 hours of a the most turbulence I have ever experienced in a small aircraft. 🤢 It was not the pilot’s fault; it was just that we were flying over mountain ranges in windy season. The trip ended with a near helicopter landing, nose into the strong wind. Touchdown!
I really do thank the Lord for the opportunity to serve on this trip. I am humbled by the body of Christ and how the Lord uses so many people in different ways to reach the lost.