Colombia 2011 – Continued, Interrupted, Continued
I have not been stewed by cannibals! But some days I wish I had been. Let me fill you in.
I was amazed to discover that the Colombian missionary team to the Tikuna tribe works in Brazil, as we actually crossed into that country. This is a large tribe in Peru, Colombia and mostly Brazil. Estela and Marta have most recently been working out of Brazil along with Jhon and Dani (who were not back from partnership development while I was there but are now). There are numerous Tikuna churches in varying stages of maturity, but mostly just the Peruvian churches have Tikuna Bibles and literates, due to a lifetime of service of a Wycliffe Bible Translators family. However, I was also amazed to discover that plenty of Brazilian Tikuna believers are eager to learn to read Tikuna as well. Well, they have a fairly decent library of cultural literature published and even in some schools. They desire to amplify their collection, adding literature of a Tikuna Christian take on the world–wanting to make Tikuna applications of Scriptural principals. They are asking excellent questions! And they are eager for us to partner with them in developing a reading program. Their biggest challenge is the fine-tuning of a settled orthography. Our team’s biggest challenge is the completion of culture/language study to reach teaching level capability. But the team has willing coworkers, especially among the Missionary Organization of Tikuna Pastors of Alto Solemoes (OMITAS) and among the (Christian) bilingual school teachers who desire to have a reading course in Tikuna.
As I was leaving Brazil, I succumbed to a severe chest cold, perhaps from the epidemic that was circulating in the community. That lasted me all through my next consultation in the Puinave tribe in Colombia. Larry and Sarah are currently scrambling to translate as much Puinave literature as they are able and to stimulate interest in its use in this old work. We had a small but loyal group of Puinave coworkers who formed our “curriculum development” team: a co-translator, a bilingual education coordinator, and members of an adoptive family of Sarah’s. With their enthusiastic participation, we were able to redacts several personal and folklore stories for their reading practice phase of literacy, as well as start the reading readiness and reading instruction phases curricula. When we demonstrated what we came up with to a group of bilingual teachers, they expressed considerable interest, especially since the school educates 8 different ethnic groups.
Then it was on to the Nukak team in central Colombia. This team is working with a formerly nomadic tribe in exile from their territories. Luis and Elizabeth are swapping Spanish lessons for Nukak lessons with a small class of young men. After the missionary team had struggled much and after no little frustration we managed to hammer out a first primer, and the “Spanish class” became our first trial group, much to their delight, and they diligently helped us edit the lessons. We challenged these men to consider teaching their families some day, and one of them actually shared with his son the little he’d learned. The challenges these tribal people and the team face are enormous, stemming mostly from the people’s homelessness, poverty and language-based isolation. The missionary team is preparing a farm project to alleviate a tiny bit of those.
Next I returned to Bogota to work with the Guayabero team plus 4 prospective literacy consultants. Three days into our meetings, I fell sick again and stayed sick for a month, scarcely able to move about from faintness. So much for the Guayabero meetings and the planned visit to the Cubeo tribe. Those have been rescheduled.
I just got back from a second visit in Central Colombia to help the Nukak team keep moving forward with their materials preparations, then I resumed the Guayabero team meetings, but this time in the area near where they live with the tribe. The timing did not turn out well for a return to the Ticuna, Cubeo tribe, or the Puinave tribes. My visa expiration obliges me to return to Paraguay next week only half-way through my planned Colombia visits, to re-form my plans for the next while.
Most of these trips were to towns near but not in the tribal communities so the conditions are not primitive. I was in the Ticuna village when the power company turned on the electricity after an 8-year installation project–happy day! We hope to turn on some “lights” of our own after hopefully a shorter “installation” project. And with the help and guidance of the tribal people themselves, and the Holy Spirit enabling, that will happen. We’ll be “discipling” coworkers, even before some are believers!
- Continue to pray that the Lord will encourage and strengthen these teams upon whom, admittedly, these programs will place a substantial burden of work.
- You prayed for tribal coworkers to become willing and available to participate in the preparation of these programs that will be theirs to own soon. God answered amazingly!
- I asked prayer that I’d have strength and health to be able to maximize the brief time with the teams. God taught me that human strength and effort is never up to the challenges of God’s projects–He will accomplish what He wills, and will allow His children to come along for the adventures, or NOT.
If you would like the names of team members to pray for personally, besides me, they are as follows:
Guayabero team–Gustavo & Rosiris (away for partnership development), Julio, Nadia (Josue & ??), America
Nukak team–(John & Jan retired but active), Jesus & Elga (away in partnership development), Luis & Elizabeth, Jack, Andres & Lisa (en route)
Puinave team–Larry & Sarah, (Tim & Bunny in partnership development)
Tikuna team–Jhon, Dani (& Sofia), Estela and Marta
Cubeo team–Ricardo & Sonia, Yokima, Nelly
Thanks a million for your help and participation in making disciples of all the ethnic groups!