Archive for July 16, 2012

Jul 16

Barrera Bulletin – July 2012

2012 | by Clint | Category: Field Updates,Global,Rabinal Achi

As many of you know, DSC has supported Carol and Rodrigo Barrera, Wycliff Bible translators to the Rabinal Achi, since 2004.  It has been our honor and priveledge to not only support their ministry of finishing the Rabinal Achi New Testament (in 2009) but also to funding and distribution of the audio Proclaimer recording of the New Testament. Our prayer is that as the written and recorded New Testament are distributed to churches, and as the Old Testament is being worked on now, that God will use His word and His Spirit to reform and refine us and the Achi as we seek Him together.

If you give to DSC, then you give to the Barreras, but I’d encourage everyone (especially if you’ve met them and had coffee with them in thier home) to prayerfully consider supporting them directly as well.  Here’s how:

Wycliffe Bible Translators  P.O. Box 628200, Orlando, FL  32862, Rodrigo Barrera – Acct. # 210519

Below is their update for July 2012

Our beloved Carol y Rodrigo Barrera en Antigua – 2009

Barrera Bulletin — July, 2012  

This  edition has three testimonials about what can be accomplished by those with a strong desire to learn to read the Scriptures in their mother tongue.

The first one comes from Elías, the director of the Old Testament Achí translation program.  Here is my free translation of his report.

A story worth telling

Recently  I made a trip to a distant village on the northern edge of the Achí territory, about 90 kilometers from our translation office in San Miguel.   When we arrived, we were greeted by Lorenzo and his family.  Lorenzo is a religious leader, 65 years old, who had only been able to attend two years of primary school.   He told us how last year he had obtained a copy of the New Testament in Achí.  At the time, he didn’t pay much attention to it.  But this past January he made a resolution that he would read it.  At first, he found it hard, because he had never before read anything written in his mother tongue.  But every evening after working in his fields, he would sit down and read.  His interest and enthusiasm in what he was reading began to grow.  By the end of April, he could read quite well, without having had any teacher or courses–just his determination to learn to read it–and without doubt, help from on High.   He didn’t want to keep this blessings to himself.  He asked about where he could get more copies of the New Testament in Achí.  He got them through the help of a pastor in a nearby village.  He began to hold Bible reading classes in his own home, with his own children.  The next step is for him to inspire other leaders in his town to read the Scriptures in their heart language.  This reminds me of what is said in 1 Cor. 14:10, that there are many languages in the world, and each one is meaningful to those who understand it.

How did you ever learn to read that well?  

Last Sunday Rodrigo and I dropped in unexpectedly at a new little church in San Miguel, which meets on the porch of a home.  The pastor had a Proclaimer (device for hearing the audio Achí New Testament on the table at the front.  He explained to us that they were using it in their outreaches to certain families where they make home visits. For the Bible reading, the pastor did it in Achí, and then had the people repeat the text again along with him.   After allowing us to give a greeting and short talk, he called on Gregoria, the lady who was designated to give the sermon that day.  To our great surprise, she read the text from the Achí New Testament.  I would guess her age at around 40 or less.  She read absolutely faultlessly, fluently, and with expression.  She then proceeded to give a good exposition of the text in pure Achí, with a remarkable dominance of Achí terms and hardly any Spanish mixed in.  After the service, I asked her where she had learned to read Achí so well–who taught her, what classes she had attended.  She said that nobody taught her, she just learned through reading Achí materials.  (I am guessing the hymnbook, Sunday School manuals and the New Testament.)

To round off the testimonials  

Years  ago at one of our first reading blitz campaigns, we gave a short reading test in Achí in order to divide the students into groups by their reading ability.  One young man whom we had never met came from a distant village on the southern edge of the Achí region.  He read the test story with no problems whatever.  I was astounded.  I asked him where he had learned to read like that.  He answered, “Someone sold me your primer a while back, and I taught myself to read using that.”  This was back before any of the schools were offering  help in Achí literacy.


So what can we glean from these three stories? For one thing, they demonstrate that it doesn’t take higher education and years of study for Achí speakers  to learn to “feed” themselves from the Word of God.  What was the key factor in the success of these three who learned so quickly and so well? I attribute it to their internal motivation.  Another factor in their success was that they already knew how to sound out the alphabet in Spanish, and thus had already grasped the concept of turning letters into messages that communicated to them. Efforts at adult literacy for those who as yet have little concept of the reading process, would take a special program geared to people who are grappling with the whole idea of what reading involves.  There is a need for that.  But what about the growing number of people who can read Spanish, at least to some degree? We can’t draw the conclusion that all or even many of them will just automatically apply themselves to learning to read the Achí New Testament as the three described above did.  How I wish that were the case! But the fact is that many people aren’t motivated to learn to read Achí.  The culture in general doesn’t place much value on reading. Second, the Achí are very social and often prefer to learn in groups rather than on their own.  This leads me to the following petition.

Enlisting you to pray  

Doors have partially opened during the past two months for the local Old Testament  translation team to share some of their office space and give guidance to some teachers who would be working in a coordinated effort to produce teaching materials in Achí for the schools in the region. We ask you to pray about this.  Decisions are soon to be made that we think could bring advancement in Achí literacy. We and the local Bible translation team are not concerned about who gets the credit or who gets the funding for producing materials.  What we do desire is that materials be produced and used in the schools for the benefit of all.  Second, we ask prayer for Manuel and Yorleny Porras, who are still seeking to get authorization to come to the Achí region this coming January in order to promote Achí literacy and Scripture Use.  Finally, we have in hand some funds to produce and print more Achí materials, which are sorely needed–what we need is time to get the materials (simple Bible stories, song book, a new Achí primer, Achí folk tales) into publishable form.  People come to us asking for booklets in Achí, and we are sold out of almost everything but the New Testament.  Naturally, we make that available to them! However, it is very useful to have available some smaller booklets that even children can afford, and which are a little less daunting as initial reading material for people who have not yet become accustomed to reading in Achí.

The next three weeks    

This  weekend Rodrigo and I travel to the capital for a week of medical appointments (particularly regarding a growth on my face, once removed, but back.)  Immediately following that week, we plan to be involved in a two-week AECM (Mayan Educational and Cultural Association) initial checking session of certain books of the Old Testament.   We won’t be the guest consultants, but will be there as facilitators, particularly with the Achí team.  During  that time, Rodrigo needs to make one weekend trip back to San Miguel to participate as “grandfather” and “preacher” at the wedding of the son of close friends of ours.  Also, he needs to do whatever it takes to keep pushing along the long, hard process of recuperating the important documents stolen from him by armed robbers in the capital. The robbery happened at the end of June, when he accompanied and hosted a group of Achí young people who went to the capital to attend a yearly world mission event.   Receive our gratitude to you for your participation in our ministry and lives,  Carol, for Rodrigo, too.

Rodrigo and Carol Barrera

Apartado 54 Periferico  01011 Guatemala City,  GUATEMALA

Wycliffe Bible Translators

PO Box 628200  Orlando, FL 32862-8200

P.S. We didn’t have our camera with us on Sunday to get a photo of Gregoria reading, but here are some photos just to give a Guatemalan flavor to the letter. 🙂

Achi woman cooking tortillas

Balancing act - Achi women carrying water

Rabinal Achi weaving