Two Bible translators’ in-depth look at rural Southwest Mexico before the arrival of modern communication technology.
The Prides walk the reader through their 40 years of living mainly among the Chatino-speaking indigenous minority in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. Hired by Wycliffe Bible Translators to learn the ancient language, develop it into a written form and translate Christian scriptures for the people, the Prides arrived in 1964 and encountered a close-knit society isolated from the world by distance, language and culture—not to mention a lack of roads. Chronicling their arrival, subsequent trips to larger population centers and furloughs back to England, the book readily reveals the difficulties in the Prides’ calling. Crushing poverty, illiteracy, intestinal parasites, tuberculosis and malnourishment plague the native population and the Prides battle a seemingly endless stream of setbacks. Along the way, they forge friendships, bring basic medical attention to people desperately in need, encourage learning and literacy and make a difference in the lives of people they meet. At times, the numerous characters introduced can be confusing, and people essential to the story could be fleshed out more thoroughly. Despite hurricanes, dengue fever and cholera, progress eventually arrives in the form of logging roads and satellite telephones. With the assistance of several Chatino speakers, scriptures are translated, explained and relayed orally to others in the town as interest grows. But with the growth of the new faith, generations of families split from each other and marriages change as the old customs still hold sway. As the work progresses from handwritten notes to organized material typed on a manual typewriter, the reader gains insight into the effort needed to undertake a major translation project. Along the way, the voice and tone of the narration moves from a tone of frustration to one of comfort and acceptance of the progress being made despite the setbacks. Toward the end of the book, the narration feels choppy and hurried and the final pages feel forced and tight, lacking the warmth found in earlier chapters.
An intense, action-packed encounter with the Chatino-speaking cultures of Southwest Mexico.