A Divine Appointment and a Mobile Phone

I teach a workshop about the digital use of Scripture resources in native languages of Mexico and recently I had an interesting “divine appointment” to be able to practice what I preach.

I was at the local post office where I live in northwestern Mexico shipping off a package of CDs, DVDs and microSD cards in the main language I focus on, to a brother in the native region in southern Mexico. While I waited to be attended to, another customer came in. He was there to see if a package for him from Acatlán, Puebla had arrived. I got up my nerve and asked him if that was in the Nahuatl-speaking part of the state of Puebla (since one of the local farm companies has begun contracting people from that area). He said that, no, it is in the Mixtec-speaking area and that he speaks Mixtec. There are speakers of over 100 Mexican language variants that have migrated to this area, but in my several decades here I had NEVER found any speakers of any of the several Pueblan Mixtec languages.

I whipped out my smartphone and began trying to see what was available in his language. I first tried using a language diagnostic app for Mexican languages that we have, but in my hurry, I think I mistyped his village name so wasn’t finding what I was looking for. So, I went to Wycliffe Bible Translatorsꞌ Scripture Earth website (www.scriptureearth.org) and found the page corresponding to his language. While we continued to converse, I opted to quickly install the Android app of the NT using my mobile data and played a short audio sample, confirming that it was the right language. He has a nice smartphone but he doesnꞌt ever have access to free WiFi, so I concluded that the best option would be load up a microSD card for him. I got his phone number and learned he lives in a farming company’s housing unit about 25 minutes from my house.

Upon arriving home, I downloaded the audio New Testament from bible.is, the apk file of the Android NT app with integrated audio from Scripture Earth, the Jesus film in two resolutions from jesusfilm.org, and two recordings from globalrecordings.net and loaded them onto a 4GB microSD card. Together with the microSD card I also included business cards for both Scripture Earth and the bible.is app so that, if he likes the resources, he can share with family and friends back in the village how to access them online. Once done, I called him, and he was still in town at the flea market, so we arranged a quick encounter so I could deliver the card to him. He was blown away – I guess thatꞌs how “divine appointments” are sometimes. We talked for a while. He remembers the missionary linguist fondly from his childhood years and says he is a living legend in his town.

A few weeks later, after a little phone tag, the man and I connected again, and we had a pleasant extended conversation. He and the family have been watching the Jesus film on his cell phone and he was very enthusiastic about it. During the conversation I realized he hadn’t found the other resources on the card, though I had mentioned them to him when I gave it to him. So, I explained again. He had mentioned that his kids have a laptop and a USB adapter, so I encouraged him to use it to view the high-resolution version of the Jesus film. He also told me that he called his sister back in the village and told her about the movie, and one of her children is going to help her look for it on the internet. Since this man’s children speak Spanish much better than Mixtec, I told him how to locate and connect by WiFi to a BibleBox (with resources in about 100 languages) that I prepared for placement in his housing unit, to download a variety of Spanish resources, too. I have an open invitation to meet with him again when Iꞌm in his neck of the woods, which I plan to take him up on. I am SO glad I spoke up that day at the post office and accepted Godꞌs “divine appointment”.

 

This account of a “divine appointment” was submitted by one of our ministry partners.

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