'Sleeping on the water'

Opportunities to build relationships.

It was a warm day and missionary Katie Moore had one thought on her mind after what she calls “a sweaty language session” in the home of Andrea, who is helping her learn the Nahuatl language.

Katie asked Andrea’s daughter, Natalie, if she would like to come along to a nearby creek. Andrea surprised Katie by saying she and her boys would come, too, adding, “I want to see how they swim in your land.”

Katie grew up near a huge river. She says the creek is only slightly over her head in one spot, so it seems like an “overgrown mud puddle” to her. But the Nahuatl children call that spot “deep waters” and are afraid to venture there.

Katie couldn’t resist showing off a little. “I stood on my hands, did flips underwater, held my breath for a long time and floated on my back,” Katie says. These antics, she says, really got their attention.

“Kochih pin ati,” said one of Andrea’s boys, which means, “She is sleeping on the water.”

“Come here,” Katie told Natalie, “I’ll teach you.” Amid giggles and shrieks, Katie began haltingly to give careful instructions in Nahuatl. And slowly, Natalie relaxed and began to float.

Katie says a moment like this could not have happened even months ago. “I’m sure there are kids all over the world learning to float every day, but God really encouraged my heart in this,” Katie says.

In that moment, she knew that both Natalie and her mother, Andrea, really trusted her, and that her presence in their village and her efforts to learn their language are paying off.

“The people no longer ask us when we’re going to go back to our land. We live here now. They are no longer surprised that we want to learn their language; they patiently help us. They share personal stories and insights into their culture and they ask about ours.”

Katie sees that as God has built a love in her heart for the Nahuatl people, He has also built in their hearts a trust that is the response to that love.

“We know God is doing this,” she shares. “It’s not common or normal—most tribal groups in Mexico are suspicious and mistrustful of outsiders. We know the Holy Spirit is at work.”

This careful investment of love and time in building relationships is toward the day when Katie and her co-workers can finally say to the Nahuatl people, “We care deeply for you and so we have something very important to tell you.”

Even floating lessons are part of the careful preparation for the clear presentation of the Gospel in the Nahuatl language. Pray that God will use this time of learning culture and language for His glory. Pray that He will prepare hearts and make them ready to hear and believe His Word.