In the little Nahuatl village where Peter and Liesl Hypki have lived and ministered for two years, the coming of fall signals a division between the two seasons there: the rainy season, shupanta, and the dry season, tonalko.
Peter says the rains begin to slow and then stop and soon after that the “corn growers become corn harvesters.” In the traditions of the Nahuatl people, there is purification and thanksgiving offered to their ancestors for another harvest at an all-night ritual dance and vigil called the shuravet.
To the missionaries, this season signals something quite different. It ends the season of intensive language study accommodated by the constant rains and ushers in new life activities like hauling water that has been collected from the roof. (The missionaries are in high hopes that the well-drilling project begun last dry season will soon resume and be successful, eliminating the need for either catching water off their roofs, or filling 55-gallon tanks and hauling them by truck to their homes.)
“For Liesl and I,” Peter shares, “this fall will mark two full years here in the village. For two years, we’ve lived among the Nahuatl people. We have sat with them and learned and grieved. We have walked with them through forests and over mountains. We have sat around their fires as they cooked tortillas.”
And in the process, Peter says, they have learned a lot of culture and language while building relationships. Enough so, he says, “that we can try to fit it now, even though we realise in some ways we never will.”
There are other things they’ve learned, too. “We’ve learned you can’t be the same person you were the day before. We’ve learned that it’s impossible to see the needs around us and not love—but also that it’s impossible to love unless we’re relying on Him Who loves us. We’ve learned, too, that the only constant is our faithful God and the more we find ourselves in Him, the more we’ll appreciate the changing world around us.”
Each fall, with the changing of the seasons, the Nahuatl missionaries hold an annual team party. They gather to eat sweet corn and squash from the garden and make homemade pumpkin spice lattes and affirm their thankfulness for something that never changes.
“We’ll sit around a bonfire and thank God for another year here,” says Peter. “For God at work changing us into His image, into more useful servants to show His love to the Nahuatl people—and we’ll thank Him that in all the changes of life, He and His great love never change.”