Maysol pulls himself up the embankment, clawing at the rich, black soil, with scratched and bloody hands. Vine tendrils reach out and gash his face with thorns, as the monkeys stare down from a canopy of branches, mocking him with their chattering laughter. Spasms rip through Maysol’s back muscles as he strains toward higher ground.
Reaching the clearing, he eases the heavy pack from his aching shoulders. As he unties the knot, mosquitoes cover his fingers. Their incessant attack around his face and neck threaten his sanity. The knot loosed, he drops the pack, spilling its contents on the jungle floor. He grabs a clump of dirt, makes a paste with his own saliva, and smears it over his swollen skin. The mosquitoes swarm away, a gray cloud chasing the treetops.
Maysol rifles through his meager belongings, seeking to lighten his load. He places the reams of notebooks, pens and pencils, and his Bible back into the pack. Personal hygiene items, books, cooking utensils, and six tins of food remain. Maysol prepares himself a hearty meal. He then packs his dictionary, leaving the remaining food and everything else behind.
With a lighter pack and renewed strength, Maysol sets his face toward the north. He estimates another day’s journey to the village.
Three days later, Maysol reaches the river. The beating of drums calls from from the canyon, but he cannot go on. Shaking with hunger, Maysol falls to the ground.
Drifting in and out of consciousness, he is startled by a prodding in his ribs. The face of a warrior looks down upon him. He again nudges Maysol with the end of his spear and motions for him to grab a hold.
As he is pulled to his feet, Maysol’s legs go out from under him and he collapses. Another warrior stands beside the first, reaching out with an offering of jerky. Maysol devours the food and faints.
He awakens with the aroma of herb-seasoned meat enwrapping his senses. Maysol finds his pack, grabs a notebook and pen, and moves toward the fire. The flames dance to the music of crackling kindling, as sparks chase graceful plumes of smoke. Seeing a goat’s head simmering in the pot, Maysol’s own culture dies.
For months, Maysol points at different objects, writes down the word, and mimics the dialect. He fills his notebooks with strange sounds that challenge his larynx and boggle his mind. Maysol calls to the Creator of all language for wisdom. Hours are spent each day memorizing endless lists. More hours are spent creating and teaching a simple alphabet and its sounds.
The months knit into years while Maysol immerses himself in language. The puzzles of rapid speech begin to form pictures. With a new understanding, he laughs at the fire-side jokes of jovial elders. Even the dreams in his mother tongue transform into a kaleidoscope of Zetec thoughts and phrases.
Maysol watches the men and boys return from a day in the forest. Their satchels, filled with firewood, are secured to their backs with carrying ropes that cut into their foreheads and waists. They grimace with their burden.
Maysol hears his Savior’s call in the Zetec tongue:
“Come unto Me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. For my carrying rope is easy and my burden is light.”
Maysol runs to greet the workers. The Lord of language cries out to them through the mouth of His servant:
“He ngawari hoki taku ioka, he mama pikaunga!”
They stare at him in wonder. The women rush from their cooking pots to gather around him. Maysol repeats the verse, pointing to heaven, to the satchels, and to hearts. Smiles illuminate faces as understanding dawns. Ropes are unbound and heavy burdens fall from the backs of the weary.
*More than 270 million people are without the Bible in their native languages. Please remember the tribulation God’s people have endured throughout history and consider making your own sacrifice to bring the Word to others.
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘People do not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” ~ Matthew 4:4 (Today’s International Version)
*The Matthew 11:30 quote may be found in the Maori Bible
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