Simitria once hated her language.
For her, the language and cultural identity she had learned from birth was associated with poverty, family violence, and lack of opportunity. Simitria (Simi) is a part of the large diaspora of the dzaha dzavui (a.k.a. Mixtec*).
Diaspora = dispersion, scattering. You may have heard this term, diaspora, when referring to Jews living outside of Israel. It also refers to the dispersion of any people from their original homeland, whether they are seeking a better economic future, fleeing persecution, or are displaced by natural disasters. Many such migrants have formed diaspora communities in Canada. Often, these groups thrive in their adoptive country, set down roots, and bloom there, where they have been replanted.
Diaspora communities and individuals can prove valuable in Bible translation efforts, especially when their home countries become closed to Bible translation work. Sometimes, one of those individuals develops a God-given vision to help bring God’s word to their own people group, back in their homeland. Even if they once hated their language.
Like Simi, in whom God has planted a desire to share the Gospel with her own people group. She has made two trips back to her native region to establish contact with pastors, bring audio Scriptures, and encourage the small groups of believers. More trips to Mexico are planned.
When we met to talk about Simi’s ministry plans, Colin immediately saw the potential of the BLOOM software he works with. Together, we are developing a plan to record and transcribe Bible stories from the BLOOM library, and to make bilingual Mixtec / Spanish books in digital and print format. Eight of Simi’s siblings are bilingual teachers in their home region and are well-placed to share these resources with others.
Colin and I have, in a sense, been uprooted from our work and identity in Burkina Faso, and in our new roles, we too want to thrive where God has planted us. What a treat it is for us to see this opportunity to spread the Good News to a minority community and to BLOOM where God has planted us. Please keep our work and Simi’s outreach in your prayers.
Dot and Colin
* Mixteco” was a name given by the Nahuatl (Aztec) people to this large non-Aztec language community comprising many dialects. Speakers of Mixtec use an expression (which varies by dialect) to refer to their own language, and this expression generally means “sound” (or “word”) of the rain” (dzaha dzavui in Classical Mixtec).
Many Mixtec dialects are mutually unintelligible and are thus considered to be separate languages. Simi’s own dialect would be categorized as “understudied”, although there are audio Scriptures in a related dialect.
Dot & Colin Suggett are Bethany-supported missionaries who work with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Their work with the Turka people of Burkina Faso came to an end on April 1, 2019 and they have begun their new roles within Wycliffe. Colin has joined *SIL’s Language Technology group as their lead tester for Bloom – a software product designed to boost literature production among minority language groups across the globe. Dot is splitting her time: first as exegetical assistant to the South Asia group, and second, as personal coach for new Wycliffe missionaries, helping them succeed in communicating effectively with their supporting constituency.