Last year Eric & Sheena Kramer felt called to join Mexico Medical Missions to minister to the Tamahumara people. We’ve been fortunate for them to share with us more about Christmas among the Tarahumara people.
What are a few ways you celebrate Christmas where you serve?
“The Tarahumara don’t celebrate Christmas. A version of La Virgen de Guadalupe (the virgin Mary – a holdover from Jesuit influence in the 1600’s) is worshipped, but there is really no mention of Jesus.”
How do say Merry Christmas in your language?
“[It] Doesn’t exist”
Please share with us some Christmas traditions specific to Mexico.
“Mexicans celebrate Christmas fairly traditionally. As most of the country is Catholic, there are Christmas masses. Christmas trees, gift giving is common. Again, among the Tarahumara, where we work, Christmas is like any other day.”
“God is actively working in our area by tearing down a centuries old barrier to the Gospel – language. There are only a handful of westerners who speak Raramuri, the Tarahumara language. It is difficult to learn, and understanding it is made more complicated because dialects vary considerably depending on the village – sometimes a distance no more than a couple miles is enough to make 2 dialects indecipherable to each other.
Eric’s mom and dad, Andy and Deb Kramer have spent the last 10 years studying and learning the language, and are now teaching other missionaries not only how to speak, but how to adapt to different dialects. Eric and other hospital workers are attending one of those classes which will be 3 days a week, ending in May 2015. Language acquisition is a HUGE step in being able to share the gospel affectively with this unreached people group. They are a very distrusting group, because of their long history of oppression. But it is amazing to see what happens when but when someone who doesn’t look like them, starts to speak to them in their native tongue. Immediately their guard comes down, their faces soften, and you can tell that they are very receptive to what is being said.
This language tool is so huge to spreading the gospel. People come from kilometers away to be treated in the hospital. With this new tool of language, it is our prayer that every patient that comes into the hospital can have their physical needs met, but more importantly hear the gospel in their own language from a live person.”
What are some specific ways we can pray?
Pray for language acquisition, for the tediousness of hours upon hours of memorization and practice squeezed into already busy schedules
Pray for an end to the brutal violence (cartel-related and otherwise) that’s plagued the region for hundreds of years
Pray for the missionaries hearts to be renewed and to be encouraged when it seems like they’re getting nowhere