Church Planting among the Nahuatl

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One Way to Kill a Party

Last Wednesday my wife and I were sitting outside around a smoky pine fire. It was a damp 55 degrees – cold for here, but coveted by our family back in Wisconsin this time of year.

Birria being stirred

Birria being prepared at the changing of the local authorities

We were attending the annual changing of the local authorities. The indigenous village we live in has two men who are selected by town elders to lead the village each year, and the change from last year’s authorities to the new year’s authorities takes place on the first day of the year. It’s accompanied by huge cauldrons of cooking beef, what the people call birria, and a large tub of atole, a sweet flour-based porridge-like beverage that reminds me of something Goldilocks imbibed while awaiting her bear-filled doom.

Boys and a wheelbarrow

Two boys play with a wheelbarrow while the birria cooks

My truck was parked to one side, illuminating the party – there’s no power here in the village, though government promises to provide it appear to be moving forward. Shadows were cast on the different groups of people, as they alternated between huddling around the fire and getting more food from the small building where it was being distributed.


The birria is cookin!

Most gathered with their families. Women huddled with their children, sitting on the ground and sharing small bowls of the steaming beef, using corn tortillas as utensils. Men huddled around the fires; some smoked, some held blankets around themselves.

Chopping wood to keep the fires going

Chopping wood to keep the fires going

And then another truck pulled in. “Who is it?” said one of the men standing next to me. I guessed, based on the color of the truck – white. When you live in a village where only five people have trucks, it’s pretty easy to tell who is who just based on the truck color. And I was right.

He turned off the lights, and the sounds of ranchero music drifted out the lowered windows.

People continued eating. Some began to complain – the broth in the meat dish was bitter, burned from sitting on the fire too long. Some blamed the cooks, who had worked all day. Others blamed the new judges for not arriving earlier. Still people ate it, accompanied by tortillas, some extra large tortillas called gordas, and more glasses of atole.

Liesl helps make the atole

Liesl helps make the atole

Then the man who had driven up in the white truck – stumbling drunk – stepped out of his truck. He joltingly walked up to the small building where they were serving the caldo. He asked why they hadn’t served him yet. He said there was enough food for the dogs but he didn’t have any yet.

And the people, the whole village on cue, went quiet. You could hear the fires crackling. They watched, waited, until the man received some food.

Women, with their children looked around nervously. Some whispered to their husbands, The kids are scared, let’s get out of here. Some people packed up their things and leave.

Two boys take in the sight and sounds

Two boys take in the sight and sounds

You see, when you live in a village with no law enforcement, things can occasionally get out of hand, especially when alcohol is involved. Probably everyone here knows someone who has been shot during some sort of drunken confrontation.

Here, drinking emboldens a primarily non-confrontational people; old disputes come out, words you said come back to bite you. One of my closest Nahuatl friends found that out the hard way when he took a bullet in the back a few months ago, the result of some non-inflammatory but critical words he’d said about the wrong person.

So, when there’s drinking and confrontation, fear is a common response. As if there wasn’t enough things to fear out here – most Nahuatl fear the lightning, fear the ancestral spirit that lives on the hill in the middle of town, fear the witches in the area who cast spells – and in instances like this one – they fear each other.

Adding a little more flour to the atole

Adding a little more flour to the atole

The party was basically over. I told my wife we should probably go to, so we got in our truck, offered a ride to our neighbors and left.

It didn’t occur to me until 1:30 that night, when for some reason I woke up, how sad this all was. A once-a-year party just ended early because of an alcohol-fueled spat. Women and children scared, people leaving.

And in the moment, I didn’t even think about that. I just thought, hey, we should get out of here, too.

That reminded me. In life, often times the things we allow ourselves to get used to are things we shouldn’t have to get used to. We’ve only been here two years, and I’ve already grown numb to these situations. Imagine the people who have lived here their whole lives.

It makes me sad to think about it. But it makes me wonder. It makes me wonder, if one day, when the people hear the Gospel in their own language, things like this will change.


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New Year, New Blogger…kind of.

Happy new year, friends.

While the world around us swirls with resolutions, we’ve made one of our own: make this blog better.

Many of you know that Liesl, who has run this blog for the past few years, started her own blog almost a year ago. It’s called Fitness in the Kitchen (click here or hit the link on the bottom to check it out) and is filled with her passions – healthy food, butt-kicking fitness, and a few references to me, because well, I’d like to think I’m one of her passions.  But her time spent creating the awesome Fitness in the Kitchen blog has also meant that this blog has had a few less posts than it used to.

Pic - Roasted Zucchini Salad

At Fitness in the Kitchen, you can learn to make stuff like this!

So we’re shaking things up here. I, Pete, will be taking over this blog. I’ll be posting more – hopefully 3 or 4 times a month – and keeping you more in the loop regarding what our life out in the Sierra Madres is like.

Also, in the near future, we’ll be adding pages on our team and the people we work with here in Las Moras, and to really bring us into the current century, we’ll also be adding a Facebook group in the near future – Los Hypki en Las Moras , and you can keep touch with us via our new Twitter account – @LosHypki.

Living 45 miles from the nearest paved road isn’t somewhere I ever thought I’d be living, and living among an indigenous people group, far from our family and friends, isn’t something I ever thought I’d be doing.

It’s a far cry from the life I once imagined. But we believe it’s where God wants us.  It’s fun, it’s challenging, it’s bitter and it’s sweet.

We learn something every day here in Las Moras, and hopefully, through this blog, you’ll be able to experience that with us.

Here’s to a full 2014. And for real, check out Fitness in the Kitchen. If nothing else, the workouts will get your heart pumping!

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An October on the Go

The month of October has been a BUSY one for the Hypki house.

We wrapped up a  3 1/2 month stint of pure language study and relationship building with the Nahuatl and dove head first into hosting guests and traveling.


On October 8th we hosted an airplane mechanic and his family who were interested in seeing a tribal location in Mexico. It was fun to get to know them a little better, and show them where we live. Mike and Kelly, we hope you come back soon!

Later that same afternoon Pete’s family was flown in to Las Moras on the mission plane and began a 3 day stay with us in our home. We were able to have some fun family time, including an early Christmas breakfast, pizza for Pete’s birthday, and show them the village and introduce them to our Nahuatl friends and neighbors.

Reina weaving



Alissa and Mary helped me in the kitchen washing dishes, and Mary even got the opportunity to clean some of the tribal ladies’ jewelry..for which they were very grateful.

Alissa washing dishes

Mary cleans

Several Nahuatl families came to our house during the Hypki’s visit just so they could meet them and “see what they looked like.” This is very common reaction that the Nahuatl have when foreigners are visiting.

We also taught they Hypkis’ how to roast local coffee that we had been given by another missionary friend, and they left with a couple bags of freshly roasted beans!

Mary roasting

After our time together in the mountains we all came down to the coast for a week break on the beach!

Pete & Alisa


A huge thanks to some wonderful friends who gave up their time share for us so we could enjoy a luxurious week in the sun.

We ate entirely too much seafood, explored the city, found new shops in which to sell the Nahuatl handicrafts, and relaxed a little bit too.

Beautiful maz






Pete and I were so grateful for this week. As much as we love rainy season and our concentrated time with the Nahuatl people sometimes we feel like our heads are about to explode with all the language and new culture we are learning and it helps to have a break once and awhile to digest everything. 🙂

Thank you, John and Sandy, for the week on the beach, and to Pete’s family for treating us to yummy food…it was what we needed.

Us 2

All that to say, as you read this we are heading home, into the mountains  with our co-workers Katie and Rachel. When we arrive home we have two days to clean house, and prepare for our next round of guests and language evaluations.

Our language consultants will be arriving on Thursday and will be with us to do language evaluations, and provide encouragement and advice as we discuss how things are going with the church planting efforts in Las Moras. We would appreciate your prayers for our evaluations as they are stressful, and we would all like to accurately represent what we have studied and learned over the last several months.

We know  you are all praying for us, and for the Nahuatl and for that we are so very grateful. Thank you all so much for being apart of the ministry, we couldn’t be out here without your love and support. If you get a chance please check out our prayer page for updated requests. We covet your prayers!

All for His glory ~

Pete & Liesl

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A Pig with a Purpose

A few weeks ago I posted a picture, this one to be exact, to ask you all what you thought this little house might be for.


Well, it is for Otis, Otis Limburger, our new pig.

You are probably wondering, why a pig?

When we came to Las Moras to work with the Nahuatl people one of our goals was to “become” like them in every way possible. Doing this while maintaining our witness for Christ with the goal of showing them His true love for them, and to build trust and meaningful relationships with them so as to share the truth of what Christ did for them one day.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23:

“Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ. 20 When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. 21 When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law,[a] I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.

22 When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. 23 I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.”

To us this has meant a daily choice to step out of our “comfort zone” and be a part of their lives. Learning the Nahuatl language is just one small part of that. We are striving to learn and understand the Nahuatl culture, their customs, why they do what they do, how they eat, how they relate as families, friends, and enemies…basically what makes the Nahuatl tick.

Otis is a part of our “becoming.”


To the Nahuatl having animals is a sign of prosperity. If you have an animal it is usually for some sort of a purpose. For instance, if you have cows you will be milking them and making cheese, if you chickens you will be able to eat eggs and chicken. If you are a Nahuatl family and you have a pig(s) you can sell them to others, or butcher your pig to make lard and chicharron, which is a fried pork skin/meat type dish. You can then sell the meat and lard to others in the village. Often the families make tamales from the head meat of the pig as well and take them around the village to sell.

Our goal in getting Otis was not so we could sell meat, or breed pigs, but rather so we could “become” a little more like the Nahuatl. Since having a pig is nothing we have ever done before we asked for help from our Nahuatl friends to help build Otis’ house, and to go with us and help us purchase Otis from a family in the village.

Once Otis is ready to be butchered we will invite several Nahuatl men over to help in the process, and Liesl will invite women and their families to help her make tamales and chicharron with Otis’ tender, tender meat. 🙂

All of this has an end goal, that the Nahuatl might see us as more and more like one of them. Why? So that when we share the gospel of Christ’s love and sacrifice for them in their own language that they will trust us, and trust our teaching of God’s Word. And through that trust we pray that the Nahuatl will have a desire for Jesus that transcends any cultural boundaries that we still feel.

Here are some pictures of our Otis adventures:


Pete builds Otis’ house with Tomas, and his little son, Fermin.




We took 3 boys from the village to help us pick out and buy Otis. They also lassoed him for us, and helped us get him home.





Otis checking out his new digs for the first time.


Releasing Otis from his rope noose.


A tired Otis.


Radley keeps a watchful eye on Otis from the back door.

Since we got Otis many of the people in the village have come to see him. They give us their advice, tell us that we paid too much, and ask us if he eats good and when we are going to castrate him. But you can tell they are proud. Proud that we have a pig. It gives us a common ground, something to talk about, something to laugh about, something to continue cultivating relationships with.

And that’s the goal isn’t it,  that they would see us as trustworthy friends that understand them in the hopes that they will listen to the most important message of all, the gospel of Christ, that we will soon be sharing with them.

Thank you for praying with us as we build relationships with the Nahuatl people. It isn’t always easy, but God gives us the strength to walk in what He has for us that day. We appreciate you all and thank you for being apart of the work here in Las Moras.

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Before His Throne

Happy Friday all!

Hope you had an amazing week, and that the Lord is doing incredible things in your lives.

Pete and I wanted to write a short note letting you know how much we appreciate all of you, and the time you faithfully spend before the throne of our Savior in intercession for us, and for the hearts of the Nahuatl people.


This part that you play in God’s work here in Las Moras is crucial, and necessary, and we are reminded everyday of how grateful we are for you.

Thank you in advance for pouring over our newest prayer requests and praises, we trust that you will share some of yours with us as well.

Blessings from Las Moras,

Pete & Liesl