The Greek that is typically translated as “citizenship” in English presented a challenge in Miahuatlán Zapotec.

Gerry Gutierrez explains: “My parents translated the New Testament for Zapoteco Cuixtla [Miahuatlán Zapotec], finished in 1971. My father, Manis Ruegsegger, had studied Greek and Hebrew to prepare as a translator, but the abstract concept for ‘citizenship’ was hard to express in Zapoteco. After months, his team came up with a triplet to share the concept. You are a citizen, you belong, where you have your home, where you have your fields, and the network of paths that connect your home and your fields (lizpe’ na’, làazpe’ na’, xnedpe’ na’).

“My father had a home in Cuixtla, but he had fields in dozens of villages across the Zapotec area. Your fields are where you work, where you sow seed, then harvest, and resow for more crops.

“The idea that our home is heaven, and our fields in the world where God sends us to cultivate the ground, plant, harvest and replant, is a beautiful concept.”

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