Tarahumara Economy

Posted on: 
June 21, 2024

Thwack, thwack, thwack! I stepped out one fresh morning and was greeted by the sound of my neighbor’s ax splitting firewood. The wife was starting her day by splitting wood to make tortillas over a fire. The man was already outside close to the goat pen. He was carefully shoveling goat manure into a feed sack, so that he could use it as fertilizer to transplant a few avocado and apricot trees that they had started from seed.

For many years now, this elderly couple has worked the few acres that they inherited from their parents. For a few years the man drove a logging truck in a nearby town, but he hasn’t worked away from home for several years. There is very little local economy. Their one daughter and a granddaughter still live with them. These ladies will sometimes travel seven to twelve hours from home and work as field workers for large produce farms or orchards. After working for several months, they will return with their earnings. This money is shared among the family for supplies that they need to buy, such as clothing and extra food. Once the money runs out, they will leave again for several more months.

Most of their food is grown on their own land. They plant corn and beans, which are the two main staples of their diet. The corn is ground into tortillas while the beans provide some protein. The family’s herd of goats and flock of chickens provide a special treat of eggs or goat soup from time to time. Also, their fruit trees provide a sweet snack throughout the fall months.

Of course, they cannot get everything off the land. A local store sells some clothes and dress fabric. Along with those are some basic grocery supplies as well as more beans and corn if you need. Another small store sells general ranch supplies, such as nails, shovels, and barbed wire. And you can’t forget the Coca-Cola, which is readily available if you have a little extra cash.

Suddenly, the tinkle, tinkle of an animal’s bell grabs my attention. Now my neighbor man has gathered his four donkeys. He has them saddled, and he is headed out the trail to get some more firewood. Life would be easier with a pickup truck, but he has never had the opportunity to own one. Well, donkeys can go almost anywhere, but a pickup has to follow the road. If he had the choice, he might choose the donkeys.

In the next ten years I expect that this elderly couple will hardly be able to plant their own fields. Then their children and grandchildren will start farming their fields. This younger generation will help raise food for them and take care of their aging parents.

This is life in our little town of Guagueyvo: lots of hard work for survival and few extras beyond that. It is rare that a family will be starving, but they don’t have many of life’s extras either. They have food and raiment, and some are content with that.

— DS, writing from Mexico

  • “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17
  • “Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witness of these things.” Luke 24:47, 48
  • “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” Matthew 28:19
  • “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:3
  • “That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the Gospel.” Ephesians 3:6
  • “That they all may be one; as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that You sent Me.” John 17:21
  • “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’?” Mark 11:17
  • “Ask of me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance.” Psalm 2:8
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  • “Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods.” Psalm 96:3, 4
  • “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:14
  • “That all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other.” 1 Kings 8:60
  • “For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; in every place incense shall be offered to My name, and a pure offering; for My name shall be great among the nations.” Malachi 1:11
  • “All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name.” Psalm 86:9
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  • "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" Psalm 46:10
  • "This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." 1 Timothy 2:3, 4
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