Eunice Pike and her translation partner Florrie were the first single female missionaries sent out by Wycliffe Bible Translators in the 1940s. Their job was to reduce to writing the language of the Mazatec Indians of southern Mexico. Then they taught reading to the people, and used their linguistic skills to translate the New Testament (and some Old Testament passages) into the Mazatec language. A formidable task for anyone! The first book mentioned the sequel, Words Wanted, which I then picked up off of eBay. It is similar in writing style and events to the first one, just in a slightly later time period. Eunice's partner had married (though she still worked on the translation with her husband) and Eunice had several other ladies as her partner in this great work.
This author has a good narrative writing style. She tells the stories as they occurred, of the people of the tribe who saw them as curiosities, but also came to love them as women who cared deeply about the people for whom they were devoting their lives.
Progress was slow but constant. They learned that singing was one of their best tools, and they often either translated or wrote Gospel songs to help the people. They had to learn to handle social situations with spiritual implications, such as - How should they respond when their landlord took a second wife?
These books are long out of print (they were published by Moody Press in the 1960s about events that occurred in the 1940s) but should not be. They are part of a spiritual legacy of Bible translation and missionary work that exists down through the ages.
Here, from the end of Words Wanted, is a lengthy example of the inspiration of these books:
"We could see the progress out easily when we looked at Rafael and Celia. They had begun gathering their children around them every evening while he read a bit from the Bible, then she prayed in Spanish, and he in Mazatec.
"I went calling on them twice a week, and in order to encourage them to further Bible study I would say, 'Show me something pretty.' They could usually do it. One time they turned to the portion on the resurrection, and another time to Ephesians 5. He liked verse 28 especially well. 'So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that liveth his wife liveth himself.' His comment was, 'The men who beat their wives ought to hear that.'
"He stood up and stretched out one arm. With the other hand he pointed to it and asked, 'Would a man beat his own arm?' Celia and I shook our heads. 'Then why should he beat his wife?' Celia became busy with her apron--I suspect she had been beaten in the past. Raphael sat down again and with a chuckle of approval said, 'This Book tells about everything.'
"Rafael was working long hard days with the coffee harvest, but he read the Scriptures just the same. Celia said of him, 'He gets tired working, then he prays and that rests him.'
"Usually only Celia was at home when I went calling, but if I did happen to go when Rafael was there, he could not keep silent. He was bursting to tell about his conversation with this man, and with that one. At such times I would just sit and listen. Talking with one man he had said, 'How do I know that this Book is true? I will tell you how. It says that when we believe in Jesus Christ that He will clean us up. I know He has because I do not have the same thoughts that I did before. I am not the same as I used to be.'
"Rafael had a big oven in the back of his yard, and once a week he would make bread for sale. When someone came to buy, Celia would slip up behind Rafael and say, 'Tell him what you just read.' Or she would be more specific, 'Tell him about the man who took a piece of wood and cooked his bread with one-half and worshiped the other.' So Rafael told his customer about Isaiah 44:15-17, and he made his lesson more graphic with, 'Pinch it and see if it will holler. Why worship something that cannot even holler when you pinch it?'
"I do not know how many people he talked to, but one day after I had walked through the village market with his oldest daughter she said to me, 'Did you notice that man standing near the boy who was selling bananas?' I had not noticed but she went on anyway. 'He is very much interested in the Word of God.' He had been calling at the house to read with Rafael. I wished she had told me when we were there; I would have been thrilled to see anyone who had been taught things in the Bible by another Mazatec."