Missionaries at Home – Jaime and Paty in Mexico

Missionaries at Home – Jaime and Paty in Mexico

Paty and Jaime
Jaime and Paty

For years, Paty and Jaime had their hearts set on serving as missionaries in Turkey. But after a mission trip to an indigenous community near their home in Acapulco, Mexico, Paty began to sense the Holy Spirit nudging her in another direction. 

While considering how to tell Jaime, she received a surprising call from him one day. “Paty,” he began, “I have been having dreams of indigenous faces, and I feel like God is telling us to go to the tribes of Mexico.” 

Shifting their focus from Turkey to unreached indigenous groups in Mexico, the couple began praying and searching for a good location among the nearly 500 Mixteco communities in Guerrero state. Though the Mixteco share ancestry, their diverse communities speak 50 distinct languages and sometimes harbor deep animosity toward one another. Outsiders are viewed with deep suspicion, and Paty and Jaime appealed to three communities before one agreed to accept them. 

Hating the Outsiders

The couple arrived at their rough wooden home about 200 miles from Acapulco in 2012, and Jaime made plans to set up a shop and teach carpentry skills to the local men. Like most in the area, they had no running water, so they walked to a nearby river each day to collect water for bathing, washing and drinking. 

After wondering for six months why no one else used their spot on the river, their landlord finally explained. A village upstream dumped sacrificed goats and other animals in the water, the result of a syncretistic religious practice that combines elements of Catholicism, animism and forms of witchcraft. “The people were so hostile to us that they didn’t warn us,” Paty said. 

Though they always greeted their neighbors in the local language, which they had studied prior to their move, no one ever made eye contact with them. And on several occasions, villagers came to their home and told them they were not welcome, and even that they would be cut in pieces if they stayed. 

For the next two years, Paty and Jaime worked hard to become part of the community. Jaime joined the other men in backbreaking agricultural work, breaking up the dirt with a hoe, planting seeds and carrying water. And since the village shared a communal oven, Paty spent many hours with the other women, grinding corn and baking tortillas even though she had a bad back. “We sacrificed our health to be there,” Paty said. “Those first two years were really hard.” 

In order to reach the people he was serving, Jaime adopted the same dress and joined in the communal labor.

Gradually, some of the people began to soften toward them. They were delighted that Paty and Jaime had taken the time to learn their language, and they were pleased that they ate exactly what they ate, including wild grasses and insects, which other Mexicans disdained. Paty even wore a huipil, the traditional embroidered dress or blouse, just like the other women. “We tried to give the people dignity, to be the incarnational presence of Christ,” Paty said. “Jesus came in humility, so that’s what we tried to do.” 

Eventually, a few people began to ask them what religion they followed. Paty and Jaime believed that if they talked about Christ directly, they would not find a receptive audience. So instead they told Bible stories. When someone shared about a particular problem or concern, they responded with a biblical example. And when the person wanted to know more about the story, they directed him or her to the Bible itself. The couple gave Mixteco audio Bibles to those who asked, as nearly everyone in the area was illiterate. 

In 2017, a few villagers tried to persuade their neighbors that Paty and Jaime should be killed or at least expelled. But the town elders, who had grown to respect the couple, defused the situation. And from then on, when anyone bothered them, others from the community came to their defense. 

On Jan. 14, 2019, Jaime left to deliver a custom door to a home in another village. He was supposed to meet Paty and their mission leaders in Acapulco afterward, but Jaime never arrived. Paty and the mission leaders eventually learned that he was dead. 

Authorities in the village where Jaime died said at first that he had crashed his vehicle. Then they changed their story, saying he was driving drunk and had drowned. But Paty and the mission leaders knew Jaime did not drink. When the mission leaders went to collect Jaime’s body, they saw evidence of trauma on the back of his head and other marks on his body. Though it is unclear who killed Jaime, they are certain it was not an accident.  

Completing the Work

Paty is intent on continuing the kingdom work she and her husband, Jaime, began almost 10 years ago.

Jaime’s death left an enormous void in Paty’s life. “I’m so sad that Jaime is not here,” she said. “But he would always tell me, ‘Don’t worry little one; God is with us.’” 

Paty said his favorite verse was Habakkuk 2:14, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” His dream was to plant a church in their Mixteco community and to paint that verse on the side of the church. 

Paty has been facilitating a school for young children, and she is pursuing an online degree in education so she can teach the older children, too. In addition, she hopes to arrange classes in which older women will teach younger women the particular embroidery patterns of the huipils from their community. The complex patterns take about six months to complete.  

Paty asks for prayer that God will establish a church in the village and that she will remain emotionally and physically healthy. She is intent on following God’s will for her life and completing the work that she and Jaime began almost 10 years ago. “My way to honor the memory of my husband is to follow the work he was doing,” she said.