Teaching To Evangelize Locally
Mexico Mission May 2012
Reflections of a Novice Missionary
The call to the mission fields did not come in a dream or a soft whisper from the Holy Spirit. It came as an email from Scott Gage, asking me to join him and Dennis on their upcoming trip to Mexico. The Lord has no time for ambiguous subtleties. I didn’t have to think much on it. I was being asked to do something for the church and I could easily get the time off of work.
Before I knew it I was in Mexico. Life seems to move at a slower pace down there. Literally; there are so many topes (speed bumps) that you must either slow down or replace brakes and shocks with wallet-breaking frequency. We were met at the Morelia airport on Monday night by brothers Martin Magana and Roberto Lara. They would be our escorts and translators for the duration of our trip. It was late so we checked into our rooms at the hotel in Moroleon and went to bed.
Our first full day was spent in Moroleon where we got our first taste of the southern hospitality that would characterize our trip. We ate at the home of Guadalupe and Maria, a couple at Moroleon with three children and a silk-screening shop. We enjoyed good conversation and really good food. They told us about their son who is a pro-baseball player and I wowed them with my knowledge of colors in Spanish and items from the Taco Bell menu. That night we worshipped in Moroleon. I discovered that the Mexicans are huggers. They’ll shake your hand, but that is never the end of the greeting. Dennis spoke on the grace of God, and I discovered that we all sing the same hymns even if the words are unfamiliar. There were about sixty in attendance.
The next day we were in the small mountain town of Ocampo. Thomas and Eva Colin hosted us for lunch and we met their five children and several of their grandchildren. One of the little ones, Danni, said at one point: “I don’t know what these guys are saying, but when they’re here we have a party.” We also met the oldest member of that congregation, Bonifacio, and his wife Soledad. It amazes me how you can travel anywhere and old Christian couples all look alike. When I saw those two (and their well-maintained yard) I couldn’t help but think of Mugs and Ruth Johnson. I suppose it’s the actions of a couple being directed by the Lord that seems most familiar. We had some leisure time so we checked out some Indian ruins, and I climbed a pyramid. Actually getting down was trickier than getting up due to the narrowness of the steps and lack of handholds. Fortunately most people who had to climb it in times past never had to climb down since it was chiefly a sacrificial mound. That night we met in the church building down the hill from Bonifacio’s house. Scott spoke on maturity, using Ephesians 2:1-14 as his main text. There were about 45 in attendance. After the service we enjoyed a meal together and I found out you could put pineapple in Tamales. It was an exciting discovery.
Thursday we went back to Morelia North to visit that congregation. Actually we took a detour to Morelia South to pick up a brother Francisco who directed us outside of town to a little community called Vasconcelos. There Francisco is trying to start a group that meets in the open in what amounts to a shantytown. Fresno is no stranger to homeless villages, but this was eye-opening. Whole families lived there without running water or power. Many of the structures were made of boards and corrugated metal. It was an unexpected detour, but truly one of the most blessed experiences of the trip. It caused me to appreciate my situation all the more. We worshipped with the small group gathered there (mostly women and children), then headed back to Morelia. I spoke that evening in Morelia North on the subject of brotherly love. I admitted some difficulty with the concept, explaining how I live with my brother and his ever-expanding collection of lizards. This was also my first time speaking through an interpreter. I was worried at first, but pausing for Javier actually gave me more time to collect my thoughts and made for a better delivery. I am sure some in Fresno would like someone there to slow me down every Sunday I preach. It was also the first time I had preached to a packed house. Of course the building only seats about 35.
On Friday we met in Moroleon with Joel Jr., his wife Patti, and son Alejandro. They had come from Puerto Vallarta to see us (Scott and Dennis mostly, they hadn’t met me yet). We discussed a possible project with Martin and some young men going to Puerto Vallarta and expanding the church there with some evangelistic work. Later that day we went back to Morelia where Dennis spoke on how to be successful fishers of men.
Saturday was more of a sightseeing day and Roberto and Martin took us to Guanajuato. It is a beautiful town that seems like it would be more at home in the old world than the new. It was here that I found the perfect gifts for my niece and nephew. They were selling these noisy little bludgeons known by some as maracas, and I thought: “What child could do without that?” Days like this are better to show than tell. If you ever find yourself in Fresno I will treat you to a slideshow.
Sunday was the main event. All the surrounding congregations converged on a rented hall in Morelia for a semi-annual fellowship meeting. There were around 170 people gathered there. Scott spoke on unity which seemed apropos with so many congregations present. Some of the kids from Moroleon had prepared a lovely rendition of Sia Hamba. The whole day was so spiritually refreshing. The Mexican brethren have a strong bond and truly enjoy their fellowship together. The day was simultaneously special and typical. The brothers and sisters down there were always welcoming and genuinely pleased to have us there. When we left it was difficult to say goodbye due in part to the large number as well as a desire to stay. But I realize that I will do them more good at home, talking about the work going on down there.
Speaking of the work, there are many exciting things going on in Mexico. I already mentioned the Puerto Vallarta efforts coming later this summer. There are also young men with a heart for the Lord and a bold spirit I can only pray for that need our support. In addition to that, there are plans on the table to expand the building in Moroleon, and there are also real estate opportunities just north of Morelia that open the door for longer term spiritual and physical growth. In Mexico it seems like buildings are never finished. There is always rebar protruding from the support structures and stairways that terminate in ceilings. This seemed strange at first, but then I realized it was optimism. No building is truly finished because there is a future hope of expanding it. The Mexican mission work is the same way. It is a house begun, but not completed. The workers down there are many and eager, but they need our help. If you are not already a part of this effort, I urge you to contact the Mexico Mission Fund or at least bring it up at your next business meeting.
Mexico Mission Fund P.O. Box 995 Greenwood, AR 72936