Trip to El Salvador
P.O. Box 1453
Calexico, Ca. 92232
December 1, 2010
To the beloved in the Lord who serve God in the name of Jesus the Christ in the city of Lakeside: The Good Lord bless each of you with His love and with the knowledge of His Son.
Brethren, it is with great pleasure that we report our activities of the past month. As you know, we made a trip to El Salvador from the 1st of November through the 16th. I must say that personally it was one of the most enjoyable trips I've taken to that beautiful country. On this trip, my brother Glauco in the flesh and in Christ came with us. He is a member of the church of Christ in Boulevard, about 1 hour east of San Diego. We were converted within 3 months of each other about 34 years ago. Some of you might remember us from before we were baptized. This was the first time in a very long while that Glauco and I spent so much time together. It was great. I was able to hear Brother Glauco preach and share his Old Testament knowledge with the brethren.
The others who came were Mel Rose from the Portland, Oregon area, Mike Mendez from the Mack Road Church of Christ in Sacramento, and Dane Bengard from Chester. Together we visited about 25 congregations. We were not able to visit another 10 because of the limited time. We usually visit for 3 weeks, but because of the criminal activities in the country, we decided to cut it short to avoid worrying our family too much. As things turned, everything went smoothly and we completed our assignments without any incidents.
While down in Central America, the brethren here in Mexicali met as usual on Sundays and Wednesdays to carry on the work of the church here. Brother Peter Alvarado from E1 Centro and Jesus Uribe did the preaching and teaching on the Sundays while we were away.
We lament to report that the Rodriquez Family will be moving from Mexicali to Esperanza, Sonora, about 500 miles southeast of Mexicali. They have been with us for about a year. Brother Victor Rodriquez, a sergeant in the Mexican military has already been transferred and is now awaiting the rest of the family who will be leaving during the Christmas break. Sister Sofia del Solar was won through the efforts of Sister Rachel Rodriquez and she will be our consolation, but we will be missing them very much. May the Lord use them in Esperanza to bring others to the Lord. They will be congregating in Ciudad Obregon about 3 miles distance.
The Lord Bless them.
Trip to El Salvador.. November 1st through the 16th
We arrived at El Salvador airport on the pacific coast to the welcome of about 20 brethren. There, Brother Hugo Luna lent us his pickup and after piling on our stuff, we head east to San Miguel. There, we drop off Mel, Mike and Dane. Glauco and I will not spend time with them again until the day before we come back. Dane made the comment: "So, is this how its going to be from now on, you are just going to dump us off and leave us ..?" I feel very confident to leave them in the hands of the brethren.
We get to Sesori, about 25 miles northwest of San Miguel, the capital of the state of San Miguel and is considered the 3rd Capital of the country. The road to Sesori is terrible to say the least. I must have taken a couple of years of life away from the pickup. The torrential rains they had this summer destroyed the road. There are about twenty creeks that cross that road and during the rainy season they damage the road, but this time they just created great ditches. The entire route is under construction. It took us about 60 minutes or more to cover the 25 miles.
Glauco will be staying here in Sesori for the next 3 days. I will be traveling about 10 miles west as the crow flies to Nueva Granada, but it will be about 20 miles through the winding road, but it is a good road.
On Tuesday morning and every day till the 7th, I will be working with the brethren that meet in Nueva Granada. At 10:00 a.m. we begin our visits with the brethren here. In this manner I will get to know the brethren much better as I am anxious for them to have confidence in me. That way we can share our faith and if there are any questions or doubts, I want them to feel free to ask. I get to spend a night with one of the brothers there and it encourages the others to invite me to their homes. Next trip they don't want me driving from Sesori, they want us to just stay there with them. This is how you really find out the spiritual needs of the brethren.
The church in Nueva Granada numbers about 25 members. They are eager to carry the gospel to the people of their town. Brothers Jaime Portillo and Luis Guevara from Moncagua and San Miguel have been helping these brethren. They now have Brother Rafael Martinez Jr. who is preparing himself for the preaching responsibility.
During the civil war, this church just about disappeared. Most of the men had to move away and congregate elsewhere. Only three sisters remained and continued to meet every Sunday. About 3 years ago, Luis and Jaime started to go from door to door seeking out the members who once enjoyed the full relationship with God and the saints here. They are very happy to be united and congregating again. It was a joy for me to be with them.
My work here and in all the places we visited was to encourage the brethren to study their Bibles and to enjoy the wonderful life that God offers us here and later with Him in Heaven.
While here, we visited neighbors and invited them to study the Word with us and also to the meeting.
I spent one night with Brother Rosendo Cruz and his wife Paz. She is not a Christian so it was a great opportunity for me to speak to her about the Lord. She was very encouraged. Rosendo was beaming with joy.
I thank the Lord for allowing me to be in the presence of such brethren like Rosendo. Such a peaceful soul whose faith in the Lord is great. I am humbled by his love for God and His People. I stand in an uncomfortable shame when I see his sadness at only having some squash and cheese to offer me for dinner. It reminds me to never complain when we struggle through some financial crisis. Rosendo may be a "poor man", but he is rich in the faith (James 2:5).
In the late evenings, I would show them a 45 minute segment of "Planet Earth" on my laptop. Some of the young brethren have never been out of their own village. They were in awe of God's creation and they would laugh so hard when they would see the call and dance of the Birds of Paradise. It was an extra treat for them. I enjoyed myself experiencing their innocence and their love for us.
On the 5th of November we drive Glauco from Sesori to Santa Maria de Usulutan where he will be with the brethren there till Sunday the 7th. It was a bitter sweet farewell. We started off by having our first breakfast there at the home of Sister Lastenia, who took care of us. We told her that we were going to have breakfast at the home of Hermes, but that did not matter, we had to "eat something" before we left. At the home of Hermes, we had our second breakfast. Good thing that Glauco is a good eater. From there, Brother Florencio del Cid insisted we stop just for a second to say good-bye to our Sister Edma his wife. Well there we had the breakfast dessert, some papaya. That is just the way it is when time comes to say good-bye. We finally got going and got to Santa Maria where the brethren were waiting. They were a little disappointed that I would not be preaching to them, but that ended soon enough when they heard Glauco preach.
As Glauco began his series in Santa Maria, I continued my series in Nueva Granada. I was able to complete my series of 5 lessons of "Jesus in the Law". Each day I presented a lesson from one of the 5 books of Moses. Hopefully they will be encouraged to begin taking a good look at the Old Testament. There is a very limited knowledge of the Old Testament and unless they have a good idea what its all about, they will never fully understand the New Testament.
On Sunday the 7th, I visited the church of Christ in San Buenaventura. That town is only 5 kilometers southeast from Nueva Granada. Their little building was packed. The church here has about 40 members and a good number of them are teachers or professionals. The preacher there is Brother Humberto Chacon. He is the principal of the junior high school in town. I was given the two hours of class and sermon time. The brethren were very much into the lessons because when I would pause, just shy of ending the sentence, they would end it for me. I loved it.
These brethren are very good Bible students and they are eager for me to come back and spend much more time with them. We hope the Lord will grant us the life, time and means to return.
From San Buenaventura, I drive to Nueva Granada and fInish up the series with the brethren there. We were all very happy and grateful for the time we spent together. This is how I would like my visits to be. A whole week with a church. It just seems to me that we get more done this way.
On Monday the 8th, Glauco and I head northwest to the little village of El Triunfo where Glauco will be working for the next 4 days. We will be staYing in the home of Brother Ovidio and Sister Lupita Gonzalez. I've know Sister Lupita since she was a little girl of 10. Now she is a 36 year mother of two and wife of Brother Ovidio. Both felt blessed to have us there with them. Sister Lupita took care of washing, ironing our cloths and breakfast. Other brothers and sisters took us in for lunch and dinner. It was a great blessing to see such dedication to the Lord by this family. Glauco and I had a great time getting close to their two little ones. Both Glauco and I are now grandparents so we know exactly how to reel these little one in.
While Glauco worked here with the brethren in El Triunfo, I head to San Rafael Cedros on the 9th to meet the brethren there. The preacher for the church at Zacatecoluca decided not to have us with them because we did not give them enough time to prepare so we opted to visit San Rafael. The brethren there, immediately called for a gospel meeting starting on Friday to run till Sunday.
From Thursday on, we meet twice every day. The schedule ran more or less like this. We would meet from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. either at El Triunfo or San Rafael Cedros then head to Istagua and meet from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. We would sing about 8 songs, pray and then the sermon would last about an hour. They do not like short sermons from us. They want the sermons to last at least an hour. That was easy enough for Glauco and I since we are "long-winded". On one night a brother asked me to keep my lesson down to "about an hour and fifteen minutes so that the brethren could catch the last bus out".
The church at El Triunfo continues to thrive in the Lord. They number in the 60s. They are a very united group. Several preachers have tried to divide this church but they have continued as one. It is a tribute to the Love of God in them. They continue to grow in the love and knowledge of the Lord and in numbers also. The brothers who lead this group are Cupertino Gonzalez, Mario Gonazalez and Abersio. They have their own church building and I believe that soon, this church should name their elders.
The church at San Rafael Cedros is a small group of about 15 members. We had visitors at every service. On one day, an older man stuck his head in and asked if he could come in. We told him; "of course". But he then asked us if were going to reject him because of his cloths. We all told him to come in. He came in and sat down and told us that he had been asked to leave another church because he was not properly dressed. He was an older man with very humble clothing and seemingly a little mal-nourished.
The church at Istagua is another small group of about 18 members. Here the majority of members are women. There are about 14 women and only 4 men. The brother who does the teaching here is David Perez with the help of his son Otilio and another brother by the name of Hector who is an excellent song leader. It was a wonderful week here in this area where I first came in 1984. Most of the children are now grown up and have families of their own, and now their children are teens and ready to serve the Lord too.
The next day we drive to Santa. Ana to turn the pickup in. I tell Hugo of the places we took the pickup and confessed that we plowed a few rows going in and out of Sesori. We left him some money to repair the front and underside of the pickup .. it was pretty well banged up. We were blessed that the oil pan was not punctured. On one occasion, I hit a rock and the pickup just bounced back. I was sure the motor would not turn on. It was at about 9:00 p.m ... 2 miles from home in "no man's land". The motor turned on and I got home. When Martha reads this she is going to be a little upset with me. I was not supposed to be out in the dark.
While in El Salvador I usually try to learn some new songs. Our songbook has about 300 hymns. We know about 200 of them. This time around I learned about 10 more and they are beautiful. Sister Rosa Gonzalez, wife of Cupertino has a beautiful voice, but I had never heard it because she sings softly. She and Brother Mario Gonzalez began singing and I had the recorder and caught the songs.
The report is a few days late. We have two sisters in the flesh and in Christ, Maria and Altagracia Borbon, who have been in the intensive care units since about the 4th of November. At this time we do not know if they are going to make it. We ask you prayers in their behalf.
Very well brethren we all want to thank you for helping me go. In behalf of the brethren in El Salvador, here in Mexicali, Glauco, Me!, Mike, Dane and I, we thank God and you through our Lord for being a part of this very good work. The Lord bless you.
Your brother in Christ, Raymond Gonzalez