P.O. Box 1480
Calexico, Ca. 92232
August 1, 2012
Greetings in the Lord: To our beloved in Christ who support the work here in Mexicali and abroad, blessings from our Good God, especially to those who supported and continue to support us in our travels to El Salvador, Mexico and Cuba.
We just got back from our trip to El Salvador so this report will be just a little longer but I know you all want to know how it went with us.
First of all, the church here in Mexicali goes forward in the things of God. We meet in our homes to enjoy our family relationship in Christ. Most of the little ones call Martha and I "Abuela" (Granma) and "Abuelo" (Grandpa) and they treat us with much love.
On Sundays we continue our class on the Gospel of John. We are in Chapter 15 now. On Wednesday evenings we are now about to start with the book of Daniel. We got to Psalms 120 after feasting on Psalms 119 for 5 months. We loved every verse of it.
After finishing up with Daniel, we will once again return to Psalms and do another 20 Psalms or maybe even finish up the book.
Our classes with outsiders here in Mexicali continues. Our classes in Calexico also continues although we cancelled one of the classes because of the heat. On that day the temperature rose to over 120 with an index of 125! Our neighbor next door to the building passed away, probably from heat stroke.
Trip to El Salvador
On Monday the 16th, my brother Glauco and I boarded a plane here in Mexicali bound for Mexico City where we make our connection to El Salvador. After some problems with immigration officials in Mexico City, we head to our destination and arrive at 3:30 p.m. There, several brethren are waiting including Mike Mendez from Sacramento and Dane Bengard from Chester up in the Susanville area. It is good to see Sister Dina, Hugo Luna, Dionisio Garcia and others and we are all excited and anxious to head to our respective places of labor.
Dane who arrived yesterday, returns to Santa Ana with Hugo Luna, while Mike, Glauco and I head to San Miguel to visit with Luis Guevara who is ill. We arrive at the Guevara home at about 7:00 p.m. Indeed Luis is ill. He is extremely thin, pale, wobbly and after talking with him awhile I noticed that his memory is way off. The doctors have him on a strict diet and strong drugs, not a good combination. The surprise is that they have not found anything wrong with him.
From San Miguel, Glauco and I head to Moncagua with other brothers who have come from the western part of the country to attend the lectureship. Mike remains in San Miguel with Luis and Teresa Guevara.
We are settled in with the Jaime Tarios family in Moncagua, about 20 minutes northwest of San Miguel. We have known Jaime for about 20 years. He is a 40 year old young man who is as active as they come. He preaches for the church here in Moncagua and has plenty of help from three other brothers who help him in the teaching, Brother Juan Carlos Villalovos, Neftalí Villalovos and Miguel Guiterrez.
These men and their wives will be moving around us and taking charge of feeding us, washing our clothes and transporting us and other brethren to the lectureship.
9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. July 17..
1st lesson from Romans: 9:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m. Mike Mendez
2nd lesson from Isaiah: 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Glauco Gonzalez
3rd lesson from Génesis: 1:30 p.m.-3:00 p.m. Raymond Gonzalez
From the 17th thru the 21, this was the schedule. At 12:30 p.m. we would break for lunch and by that time the sisters had already prepared and had lunch ready. We simply
set up tables quickly and by 1:00 p.m. most of us had already finished eating. There was much talking and friendly discussion on the comments we made.
The purpose of this lectureship is to get the brethren, preachers and teachers to teach books. The churches congregate from 2 to up to 5 times during the week. They mostly study themes, such as worship, evangelism and the Christian conduct, but some have never studied a book. This is most evident on the eastern part of El Salvador. This we believe is a necessity since themes tend to take verses out of context. Another problem is that there is a great lack of knowledge of the Old Testament. The three of us stressed the necessity of reading and studying the Old Testament and that came out in our lectures. It seemed as if the three of us got together to make our lessons look like we were all following the same outline. The truth is that we did not know what each of us was going to teach except that we would present lessons from books.
The lectureship we believe was a pretty good success. Time will bear this out. If we stimulated the brethren to study more, then it was a success.
Review of our lessons
Letter to the Romans
The lectureship would start out at 9:00 a.m. with a prayer and two songs. By 9:15 Mike Mendez would begin with his lecture from the book of Romans. The first day he presented an introduction to the book. On the second day he presented a lesson on "Covenant" which is one of my themes from the book of Genesis. He took 40 minutes to explain the "concept of covenant" and then the work of the Law of Moses. On the third day he dealt with "sin".. "justification by works" and "justification by faith". On the fourth day Mike presented Chapter 3 which Mike considers the heart of the Letter to the Romans. He deals with the basis of law which is love. On day five he finishes his part of the lectureship, barely covering chapter 4 of Romans. Of the three of us, no doubt Mike is the more energetic and expressive! The time just flies.
After a 30 minute break, Glauco begins his part. He begins at 11:00 a.m. He has to first place us in the time and location of the Prophet Isaiah. He uses Isaiah 1:1 as his starting point in a line of history. He also sketches a rough map of Israel in the days of Isaiah, pointing out the nations that surrounded the Kingdom of Judah. He cited especially the 4 kings of Judah during which Isaiah prophesied. His comments were simple but profound in their reach.
This kind of study is new to many of the preachers here. Glauco broke down the study in such a way as to be understood. Glauco uses a phrase that will not be forgotten. He told us that most of us preachers, go back to Isaiah and "assail" the prophets. We go back to them simply to prove a point, but we ignore the bigger picture. We know nothing of the situation, nothing about the life of the people at that time, nothing of the political atmosphere and that he calls "robbing" the prophets.
The second day Glauco masterfully uses Mt.15:8-9 to illustrate the difference between the fulfillment of prophecy and the fulfillment of law. On day three, Brother Gonzalez speaks about the importance of pinpointing prophecy. Isaiah not only speaks to Judah and Israel, but to all the nations that surround them. He also speaks of the nations that Jehovah will raise to punish the entire land. On the fourth day, he presents
the wonderful theme of hope and reconciliation in the book of Isaiah and we are greatly edified. On the fifth day Glauco presents an excellent class on "Having a Jewish mind" to understand Isaiah. Loved it.
As Mike and Glauco, I also present an introduction to Genesis on the first day. I go over all the points that we will cover or try to cover in the next four days. On the second day our goal is to understand the foundation of what is behind "and it was good" from Chapter One and why we must believe in God or in "something". On the third day we look at Genesis as the book given "To Prevent a Disaster". The forth day we look at "Covenant Part I". What I do here is simply tell the story of Abraham and Abimelec, Isaac and Abimelec and Jacob and Laban. The introduction of this lesson caused some concern about the word "testament". I introduce the idea that God never made a "testament" (as we understand the word) with men. These stories present us insight into "covenant" making. On the fifth day, we look at the "Covenants between God and men". This lesson was the most controversial but the brethren were very gracious to understand my thinking about the "New Covenant". I am not that concern that the brethren agree with me on these subjects, but I do want them to understand why I think this way. The church in El Salvador was divided in these areas by some brethren who believe that the "cup" represents the "new covenant". Just looking at the covenant that God made with Israel (Ex.24:6-8) exposed the error of believing that the cup or "basins" was more than just a container for the blood. Even though they were still nervous about my view of "testament" and "covenant", they greatly appreciated the application of Exodus 24:6-8 to the current division concerning how many cups we can use to serve the Lord's Supper.
After the lectureship, we would visit for a short while and then off we would head to our evening assignment. Mike would go to San Miguel for a gospel meeting which would start at 5:00 p.m. Glauco and I headed to Colonia La Reforma where I would rotate with Glauco. We would be done, well done by 8:30 p.m.
On Thursday and Friday I was invited to speak on the radio. That was such an experience! Brothers Neftali Villalobos and Jaime Tarios were the narrators and I was the guest speaker. These brothers are very good on the radio. If someone wants to see them and listen in, the internet website is radiopopularsanmiguel.com at 4:30 p.m. Pacific time, Thursdays and Fridays.
These first five days were the toughest for all of us, but the attendance did not go down except for the second day. We averaged 50, mostly preachers, teachers and brothers who are interested in teaching.
Second Week... July 22-29
Mike Mendez... San Miguel (Sunday a.m. July 22)
Caulotillo (Monday through Wednesday.. 4:00 pm. July 23-25).
Colonia La Ilusión (Thursday though Saturday 5:00 p.m. July 26-28).
Colonia La Ilusión (Sunday.. 9:30 a.m. July 29).
Glauco Gonzalez... Moncagua (Sunday a.m. July 22)
Sesori (Monday through Wednesday.. 2:30 p.m. July 23-25).
Colonia Matazano (Thursday through Saturday 7:00 p.m. July 26-28).
Colonia Matazano (Sunday.. 9:30 a.m. July 29).
Raymond Gonzalez... Satelite 9:30 a.m. Nueva Granada 2:30 p.m. (Sunday July 22)
Nueva Granada (Monday through Wednesday.. 2:30 p.m. July 23-25).
Moncagua (Wednesday 6:00 p.m. Children´s class).
Triunfo 4:30 p.m... Istagua 7:00 p.m. (Thursday and Friday.. July 26-27).
Triunfo 4:30 p.m. Saturday (July 28).
Triunfo 8:30 a.m... El Mora 6:30 p.m. (Sunday July 29).
As can be seen, we were pretty much busy all the time we were there. Overall, the churches in El Salvador continue to grow in numbers and in Spirit. One thing they do cherish and that is the freedom in Christ. They know they have much to learn as we all do, but that does not create an inferiority complex, just something they have to work with. They believe they are serving the Lord the best they can.
The church in San Miguel is doing very well. Their main preacher, Luis Guevara is now 76 years of age. When we got to his house we were very shaken to see him so pale and disoriented. Mike complained to me because we left him alone at Luis´ home. We did that because of the distances from San Miguel to Moncagua where we were housed. Of course we would have had a lot more fun with Mike around, but in the end it proved a life saver. It was Mike who suggested to Luis and his wife to seek another doctor, a second opinion. Well, they took him to a recommended physician who quickly diagnosed his immediate problem, "this man is overmedicated". He told Luis to stop taking anymore medicines and to start eating solid foods. He was taking strong drugs and eating nothing but leafy vegetables. Three days after that, Luis was a changed man! The old Luis we remember was back.. thanks to the Lord.
In Moncagua the church is also growing with a membership of about 40 members. Jaime Tarios is the main speaker here. Another brother who is a very active in preaching and teaching is Neftalí Villalobos. This church is well under way to have elders in a few more years. There are several men, including Jaime and Neftalí who are setting their sights with the help of God to one day serve as bishops of God´s flock.
Several miles northeast of Moncagua is the church of Christ in Sesori, Cantón San Sebastian. These brethren have been struggling to maintain themselves pure in conduct and doctrine. Cecilio Alemán is the preacher here. He has 12 children, 7 of who are already baptized and three of the boys are helping out in the worship service. Glauco just loves to be with these brethren because they are so hungry for the Word and Brother Glauco feels he can help them.
Nueva Granada is also doing much better. They now have a preacher. Brother Rafael Martinez jr. has taken over the responsibility of preparing sermons. He is helped by other members who have been members for a longer time. They are very happy that the church has someone who will be ready at least on Sundays. Brother Luis Guevara and Jaime were the two men instrumental in getting this church back on its feet. Luis and Jaime still visit them occasionally, but they are definitely walking on their own. This brings great pleasure to all involved.
The church at El Triunfo has grown so much that they will have to extend their meeting place. I´ve know these brethren for about 28 years. They have gone through many trials but with the help of our Good Lord, they have remained steady and their number now is about 80 members. One family alone has about 30 members or more. The Gonzalez Family, now has 4th generation Christians. Brother Santos Gonzalez is now 99 years of age, most if not all of his 11 children are believers. Most are married to Christians and now their children are members and here come the great-grand children! The men more responsible of leading the church here are Cupertino Gonzalez, Mario Gonzalez, Carlos Gonzalez, Brother Ovidio and Brother Matías (forgive me, I forget their last names).
The church of Christ in Ahuachapan El Puente continues strong. They now have about 5 men who are responsible for the preaching. Brother Hugo Luna from Santa Ana inspired these brethren back in 1988 to band together after several of them had been cast out by evil men.
The church in Santa Ana, Colonia El Mora is also growing in the knowledge and love of our Good God. Brother Hugo Luna serves here as an elder along with Brother Cristobal Pensamiento. They have 5 deacons and several members help out with the preaching. At this time there is great love and harmony in this church that numbers about 75 members.
Dearly beloved, as soon as we have the opportunity, we will try to set aside a day in which we can visit and give you a report along with a Power Point presentation. In behalf of all the churches, we thank God and you for them.
In His service, your brother in Christ,