I’ve always wondered what contribution I could make to ecclesias in Latin lands. While I took Spanish in high school, I certainly would never claim to have Spanish fluency. I have wondered if I took a trip to one of our ecclesias in Mexico, Central or South America whether I could really make any tangible contribution? Would the visit be for the benefit of my brethren, or really all about me?
In early August, I had the pleasure of joining a group of brothers and sisters from North America who participated in a campaign in Guadalajara. Few of us had any usable Spanish speaking skills. We were eager to serve in whatever capacity we could. The team consisted of a mix of ages – ranging from eighteen to, well, let’s just say a few of us that were more “mature.” What I re-learned was an important lesson about our God. He uses what we are capable of offering and provides, in His way, a blessing to compensate for what we cannot.
The work centered around the city of Guadalajara, a city of more than 7 million. The ecclesia in Guadalajara is thriving and growing. Sis. Cindy Paiva and Bro. David Lloyd (Link Man for Guadalajara) planned the activities for the week. I would choose the word “resourcefulness” to describe their use of the team. Rather than focusing on what we could not do, we engaged in a multitude of activities that, through the blessing of our Heavenly Father, led men and women to the Bible Study Center where the ecclesia meets. At the end of the week, each of us had distributed several thousand leaflets, created Sunday School lessons for future use and updated essential computer records for contact follow-up. In all, more than a dozen men and women came to the advertised classes and public Bible readings and about the same number registered to begin receiving the postal correspondence course. It is rare to have the opportunity in a week’s time to see the response to a team’s work. We were all greatly uplifted.
Distributing leaflets in Guadalajara is FAR different than in North America. Men and women are receptive to the leaflets. They actually stop at intersections and wait for you to hand it to them. As you can see from the photo shown here, we were excited to see them pause to read the leaflet, often while they were waiting for the crosswalk light to change. There were a few occasions where we were engaged in dialogue by recipients. In some cases, they helped us out by themselves trying to speak a little English. But, remarkably, I found myself able to cobble together just enough Spanish to answer their questions. The work was not tedious and as a team and we found ourselves looking forward to the distribution of the leaflets.
What will remain with me are the loving and close relationships we developed with the brothers and sisters in Guadalajara. The story of each brother and sister is truly amazing and a clear witness of the hand of the Lord in the ecclesia. What I learned was that the team’s presence in Guadalajara was not only encouraging to us, but highly encouraging to the members too.
Sis. Cindy Paiva has been living in Guadalajara since 2003. She and her late husband, Bro. Carl, were instrumental in forming the ecclesia and Sis. Cindy remains thoroughly immersed in the daily work. There have been many volunteers from North America who have come to help the ecclesia. The San Diego, CA Ecclesia, particularly has been a great help over the past few years. Sis. Cindy excels at finding useful work that members can do, based on their interests and capabilities. Why don’t you try going down to Guadalajara and see what good work God can accomplish with you?
—Brother David Jennings