Guadalajara & Ocotlán Weekend Trip
Brother Dennis Paggi and I made the trip to Mexico to visit the Brothers and Sisters and give a study weekend over March 31st to April 3rd. Brother Dennis has visited Mexico on several occasions, but it was my first time. Dennis and I recently accepted the position of link team for Mexico, replacing Bros. David Lloyd and David Jennings, who were the links for Mexico for over twenty years. Their work is greatly appreciated.
We flew into Guadalajara, and were met by Brother and Sister Gabriel and Cynthia (Paiva) Lopez, and by Brother Juan Sanchez from Monterrey, Mexico, who had come down for the study weekend. The warm dry weather was quite a change from the cold, wet weather we left behind in Southern California. Upon arriving in Ocotlán, we stopped by the hall that the ecclesia was recently able to rent. It had been used as a storage area for furniture refinishing and repair. Extensive cleanup has begun. The building is quite large, and is well suited for the ecclesia, providing a foyer area, a main hall, and a room in the back which serves as a kitchen and a Sunday School room.
After a quick look around the hall, we walked the short distance to our hotel just one block away. Cynthia had made reservations for Dennis, Juan, and I to stay there. It gave the three of us the chance to chat and catch up. We enjoyed exploring Ocotlán in the afternoons, discovering where things were located in relation to our hotel.
The Mexican Brothers and Sisters have struggled through the last few years with the same restrictions and difficulties experienced by everyone throughout the pandemic. Like many others, they were hampered in meeting face to face and had to curtail and modify many of their previous methods. Fellowship was limited to online meetings and a few social interactions in person. However, some good has come out of it. The Brethren have adapted to internet preaching and are able to reach people who they would not have been able to through Bible classes on Zoom and other apps. Bro. Juan will begin some preaching using his new iPad. Bro. Gabriel holds a number of Bible classes online with various contacts, and is very enthusiastic about spreading the gospel. Currently, besides the brethren in the Guadalajara area, including the Guadalajara and the Jalisco Sur ecclesias, there are a few Brothers and Sisters in other parts of the country, including Tijuana, on the border with California, Monterrey, Campeche, Yucatan and Chiapas at the south end of the country. All of these Brothers and Sisters are able to meet virtually, but Bro. Juan (Monterrey) and Sister Damaris Cuevas (Campeche) were able to make the trip to participate in the study weekend.
The theme for the weekend was the topic of conversion, and used Daniel chapters 1-4 as the basis for the classes. Dennis and I decided to split up the classes, doing one class each both days. Dennis began the series on Saturday morning with a look at Daniel 1, focusing on the topic of the conversion of Daniel and his three friends, In the afternoon, I gave a class on Daniel 2, which examined the way that God chose to reveal himself little by little to a pagan, gentile emperor who probably wouldn’t be the type of person we would think to be a likely candidate to follow and worship the One True God. The third class was the exhortation on the Sunday morning, in which Dennis looked at Daniel 3, and drew lessons from the account of the three friends of Daniel demonstrating a remarkable faith in refusing to compromise their worship of God despite the possibility of a terrible death sentence. After the Memorial service, I gave the final class, on Daniel 4, focusing on Nebuchadnezzar’s second dream. Conversion is a life-long process for all of us, and we have some good examples of the ways in which God works in the lives of people to give them the opportunity to come to knowledge of Him and of the salvation He offers, and to follow Him and His son, Jesus Christ.
Though it was just a week before Easter and thus a time for family gatherings, we had 10-15 members at the hall and another 5-10 via Zoom. All in all, the weekend was spiritually uplifting, and the ecclesia made us and the other visitors feel very welcome. We appreciated the opportunity for warm fellowship and a chance to share some special moments with the Brothers and Sisters in Mexico.