July 8, 2024

Mexico Study Weekend

By Bro. David Collister

I arrived in Guadalajara, Mexico on Friday, May 17th, after a fairly short flight of just over three hours. As I got off the plane, I could feel the heat in the jetway. I was told that this was the hottest time of the year in the Guadalajara area, and that when the rains started in June, the temperature would drop a little. Sister Cynthia and Brother Gabriel Lopez were waiting for me at the airport, and we hurried back to their house to drop off Gabriel before heading right back to the airport to pick up four from Oaxaca, two of whom are baptized, Sisters Yolanda Morales and Rocio Mendez, and two who were to be baptized during the weekend activities, Emilio and Antonio Hernandez, father and son respectively. From the airport, we headed to Ocotlan, some of us with Sister Cynthia in her car and the others in a taxi. Ocotlan is the town where the Jalisco Sur Ecclesial Hall is located. Jalisco Sur is one of two ecclesias in Mexico, the other being the Guadalajara Ecclesia, located in the city of Guadalajara.

While there are only two ecclesias in Mexico, there are several brothers and sisters who live in other areas of the country, some of whom are quite busy preaching and holding Bible Classes. One of these is Sister Yolanda mentioned above, who came with Sister Rocio (who was just baptized this last December), and with Emilio and Antonio, who would be baptized over the weekend. Also, Brother Juan Sanchez was down for the Study weekend from his home in Monterrey. He is a quiet and thoughtful brother, good company in an unassuming way.

In the two weeks leading up to the study weekend, Brother Juan, along with Brother Guillermo (Memo) Lopez, from Guadalajara, had been going out during the day to handbill Ocotlán. This was a worthwhile effort, as there were some visitors, fruits of their labors.

When we arrived in Ocotlán, we checked into our hotel, and then went out as a group in search of something to eat. We found a little place a couple of blocks away that served hearty “homemade” style food (comida casera) and had a great meal for a surprisingly low price, after which, we made our way to the village square where we sat and talked as we watched groups practicing the regional dance of this area in preparation for an upcoming festival. It was nice to have fellowship in this relaxed environment.

Readings and Prayer before the Baptisms

After a wonderful night of rest, we had a delicious breakfast at a local restaurant, and then went to a local water park, where we had plenty of time for fellowship. The children played in the pools, and we adults sat in the shade and chatted. Brothers Gabriel Lopez and Juan Sanchez conducted baptismal interviews with Emilio and Antonio Hernandez nearby.

Baptism of Bro. Emilio Hernandez

Around midday, we gathered as a group and had a reading and a prayer before witnessing Emilio and Antonio pass through the waters of baptism in one of the bigger pools. It was a very moving experience. After the baptism, we welcomed our new brothers into the family of faith, and then had a delicious picnic lunch, after which we packed up and headed to the ecclesial hall.

Baptism of Bro. Antonio Hernandez

The Jalisco Sur Ecclesia has recently moved to a new location, and the facilities are very adequate. I was to give the classes for the study weekend, and I had chosen the topic, “Seek First the Kingdom of God” in which I examined the lives of several men of faith from the Old Testament, considering how they were able to seek first God’s Kingdom in their lives. I gave two classes on Saturday. The event was well attended, with over 30 participating, including some from the Guadalajara Ecclesia, some visitors, as well as a few online.

On Sunday morning, those of us staying at the hotel went out for breakfast before going to the hall. For the Memorial Service, I gave my exhortation on “Treasure in Heaven,” after which the presiding brother, Gabriel Lopez, welcomed our new brothers with the traditional Right Hand of Fellowship. It was a very moving Memorial Service.  After the Memorial Service, I gave my third and final class, this one on Moses, focusing on how he was able to seek the Kingdom of God in his life. After the class, we had a delicious lunch of fried chicken, beans, salad and tortillas as we enjoyed fellowship with each other.

Sunday Memorial Meeting

The activities of the day ended with many helping to clean up, after which we closed up the hall, and those of us from out of the area went to see Lake Chapala. As we wandered through the souvenir stalls next to the lake, I heard English spoken several times, probably either tourists, or residents from the US who live in the area, according to Sister Cynthia. We enjoyed a great meal prepared by Sisters Rocio and Yolanda, and some wonderful fellowship.

And so, in this way, the Study Weekend concluded. Thanks to Brother and Sister Gabriel and Cynthia’s organization and hard work, and the support, efforts, and participation of all the participants, it was an uplifting event that helped us all as we continue to seek first the Kingdom of God and to lay up treasure in heaven.

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