Report On Trip To Guatemala
San Antonio, Texas
I returned during May to Guatemala. Here is a report of the work accomplished on this trip.
May 9 - arrived about 6:00 p.m., preached that night in Colonia Florida. This church of about 15 members meets in the home of Baltazar Calel, who was our original contact in this country.
May 10, 11 - Calel, Fernando Espinosa and I went to Guatalon, about three and a half hours south by bus for services Saturday evening and Sunday morning. We met in the front yard of Fulgencio lxchop. The three of us preached. Several brethren came from Chicacao, San Basilio and other places, so the attendance was around 100 or over. The ladies cooked tortillas and beans over an open fire; we had black beans on Saturday and white beans on Sunday. Most of the brethren slept on the benches Saturday night (after, not during services), but they spent a big part of the night talking. They gave me a bed in side so I wouldn't be quite so accessible to the guerrillas.
Jeronimo Cox Ixbalan and Carlos Siguan work with this church of 18 members. Jeronimo also works with brethren in Patulul (10 members) and El Carmen (7). Also he has been invited to help out at Nuevo San Carlos.
May 11, p.m. - Luis Mendez, from Chicacao, was with us Sunday a.m., then took us in his small Chevy pickup (which he drives as if it were a tank) to Chinan for a 3:00 service, and to Chicacao for a 5:00 service (I preached in both places). I hadn't been to Chinan before; they have about 40 members, and have just built a new meeting place - split bamboo sides with plenty of space between each section for good ventilation, and sheet iron roof.
Chicacao is larger - about 60 members. They meet in the home of Luis Mendez. In January when Valente Rodriguez were there, eight or nine of us bedded down in a room over his bakery. This family is super hospitable - they always have lots of fresh baked bread. (And we also greatly appreciate Luis' taxi service, regardless of how he drives.) A year ago Luis' 18 year old son (a soldier) was killed by the guerrillas about six kms. out of town. Luis was remembering this all over again (he had several photos of the funeral), and grieving - most of all because his son had not obeyed the gospel.
Richardo Ventura Lopez works with these brethren, but four or five of the men preach. Ricardo is very studious and talented. Now that the brethren in Chinan have opened their doors to us, hopefully he will be invited to help there.
May 12 - we left Chicacao at 4:30 a.m. to go back to the capital. Services that night were in Colonia La Brigada; they have about 20 members. Fernando works with this group when in town, but he travels a great deal; when I left Guatemala to come home, he left also, to go preach in Honduras.
May 13 - Calel, Espinosa and I took a six hour bus trip toward the west to the "departamento" (state) of San Marcos. Calel knew Alfonso Lopez who lives near San Pablo, out in a coffee and banana grove. We had services that night in his home. Alfonso works with three or four small groups in that area (Malacatan, Sta. Julia, San Rafael, 15 de Enero).
May 14 - service in San Rafael. No church here (only one brother), but they have rented a room in the middle of town to conduct studies. Brethren from Santa Julia (3 families) help. These towns are very near the Mexican border, so Urbano Roblero of Cacahoatan, Chiapas, Mexico, works with Alfonso.
May 15 - we returned by same route, stopping at San Antonio, Suchetepequez, for a service (they have about 15 or 18 members). Jose Maria Cox Ixbalan works with these brethren; also in Las Margaritas. They are about to finish their meeting house in San Antonio.
May 16 - services in La Patria (18 members, new meeting place like the one in Chinan but smaller) and San Basilio (70). Antonio Chuc works with these congregations, and also with La Alexandria (45) and Los Ujustes (8). He has a small Honda to get from place to place. Good man.
May 17, 18 - we returned to the capital for weekend services in La Florida and La Brigada. When I left Guatemala May 19, Fernando also left en route to Honduras to work with the churches in San Pedro Sula, Catacamas, and possibly other places.
Many of the brethren in the towns and villages mentioned in this report speak Indian dialects. Luis Mendez preaches in Cakchiquel. On the Sunday I preached in Chinan the ones in charge spoke this dialect when they served the Lord's Supper, took up the collection, and made announcements. In San Basilio and surrounding villages they speak Sutujil. Antonio Chuc can preach in this dialect. Brother Cael speaks Quiche, and we hope to be working in the "departamento" of Quiche in the near future (Fernando already has an invitation). After the service in San Basilio, Pablo Angel Coche invited us for supper. Before we left he asked for prayers in Spanish and Sutujil for a lady who had just had a baby; it's a wonder they didn't ask me to lead one in English.
In some of these villages there are quite a few who don't bother with shoes, and I don't mean just the children. I know some brethren who could save a bundle if they could get their wives to go with them to work in this area. Brother Pablo is a capable preacher - a barefoot preacher (in Oklahoma we said "barefooted"). In fact, he does a lot better preaching without shoes than a lot of us do with shoes.
Jose Maria Cox Ixbalan, of San Antonio, Such., and Francisco Ventura Lopez, of the La Brigada church in the capital, have been preaching this past month in Playa Grande, way toward the north of the country. They traveled two days by bus, and then walked two more days, to get there. A brother from up there had visited in Chicacao and asked for their help. Calel and Ricardo Ventura Lopez were planning to replace Jose and Francisco, spending the month of June up there. I'm sure other contacts will be made in that area.
There brethren we're working with are doing pretty well so far as declaring their independence from the control of the liberal system. But some of them need teaching, not only on liberalism, but also on faithful attendance, punctuality, orderly worship, Pentecostal tendencies, divorce and remarriage, extremism - and a lot more!
In my judgment one of the most pressing needs in the Spanish work is for more gospel preachers - and especially mature, experienced men - from the United States to get involved in the work in these Latin American countries. There are many open doors, and this means there is a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done. We need to share our spiritual riches with these people who for centuries have been denied them.
We are very limited in the amount of gospel literature we can offer these brethren. I don't mean just tracts and correspondence courses (although these are very important); they need detailed studies on many subjects commentaries, sermon books, debate notes, class books, etc. We are distributing a few works, but it's only a drop in the bucket compared with what's needed, and what could be supplied if more brethren would get involved in this work.
Guardian of Truth XXX: 13, pp. 395-396