Friday, August 31, 2012

In Memory of Pastor Desiderio Lopez - Part 3

Friends and family of Pastor Desi gather around his bed in the home of his daughter. Oaxaca Pastor Bernardo is on the right.

Desi's wife and son caring for him.

Church members and community friends keep vigil outside the home almost 24 hours per day.

Paying their last respects.

Saltillo Pastor Dolores participating in the funeral. The sign says, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

In Memory of Pastor Desiderio Lopez - Part #2

Just as we were beginning a service in Selma, Alabama on Sunday, August 19, we received a call from Pastor Bernardo of our Oaxaca City church, informing us that Pastor Desi had suffered a stroke and was in a coma. He never regained consciousness and on Monday, after being told by doctors that there was nothing more that could be done, his family took him back to San Gabriel to be surrounded by family and friends in his final hours.

On Tuesday morning Steve began the long trek from Alabama to San Gabriel. This included a drive from Pell City to Birmingham, flights from Birmingham to Atlanta to Mexico City to Oaxaca City, a bus trip from Oaxaca City to San Gabriel and a moto-taxi to the home where Pastor Desi was being cared for. Torrential rains from a hurricane had caused mud and rock slides along the rustic road to San Gabriel, leaving only a narrow path for the bus to get through.

Family and friends gather around Pastor Desi. His son, Elias, is on the left and Saltillo Pastor Dolores and Sylvia are on the right.

Conference President Refugio led in several services over the hours and days that people were gathered in the home.

Pastor Desi in his final hours.

What a privilege it was for Steve to be with our people during this difficult time. Below is the email he was able to send me from an internet cafe:

Hey babe. I´m here in San Gabriel. Desi is still alive but still in a coma. Everyone is so thankful that I came and have been so kind. There is a constant stream of people coming and going as they pay their last respects. The doctor says that he will go any time but that evidently he is waiting for something. It seems as though he can hear and understand some things. He raised his arm to brush away a fly that was on his face but his eyes never open and there is no real response other than that. Cuco and Bernardo (and family) are here now but no other board members yet.

I made it safely here but the roads are worse than ever. There were 12-15 bad landslides and dozens more smaller ones. It took 7 1/2 hours to get here because of the roads. In some places half of the road is simply gone because of all the water. In other places we had to stop and move big rocks out of the road that had fallen down the mountainside. It was sorta spooky because while we were removing the rocks that had just fallen, you could hear other smaller ones falling right then. Every stream and river was boiling and it continues to rain. Hopefully it will stop soon. We passed two places where they were having demonstration marches but the road was not actually blocked.

Just as you enter San Gabriel you pass a soccer field on the left with covered bleachers. Now the whole roof system is just a twisted mass of steel and tin roofing thanks to the hurricaine. There is other minor damage to many houses and many have been damaged by the landslides. I have not seen the church yet to see the damage there.

There are a number of teens waiting to use this computer so I will get off for now. I might try later to communicate with you for a while but if not, I´ll talk with you tomorrow night from Oaxaca. I am going to work on compiling a file of pictures that I have taken of Desi and download it onto a flashdrive so they can show it at the funeral for the church people to use. I love you so much and will see you soon. I´ll talk to you later.


Monday, August 27, 2012

In Memory of Pastor Desiderio Lopez - Part #1

Our hearts are saddened with the passing of Pastor Desiderio Lopez. He gave of himself that others might know the joys of a life lived for God. Our prayers are with his family and church people. We miss him so much!

Pastor Desi gave his life to God in his 20s. He immediately began outreach ministries in the mountainous jungles of southern Oaxaca. He tirelessly walked through the dense growth, fording streams and making trails where there were none, to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and make disciples of those who lived in darkness.

He founded the Iglesia Biblica Metodista in San Gabriel de Mixtepec, Oaxaca and it continues to this day as the largest Bible Methodist Church in Mexico. It is a growing, thriving congregation focused on outreach and church planting.

Our Institute President's wife, Isela Luna de Balderas, compiled these photos of a rally led by the Bible Methodists in San Gabriel. Pastor Desi has impacted this community for over 50 years and we are sure that his selfless, tireless efforts based in humility and fueled by passion will continue to touch lives into the future.

Pastor Desi and his wife, Eufemia; faithful in church planting and discipleship.

Pastor Desi, Steve Stetler and Conference President, Refugio Sanchez in Oaxaca in March 2012.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Santa Apolonia

Santa Apolonia is a small town near the US border and the Gulf of Mexico. In the past 2 years it frequently has been so besieged by violence, that Pastor Chito on various occasions has called or texted to advise us not to visit. 

When we are able to visit, it is a joy to share with these sweet, committed servants of the Lord.

Please keep Pastor Jose (Chito) Cruz and his family in your prayers, as they labor in this difficult area.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

We wish we could have spent Father's Day 2012 with our Dads, Kenneth Stetler and Leonard Sankey; but, it was a privilege to spend it with the special people of the Bible Methodist Church in Rio Bravo, Mexico.

At the conclusion of the regular service, all the fathers went to the front and the rest of the congregation came forward to express their appreciation to these Godly men.

Eli, Santiago and Rolando...

Steve, Dario and Ruperto.

We were blessed to have both of our kids here to help celebrate Father's Day. Tomorrow we head north to visit the Bible Methodist summer camps and continue with our Share Support services. This past week we completed 5 years of service with Bible Methodist Missions in Mexico and, Lord willing, this summer and fall we will be raising funds for our next 4 year term.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Galeana - Part 3

During the visit to the village of Puerto de Pastores, a service was held. Here is a picture of a lamb that came to church.

A group shot of the attendees, with Pastor Panchito on the left and Steve on the right.

Lovely ladies ...

A sweet little girl ...

Mission Chapel in the Sierra Madre Mountains ...

Saltillo Pastor Dolores Hernandez and Galeana Pastor Francisco (Panchito) de la Rosa ...

The home of one of the parishioners ...

Simple buildings in the Sierra Madres in Nuevo Leon, Mexico ...

Preparing for a meal in Puerto de Pastores ...

Some of the men visiting outside.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Galeana - Part 2

Pastor Francisco (Panchito) de la Rosa and his wife, joined Saltillo Pastor Dolores Hernandez and Steve as they traveled about 20 minutes out of Galeana to a little mountain village called El Encinal. 

A gorgeous little guy who came to the service.

Our 13-year-old Mountaineer, faithfully gets us where we need to go, but this weekend some of the electrical systems quit and none of the windows will work. Steve had to travel with his window down in spite of dirt roads and 107 degree heat! Then he had to try to find a safe place to park, since his window was stuck open. We have it in the shop now, hoping for an easy, inexpensive resolution.

A beautiful view of the Sierra Madre Oriental Mountains from the window of the Bible Methodist Mission Chapel in El Encinal, Nuevo Leon, Mexico.

Pastor Panchito leading the singing for the Saturday afternoon service.

Pastor Dolores with part of the congregation.

Singing during the service.


A pretty little girl who came to church.

Beautiful ladies at the church service.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Galeana - Part 1

Very early Saturday morning, Steve headed across the border near Reynosa, Mexico loaded down with tracts (that the young people in Saltillo have taken on as a project for impacting their city), flip-flops (for distribution to those who need shoes) and child evangelism supplies (for Sunday Schools and VBS). He was able to make it through two immigration inspections with no problems, for which we thank the Lord.

Four hours later, he arrived in the large city of Saltillo and picked up Pastor Dolores Hernandez Mata and his son, Jaziel. He was able to visit with several of the youth and others in the church who had gathered to make tamales. From there they continued an hour south to the little town of San Rafael, where they left Jaziel to play with his cousin, Dante.

Then they drove a couple more hours to the village of Galeana, high in the Sierra Madre Oriental Mountains. They were able to visit Pastor Francisco (Panchito) de la Rosa and his wife in their home, where they were served a delicious meal of cactus (both the stem and the flower), fish, tortillas, agave honey with cheese and fresh, warm agave juice.

Outside of Pastor Panchito's home.

This couple has worked tirelessly for 4 decades in this mountainous area of Nuevo Leon, Mexico. They are so, so sweet! Pastor Panchito has good memories of some of the United Holiness people from Michigan visiting with them in Galeana, before the work was turned over to the Bible Methodists.

The beautiful Sierra Madre mountains. (I'm thankful for electricity, but I really wish those lines weren't in these pictures!). ;o)

Visiting with some of Pastor Panchito's faithful church people.