Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Grand Visit to Monterrey
On April 21st, I (Jon) arrived in Monterrey to see what this "brave, new world" would hold for us. And, I was NOT disappointed! Our friends and co-workers, Ron H. and MarĂ­a G., met me at the airport and moved me deftly and nimbly through the amazing traffic in the city of some 4 million people.
The mountains south and west of the city are spectacular...and sit in stark contrast to the flat desert that goes out east of the city. There is that strange conflict of wealth and poverty that exists in many Latin-American cities...small, barely adequate houses sitting in the shadows of tall, 21-century sky-scrapers. Flavors of Mexican life and Americana simmer together side by side in this sprawling city. And, the flow of cars, buses and trucks--carrying the life-blood of the city--engage in an unending dance and flow on the heat-radiating highway....
We finally arrived at the Conference Center where I would spend the week. After stowing the suitcases, Ron and I headed over to the seminary--El Seminario Metodista Juan Wesley--where we were greeted and welcomed warmly by administration and students alike. Much of my time during the week was spent getting to know the director, dean, office staff and the incredible students. We sat together, worshiped together, and ate together. ´Twas time well spent!
I also got to visit the city...walk the parks and the "Macro Plaza"--a plaza that stretches some six or seven city blocks...with sidewalks, benches, bordered by museums, theatres and libraries. In truth, the city-center is beautiful. History seems to emanate from all around through the architecture, statues and other reminders around abouts.
I was able to worship with two congregations--one "mission" and one older, larger congregation. Both pastors asked me to preach, which I did "con gusto!" The people in the congregations were both warm, friendly...the way I like to find Christians. The worship was similar to what I find here in Venezuela...but there were differences as well--but it´s hard to put my finger on the difference. Here, the church is so young--and exudes a youthfulness. In Monterrey, the church has been around for a little longer--and exudes a maturity that was both refreshing and a little reserved. Hmmmm.... I´ll think on that a bit more.
Well, the time came to leave...and on Apr. 28 I started the almost 20hr. trip back to VE--a combination of cars, planes and buses. I left Monterrey feeling encouraged about our ministry there, already in love with some of the folks I had met, certain that the Lord was opening a new and joyful chapter in our lives. As we "close up shop" on this side, with certain sadness, we look forward with great hope, joy and anticipation to what awaits our family in Monterrey!