The first convention of Latino Workers in Ontario held at WestPark Iglesia brought together migrant workers from several South Western Ontario Locations – Mount Brydges, Forest, Sarnia, Tillsonburg, and Thedford. A biblical reflection centered around the question who has robbed you of your peace. The workers from Mexico and Guatemala sang praise choruses, enjoyed the Mariachi singers and lines up for the Mexican style food. Some devoted soccer players delayed their supper to play a game of their favourite sport.
Pastor Mario assisted by an able translator prayed for workers.
Canadians who prepared and served the food and who have been leaders of the ministry in the communities mentioned above; all expressed the blessing they had in serving workers. They were also grateful for the seeds of the word of God that were planted during the months and years of ministry and during the event itself. Even when serving meant going out of their way to drive workers to London, to answer questions of a worker who has worked for 28 years about applying for a pension, to translate when there were problems and to host a worker’s wife who came from Cuernavaca.
Members of one Mexican family commented on the meat which was very much like the carnitas they ate back in Mexico. A Canadian English-speaking pastor expanded his Spanish vocabulary learning “solamente.” Solamente en cristo – only in jesus was a key line in one of the chouruses playing in the background. A key phrase to describe the day – only in Jesus is salvation found.
Good things come in threes, or so the expression says. This past weekend, Lloyd and I were present in three special Hispanic services in less than a 24 hour time frame. First, we were in Thedford at a supper and service for migrant workers from Mexico. We ate pasta and salad and some people had lots of hot peppers on their pasta; then there was a lesson in English and a message from Pastor Mario. We saw old friends, made some new friends and Clemente was one of those new friends. Clemente lives in a small village in Jalisco which we visited two years ago and he remembers the huge party designed to bring smiles to many children. Clemente brought smiles to our faces as he accepted Christ as his saviour.
The next morning we attended Iglesia de West Park in London where Pastor Mario leads a Spanish language congregation. A young man accepted Jesus as saviour at the end of the service. His girlfriends’ family and the church had been praying for him for sometime. Again there were smiles and also tears of joy as well.
Then we followed Pastor Mario and some members of the Spanish congregation to Mount Brydges. A month ago a new outreach ministry began there and another man accepted Christ as saviour. When God’s people take action, prepare themselves for these services and pray, God responds.
Alberto, a migrant worker, near Sarnia called to let us know he was going to be transferred to Trenton area. His question, Can you find me a church in that area? I promised to try but a Spanish speaking church will be very hard to find.
Augustin came into the hospitality centre in Tillsonburg with a request as well. Over the last two or three years, volunteers from the centre have found a combination bugle trumpet with keys, provided clothing, given pop can tabs and other things for Mexico. Augustin took the tabs and his wife made purses which were brought back to Canada for sale. In Sarnia, Adelfo used the tabs to make belts and he will be taking those with him to Mexico when he goes home next week. This year Augustin is looking for a video camera.
Eight new guys arrived in the centre; it is their first time in Canada. Their questions will be about setting up bank accounts, or buying cell phones or asking whether the clothing is the centre is for them. Ministry takes many forms. The following week, 28 Mexicans came in and some wanted help in contacting the consulate while 4 took home bibles. Extending Christ’s love takes many forms.
There’s an old song by Gene Kelly called singing in the rain that says I’m happy again singing in the rain. Yesterday about 20 Mexicans and Guatemalans were happy in the rain playing soccer. They are migrant workers from near Brantford ant Stratford who met in Burford at a church for soccer.
On the second Sunday of the month, the church welcomes workers from farms. Although no one speaks Spanish in the church, three Spanish speaking pastors came from Stratford, Brantford and Sarnia. For the first hour and a bit the men play the favourite sport of Latinos – soccer or futbol as they would say it. Then everyone goes inside for fellowship.
Members of the Burford church prepare and serve a meal for 35 – 50 people. As we enter the church hall, there is chips and popcorn waiting in the rim of Mexican sombreros set out on the tables. There are decorations on the table and a buffet meal is served. Rice and beans and tortillas are always part of the buffet. The men enjoy lots of food and there is conversation and everyone is happy.
Then a guitar appears and a few choruses are sung and a brief message is shared. There is always translation –whether the message is given in English or Spanish, translation is needed. The guests are the workers but no one in the host church speaks Spanish. Yesterday the message was about storing up treasures in heaven rather than on earth. After another song or two everyone gets ready to go back to their bunkhouse or home. The leftover food is packaged so the mean can take it. There are bibles and tracts always available and clothing donated
Even though it rained, everyone went home happy.