Our Southwest Divisional Band's Trip to Mexico
Wednesday October 3
After prayers in the DHQ chapel along with many employees and officers of the Southwest we loaded our luggage and horns onto the truck and ourselves into 15 passenger vans and et off for Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. Aero Mexico flight 465 took us to Mexico City with a curious episode in Hermosillo where we cleared immigration but nor customs. For that we had to wait until we arrived in Bennito Juarez Airport in Mexico City where we met by an old friend - Major Jim Hood. He had arranged a fine bust which was our transport for the tour. We checked in and everyone was grateful for a room at the Holiday Inn Tlalpan Churubusco - even though most could nor pronounce it. All arrived safely.
Thursday October 4
Today we did two Concerts in Cuernavaca - the State Capitol of Guerrera.
After our playing of our first concert in the plaza, the State's Minister of Culture has asked Major Doug Danielson (Capitol Division DC) when the next Salvation Army Band will be able to appear in the Plaza. Good progress for the Army from a place that originally wanted to charge us $1000 to play. (Only 10 days previously).
The afternoon was spent travelling to the old City of Taxco where there are many silver mines. Many visited a model of a mine where the techniques of mining were explained and the first opportunity for shopping took place. Others of a more cultural persuasion visited the fine Cathedral in the town square.
Our playing at the children's home was a delight. All were pleased to see what the Army was doing. Pepe Sanchez, our translator and son the the CO of Mexico's Corps # 1 gave us some insight into the work that is done at children's homes - his Father having previously been in charge of Mexico City's home. Dinner was then served and it was good to have fellowship with those who do this fine work. Memberes of the band gave generously to the work of the home - Hogar de Ninos
We are being blessed - we pray that we are blessing others.
Friday October 5
We met the IS Commissioner Barry Swanson and his wife at breakfast. They claimed to be tired after a 23 hour journey - I wonder why? They will conduct the Congress in the stead of the General who has had to remain in London to deal with the Pakistan situation.
The morning saw a time for sight-seeing. A few brave souls ventured by Metro into the center of the city - the Zocolo. Most of the others accepted the relative security of our very fine bus and went to see and in some cases climb to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun. Most notable of these was 86 year old Don Torgerson. A couple remained behind to set up for the band on Saturday. The bandmaster was one of those who remained.
Those who has stayed in the city became concerned when the intrepid ones did not return at the expected hour. They had become embroiled in a traffic jam caused by one of Mexico City's examples of "Civil unrest". Traders were protesting their rights to sell in a local park - the Federal Authorities did not see it their way. Our intrepid, brilliant driver Ignazio got through the difficulties and the band was reunited and able to play for the meeting at Corps #1.
This meeting was a rally of the troops. SA heroes of the past were spoken of and the challenges given out as to who would be the new heroes. The list was extensive with almost every Mexican name mentioned - apart from "Morales"!
The band was worked very hard in this meeting but was assisted by the excellent translation of local SA musician Pepe Sanchez - a young man of great promise. Especially well received was the new march "Mexico70" written on their request and featuring a song that was immediately taken up by the whole, packed, congregation who rose to their feet before we had finished.
Everyone is enjoying the experience and so glad of this opportunity to serve.
Saturday October 6
Saturday saw none of the alarms that nearly caused us problems on Friday. Again some went into the Zocolo - I was unwilling to make it an official part of our trip any longer as I did not wish to place our folks in harm's way. This was a pity as there is much to see in this historic City center. The bus did go to Cuidalela - a market place for craftsmen and artisans. This unfortunately gave the ladies ample opportunity for more shopping! Some chose to visit the Zocolo - again by Metro. We have noticed that a number are enjoying playing with these trains. Still more intrepid souls took on the arduous job of resting in their rooms. I understand they did this very well, although it must be said that Major Keith McRevy was sorely tested by the fact that he had to leave his beloved Sun Devils to their own devices and attend the evening meeting. His faithfulness was rewarded by them winning away at Washington and they now sit atop the Pac 10 - he is sooooo pleased!
The sporting life was further mentioned when Commissioner Mrs Swanson (she and her husband are leading in place of the General) thought that perhaps our earphones were linked up to the radio where we could follow the game rather than to our translation receivers. She then - in front of a packed house of over 1000 people declared herself a Cubs fan. She and the millions of other will have to "wait 'till next year" again as our Diamondbacks swept the series.
This evening's meeting saw 100 new Junior Soldiers enrolled by the Commissioner. The bulk of the program being a musical linking this event to a portrayal of the story of Alejandro Guzman. The band had to provide musical support at times without ever having been involved in any rehearsal. The hall was not made available to the Mexican Territory until lunchtime on Friday so there was simply no time to work "in situ". Out folks responded flawlessly and we were much thanked for their contribution to the evening. Another scheduled performance of "Mexico70" produced a stirring response. We returned to the hotel by bus and again transported Sue Warner of the "New Frontier" - she was informed that the price of travel was a good report in that august journal.
Some it must be mentioned, including the son of the Divisional Commander chose to play trains again and paid the equivalent of around 18 cents to ride that conveyance back to the hotel. All were "safely gathered in" at the end of another good day. The group is really enjoying what we are doing here.
Sunday October 7
The sporting life had been mentioned on Saturday evening when Commissioner Sue Swanson had declared herself a Cubs fan. At breakfast time we were happy to explain the results to her, merely asking for a public apology - which we received!
The Swansons were excellent replacements for the General, Commissioner Barry Swanson sober but clear style contrasted well with his wife Sue's effervescant personality. The Sunday meeting was built around the theme of acquiring of Holiness with the Commissioner's simple but profound sermon clearly laid out that we must "be holy - as He is holy". In this meeting the band's playing surpassed itself. Its contribution of "Grace" being intently listened to, the Commissioner, in his address, referred to not only the quality of the playing but the relevance of the message. Throughout He was translated by Lt. Colo Roberto Frias - a former Chief Secretary who has a remarkable talent of almost similtaneous translation. There was a real feeling of us all coming together. The mercu seat was lined in response to the Altar call. Commissioner Swanson most generously spoke to the band during the Altar call thanking us for our contribution to the ministry of the meeting.
After Lunch together we retutned to the final meeting - a summing up of all that had gone before. Again the challenge went out to maintain the growth of the Army in Mexico - now one of the fastest growing territories. The Congress close with the classic Army Benediction, "Praise God I'm saved". We indeed praise him since our Salvation has given us this marvelous avenue of service.
Monday October 8
The Congress is over and everyone here, both members of the band, and those to whom we ministered are overjoyed that the event took place and that we were involved in it.
We arrived back in Phoenix - on time! to find our truck and vans awaiting us. We were tired but happy in his service
We will continue to pray for the Salvationist of Mexico and ask that readers of this account do so as well.