Briefs from Mexico and the Bahamas
On “Peace on Earth” Assemblies
TEN assemblies simultaneously in Mexico? Yes, that is what was arranged to take place late in December 1969. One suitable, central auditorium could not be obtained. Also, regional assemblies would ease the burden of many humble Mexican families. The prospect thrilled Witnesses throughout the land. Knowing that delegates from all parts of the land would need accommodations, Witnesses at the assembly cities began to prepare. Some even built extra accommodations on their homes and obtained extra beds and blankets. With delight they anticipated the large gatherings.
In Mexico City itself the Mexico Arena was the place of rendezvous. Its ample space was fully utilized by the 28,580 who attended the main lecture of the assembly. The program was entirely in Spanish, though English sessions were provided for some of the visitors from other lands. Here they learned something about the growth of the number of Witnesses in Mexico—from 82 in 1931 to 43,161 in October 1969.
Right in the midst of the tourist season in Acapulco the assembly there convened in the Arena Coliseo. The baptism of 225 persons in beautiful Acapulco Bay offered a strong contrast to the crowds of pleasure seekers. The main talk, delivered by the Watch Tower Society’s president, N. H. Knorr, was intently heard by 9,528. Conventioners heard that in one village in this region, with only thirty homes, there are twenty-five active Witnesses.
Tuxtla Gutiérrez, in the state of Chiapas, was the scene of another “Peace on Earth” Assembly. Not until the 1920’s did the accurate knowledge of Bible truth penetrate this area. Now, in this city alone, there are four groups of Jehovah’s witnesses busily engaged in their cultural and educational service. In the whole state of Chiapas there is one Witness for every five hundred inhabitants. For the main lecture the attendance climbed to 8,045. Said the manager of the bullfight ring that was used for this assembly: “There was not even such a large attendance when we inaugurated this place.”
Around the Gulf of Campeche
The peninsula of eastern Mexico, embracing the states of Yucatán, Campeche and Quintana Roo, was served by an assembly of 4,955 in Mérida. This is a region of tropical heat even in December. Within easy reach are numerous monumental ruins of the Mayan empires. Even in this city Mayan architecture has surely influenced the Spanish.
How heartwarming it was to sit down with native Witnesses and appreciate the genuine unity as all listened to the splendid program. One could observe in many the distinctive Indian features, prominent lower jaw and high cheekbones, coppery color, oblique eyes, straight hair, beardless chins, average height about four feet ten inches. How colorful their native dress, too! Above all, how humble and friendly!
Across the Gulf now to another seaport city—Tampico. It is located in a rich oil area. Here the 3,428 delegates to the “Peace on Earth” Assembly were too many for the available accommodations. Happily, through the kind arrangement of the proper authorities, a school was made available, and it housed 452. It also provided a theater in which a special instruction meeting for full-time educators could be held.
South along the coast, now, to Veracruz, ancient port, for an assembly attended by 8,240. Ten Witnesses at one out-of-town place pooled their resources and hired a bus for travel to and from the assembly. Imagine their delight when thirty newly interested ones gladly joined them in the daily trip.
West and North
Northwestward from Mexico City, 408 miles away, lies Guadalajara, population over a million. Here, in a city whose history reaches back at least 420 years, another peaceful assembly was held. Delegates enjoyed glorious springlike weather, for the city stands 4,761 feet above sea level. Roses and shade trees abound. Until recently it has been difficult to make much progress among a conservative, religiously inclined population. But little by little they have been yielding to study and understanding of the Bible truth, so much so that there are now sixteen organized groups of Witnesses in the city. At the assembly there were 4,900 for the main discourse.
At Monterrey another happy assembly of 10,724 convened. Here a family totally unconnected with the Witnesses offered the use of their outdoor pool for the baptism. That day this family had front-row seats as 273 persons were immersed. The mother asked many questions and was so satisfied with what she heard and saw that she asked that a Bible study be conducted with her family.
Among the 5,960 who attended the assembly in Ciudad Obregón was a group of circus performers. The owner of the circus and most of his troupe are Witnesses. So they canceled some engagements, stowed their gear in a safe place, and enjoyed all the sessions of the assembly, even participating in one of the dramas.
“It is a pity that this assembly has to end. Life should always be like this.” The speaker, up to six months ago was a Roman Catholic priest. He was one of the 4,879 persons who attended northern Mexico’s assembly in Ciudad Juárez. In spite of cold and heavy winds, this outdoor assembly proved to be a real blessing to those who came. They bundled up with blankets and, despite even snow flurries, sat through the sessions with attention riveted on the platform.
The “Peace on Earth” Assemblies in Mexico were truly peaceful and instructive. A total of 89,239 persons attended the main talk and 2,757 in all were baptized. Surely a grand result!
In the Bahamas
One month before the Mexican assemblies, delegates were arriving at Nassau to enjoy an assembly held in an unused airplane hangar. It had been transformed into a clean, colorful, large Kingdom Hall. Local Witnesses, of whom there are 425, rejoiced at the presence with them of foreign visitors. Even the children, bright-eyed and intelligent, sat quietly through the sessions. Attendances kept increasing until a peak of 1,066 at the main lecture was reached. You can imagine the joy of Witnesses who came here twenty-two years ago. Twenty-two persons presented themselves for baptism, too, and gave added encouragement as all now prepare for stepped-up activities in the spread of the Kingdom message in the days and months ahead.