A Memorable Open House
BY AWAKE! WRITER IN MEXICO
ON March 15, 2003, delegates from over 40 countries assembled just outside Mexico City for the dedication of the newly constructed buildings seen below. These residence buildings and printing facilities are part of the latest expansion of the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Mexico.
In 1974, when there were about 65,000 Witnesses in Mexico, the first buildings of the branch at this site were dedicated. As the number of Witnesses in Mexico was growing dramatically, dedications of additional buildings were held in 1985 and again in 1989. The latest addition, which consists of more than a dozen new buildings, includes a huge printery as well as residences that will allow for a branch staff of some 1,300.
Two weeks after the dedication, an open house was held for neighbors near the branch. Among those to whom written invitations were sent were local authorities as well as students and teachers at a newly founded university located across the street. Many at the branch wondered how many would accept the invitation.
A Rewarding Response
A total of 272 responded, including students and state and municipal authorities. Visitors commented on the beauty and cleanliness of the facilities and expressed appreciation for the hospitality shown. One wrote in the guest book: “I am visiting your facilities for the first time. They are lovely. I admired and respected you before, but I do so even more now.”
Another visitor observed: “We had a wrong impression of what was being done here. Stories had circulated about you. . . . But what I see now gives me confidence. I will gladly receive you into my home because I think that what you are doing is worthwhile.”
One of the university’s lecturers, whose mother is a Witness, brought two entire classes of students to visit. She said: “I wanted the youths to know what Jehovah’s Witnesses do around the world. There are things that they can learn by visiting here.” How were students affected by the visit?
One wrote: “Thank you for your hospitality. It was an unforgettable day for me and my classmates.” Another noted that people who don’t listen to Witnesses who visit them have no idea what they are really like. “We must be tolerant and open to other things,” she concluded. A young man said: “I had a very different idea, but now I see that you support one another. You look like tiny ants—so busy.”
Four members of the local police were among the visitors. One of them, a woman, noted: “This is impressive. There is no discrimination here. The one who cleans, the gardener, everybody is equal. . . . This is marvelous.”
Two little neighbors, boys nine and ten years old, said: “This is pretty—very big.” “What I liked most were the machines. They are so fast. I especially liked the machines that cut paper.”
A traumatologist, his wife, and their daughter, a university student, were among the visitors. During the tour the doctor’s wife asked many Bible questions. She commented that her interest was aroused when the Witnesses visited her father, a member of an evangelical religion. He would get furious, while the Witnesses remained calm. “Now I understand why,” she declared.
The doctor and his family said that their visit had changed their opinion of the Witnesses. Noting their interest, their guide, José, invited them to the Memorial of Christ’s death and offered them a Bible study. They responded favorably, saying that they would be glad to come to the branch for the study.
The following week they came, and José and his wife, Beatriz, were thrilled to receive them in their room. They had so many questions that the first study lasted three and a half hours! The family attended the Memorial on April 16—along with the father of the traumatologist’s wife—yes, the one who used to get furious at the Witnesses’ visits!
A special reason for joy was news of the quantity of Bible literature that the visitors took home with them—500 pieces, especially Bibles. Some of them said that they had never had a Bible before.
A woman who lives nearby told Armando, who was handling the Bible literature stand: “From now on, I will join you Witnesses at your meetings, for I know that this is the truth.” A few weeks later, Armando was happy to see this woman in the Kingdom Hall. He says: “She was carrying the book that she had obtained during the open house. When I greeted her, she told me: ‘As you see, I am doing what I told you I was going to do.’”
The three days of the open house passed quickly. But they were most upbuilding. Seeing the branch facilities through the eyes of first-time visitors helped members of the branch to have greater appreciation for their privilege of serving in one of the branches of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
[Pictures on page 24, 25]
1. Vehicle repair building, 2. services building, 3. maintenance shops building, 4. residences, 5. printery, 6. auditorium, 7. visitors’ building
[Pictures on page 25]
Hundreds responded to the invitation to the open house, including students and local police