Southwest band plays in Mexico
Commissioning festivities in Mexico City feature music by youth band.
by HEATHER MELVOIN –
A young girl acts as bandmaster during the band’s visit to a children’s home.
As our plane descended over Mexico City, I had two thoughts: The first was how colorful it is, and the second was how crowded it is! During our long weekend, those two thoughts never left me, but they developed different meanings in my heart.
When Divisional Bandmaster Ralph Pearce first told the Southwest Youth Band that we would be participating in the Mexico Territory’s commissioning services, we were not too excited, because many people in Arizona travel an hour or so to the border on a regular basis. But the fact that a passport was needed for where we were going caused a little excitement—and apprehension.
All the meetings took place at Cuerpo No. 1. In this city, which is predominantly Catholic, it was refreshing to see so many Salvationists gathered, praising God with all their hearts. Everyone, including the children, participated with enthusiasm.
Saturday evening, the cadets presented a musical, Daniel, Lucero y los leones (Daniel and the Lions’ Den). God’s power through the message was evident when the parents of one of the lead characters came to the altar to give their lives to God.
In the commissioning and ordination service Sunday morning, the five members of the Visionaries Session looked sharp in their new captains’ uniforms. Captain Mariana Cerezo, session speaker, represented her class with honor. Following the service, many people came to the platform to publicly affirm their call to officership, including a couple who are presently a judge and a lawyer. Additionally, cadet parents who had previously made no profession of faith came forward to commit their lives to the Lord.
One of the best times we had was our visit to a children’s home. After the service of appointments on Sunday afternoon, we had a long bus ride, followed by an arduous hike (in uniform and toting instruments and music stands). We arrived at the home a bit later than planned, but the children were thrilled to see us. Using simple props, they treated us to a dramatic presentation of “I Can Only Imagine,” and a rousing rendition of a traditional Mexican song.
Then it was the band’s turn to perform. Len Ballantine’s arrangement, “Joyful, Joyful,” was a favorite. I wiped tears from my eyes as I played and listened to the children singing the words in Spanish at the top of their voices. The beauty of music is that it knows no language barriers. When Bandmaster Pearce pulled out his arrangement of “¡A Combatir!,” he asked, through the translator, Territorial Commander Colonel Olin Hogan, if anyone would like to lead the band. Hands shot up and three children had the opportunity to be bandmaster for a few minutes.
Our final day in Mexico City was bittersweet. While we were thankful to be going home to our own families, we felt like we were leaving a new family behind. I heard a couple of band members express a desire to return to serve God and the people of Mexico.
As we prepared to leave Mexico City, I thought again of this colorful and crowded city. How much the people and culture of Mexico have to offer. And what an opportunity there is to win people for Christ! I know the angels in heaven rejoice each time one of the 35 million residents of the city turns his heart to God.