A team of seven Servants of the Word brothers from Monterrey, Mexico, spent three weeks last July in Xalapa for a series of very intense summer events. It included two tracks, one for university-age and one for high-school age youth and it drew a total of 620 people from Mexico and the Caribbean. Our brother Malaquías García oversaw the university side of the program, our brother Ángel Santiago the high school part. Here are some of their reflections on this very busy three weeks:
Give us a feel for what the events looked like.
M: It all started with a ten day leadership training course for the people who were then going to staff the conferences and camps for high-schoolers and university students. There they would learn to give their testimonies, lead small groups, be an example
in daily life. Then those people split up into two groups: the university track, which had a conference for participants of a number of university outreaches across the country and even beyond, and a youth track.
A: The Youth track included a conference called Tu Momento (This is your chance!) and two camps, one for boys and one for girls.
This sounds like a lot to squeeze into such a short period of time.
A: Most of these young people don’t get a lot of opportunity to be together, so when we have such a summer program, we want to make it count. But yes, it was very stressful to accommodate so many participants and organize multiple parallel events. Suffice it to say, we did not sleep very much.
M: Most of us brotherhood men have been used to working together for a long time, so even under pressure we function well as a team. But for the participants it can become a challenge to live in such an intense environment. You have to make sure you look after them well.
Apart from the intensity of the time, what would you consider the biggest challenges?
A: The battle for the souls of the young is becoming ever more intense. We encounter ever more serious pastoral challenges, be it addictions, the force of social media, psychological problems. We constantly need to find new ways to counter those influences. And we rely on God’s power to bring freedom and healing during these times apart.
Were there any particular highlights during the time?
M: The quality of the young people participating impressed me greatly. They display a genuine readiness to learn and a willingness to serve which are very inspiring. God honors that and in turn speaks powerfully to them.
A: During the high school conference we had a four-hour prayer meeting where the Lord brought a lot of things to the light and stirred genuine repentance in many of the participants. The testimonies were beautiful.
Which part did you enjoy the most?
A: The boys camp was called “Desert Storm” and involved a lot of outdoor activities for the men. It was very satisfying to see them enjoying themselves and growing as men.