My wife and I received a lot of wise counsel when in 2015 we relocated to South Korea with our children. For example: a friend suggested that we bring a few of our kids’ favorite toys along with us so that the kids could enjoy something familiar amidst the bewilderment of a wholly new environment. Something familiar, especially something dear to one’s heart, can do a lot to bring comfort and encouragement when all else is strange.
This past January, I flew from Philadelphia to Cancun and drove 300 kilometers due west, to the city of Mérida. (Traveling the same distance in the other direction – by boat – one would arrive on the western shore of Cuba.) The major language in the Yucatan is Spanish, of course, but roughly 800,000 folks there speak Mayan. Many of the cities have Mayan names, and ruins of that ancient civilization are still present in abundance. The tacos are delicious, the salsa spicy, and the weather never, by my standards, anything approaching ‘cold’. And there, in a missionary’s home on the outskirts of the city, I saw a WTS diploma from 1964 and a hand-drawn portrait of Dr. Cornelius Van Til.
These heartwarming reminders of home hang on the wall in the home of Mrs. Jean Letgers, who went with her husband David – possibly the only WTS alumnus fluent in Mayan from childhood – to live in the Yucatan after his studies at here in Glenside. David’s father had also studied at Westminster (’35) and was himself an MK. David went home to the Lord in 2013; Jean is now in her 6th decade in the mission field. I shared the wonderful privilege of a visit with Mrs. Letgers with WTS alumni Rev. Jahaziel Cantú and Rev. Juan Carlos Martinez.
Among the Letgers’ many contributions to the good of the church in the Yucatan was the foundation of San Pablo Presbyterian Seminary in 1982. When the Letgers founded San Pablo, they implemented the very curriculum David had received at Westminster, translating much of the material themselves. To this day, good brothers like Amos Cahuich and José Luis Polanco maintain several degree programs teaching the same priceless theological wisdom that we all cherish, applied to their unique context. Rev. Cahuich does his own translations of Van Til for teaching purposes, and has in his office recent translations of Vos and translations of Ridderbos now long out of print. What a thrill!
Rev. Cantú and Rev. Martinez spent the week teaching exegesis and preaching, and I had the privilege of presenting the outlines of a biblical-theological, covenantal approach to apologetics. The students were a lovely group of pastors, leaders, and eager learners, including recent college graduates and seasoned churchmen, from all around the peninsula. They were lively and diligent in the classroom – and gracious when my Spanish failed me – and the fellowship was a joy and a blessing. How good and pleasant!
It was a tremendous privilege to represent Westminster with my friends Jahaziel and Juan Carlos at San Pablo Seminary in Mérida and to contribute in some small way to the edification of the church in the Yucatan, and now to share the joy of that privilege with you, the Westminster community. Please join me in praying for Mrs. Jean Letgers and for San Pablo Seminary, and in praising the Lord for his faithfulness.