What's happening

New literacy program

A few months ago, members of Lakeside Presbyterian Church’s outreach ministry discovered some families in our neighborhood with children who had never attended school. These kids don’t know how to read or write—and would never have the opportunity to learn without outside help.

In Mexico, the dropout rate in public schools is high, as many children need to work in order for their families to survive. While public schools are free of charge, uniforms are required. Even that cost can prevent the poorest children from attending. More than 90% of children in Mexico attend primary school, but only 62% attend secondary school (“secundaria”). And just 45% finish high school (“preparatoria”).

Seeing this need in our own community, we hired a teacher to help. Teresa Medina has a master’s degree in education and more than 25 years of experience in teaching. We bought materials, including books, notebooks, pencils, and other materials to help the children succeed.

Teresa’s literacy program is now benefiting ten children between ages of 7 and 13. These children don’t attend any other school because of their families’ lack of financial resources.

In addition to their classes, the children are given a healthy breakfast during the break.

It’s our hope that by giving these kids a chance to learn, they’ll have the opportunity to one day get better employment and change their families’ circumstances!

If you’re interested in supporting programs like this, you can designate a gift through a PayPal donation here.

Our visit to La Zapotera

On April 4, about 25 of us took a road trip to the community center and water filtration project Lakeside Presbyterian Church supports at La Zapotera.

It was a joyful trip, full of information, lots of children, and a delicious lunch. Our church provides the food to make breakfast for 100-120 schoolchildren every weekday. The women of the community do the cooking. The cost is only about $3 pesos per meal!

Dian added to the festivities by creating balloon animals for the kids. They were fascinated — and thrilled with their gifts.

Celebration of Life for Ross Arnold

Pastor Ross Arnold went home to be with Jesus on Monday, January 14. “Home” has always been a word full of meaning for Ross. He would often say that, if he ever wrote a book, it would be on the theology of home. It was also the word he repeated most during his last day. He was ready.

On Saturday, January 26, at 1 p.m., we are planning a Celebration of Life service for Ross here at Lakeside Presbyterian Church. Afterward, we will have a time of fellowship and refreshments in the courtyard, when we can share our memories of Ross.

After graduating with a Master of Divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, Ross worked for several years with World Vision, Joni and Friends and other Christian ministries before settling in Seattle, Washington, in 1989. Over the next 20 years, Ross had a teaching role at University Presbyterian Church in Seattle, where he was an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church USA. During this time he pursued further graduate studies in theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, and was ordained through Church Ministry Associates. In November 2009 Ross and his wife, Carolyn Hansen, moved to Lakeside and immediately became involved with Lakeside Presbyterian Church. After several months of teaching a Bible study for the church, Ross was invited to become the pastor in April 2010.

Water project and community center is open

The new community center and water project building in La Zapotera.

Harvey Bernier, the onsite project manager for building the community center and water project in La Zapotera reports:

La Zapotera Centro Comunitario opened its doors and the first meal was served to 83 elementary school children—thanks to Lakeside Presbyterian Church, Tepehua Centro Comunitario, Todd Stong, Gerardo Padilla Puga, and several other key volunteers. Breakfast will be served three times a week to start, with the eventual aim to provide a nutritious breakfast every school day.

In addition, a bazaar has been set up with generous donations from Tepehua and the surrounding community.

Jai Cartwright, Karen Bernier and other volunteers will be holding classes for the La Zapoterians in such things as cheesemaking, bread making, and more. Their goal is to provide education in better nutrition and life skills in order to alleviate diseases caused by poor nutrition, poor water and lack of education.

This is great news! Lakeside Presbyterian initiated and underwrote much of the funding for this project and will continue to provide food supplies for breakfast for school children, while the local community will do the cooking. We hope this will be a model for other community projects near the lake. Thank you all for making this happen!

Building skills in sewing

Rebecca Roth is passionate about helping Mexican people–especially women and kids–learn new skills. She’s not only active in teaching English, she’s started a sewing class that meets on Saturday mornings in Lakeside Presbyterian Church. About eight to ten women attend. And their enthusiasm for learning is contagious.

Rebecca (on the right) teaches doll assembly.

If you don’t know Rebecca, you might be surprised to learn that the first project she teaches is how to make dolls. These dolls aren’t playthings. Each one is a unique work of art that can be sold at a profit. This is a great way for women to begin supplementing their income and providing more opportunities for their families.

A decorated doll body

Dolls’ legs.

Dolls’ hands.

We’ll update you with other projects created by these talented women in future posts.

You don’t have to be a member to volunteer

Sara Jones and her husband, Rick, have been Bettye Donohoo’s neighbors and friends for several years. Bettye helped Sara several years ago when Sara was a part of an ESL program.

One day—about two years ago—out of the blue, Sara called Bettye. She told Bettye about a young Mexican man doing some work at her house who had approached her about starting an English language training program at Lakeside Presbyterian Church. He asked Sara if he could arrange a meeting with the pastors of the Spanish speaking congregation.


Bettye and her junior ESL class.












“Bettye,” Sara said, “I don’t know anyone at that church except you. I want to do this but unless you tell me you will come with me, and help me if they agree, I won’t even go for a meeting.”

The meeting happened and Sara’s ESL program at Lakeside Presbyterian Church is the result.

The ESL classes now teach between 40 and 60 students in three classes: intermediate and senior. Classes run for an hour and a half every Saturday morning. A child care center has been added to allow parents to attend classes knowing that the children are taken care of. Saturday morning at the church had been originally for teaching basic computer skills to high school students. Now with an ESL class running 10:30 to 12 noon and a sewing class from 12:30 to 2 p.m., the church decided to provide a 10 a.m. brunch based on the principal that hungry bodies do not learn quickly.

The teachers are all competent in English and Spanish, but as enrollment has tripled in the past two years, helpers are needed. If you’re interested in volunteering, please contact the church office/administrator 376-106-0853.

Rebecca Roth’s intermediate ESL class.

Johan teaches the senior ESL class.

Being a blessing, receiving a blessing

You’ll see a lot going on at Lakeside Presbyterian Church–even if it isn’t Sunday morning. Each Saturday morning, for example, Mexican families from villages near Ajijic and Chapala gather outside the building even before the doors open at 9 a.m. They are anticipating a morning of life-skills training on computer basics, English, and sewing—all with childcare provided.


Once inside, family members go to separate rooms based on whether they’re a high school student who wants to be tutored in computer literacy, a parent who wants to improve their English, or a toddler going to childcare.  Bilingual assistance is on hand to help newcomers find their way and understand the plan for the morning.  This isn’t a church service, but a learning opportunity for those wishing to take advantage of it.

A hot brunch, served at 10 a.m., lets everyone socialize with friends. Then at 10:30 a.m., it’s back to class.  The English language classes are taught at three different capability levels.  Most leave for home at noon—but several women who want to learn the skill and art of sewing stay for another hour.

This Saturday morning opportunity is a blessing, both to the ones who learn and the team of Lakeside Presbyterian Church volunteers who provide this valuable free education.

Our volunteers also help feed the poor, provide clean drinking water where there was none, and clothe those who need it here in the Mexican villages that surround us.

If you’d like more information about our church—or to volunteer for one of the many available positions that support our community, please contact the church office/administrator 376-106-0853, or review our website.

The joy of helping our neighbors

by Malcolm Callister

My wife Linda and I recently joined Pastor Guillermo Banuet, Martin Thorner, and members of Iglesia Presbiteriana del Lago (our Spanish-language congregation) as they ministered to the inmates of the Mezcala rehab center and delivered despensas to needy members of the community.

We were pleased to experience all the fun and energy of the worship service at the rehab center. For the men, women, and teenagers who went, it was a wonderful testimony to their faith in Christ. The look on their faces of the inmates and their body language when they listened told of their regrets they had and their hope in Christ for their future. While the rehab center is not a prison, nobody is allowed to go home until their treatment is completed. Christ told us to remember the prisoners.

The food sent from Lakeside Presbyterian Church kitchen was eagerly anticipated and eaten with obvious enthusiasm. The kitchen staff from our church and the local Baptist church who prepared the food truly are serving Christ as he commanded.

The delivery of the despensas was an emotional shock. Having worshipped in English, Canadian and USA churches, outreach to this level of poverty and despair is something that we would expect on a mission trip to some far off country, not a 30-minute drive down the road from our own house. The experience was deeply moving. The three women we met each lived in conditions that are difficult for me to contemplate, but I would not replace the experience for anything. We will always remember . . .

  • The blind lady who had tears as she held Linda for a long hug.
  • The diabetic lady in a wheelchair with no feet and her diabetic husband, who was now blind and would no longer get out of bed.
  • The 93-year-old with nothing, living in an old adobe brick box with plastic bags to provide privacy for her outdoor washroom. This lady was in tears when we started to leave because she had nothing to give to us. As Linda tore herself away from the lady’s arms, the hugs and kisses, we recognized that she gave us God’s blessing..

If you are interested in accompanying future visits to Mezcala, I highly recommend it. You can talk to Pastor Guillermo about going. Members of our English-language community need this experience. Our mission field is on our doorstep and we rarely see it.


How to tell your friends about Jesus


By Kenneth Naddeo

This month at Lakeside Presbyterian Church, we are privileged to have Pastor Dwayne Bartly as our guest preacher. Pastor Dwayne is encouraging everyone to be part of the Church’s evangelism efforts within our community. Besides his Sunday sermons and great stories, Pastor Dwayne is also taking the time to conduct two classes on evangelism. The first set of classes happened on Tuesday, April 17 and Thursday, April 19 for our Spanish-speaking congregation. Another class for those of us, like myself, who are language-impaired and speak only English (okay, maybe a little Spanish) will happen Tuesday, April 24 from 10:00 a.m. until noon.

Pastor Dwayne taught in English and Martin Thorner, (Lakeside Presbyterian Church’s Director of Ministry Outreach) interpreted in Spanish.

Having been to the first of the classes, I can truly say that this was a real eye-opener for me. Pastor Dwayne’s teaching style brings everything into easy-to-understand and use language. His teaching takes away the thinking that Evangelism has to take a lot of work or preparation. Pastor Dwayne makes this very important Christian act into something that’s easy, fun and, more important, natural for us to do as we go about our daily lives.

As Pastor Dwayne teaches this process should take not much more than a few minutes, using simple statements and a question. This is something we all should be ready to do at any time, with everyone we know and meet.

We know we have the Good News, the BEST NEWS, and Pastor Dwayne this week will be teaching just how simple it is for everyone to become involved in sharing it. Make the commitment now to be there Tuesday, and learn just how easy it is to share your faith.

NOTE: Next week Tuesday, April 24 from 10:00 am until noon, hear Pastor Dwayne speak on Personal Evangelism for our English-speaking congregation in the Church.

Here are pictures from the Spanish classes, and believe me this was one lively group.










               There are handouts to take home.

Here are just two of the volunteers who are practicing the one-on-one method of evangelizing taught by Pastor Dwayne.

Please follow our website Over the next few weeks we will be highlighting some of the many outreach activities our Volunteer-In-Action service teams are involved with.  You will see our Volunteers-In-Action feeding the poor, providing clean drinking water were there was none, and clothing the needy here in the Mexican villages that surround us.

For more information about our church or to volunteer for one of the many available positions that support our community and the local village populations, please contact the church office/administrator 376-106-0853, or review this website.

Make the commitment now to attend Lakeside Presbyterian Church, Tuesday, April 24, 2018, 10 a.m until noon to learn just how easy it is to share your faith.  Lakeside Presbyterian Church is located San Jorge #250, Riberas del Pilar, just two blocks south of the carretera. (Turn toward the Lake at Mom’s Restaurant.)