In 1995, Wendy Johnson was living at lakeside when a young woman who came to clean her house asked if she had heard about the 15-year-old boy who had just hung himself – on his father’s birthday in San Juan Tecomatlan, one of lakeside’s most economically challenged villages, located 20 minutes from Ajijic.
For days, Johnson, a member of Little Chapel by the Lake, couldn’t stop thinking about this. Overcome with emotion, she set out to do something about it.
Johnson gathered together friends and members of the church to discuss what could be done. They proceeded to raise US$100 to buy food, household goods and medicine, which they delivered to the grieving, needy family.
“A month later, another tragedy occurred involving a father and son, also from San Juan Tecomatlan,” says Johnson. “On February 14, 1996, a fisherman’s mentally handicapped son was helping his father on a boat and fell into the lake. The father jumped in with his boots on to save his son. Since neither could swim, they both drowned. Tragically, the fisherman left behind a wife and seven children.”
Once again, Johnson and other church members raised money to buy food, household goods and medicine, which they delivered to the family every day for six weeks.
For over 25 years, Little Chapel’s San Juan Tecomatlan (SJT) Missions has been providing food, clothing, household items and other necessities to the village’s poorest of the poor.
After the drowning incident, I felt inspired to be part of SJT Missions,” Johnson says. “I approached the local Rotary, and they agreed to adopt a program that provided 3,000 life jackets to the registered fishermen of Lake Chapala.”
Another dedicated volunteer with SJT Missions is Tom Emmerson. He and his wife Donna moved to lakeside a year ago from Dallas, Texas. Shortly after, they attended services at the Little Chapel, and were hooked.
“One of the things we were looking for in a church was outreach,” says Emmerson. “Here, we found this beautiful church in Chula Vista with a great big mission.” Two weeks later, he jumped right in and was working alongside Johnson and meeting villagers.