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In San Luis Potosi, where Julius Paulson for some years carried on a health food business, two families of tinsmiths began to keep the Sabbath through reading matter placed in their hands, and wrote to G. W. Caviness, requesting further instruction. In due time a company of believers was raised up. As the work grew, it extended into the surrounding country, so that soon there were three other small companies in the vicinity of San Luis Potosi.
Colporteurs scattered papers and books also in Torreon, and soon an interest developed there. When Professor Caviness went to the place, he found one whole family keeping the Sabbath. After he had held a series of meetings, a half dozen more accepted the truth. Here also the work has continued to grow.
Toward the close of 1911, H. L. Hawson went to Monterey, in the province of Nuevo Leon. He found some interested persons, and the interest grew rapidly till it became necessary to rent a hall for the meetings. Fifteen persons signed the covenant, and a number of others awaited baptism. Scattered about in other parts of the country were a number of small companies of believers who were sending in appeals for help.
Other places where believers were raised up in these years are Salina Cruz, Tampico, Ameca, and Tuxpan.
J. E. Bond, who became connected with the work in 1920, reported a baptized membership of nearly 450, with eight organized churches.
Prof. G. W. Caviness, prominent in the Mexican work for twenty-five years, passed away in 1923.
In 1923 the republics of Mexico, Guatemala, Salvador, and Honduras, with British Honduras, were organized into the Aztec Union Mission, having by 1925 a total of twenty-one churches. and a membership of 1,014.
General Organization of the Caribbean Field
U. Bender, and after him A. J. Haysmer, occupied the position of president when the field as a whole was organized into a union conference. H. H. Cobban was for years secretarytreasurer and manager of the publishing work that developed in the Canal Zone. During the Great War the union organization was discontinued, the island fields eastward being then made into a group known as the East Caribbean Missions, for a time under the oversight of C. E. Knight. The republics of Mexico and North Central America were grouped together as the Mexican and Central American Missions, under the general oversight of R. W. Parmele. The taking over of the publishing work by the Pacific Press branch publishing house has stimulated the sale of the denominational literature all through the field.
In 1922 the Bahama Islands, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Trinidad, Tobago, British Honduras, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, together with British, French, and Dutch Guiana, were organized into the Inter-American Division, under the superintendency of Elder E. E. Andross, vice-president of the General Conference for that division.
According to the Year Book of 1925, the Inter-American field had twenty-five organized churches and 8,889 members.
IN the older countries of South America, civilization extends far back. Before the Pilgrim Fathers landed at Plymouth Rock, the universities of Lima and Cordoba were graduating numerous students annually, and one finds today in most of the republics well-equipped universities, and a growing number of normal and high schools. Common schools are gradually spreading, and are becoming general in Argentina. There is among the upper classes a refinement of manners, an elegance of dress and appearance, and a natural politeness not excelled anywhere.
Seventh-day Adventists began evangelical work in South America in the early nineties. About ten years later, in 1902, the continent was divided for administration purposes into three main groups: the River Plate Conference (comprising Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay), the Brazil Conference, and the West Coast Mission (comprising Chile, Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador). New conferences were organized and new divisions arranged at the union meeting attended by W. A. Spicer in 1906, and again in 1914, when L. R. Conradi visited the field; but in the present chapter the first broad grouping will be followed.
The narrative of Adventist missions in South America naturally begins with Argentina, the first South American country to be entered by a Seventh-day Adventist minister. Argentina
has an area of 1,200,000 square miles, which is five times the size of France, and a population of more than 8,000,000. The great Paraná River, with the estuary Rio de la Plata, which drains a large portion of this territory, is the second largest river in the world. Steamers make regular trips up this magnificent waterway and its branch, the Paraguay, to Cuyabá in Brazil, a distance of 2,300 miles. Argentina is also supplied with more than 20,000 miles of railway lines. Buenos Aires, the third city in size on the American Continent, and the metropolis of South America, is the largest Spanish-speaking city in the world. During a single year 30,000 vessels enter its harbor, coming from all parts of the world.
The climate of Argentina, resembling that of California, and the fertility of its soil, together with its stable government, are attracting immigrants from many parts of the world, and the population is growing rapidly. There is freedom of worship; but Roman Catholicism enjoys the patronage of the state.
The Adventist doctrines first found their way into Argentina by means of the printed page. Late in the eighties a small company of believers were baptized in Lake Neuchâtel, Switzerland, in connection with one of our European general meetings. This being a somewhat unusual occurrence, it was reported in one of the newspapers, and was copied by a French Baptist journal, which fell into the hands of a French colonist living in the province of Santa Fé, Argentina. It so aroused his curiosity as to the doctrines held by Seventh-day Adventists that he sent for the denominational publications, and after a time began to keep the Sabbath. He was joined by some of his neighbors, and for several years these people continued to plead for a Seventh-day Adventist minister.
The message was brought to the province of Entre Rios by German believers from the United States. Some of these, reading an article from the pen of Mrs. E. G. White in the Hausfreund, decided to move to South America in order to engage in self-supporting missionary work, and spread a knowledge of the Adventist belief among the Germans on that continent. Toward the close of 1889, they left their homes in Kansas, and reached Argentina early in 1890, settling in the province of Entre Rios, north of Buenos Aires. One of them, a previous resident of the country, had for years carried on a correspondence with friends in South America, who had manifested varying degrees of interest. One man had gone so far as to say that he would begin to observe the Sabbath if he had some one to keep it with him. Four Adventist families in all went to