Third Time’s The Charm

Being appointed twice to the same spot happens from time-to-time in The Salvation Army. But Majors Juan & Lydia Mercado (at center, right) found that third time’s the charm!

It rarely happens, but every once in a while, a Salvation Army Officer (married couple or single) might be appointed to a post or position where they’ve served before. Circumstances change and the volume of responsibility may have increased due to (prayerfully!) the growth and increase God sends on any particular corps, adult rehabilitation center, or staff position.

It’s possible, and sometimes it does happen—but by and large the majority of Officers serving in one city will probably never be reappointed there.

Isn’t it iRonic, then, for Majors Juan and Lydia Mercado to have a unique distinction of being named as Corps Officers in Guayama, Puerto Rico three times!

Juan and Lydia and both from Ponce, Puerto Rico, and were practically newlyweds, married only two years, when in 1992 they entered the USA Eastern Territory’s College For Officer Training in Suffern, New York. As members of the Crusaders For Christ Session of cadets, the Mercados were commissioned as Lieutenants in June 1994.

Their first appointment was as Corps Officers for three years in Mayaguez. In 1997 they became Corps Officers in Caguas until 2004.

“That’s the first ‘Marching Orders’ we received to come to Guayama,” Major Juan says.

They served in the old Guayama Corps from 2004-2006 (years before the Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center opened). From Guayama, they became divisional youth leaders for Puerto Rico & Virgin Islands Division (2006-2008) and Greater New York Division (2008-2011).

“Then we returned to Guayama as administrators of the Kroc center, which had by that time opened,” Major Lydia comments. “The only difference for that first year we had a set of Officers who served as Corps Officers.”

“But then in 2012,” Major Juan adds, “we were given the added responsibility of Corps Officers when the Lieutenants were needed in another appointment—so technically, that marked the second Marching Orders to assume the Corps Officer role.”

Major Juan Mercado teaches an Adult Bible Class at the Guayama Kroc Corps.

The Majors chuckle at the thought of not having to “march” very far.

Another set of Officers came for three years in 2013, relieving the Mercados of corps officership and allowing them to focus entirely on overseeing administration of the Kroc itself.

“But then, in 2016, that set of Officers transferred out, and we were given our third assignment as Corps Officers in Guayama,” he says.

The good news is that the corps family at the Kroc Corps loves the Mercados; and the Majors’ love for their people is just as evident.

Major Lydia Mercado welcomes worshippers to the Sunday Morning Service at the Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Guayama, Puerto Rico.

They do take a little bit of gentle ribbing about “coming back” to Guayama as often as three times. It’s all in good fun. Like, they’ll keep coming back until they get it right—that kind of thing.

One soldier was commenting they love the Kroc Corps, and how his family will be a part of the Army’s mission and ministry in Guayama for many years to come.

“Even after the Mercados are moved away!” this soldier says.

“Don’t worry,” another soldier quickly chimes in, “it won’t be long until they’ll be back again!” (LOL)

—Major Frank Duracher, Assistant Editor