I distinctly recall the first time I began to think the idea of moving where the need was greater was appealing. The 2006 Yearbook had been released, and I decided I was going to make a real, concerted effort to read the entire thing front to back.
(in a twist of irony, the first time I'd attempted this was the year before, aka the yearbook about Guyana, but I also distinctly recall deciding to skip Guyana's section and go to Iceland instead, because it seemed more interesting at the time)
The 2006 Yearbook was about Samoa, and I was enthralled. As fascinating as the stories and all were, what really stood out to me was the life of one man who moved to serve there early on and spent his life slaving away trying to help out. The payoff came, decades later, when Samoa built their first Assembly Hall, and this same brother was invited for the dedication program. I was struck for a moment, wondering how he would've felt looking back on his life, the time and effort he'd put forward, and how magnificently he got to see it paying off. This kickstarted an obsession with me. The idea of reaching old age and being able to look back with absolutely zero regrets about how my life had been used so far. I imagined that was what this man was able to do, and that's what I wanted as well.
(disclaimer: I have not gone back and double checked this story at all, so I may be remembering it incorrectly. Whether I am or not, this was the gist of the affect it had on me)
So honestly, being a need greater was not necessarily the goal, but rather that sense of a life well used. Need greating was certainly an option, but not the main focus. It didn't become so until I was introduced to Guyana (properly this time).
More than ten years have passed, and so far it has turned out even better than I expected. Take my current assignment, for example. When I first arrived in Orealla, there were two appointed brothers (one of which was, well, me). There was about 15 publishers and about the same average meeting attendance. We had three pioneers. Attending circuit assemblies and conventions was a constant struggle. I went into this thinking it was a three month assignment, and at first I remember being grateful that was all the longer it was going to be. This seemed too difficult of a place to be for much longer than that.
That was six years ago. And while we haven't built an assembly hall in Orealla, even in just those six years things have changed dramatically. For the better.
Even in the midst of a pandemic, we've seen our numbers growing. Two new baptized, one new unbaptized, and more return visits/studies than we can handle. The total number of publishers has grown from 15 to 42 at the present moment. The two appointed brothers have become five. The three pioneers have become eight (with a whopping eleven signing up for auxiliary during this last C.O. visit!) It has now become the norm for our attendance at pioneer meetings to exceed our average meeting attendance from years ago.
The biggest difficulty we've had in the midst of the pandemic has been how to tie in all the people for meetings who've shown interest. I've talked before about the system we've been using where we have five conference calls tied together by a conference call. But during the recent CO visit we needed to tie together a total of ten to fit everyone. Working out the logistics was a very exciting challenge.
|This was (I think) draft #3, and the one we eventually used.|
And while, again, I haven't been able to sit down in the auditorium of a newly built Assembly Hall, I still get to marvel at how quickly the work here has progressed. I've been able to see us even getting our own assemblies (in rented facilities) in this village, sparing everyone the stress and expense of traveling out for it.
If you had told me after my first meeting that we would reach this point in just a few years, I never would have believed it.
Now let's not sugar coat things though. It's been rough at times, and I very nearly got fed up and left on at least two occasions. But in all honesty, would it have been different anywhere else? It's not like life would've been easier or more pleasant if I'd stayed where I was, or if I'd taken another assignment elsewhere. Life is going to be rough at times. That's all there is to it.
The chief difference? This way, despite dealing with stress and all that, I presently have no regrets about what I've done with my time.
And I intend to keep it that way.