Friday, July 21, 2017

"Don't Give Up!" - 2017 Regional Convention



Let's play a game. See if you can guess how many blog posts I've done.

Now that we've got the jocularity out of the way, on to the news. As you likely guessed from the title of this post, Guyana recently got to enjoy the "Don't Give Up!" Regional Convention. Thankfully, this time there was none of the usual nonsense we go through regarding the boats getting us out (for stories like that, see literally any other blog post I've ever done about assembly or convention season). This time, it actually went better than we could've expected!

See, the boats usually take us out Thursday night, so they land early Friday morning, which leaves a scant few hours available to get to the homes we're staying at, unpack, iron out wrinkles and all, and then book it over to the convention venue. This year, a boat was traveling out Wednesday night, so most of the congregation got to land Thursday morning and have an entire relaxing day to get settled and prepare for convention the following day. Additionally, we were able to find homes for a lot of the brothers and sisters to stay in so they could be closer to the convention location, and thus not have to travel so long, and also pay less in bus fare.

As was usual for me, however, I and a few others came out Sunday night/Monday morning. There was a three day cleaning planned, but I for various reasons couldn't make it to the first two. By time I got there on Thursday, the final for cleaning, most of the work was done. All that remained was getting the stage set up and hooking up the video and audio equipment.

This raises an interesting detail: last two years we've rented everything from a company and they've sent two employees to help us out during the program. That setup changed this year. Turns out someone donated almost all the equipment to the Branch office for use in Guyana, and this equipment was better than what we'd used last two years. The only slight hitch in this is that we no longer have the two specialists from the company to give us a hand in case of accidents or glitches. But not to worry, as there's a crew of brothers from Georgetown who do this kind of stuff for work, so they came down to work with us to figure out how to get it set up properly. In the midst of this process, the convention overseer gathers two brothers and myself and tells us "Pay close attention. They're only here this year, so next year you three are doing this."

Pray for me.

Yes, someone saw this trio and thought to themselves "They look like people I'd trust with $5 million of fragile equipment."


Thankfully though, everything was set up nicely and the test late Thursday showed no signs of worry.

Now if you're a regular reader of this blog, you can probably tell when I'm setting up for a disaster or some such thing. Amazingly though, the story does not take a turn for the worse. At all. It continued running smoothly throughout the program. The closest thing we had to a problem was when we arrived Friday morning and saw the overnight rain had caused some minor flooding, so we had to elevate the wires, speakers, and other items with a variety of hastily assembled mounts. None of us had come to the convention intending to wade through water, so we didn't have long boots or anything of the kind. Thus, Ohio logic quickly wins out...

You can take the boy out of Ohio, but...

I never thought I'd get to play in the mud, barefoot, during a convention program, and call it sacred service. Scratch one off the bucket list.

As I said before, aside from this the program went incredibly smoothly. I'm not going to share specific points from it, because duh. However, there was one illustration that was used which was so good I simply must share it (and I feel I safely can, as it was a personal experience by the brother, and therefore I can be sure of not copying and distributing material from the branch outlines).

The brother was speaking of 2 Corinthians 4:7 where it tells us "... so that the power beyond what is normal may be God's and not from us."

To illustrate it, he referred to the frequently muddy roads and hills found in these parts. He said he had seen a large hill that, because of heavy rains, had become saturated with mud, to the point where any vehicle attempting to traverse it couldn't reach the top. Happily, there was a bulldozer nearby which had the power to make it to the top. So what would happen is each truck would rev up, accelerate forward, and see how far up this impassable hill it could go. Once it finally got stuck, once it could finally go no further, the bulldozer would come behind it and push it the rest of the way up. Naturally, every vehicle reached different heights. Some were nearly to the top, some could barely get started. But each one made it over the top because the bulldozer pushed them.

Of course, the bulldozer didn't push them from the bottom. Each one had to go as far as it could, but no matter how far they got, they could be sure that after they'd put in their best, the bulldozer would take it from there.

The brother then applied this to that verse. The power that is normal is how far we can make it up whatever our respective "hill" is. Once we've used that up, then Jehovah provides the rest. So as long as we put in our best first, we can be sure to make it over the hill.

Alright, plagiarism over.

After all three days had finished, a group of eleven of us went over to a newly built restaurant in Skeldon that we'd all been wanting to try. This place is clearly too fancy for me.

"Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack!"
They use FORKS in this place. Clearly not my scene.
You may spy, all the way to the right, one of my former roommates Kojo seated. He came down for a visit, all the way from .... um, wherever he's living now. I should've checked my records before starting this. Anyway, it was a long travel, and we weren't expecting to see him for this, so it came as a welcome surprise.

So after an entirely stress free, problem free, easy, relaxing, and superbly enjoyable week out, I'm now back home in Orealla, and awoke this morning to yet another piece of shockingly good news. I believe next blog post will have some information about it. Stay tuned. Seriously. This is super exciting.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

"Live No Longer for Themselves"

In our midweek meeting recently, we watched the video together about two Witnesses looking back on decisions they made and how their lives turned out because of it. One giving up a football career, the other a career as an opera singer. In the course of the video, the sister quoted 2 Corinthians 5:15.

"And he died for all so that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised up."

Fairly familiar verse. Read it multiple times, heard it quoted even more. Now I'll be perfectly honest, I never gave it much thought. For one, I have no marketable skill that would lead someone to offer me a multi-million dollar contract, so no worries there. But more than that, I felt like I was already doing a pretty good job of applying this verse. When I was 18 I moved to where the need was greater, spent some time at Bethel, and I have no goals of a career in the world, pretty much no possessions, and pretty much no money. So what's the worry?

(Aside from the horrific lack of humility this line of thinking reveals in me, which is definitely something I'll have to give attention to soon)

"I believe this book has some excellent advice for you about that. Let me find that section..."


As the video played at the meeting and the words of the verse were popped up on the big screen, a small piece of that scripture stuck in my mind.

"Live no longer for themselves."

It occurred to me that the way we live involved a lot more than what we do for work. Throughout the rest of that part (and meeting) those words kept nagging at me, so when I got home I decided to do some reading about them. Looking 2 Corinthians 5:15 up in the Watchtower Library led me to the May 15, 2010 Watchtower. Towards the end of that magazine there's an article titled "Sow to the Spirit and Reach Out". In the article they discuss the verse in question over two paragraphs. Here's a brief piece with the most relevance to my sudden rant.

"Meditating on the love Christ has for people stirs up gratitude within us. As a result, we realize that it would be most unfitting for us to keep on ‘sowing with a view to the flesh’ by pursuing selfish goals..."

Perfect, I thought, I'm avoiding selfish goals! (Argh, there's that humility thing again) But the paragraph isn't finished yet.

"... and living largely to gratify ourselves."

There's the problem. Even though I'm serving where the need is greater, this made me consider how much time I'm actually spending doing what I should be doing, versus how much time I'm basically just goofing off doing whatever I feel like.

Case in point: I recently finished reading an 897 page novel ... for the third time. The day I finished it, I was home and laying in a hammock, despite the fact that it was one of my regular service days. I opted to stay home because I'd made my time for the month, and chose to just relax instead.

It's worth noting I wasn't stressed out or overworked or anything of the sort. Obviously relaxation is important, but I wasn't seeking much needed R&R. This was just laziness.

"Siiiiiigh ... for shame Josh. For shame."


I realized this was in fact much worse than I'd anticipated as I thought about how much work I'd put into preparing for that meeting we just had, and specifically the part with that video. Sure, I read through all the material, but did I really take the time to make sure I understood it and could apply it to myself? Clearly not, as I didn't even watch the video. I reasoned to myself I'd seen it when it first came out, seen it a second time when we had a Kingdom Ministry part about it, and seen it a third time when I watched it at Jeff Guess' house. Instead, I willfully chose to skip watching it in preparation for that meeting, and rather watched a Spencer Tracy movie I'd been hoping to see for some time.

Obviously I'm not saying all recreation is bad, but I'm realizing I need to re-examine how much time I'm spending living for me, doing stuff just because I think it sounds fun.

And also work some more on that humility thing, clearly.

"Get your act together. Yeesh."

Friday, April 28, 2017

"Do All Things for the Sake of the Good News"



"Do all things for the sake of the good news, in order to share it with others". This is the phrase that kept running through my head as I held my hands against the floor of the boat, desperately trying to stave off the leak that had suddenly sprung as we hurtled down the Courantyne river in the midst of a heavy rainstorm.

Perhaps I should explain.

After the fantastic assembly we had a few weeks ago (an assembly which three of my Bible students were able to attend) we had to immediately return to Orealla to begin setting up for the Memorial. Both Memorials, in fact, as we have two villages in our territory which are separated by a great distance. This makes it incredibly difficult for people from the other village to attend in Orealla, so we've finally come to the conclusion that it's better for us to bring a Memorial to them.

Better. Not easier.

Due to the manner of the boat schedules, we had less than a week to set up for these two events. Thankfully, we'd known long in advance that this time crunch would come, so we were able to get a lot sorted ahead of time. The venue for Memorial in the next village had already been reserved, we already had the decorations and things put together, we still have a mobile sound system on hand from last year when my parents came to help us out with it, so all that was sorted. It looked like perhaps we'd have an easy time preparing.

Until, of course, the Saturday before.

In technical terms, this is known as a big boo-boo.
With three days to spare before Memorial, the Orealla sound system suffered what we chose to call a "total existence failure". This came as a shock to precisely no one, as this sound system has been on death's door for the better part of four years now, held together only by twine, duct tape, Geno's mad MacGyver skills, and holy spirit. Finally, however, it reached a point of inoperability.

This naturally led to a mad dash of phone calls, texts, emails, etc, to each and every person we could think of who may possibly have anything to lend us. Computer speakers would've sufficed for us. Thankfully, a solution was found. A brother from somewhere (so I don't actually know the guy, apologies) had a subwoofer and two computer speakers he was willing to lend us. The only slight downside was there were no more boats until Monday night, meaning Sunday at meeting we simply did without a sound system.

"Ground control to Major Tom ..."
"Josh! What's going on in there!"
"Just testing out the new system."

Side note: this congregation can carry a tune super well. I mean, sure, North Athens is louder, but still...

So that wrapped up our exciting endeavor of the Orealla sound system. Which leads us to the excitement in Siparuta.

Memorial this year was of course Tuesday, so Monday we went over in order to ensure everyone had gotten invitations and to set up for the venue. Last year we'd used the Health Centre (yes, British spelling), but this year we'd been offered use of the largest school in the village. There was, um, a lot of cleaning needing done.

Before ...
... and after.

Naturally we set everything up and began testing. Except one little issue. Now this sound system wasn't working. We ran through everything, and soon realized it was the microphone. It seemed to have just completely given up. The amp and speakers were working fine, just this one mic. Unfortunately, we didn't have a replacement, and the plug on it wasn't a standard microphone plug, rather being the same size and build as a headphone jack. We returned to Orealla that afternoon and very quickly set about the same routine of calling, texting, and emailing everyone we could trying to find a replacement. This was exceptionally more panicked though, since perhaps you'll recall the boat would be leaving for Orealla that afternoon. Just in case we couldn't get anything, we set about building our own microphone. Yes, you read that right. We built a mic.

Necessity is the mother of invention.
In case it's not readily obvious, what you're looking at here is a six inch piece of PVC pipe with a mic cover on the front, with an old pair of earbuds stuffed inside, taped shut. Why earbuds work as a mic, I don't know. This isn't even one of those earbuds with a mic built into it. Just ordinary earbuds. Still baffled by it. But hey, it worked!

Thankfully we didn't have to use this, as shortly after someone who lived nearby the dock in Skeldon found a suitable mic and sent it down to us.

Finally, the day came. A brother from New Amsterdam came in Monday night to give our Memorial talk in Orealla (and to deliver the mic and sound system), leaving a group of six of us to travel over to Siparuta Tuesday morning to finalize preparations for Memorial there.

Loading up K-Pro, as Joel Freeman from New Amsterdam sees us off.
4 of 6
5 of 6. I'm 6. In case that wasn't obvious.

All was going well on the journey, until all of a sudden a hole appeared in the front of the boat and water began shooting through the opening and spraying us in the face. At first we had a good laugh at the spray, but then the hole began to get noticeably bigger. And water began pouring in more quickly. Really quickly. We were too far from Orealla to turn back, too far from Siparuta to continue, but it would be senseless to pull over and land on one of the islands since we had no tools to patch the hole, and there's no phone signal in that part of the river.

Having nothing else to do, I pulled a handkerchief out and stuffed it over the hole, and held it as tightly as I could. Sherine (the sister in the back row) began bailing as fast as possible. Naturally, the weather chose this exact time to begin pouring buckets of rain on us.

Normally the trip to Siparuta takes us 15-20 minutes in our boat, but the leak necessitated our traveling at a lower speed to avoid undue pressure on the front of the boat, which likely would've widened the hole. All told, it took nearly an hour to reach. Just as the village finally came in view, I turned around to everyone else and said something to the effect of "Once we get off the boat, this is all going to be really hilarious."

No one laughed. Or smiled. Or agreed.

Anyway, we made it alive, though considerably wet and cranky. We were able to dry off and finish setting up for Memorial.

Guyana has a thing about curtains. Still confused by that.

With a few hours to spare, we set about changing into our meeting clothes. While doing this, I realized something...

Shower? Shower.

I think it's a good sign you've been in the jungle too long when you see a shower that has three walls and no door, and is overgrown with weeds, and you think "Oh awesome! Running water!"

Anyway, we all got cleaned up and ready in plenty of time. Memorial was amazing, having a grand total of 33 attending by the end. Orealla as well set a  new personal record with 117, bringing us to 150 total between the two venues.

After all this was done and finished, we had ourselves a lovely congregation outing at the end of the week. We traveled out to the furthest edge of the village for a bush cook/swim day/etc.




And I finally found someone who is a worthy match of my football skills.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Have "Plenty to Do in the Work of the Lord"




If you're a regular reader of this blog, you may have lately noticed something seems amiss. The complete and utter lack of updates for 2017 so far. I do apologize for this, but I have my reasons.

(pauses and looks back at older blog posts, and fully realizes how much has happened since last update)

Wow. This is worse than I thought.

Alright, let's start with February. Two brothers arrived to help out with Memorial this year, Tyrell and Kaleb Schuetz from Nebraska. They each have extensive Bethel service under their belt and were up for a new challenge, so through a variety of contacts they wound up with Guyana as an option and were assigned to Orealla by the branch.

And before you ask, no, I have no good pictures of them.


We had a few weeks of little activity, which allowed them to get settled and familiarize themselves with the routine of life in a place like this. However, the busyness level quickly upped its game. Since I (still) haven't much time to go into it, here's a brief rundown.

From March 5 to 12 we were preparing for Circuit Overseer visit (LOTS to do, especially when the labor is being split between just four brothers), then from 14th to 19th was the actual visit, which naturally included a Siparuta trip.

A tiny portion of the group that day.

An interesting aspect of this visit was the support in field service. Wednesday we had 18 in ministry, Thursday (Siparuta day) was 20, Friday was 25, and Saturday was 34. Considering we have 33 publishers, I'd say the congregation is doing well. Particularly notable for me was that at pioneer meeting we had 15 people, which is more than we had at my first meeting in Orealla.

Finally, Sunday for the final talk, the attendance was 82, which is more than we've had for any meeting outside of Memorials.

As soon as overseer had left, we moved on to preparing for our Circuit Assembly, which is going to be held April 2. Considering how unreliable boats are in and out of the village (and the fact that they'll only go twice a week at best) many of us choose to leave an entire week in advance so as not to miss our opportunities to get out. This would've left us heading out exactly one week after the CO visit finished. Obviously this causes some stress as we must find a source of lodging for the whole week, on top of having money to get food and travel and all that, on top of getting all our Bible studies done early. So all this we're expecting. What we weren't expecting ...


Letters to Russia.


This whole campaign presented a major problem for Guyana, as the cost of sending just one envelope to Russia is equivalent of $55 USD. On top of that, in order to get them delivered in time, we would have to send them out by Sunday. Yes, that same Sunday. So with very little time left, what would we do? Just write one letter and have the whole Kingdom Hall sign it on the back?

Our parent branch in Trinidad had a much better idea. If we could get all our letters to the literature depot in Guyana, they would mail everything in bulk, free of charge for us. As long as we got them there by Sunday (or at the very, very latest, Monday noon). This led to some very, very rapid work in writing, printing, sorting letters, and on and on. All told, Orealla congregation was able to piece together 92 letters to ship out. And all in time to catch the Sunday night boat and get our stuff to the branch by Monday at noon.

"Dear Russian People, why are your addresses such a pain to write?"

As we were doing all this we heard the boats arriving, giving us less than one hour to reach home, pack up, and catch them out for the night. Needless to say, when we get back home, there's going to be an incredibly insane amount of house cleaning to do.

I am not looking forward to next Monday.

Anyway, we finally reached out this morning, and we're now preparing to sleep until our assembly on Sunday. I'm very happy to say that three of my studies are contemplating coming out for it, with one having made definite plans and arrangements to get out here for it. Will report back when we see how it goes.

His son Lucas, overjoyed that they get to come to the Assembly!


Friday, January 27, 2017

"Beg the Master to Send Out Workers"

Bit of a long winded introduction. I'll get to the meat of the story eventually.

It's been an inescapable fact for a very long time that congregations in Guyana don't have nearly enough support. Even in the heavily populated, city areas, congregations are struggling for help. The further out you get from there, the more sparse the help is. Naturally, any help is quickly snatched up and assigned.

However, this obviously means that for those of us further into the interior, the search for help is even more difficult. The current standing of the Orealla congregation is two elders and two ministerial servants, which is head and shoulders the best it's ever had. So on top of trying to manage one congregation, we're attempting to hold meetings and get a group started in another village (Siparuta) three hours away from us, which adds quite a burden in the workload and the travel time.

Of course, we're far from alone in this. Across the river from us in Suriname is the Apoera congregation, which has three elders and no servants, who are handling Dutch and English meetings, on top of also having distant territories (Washabo) to work in and maintain.

But, yeah, you already know this. Why bring this up again?

Because we've recently learned there's yet another village much, much further down the river, which is larger than Orealla, Siparuta, Apoera, and Washabo combined. So not only is there a vast unworked territory, this one will come with certain challenges.

For one, when I say it's much further down the river, I really mean it. Last estimate I heard was it would take one week of traveling just to get to it, and it isn't simply paddling a canoe down the river. There's waterfalls and jagged rocks along the way, which leads to having to carry the boat over huge tracts of land.

Two, since it is so isolated, there's basically no technological development. Electricity, running water, etc. So anyone going there would have to be a bit of a trooper to not only get there, but deal with living conditions while there.

Three (and this is likely the single biggest obstacle), they don't speak English. Or Dutch. They seem to use an undocumented indigenous language, which one brother in Apoera has attempted to learn bits and pieces of, but is having slow going of it.

So then, before any progress can be made at all there, Orealla and Apoera will need about three more appointed brothers each to stabilize the congregations. Then about three more pioneers each to get meetings rolling in those nearby-ish territories. Then on top of that, a big batch of people able to deal with moving into an isolated area and learning an unknown tongue.

Now, let's get one thing clear. I am not recommending that some of you pile up a boat and head down to this village to get things started. There's a method to dealing with this madness, and the local branch offices know how to handle it. What I am recommending is Matthew 9:38. "Beg the Master of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest."

Because seriously, we need it.



Caveat: some details in this blog may be inaccurate, seeing as I have never visited this village, and likely won't for a good many years, or even decades. But my point stands, regardless.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Big Ol' Batch of New People



If you had once told me that the most productive territory I would ever work would actually be a small village that gets worked every two weeks, I never would've believed you. Surely if you cover a territory that often you'll find all the possible interested people within a few weeks right? And then everyone else would just gradually grow to hate you and your visits, right?

Nope! Orealla and the neighboring village Siparuta continue to be the most productive territories I've ever done in my life. This has never been better evidenced than what happened in the last two weeks.

For starters, a longtime Bible study named Florine recently was appointed an unbaptized publisher, and then her daughter received approval for the same thing the next week. They went out in service for the first time ever two Saturdays ago.

Chelesa and Florine Herman
The timing of this was good, as three days later our Circuit Overseer arrived, so they were able to work along with he and his wife repeatedly through the week, including going along to Siparuta for a trip (seen in opening picture).

Pictured: Everybody, sleepy.

Along with the two of them, Florine's son Deon has spent several months now studying with a brother and he's begun making progress. In fact, he just received his first Bible reading assignment for a midweek meeting!

As if all that wasn't enough, there's a considerably long and complicated story involving one of my studies I'd like to share.

I believe I've mentioned Lorenzo before. This man in the village has a daughter named Shania who had begun studying, attending meetings, became publisher, gave talks, etc. Lorenzo came to the meeting when Shania had her first talk, but we didn't see him after that. So one day as we're passing by their house in service, I stop and ask Lorenzo if he's ever thought about studying the Bible. He says "Yes, but scheduling it is really difficult for me. Tell you what, if I come to your meetings on Sunday, could we just study right after meeting is over?"

Brilliant idea, I thought.

So we've been doing this for a few months now, and he, his wife, and their baby son now make it to all the weekend meetings and a lot of the midweek ones as well.

On top of this, I learned that Lorenzo has been preaching to his younger brother Brandon, so finally Brandon asks me if he can study too. On the very first study after we finish, Brandon asks if he can get JW Library so he can prepare for the meetings. He also asks if he's allowed to comment on Sunday.

This study went on for two weeks before this same Circuit Overseer visit, so I thought it fitting to bring CO along on the study. After an hour we finish, and someone from the congregation was passing by and asked me a question, so I walk over to talk with her. When I return, the CO has the Jehovah's Will brochure (I haven't given Brandon yet since we ran out. Don't worry, this oversight will be corrected soon!) and is showing Brandon what are elders, ministerial servants, pioneers, etc. As we walk away from the study, I ask the CO why he chose that piece in particular, since there's lots of other things that come before it. He replies "Brandon asked if he has to finish the Bible Teach book before he can get baptized. I told him no, but he would still have to finish the book. Then he started asking me what he can do in the congregation afterwards."

On top of all this, Brandon also told me and his older brother Lorenzo are now preaching to the next younger brother, and have convinced him to study too. This is on top of their youngest brother (aged 9) attending meetings with their mother, and another older brother who's already a Witness in Skeldon congregation. Five down, one more to go!

Another fun event during CO visit is naturally the aforementioned Siparuta trip. Since we've gotten the boat, it's opened up the opportunity to go to many people who never could've made it before. This was true for Mark Herman, who's been handicapped since age 8, and Ruth Hendricks who suffered a stroke about fifteen years ago. Just bring along a cart, and they get to have a share in the day too!



In the wheelchair is Mark, and standing next to him in the red is Ruth. Now, in the picture you'll see an older woman leaning on a cane to listen to Mark. This is Granny Genevieve, who is almost completely immobile. However, she knows Mark and Ruth from years back, and when she heard those two had made the effort to come the entire 3 hour trip to visit, she decided she was going to put forth the effort to walk over to see them. So the sister standing to the right in the pink shirt (Mark's mother Fiona) helped her up, and walked with her over to cart so Granny Genevieve could see Mark and Ruth. After a few minutes, Genevieve asks "So when will you build a Kingdom Hall over here so I can come to your meetings?"


The remainder of the CO visit went very well, with the Sunday meeting having an attendance somewhere in the range of 71-78. After meeting, there was a congregation day at the beach, which eventually resulted in the CO playing cricket with all the children in the hall.

*insert Chariots of Fire theme song*

Lots of progress to be made in the days ahead. As usual, stay tuned.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Return to Apoera!



I'm not sure if you've read every single preceding blog post, so here's a quick catch-up for you regarding necessary information in understanding this blog post. Neighboring us in Suriname is an English speaking village and congregation named Apoera which I had visited once before, three years ago, by taking a 3-day long vacation, then visiting the Kingdom Hall there to deliver a public talk. At the time, this was a very rare thing.

Since then we've gotten a congregation boat which allows us to trade speakers with some regularity. This last Sunday was my turn to finally visit again.

Okay, I think you're all caught up.

Every three months we trade a speaker, but since the boat holds six (and Apoera has almost the exact same model, so they also fit six) we take this opportunity to bring along other brothers and sisters who may not get an opportunity to visit other congregations very often. Keeps it fun, every trip is a different crew. Well, besides Geno. Geno is boat captain. So he always goes.

 
Mathaus, my front row partner for the trip.
L-R: Anita Sarius (Mathaus' aunt), Geno Chacon, David Herman (newly baptized brother from Assembly post), and Janet Hendricks (Mathaus' grandmother and my fellow Pioneer School classmate)


The trip is supposed to take about 1 1/2 hours down the river, but water was rather rough that morning, so it wound up taking closer to 2 1/2 hours to reach. Happily though, we'd left early enough that we still had plenty of time. Geno does not mess around. Meeting at 10 AM? Alright, we're leaving at 4:45 AM!

What, you thought I was joking?


Part of the reason for this is that Suriname is one hour ahead of us, so when we leave at 5 AM, travel for 2 1/2 hours, that means we've really arrived at 8:30 AM.

Apoera's convenient dock.


Even then that leaves us an hour and a half, but the trip isn't quite finished. After the time spent in the boat on the river... still not quite to the final destination.

"Um, Geno? I think you took us to the Ohio University campus."

From here you must catch a car to then drive you to the Kingdom Hall. Fortunately, even though the village is large enough to have cars, it's still small enough that everyone knows where everything is.

There's a reason we only do this once every three months.


So after that, we make it to the Kingdom Hall/missionary home, where they kindly let us shower, change, eat breakfast, etc and prepare for meeting. Yes, change there. No way you want to wear your meeting clothes during that trip.

With more than an hour to spare, we have a leisurely time eating and gaffing with our host, and slowly people begin trickling in to meeting.

I can't think of a good caption. My sassiness has run out.


Over time, this trickle becomes a deluge. If you read my entry on my first Apoera visit, you saw that at that meeting the attendance was around eighteen or so. This meeting, they hit 92!

After meeting, we went to the home of a couple who was sent here after graduating the former version of SKE (Bible School for Christian Evangelizer Couple Ministerial Bible School School?) who lived, conveniently, next door. After about two hours of conversation, I realized the brother there owns a guitar and harmonica. Aaaaand all conversation from me ceased.

Upbuilding, encouraging spiritual conversation.
"An effervescing elephant / With tiny eyes and great big trunk"
"Um, Josh, could you pipe down?"
"ONCE WHISPERED TO THE TINY EAR / THE EAR OF ONE..."

After several more hours of this, we determined it was time to go. Unfortunately, almost as soon as we decided this, rain hit, and hit hard. You may have noticed in the pictures that our boat doesn't have a cover on it, so we opted to wait it out. By time we finally got to Orealla, the sun was just about to set, but by golly we made it!

So now in the next three months Lennox Johnston goes again, then McKenzie, which means I get to go again in... August. Phooey.