Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Q & A

I've had several questions asked, through blog comments and through e-mails, so I thought I'd use this as a chance to answer those questions. First up:

How Do You Get to the Meetings?

Mini-Buses. Since most people in the country don't have personal cars, a huge throng of buses have popped up. Sadly, because there's so many of these, there's usually competition between the drivers as they try to pick up a passenger. In some places they'll literally grab you and throw you on their bus. That's primarily just in the capital, so it's not something I have to deal with a lot.

Usually the fare for one of these is 50 cents U.S, so it's fairly cheap to get a ride. Speaking of 50 cents, that brings us to the next question.

What Is the Currency?

They use the Guyana dollar, which is actually a very weak currency. The current rate is approximately $200 Guyana dollars (GYD) to $1 U.S.

The largest bill is the $1,000 GYD. So really, a five dollar bill is the largest.
Try paying one month rent in $5. That makes for a large stack of money.

Who Put the Bomp in the Bomp-ba-bomp-ba-bomp?

-Barry Mann. It is a Doo-Wop style hit song from 1961 co-written (with Gerry Goffin) and recorded by Barry Mann. He was backed up by The Halos[1], who had previously backed up Curtis Lee on the song "Pretty Little Angel Eyes". The song was originally released as a single on the ABC-Paramount label

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Past Week...

This week has proved to be very interesting. First up:

Hopetown/Paradise Congregation Pioneer Meeting
The Hopetown congregation is now up to 13 regular pioneers (woo-hoo!). However, our neighboring congregation, Paradise, has only 4. So when it came time for our congregation pioneer meeting, we had a joint meeting with us and Paradise.

The following Sunday, Micaiah was giving the Public Talk in their congregation. But before I get to that....

More White People!
The pioneer meeting was on Wednesday. Friday we went into the capital, Georgetown, to pick up not one, but two new brothers. One was Levi Schultz, who's Micaiah's cousin.

See the resemblance?

The other is named Sage. I'm unsure about the spelling of the last name, but it's pronounced "Lam-row" (I think it's spelled like Lamreaux or something French-ish. Odd since he's from Tennessee.)
He's usually a lot happier than this. Maybe I had something in my teeth when I took this picture.

They came Friday night/Saturday morning, and then they went with us to Paradise on Sunday. It's a small congregation (about forty publishers) but they have a great Kingdom Hall.

And Now For Some Really Fun Stuff
We did two things this week that were fun enough they deserve a blog entry. First was a congregation party on the beach. Directions to the beach/Atlantic Ocean from where we are: Turn left, and walk for three minutes.

A variety of things that we did there:
Played cricket (sadly, I have learned how to play cricket)
Played a popular Guyana game called "Dog and Bone" (it involves running, tackling, and pain. A lot like American Football.)
Learned how to Wave Surf (that was fun)

And we did this...

Another recent event: We went over into Rosignol (the bordering congregation on the OTHER side) to have dinner with a need-greater couple named Travis and Kristen. Come to think of it, I don't know their last names.

Is it just me, or is this a recurring problem?

A picture of them from the Circuit Assembly. They're the two on the right. The guy on the left is Mark, and he used to be in Hopetown, but that's a story for another time.

That's all I have for this time. However, I'd like to leave you with an inspiring picture:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Typical Day

For reasons that take waaay too long to explain, I don't have any pictures to share with you.

On Sunday morning when I woke up, I decided I was just going to record what happened on that day and use that as my blog post. Fortunately, the day turned out very well!

Woke up around 7:30, went into the living room, plopped in the hammock we have hanging there, and remembered I had forgotten to study the Watchtower the previous night. So I spent about forty minutes going over that, and then ate breakfast (which Micaiah had made while I was studying).'

From there, went to the hall for the meeting. I don't recall the name of the speaker, but his theme was "Decisions You Face" (there was more to the name than that, but I forget)

Following the meeting is what has turned out to be the best part of the week: Sunday afternoon field service! We meet in a little covered area behind the Kingdom Hall to have the meeting. After field service, me and Dan (who it turns out has a last name! Something like Grazier....) went to see some return visits we had. For a while, it was very uneventful, until we got to ther last two calls of the day.

The first was Dan's, and we didn't actually get his call home. Instead, we got his Dad. Apparently, he's a Hindu, so we spent about a half hour talking to him about the Bible. During which he gave us things from his garden to eat while talking (the Papaya was the best, but the cucumber was good too)

After that call we saw some ominous rain clouds gathering, so we considered high-tailing it out. But then I remembered a call I had gotten just a few days before that was down the road so we went ahead and went to the call.

Good thing we did!

I had only talked to this man once before. We was busy, so I left him with the "Life In a Peaceful New World" tract, and asked "What do we need to do to be there in that world?"

When I returned, he had a torrent of questions for us, mostly regarding how the tract talked about Paradise earth, while preachers always refer to going to heaven.

After about one full hour of this, he says "You know what, I'm kind of busy right now. Maybe what you guys need to do is come over here sometime, spend about an hour, and explain the Bible to me."

Ummmm.... okay!

Then I made the mistake of saying "When would work for you? I have a very open schedule."
The time he picks: One hour before our meeting Thursday night.

So now we get to see if me and Dan manage to pull this off.


In recent news, we have yet another need-greater coming to Hopetown on Friday: His name's Levi,a dn he's Micaiah Young's older cousin. This will actually be his third visit (I think. Maybe just second), and he'll likely stay about a month.

And he's bringing us a projector!

And that's all that I can think of in recent news. Next time I hope to have pictures.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Guyana 2010 Circuit Assembly

This has been a great two weeks. This past weekend, we had the Circuit Assembly. The weekend before, we had a big circuit Pioneer Meeting (unfortunately, my camera was dead, so no pictures. I do plan to get some pictures from others who were there, but I haven't yet).

It was an amazing experience. All the pioneers in this half of the country all congregated in one Kingdom Hall.
Very claustrophobic.

This was among the better pioneer meetings I've attended, and not simply because it was my first out-of-country one (okay, that was one of the major factors though...). The main reason I really enjoyed it is because it was obvious that every speaker put lots of work into their part. The illustrations, the experiences, everything. It was clear to everyone there how much effort was put into preparing this meeting.

For instance: One of our elders, Linel Brown, is a substitute Circuit Overseer. He was already assigned a part when it turned out the regular CO (Shannon Rainey) wasn't going to be able to make it, and he had TWO talks. This left Linel with three talks to prepare. If it were me, I'd probably only be able to make one of them sound halfway decent. With Brother Brown's, each one was better than the previous.
One example, an illustration he used: When you pass someone on the road, you say "Good Morning". When someone brings you food, you say "Thank You". When you're leaving somewhere, you say "Goodbye". But does this mean you actually communicated with these people? Do you have a personal relationship with them?
The same is true of prayers. Even if you pray every day, it doesn't necessarily mean you are establishing a good relationship with Jehovah. You need to keep examining whether you are actually communicating in your prayers.

One more thing I especially enjoyed about the meeting: The singing. These people set a new record for the loudest singing inside a Kingdom Hall I've ever heard.
North Athens has a LOT of work to do.


The assembly was held in a town called New Amsterdam, not too far from where I live. The only problem though, is it was in a school. It was one big room that's normally divided by partitions into smaller classrooms. This means for the cleaning day, we had to remove the partitions, take out all the chairs and desks (and find a way to mark with room they came from), clean the place, then bring in our own chairs. Yep. We had to bring in over 900 chairs, collected from various Kingdom Halls.

Now for some various shots of the place....

That long upper walkway, on the inside, is the big room where the assembly was held.

And on the inside....

Throw in a few more people....

On Sunday, Tom Sanches had a talk that needed two demonstrations. One demonstration was of a good family that did things together, and tried their best to serve Jehovah.
The other demonstration was of a family that pursued their own interests and never spent time with each other. That particular demonstration called for an obnoxious, technology obsessed teenager.
Guess who Brudda Sanches calls for that?

And now for the rest of the "Bad Example Family"!

Mom and Dad (Don and Jodi)

Better shot of Dad.

My sister (Airmika.... I have no clue how to actually spell it)

Then Micaiah was my older brother.

That about wraps it up for the assembly. But AFTER the assembly....



After the Circuit Assembly, there was a party for all the need-greaters, missionaries, special pioneers, etc. This was quite an interesting event, one that was over much too soon. I wish I had more time to talk about this, but I'll have to make do.

The party was held at the home of Ramon and Kaylie Buddin (yes, there was a typo in the blog entry about them coming for our circuit visit. I named her as Martha. I have no idea how I managed that).

As it got started getting dark, they interviewed some of the longest-serving people in our region, Todd and Barbara Hollenbeck, missionaries from Canada. Afterward, there was popular demand for an interview Ramon and Kaylie themselves, since they're about to be leaving.

The guy in between them is Todd Hollenbeck. There was a power outage for a while, and this is right after it came back on, so he's taking the lantern down from behind Ramon.

Aaaaaaand that's all I've got.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Trip To Suriname; Circuit Overseer Visit

If you'll recall, the purpose of the trip into Suriname was to see if I could get a new visa, since the 3-month visa I got when I first came was about to expire. So as not to keep anyone in suspense.... I got it! I'm in for another 3 months here if I so choose. Now though, for some Suriname pictures, as promised.

The boat you take to get from Guyana to Suriname.

The neighborhood we stayed in.

The reason I REALLY love Suriname!

An good example of the food they eat there. It's an Indonesian recipe (and it's VERY good.)

A neat park area, right next to a river whose name escapes me at the moment....


Now for some pictures of the new house (again, as promised earlier)

Here's some shots of the interior, taken while standing in the doorway of the front door.

Here's my room.....

And two more shots of the main area, taken from in front of the sink:


Okay, enough of that. Now, on to spiritual stuff! We are currently having our C.O visit (actually, just a few minutes ago we had our Pioneer Meeting). The names are Ramon and Martha Budden. They're actually substitute Circuit Overseers, and special pioneers serving in the ASL congregation. They also were just invited to attend Gilead, although it remains to be seen if there's anyone who replace them.

Picture time!

Here's two shots of the field service group from this morning:


Hmmm.... since I've still got some time and space, I'll introduce you to the brother who's now living in the house me and Micaiah used to live in. His name is Sam Peden, and he's been serving in Guyana for over a year. There's been nothing about him on this blog yet because he'd gone back to England for 2 months, at the same time I came to Hopetown.

Yeah. This picture tells you everything you need to know about him.

And here's a friend he brought back with him. That's right.... we've got ourselves a newbie!
This is Dan. As far as I know, he doesn't have a last name.
Which is fine. NO ONE here uses last names.

This is during field service. Monopoly (an un-authorized Monopoly board. You can tell because it names the creators as the "Paker Brothers")


Inside Joke Alert!!

"Thrown into Russian cell. Severely damaged my Mars Bar."

Inside joke completed

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Here's What's Been Going On

Well, it turns out I may be able to stay in Guyana longer than I originally expected! The only problem that lies in that is: The visa I got when I came into the country was for three months, and that was 2 and a half months ago! Fortunately, there is one fairly cheap method to be able to stay longer. This is known as "border-hopping".

The way you do this is you get a multiple-entry pass into the neighboring country, Suriname. When you cross the border, they stamp your passport with a visa. So then when you pass BACK into Guyana, Immigration there stamps your passport with.... another 3-month visa for Guyana!

Seeing as my roommate came to Guyana on the same flight as I did, both of our visas are going to expire at the same time, so we planned a trip into Suriname together. However, we did encounter a few..... difficulties.

The day before going to Suriname, we had to move out of our house in Bath Settlement and over into a nearby village. Seeing as we had stuff to move like a fridge and a stove-top, we hired a guy to bring a truck around to help us haul our stuff. We talked to him as he was driving us over to our new house, and it turned out that he was going to pick someone up from the Suriname ferry the next day. The day we were planning to go! The ferry was coming in at 11 in the morning, and this guy was hoping to get there a half hour early. Sounds great, right?

Well, the next day he picks us up, and we get about fifteen minutes away before I realize: In the course of moving, I had packed away my passport, and forgotten to put it back in my bag of stuff I was taking to Suriname.


We decided it would make more sense for Micaiah to keep on going (so as to make sure our room reservations weren't given away, etc) while I went back to find the passport. After some serious panicking, rummaging through suitcases, things like that, I found the passport, got on a bus, and got over halfway to the dock where the ferry is to take us over to Suriname.

Then I get a call. "Hey, this is Micaiah. The ferry does come in at 11, but they close the gate at 10. We missed it."
The ferry only runs ONCE A DAY.

So now, here I was, over 3 hours from home, and it isn't cheap to get that far (the only way to get around is with buses). I didn't want to go 3 hours home, pay the fare, then come BACK the next day and go through the whole thing again. I was NOT having a good day.

Then I started looking around. "I recognize this area. Hey wait! I used to LIVE here! This is Tom and Michelle Sanches' neighborhood!" I quickly called them up, and explained the situation, asking if I could just spend a little while at their house and have Micaiah meet me there so we could figure out what to do next.
They replied "You shouldn't have to go all the way home! Stay with us tonight, so you don't have to travel as far tomorrow!"

Now, as nice as that was for them to offer, let me also explain: They had just gotten home from a moth-long trip. They hadn't even been home 4 days. Still unpacking, still re-cleaning the house. Also, Tom Sanches is Brighton's secretary, so he was trying to compile all the field service reports. And yet, they were still willing to let us two interrupt all that and stay with them.

So what started out as the worst day of my trip quickly became a great day. Being able to see the Sanches' after so long was great. Also, that night we made popcorn and spent a few hours watching movies!

Next morning (this morning, Saturday) we packed our stuff back up, and continued on toward the ferry. We even made it on time!

Which brings us up to now. Sitting in a hotel room, playing on my computer. Now, I did bring my camera, but I forgot the plug that lets me upload my pictures to the computer (left that in the new house), so it'll be a few days before I get the pictures up. But don't worry. You'll get pictures of Suriname, the new house, and the full story of the rest of our trip here in Suriname!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Been Quiet.....

Just realized it's been a while since I've updated this thing. I haven't really had an opportunity to make it to the Internet Cafe'. To give a run-down of what's been going on recently:

Spent a few days in Georgetown so my roommate could get some paperwork done for his soon-to-expire visa

Preparing to move (which will be tomorrow. Eek.)

Almost got hit by a hurricane (Thomas, I think)

We also just had a really big cleaning day for our hall. The brothers had spent weeks reminding people about this, announcing it at every meeting for at least 2 months, reminding people "Saturday, 9:30! October 30th!"
So Saturday, October 30th comes around. I make it to the hall at 9:20 (Yes! I made it somewhere early! All by myself!) Nobody was there though. I thought "Well, they still have ten minutes to show up."





Then, 10:30, people arrive. Punctuality isn't a strong suit around here.

But to give you an idea of what "Kingdom Hall cleaning" is here, lemme give you a word-for-word example of one of the announcements. One of our elders, Linel Brown, says "...so if you could bring whatever cleaning supplies you have please. Rags, mops, cutlasses, poison...."

One of the more interesting aspects of cleaning was: Bat-proofing. The way you do this is you climb on the roof, and peel it up to let sun shine in. This scares the bats living under the roof, and they fly away.

I was also assigned to rip out the plants growing inside the ceiling.

Unfortunately, despite what's been going on, for some reason I don't have any good pictures! So sorry this is so short, hopefully next Saturday I'll have something. If nothing else, I can show you pictures of the new house....

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mahaicony Trip

I was looking at the response from the poll "What Would Make This Blog Better?", and I noticed practically every voter asked for "More Carrots" (It would seem there are some very strange people reading this blog). Well, your wish is my command!

Now, before I begin, the first thing I should point out is that Mahaicony is pronounced MY-CONE-EE. I have no idea why the spelling has so many extra syllables.

But anyway, Mahaicony is a neighboring (ish) congregation to us (there's Hopetown, next to us is Paradise, next to them is Mahaicony). The congregation has difficulty working their territory regularly, especially in an area that branches away from the main road and runs along a creek. So our two elders, Brown and Antony, organized a group to go work some of their seldom-worked territory. They were worried about how much support they'd get, but it turned out not to have been necessary. Forty-five from our hall showed up! In addition to that, several from a bordering congregation (called Rosignol. They border on the other side) showed up as well. Add to that the number of locals who showed for it.... we had an impressive group.

The meeting for service. Remember, this is while we're still waiting for more people to show up.
Due to the number - and since we were leaving the main road and going back a ways - we arranged to have a bush truck take the group out. It was.... interesting.

What an empty bush truck looks like.

What a full  bush truck looks like.

What a full bush truck looks like, after you decide to throw a couple more people on.

In Guyana, there is no concept of "personal space".

Me and Aaron Bakhsh were dropped off in the middle of the road, and then were told "Start working down the road until you meet the next group." We look down and see houses about 500 feet apart. So we march off.

3 miles later, we meet the next group.

Still, it was a good experience. One house in particular I remember, we met a woman who lived in New York for years and studied with Jehovah's Witnesses there, but then moved back here. Since then, she hadn't been contacted. Fortunately, that morning we had been given those "You Are Invited" papers, with the address of the Kingdom Hall and the meeting times printed on the back, so we left that with her, along with some various other literature.
Ever have one of those calls where you wish you could find out what happened afterwards?

Overall, the whole day was great. If you had told me a while ago that I'd spend a service day thrown into the back of a truck with over fifty others, driven to the middle of nowhere, and dropped off and told to walk for three miles, I would never have expected I would enjoy it. But....

Anybody look like they had a bad day?

So that was about all I've got to share about that day. One other thing though I can add: The house me and Micaiah are staying in is technically the property of another need-greater brother, who is in England right now. Only problem is, he's coming back November 5th, and bringing a friend with him, so basically, we're getting booted. However, we have found a different place to stay! (I never thought I'd be house-hunting this early in life) Here's a shot of the place.

So to close, I'd like to leave you with one last thought....