Saturday, January 24, 2015

Studies at a Work Camp

As I walked out of my front door to join the group that had arrived to help with Kingdom Hall cleaning, one brother looked at me and said "Wow, you got some sun!"

I was surprised to hear this seeing as we're in, you know, Guyana. So to be in the sun for so long that people readily notice it is quite a feat. Allow me to explain how this happened....

Our village is pretty large, distance wise. If you had a car you could traverse it pretty quick, but on foot it takes between 45 minutes to an hour to walk from one end to the next. While this makes for pleasant scenery and low stress field service days, it is quite a bear if there's somewhere you need to be in a hurry. Which is why on Thursday, while we were working the furthest reaches of our territory, we happened across a group of men who work at a lumber camp.

WAY far out...

Kojo and I began talking to one of them (who is actually one of Kojo's Bible studies whom he has difficulty finding), but soon another man exclaimed "Why does he get to hear you preach but we don't?!" We explained we were there talking with the one man, Wazim, and we assumed the others were busy. He replied "Sometime you must come here and talk with all of us. Just 15 minutes or so, so we can hear your message." Obviously we were intrigued by this invitation, so he points across to a man repairing a tractor engine and says "Talk with he. He be Boss Man." We cross to meet Boss Man. Turns out he's not an Amerindian as most around Orealla are. Rather he comes from the coast and was assigned to oversee the logging operations going on outside the village. He expressed though his disappointment with conditions in the camp. "When I first came, when Sunday came the men would just sit around and drink rum during their break. I asked them why they weren't at church and they said all the churches were too far away. So we've been trying to find some way to worship God when we can't ever get to a church." See, these men come out to the camps and work for long stretches of time... weeks or months on end, from before sunrise until after sunset. After that stretch of time, they return home to their families and stay with them for a few weeks or months, and then back to work again. Boss Man then said the same thing the other man said. "Why don't you come sometime and spend half hour, 45 minutes talking to us about the Bible? We'll take a break from our work, you talk and preach to us and we'll listen. When you finish, we'll go back to work."

Amazing invitation, right? So we scheduled to come today, Saturday, at 1 PM. The newly arrived Dustin and I, along with a young local brother named David Herman, agreed we'd meet at the Kingdom at about 12:30, gather some literature, and head out with 30 minutes worth of material to talk about. So after a morning in service and a quick lunch, we headed out. We expected just the two men to be there, but there were eight in total who gathered around to listen.

Since Dustin is giving the public talk tomorrow, I mostly talked for our allotted 45 minutes. Primary emphasis for the talk was God's Kingdom. That's always an effective avenue since the Lord's Prayer is taught in nearly every school in Guyana, but of course most have never thought about what "thy Kingdom come" means, and even fewer have been able to find an answer to that. So we talked at length about what God's Kingdom is, how we know it's an actual government that will rule over the Earth, and how it can accomplish what no earthly government could ever hope to. After that was finished, we talked about how God's Kingdom is actually part of the theme of the Bible. Since the idea of the Bible having an overall theme was new to them, we discussed Appendix B1 in the New World Translation, "The Message of the Bible". I really really love that appendix, because between discussing that and what the Kingdom is, that clearly lays out the reason for all the bad things we see in the world, and how God will easily fix everything that's gone wrong.

After the whole thing had been analyzed and explained, Boss Man looked at me and said "Thank you for all that. But, you never told us how we can be in that Kingdom."

Since I had just talked for a solid half hour about a wide range of topics, at that point Dustin jumped in with John 17:3, showing how coming to know God and Jesus were the most important things to do. He then told them about his own experiences with learning the truth and how he came to appreciate the value of learning about God and how he's benefited from it. As evidence of how strongly he feels about people learning the truth, he also told them how neither of us are paid for what we do, how instead we have to go to the U.S. and work and save money just so we can afford to come and teach people these things.

After he'd finished, one worker spoke up and said "So can you come back here later and talk with us for an hour again?"
Dustin replied "Sure, when would you like us to come?"
He told them we could possibly, but we have our meeting the next morning at the Kingdom Hall, so the man asked "Okay then, so where is your Kingdom Hall?" We explained how to get there from the work camp, at which Boss Man told us he'd give the men tomorrow morning off so he and they could all come and attend our meeting.

Before leaving we offered to share literature that they could read in their spare time, which wound up being 6 books, 12 magazines, and 12 brochures.

On the way back David asked if he could come with us again next time and share a video with them, which we hadn't even thought of until he mentioned it. Sounds like a fantastic idea.

Originally we'd planned on being there at 1 and talking for half an hour. Simple enough right? By time we got back to the hall it was nearly 3:30. Time flies. After we got back the group arrived for Kingdom Hall cleaning, hence prompting the statement at the beginning ("Wow, you got some sun!"). The whole 2 1/2 hours we were out we'd been standing in one spot, in direct sunlight, and never even realized it. That's how great this afternoon was. Therefore, after telling them what had led to my skin being the same shade of red as my dad's hair used to be, we asked if they'd like to come with us next time too. We may have enough Witnesses next time to conduct individual Bible studies with each man out there.

So, three other quick things before I finish. One of course is the fact that (in case you hadn't guessed) Dustin is back. Last time he was here Kojo was out at the Bible School for Single Brothers in Trinidad, so they hadn't gotten a chance to meet each other. This time we're all together, so we now have three elders plus a ministerial servant. That's without exaggeration the best Orealla has ever had in its time as a congregation. Of course, Kojo and Dustin are getting along great as well. Nary a day had gone by before their collective work ethic fired up and home improvement projects began popping up everywhere.

Dustin and Kojo, expertly applying years of skill and learning, while I helpfully stand far away taking pictures of stuff.

The second thing is totally random and unrelated. See, we can't really bake things seeing as all we have is a stove top. This tends to limit somewhat the things one can make. Tired of this lack of baked goods, Kojo got us this...

An oven designed for putting on a stove top. And it works great. Just look at these beauties...

Yes mom, I made these.
We're getting all sorts of cool stuff these days.

Speaking of cool stuff, I'm sure you're all curious how the projector worked out for the JW Broadcast viewing at the Kingdom Hall. The answer is it went beautifully! Last Saturday after hall cleaning we had everyone meet (and bring food. Hence the delicious rolls in the above pic). First we watched the December broadcast video, then had a brief break for dinner, then watched the recent January video. After it was all done, the brothers asked "Do we have any more videos we can watch??"

Thus, we watched Annual Meeting highlights, the most recent updates on Warwick construction, and the Caleb & Sophia video on preparing our comments. I love how even in areas where Internet isn't available, we're still able to ensure the entire congregation benefits from and all it offers.

And my final point. If you're planning on doing a trip similar to this, whether it be for vacation, need-greater work, anything.... always make sure to give your laptop a proper tune-up before embarking on your journey. Otherwise you may find yourself deep in the South American jungle having to do this....

... with no instructions or intelligent person to help you. On the upside, it works now, and is the means by which I'm typing this right now.

And no, it doesn't make toast now.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Guess What Weeeee Got?

Alrighty, so last blog update I told you I was beginning my vacation which was going to involve quite a bit of traveling. I've now returned and am back home, therefore it is time to inform you of what all I got to do. But first, I'm going to gloat. We've got this....

In case the picture is too small (have to resize them all really dinky so they'll load) what you're seeing here is a projector putting the January JW Broadcast up on our Kingdom Hall wall in super large hi-def. Obviously we're very excited about this, seeing as the last time we watched the Broadcast video it looked like this....

This time next year we'll have solid gold toilet seats. Just watch.

Anyway, my vacation. I went out to Mahaicony, a congregation neighboring my old congregation, Hopetown (for older Mahaicony stories, see here: ). Frequent readers will possibly remember Melanie Wilson who spent quite some time in Orealla last year. Fortunately for me, she's a fellow Ohio expatriate, so I was able to weasel some luggage space out of her and got some stuff brought down for me. This time around she's been assigned to the Mahaicony congregation so I was able to make a few days of the trip. Stayed with a need-greater couple named Something and Something Gray (Chris and Jessica? Matt and Jennifer? Okay, so I guess I didn't talk with them enough). Also got to see their newly redesigned Kingdom Hall, which it just occurred to me is something that would've been really nice to have gotten a picture of. Ugh, one of these days I'll learn.

After my three days in Mahaicony, going in service, and doing battle with the Gray's cat, I then packed up and headed over to (where else?) Brighton to stay by Tom and Michelle Sanches for two days. Not only is it nice to be able to spend a few days with super spiritual and happy and positive and encouraging long-term full time servants, Michelle will usually let me borrow a book or two, which never fails to give me something to do on the seven hour boat ride home.

So I arrived back home at around 3 AM this morning, and I'm already awake! Need to make lunch soon.

Speaking of, the vegetables and fruits here are ridiculous. For instance, the pineapple is so sweet and ripe and awesome that you don't cut around the core. You just eat it with everything else. I had no idea that was even possible.

Additionally, just look at the okra!

That isn't overripe or spoiled or hard or anything like that. Perfect and ready for eating. Which is amazing for an okra addict like me. Only needing to chop up four okra for my whole meal? Incredible.

Okay, and that's it for this time. Next time around should be updates on Dustin's arrival, how the projector is working out (i.e. did we break it already?) and possibly some brothers and sisters from Mahaicony coming to visit after some advertising from me while I was there. We'll see.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Rainy Season!

So much has gone on these last three weeks. So, so much. Where to begin? Okay, let's tackle this in chronological order.

Due to Guyana's almost constant moderate temperature, seasons are mostly meaningless. Winter, summer, spring, that other one, nobody cares. The way seasons are distinguished is rather through how much rain we get. And what do you know, just three weeks ago we entered into the rainiest of them all. Charlie and I realized rainy season had begun while we were on the literally furthest edge of our territory. Which, might I remind you, is all walking. We quickly took shelter in some very small collapsing shed, but it was pointless. In the amount of time it took us to reach it, we were already so wet that standing in the rain would make no difference...

Okay, so you can't actually SEE the rain, but it's there. Promise.

Seeing as Charlie's time with us was nearing its conclusion, there was (as is typical for Orealla) a bit of a sendoff. This time around it involved mostly a big day of swimming in the Courantyne river, followed by a series of games designed for playing on the sand. I say designed for playing on the sand because if you played them on any other surface they'd be far too painful. Games such as "Dog & Bone"....



Shortly afterward, Charlie departed. With all his bones still intact. A while after this period our two elders left for a brief period to attend Elder School, which obviously increased by workload considerably (hence about three weeks with no blog update, sorry). Fortunately they did arrange for another elder from an English-speaking congregation in Suriname to come by for one of those weeks, so that greatly helped.

Also during this period a group of brothers and sisters from Skeldon came by for vacation. In case I've neglected to talk about Skeldon, it's a Kingdom Hall on the coast of Guyana and is the nearest Guyana congregation to us (there is one congregation even closer to us, but that's in Suriname. Read about it here: ). Skeldon is quite a busy place, with lots of businesses popping up and therefore lots of hustle and bustle, traffic, etc, so Orealla is a popular place for them to come on vacation. Orealla has no cars, no buses, limited electricity, and is nestled next to a very large and very clean river. So peace is something we always have in abundant supply.


So a past week saw a group of six from Skeldon come by to enjoy our river, beaches, and ridiculous quantity of fruit that just grows everywhere. Now seeing as it's an Indian reservation, finding accommodations for large groups can be difficult, so typically people just stay at my house and I leave for a bit. This visit I was able to crash with one of our elders for a few days in his spare bedroom. Unfortunately after those few days, his parents came in for a visit so I had to vacate that spot. However I should note.... possessing a hammock gives you great freedom respecting where you sleep, so in this instance I was able to just hang my hammock up on his front porch and sleep in the river breeze. I think I liked that even better than staying in his spare bedroom.

So essentially, I got kicked out of the room I stayed in after I got kicked out of my room. No complaints though.

(Also, fun side point: the tribe of Amerinidans that reside in Orealla - Arawak - are the ones typically given credit for inventing the hammock, and even the word 'hammock' is an Arawak word)

Now then, since 2015 has arrived there's several things to see about getting. One of course is putting up our lovely new yeartext....

Out with the old....

.... in with the new!

Also need to get the 2015 Yearbook and Daily Texts off We haven't received the paper copies yet so we grab the pdf and distribute it to everyone with a laptop, computer, or smartphone. We also have a blind brother that we try to get the mp3 for everything so we can put it on a disc and give to him so he can listen to the new books on his CD player.

So at this point I'm back on the coast getting the JW Broadcast for January (along with all the aforementioned things). Our elders have returned from school which gives me a few days of vacation. Also coming up soon will be the return of Dustin Reynolds who stayed by me last year.

So, lots of good stuff coming! I shall do my best to keep you informed.