Sunday, March 22, 2015

Trinidad Zone Visit / A New House

So you know how there was a big buzz about the U.S. Zone Visit this year? How all the Kingdom Halls were supposed to get internet access and a projector and all that fancy stuff so we could all be tied in together and see the Zone Visit (Branch Representative Visit? Regional circuit convention? I'm too far out of the loop on these things) and all get the same information at the same time, and it was awesome?

Well, turns out we weren't alone in that. All the congregations in Guyana got the exact same memo. Get connected to the internet and get a projector so we could all watch the visit for the Trinidad branch territory.

Now as incredibly exciting as all this was, this clearly presented a bit of an issue for us in Orealla, seeing as how I can barely even look at image files on the internet, let alone stream video. Nonetheless, we were told to test it out and see if it would possible for us to get this video stream. Despite some intense efforts on the part of our elders (and some very nearly successful attempts) we eventually realized the video would be out of our reach. However, a brother who was aiding many of the congregations in this told us that we could do a phone hook-up and at the very least hear the program.

Unfortunately (there's always one little 'unfortunately' in these stories) I was going out to the coast for various reasons the week beforehand. This really isn't an issue, aside from the fact that the boats here only run two days a week. So I would go back on the boat before the visit, right?

Nope! Turns out there was a Hindu holiday on the very day the boat was supposed to go, so I wound up being stranded on the coast until the day after the visit. On the plus side though, I was able to attend the visit with my original Guyana congregation (all together now!!) Brighton.

See? Wasn't joking about all the congregations getting projectors.

In case you all have forgotten what this place looks like....

The two Ashleys were upset I left them out of the picture, so they made me get another one to ensure equal consideration was given to all Ashleykind.

There Ashley, I got the picture. Satisfied? How about you Ashley?

It was a great program. A few interesting points I was able to jot down in my notes....

There are 164 congregations in the Trinidad branch territory, all of whom (they believe) were tied in to the program. 46 of these congregations are in Guyana, which has 3 circuits and 2,999 publishers (as the Branch Representative said "We're anxiously awaiting #3,000. Any moment now."). Amongst these 2,999 publishers Guyana has 364 regular pioneers, 54 special pioneers, 17 missionaries, and 54 need-greaters. The representative singled Guyana out as a country in great need of assistance, as evidenced by the amount of missionaries and such that are being sent in. He also highlighted the great rewards of serving here, such as the fact that Guyana is reporting over 4,000 Bible Studies each month, which of course averages out to every single publisher in the nation conducting at least one study.

He analyzed a few interesting features of Guyana as well, particularly the foreign language fields which have been blossoming lately. For example, there's the Baramita congregation, which is Carib language. They face a unique challenge in that there is no written form of Carib, so the branch has actually created a written version, so the publishers there must first teach interested ones how to read this language, even as they try to teach them the truth. However, things have been working out amazingly for them. For a congregation of only 68 publishers, two elders and two ministerial servants, they have an average of 226 attending the midweek meeting, with 225 coming for the weekend meeting. And for this last Memorial? Over 1,300!

Also blossoming has been the Chinese field in the Georgetown (capitol city) area, and the American Sign Language field which is scattered all throughout the country. Reminding everyone of the importance of supporting these growing fields, the representative read 1 Timothy 2:3,4 "This is fine and acceptable in the sight of our Savior, God, whose will is that all sorts of people should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth." Really, all sorts of people should obviously include the Chinese, the Amerindians, the deaf, etc.

Due to the growing foreign language fields, the ever present need for more publishers and pioneers to conduct studies with the English speakers, the huge need for appointed brothers to help build and strengthen the congregations, the representative made repeated pleas for as many as possible to come join us in the work here in Guyana. Many times in our publications and yearbooks, Guyana is referred to as "the pioneer's paradise". He encouraged everyone able to come here and see for themselves why it's called that.

Again, amazing program, and I'm glad I got to see it live. Also glad Orealla at least got to hear the program.

After I finally managed to get back to Orealla, I then set about on my new project, namely: move out of the Special Pioneer house and into my own place. Turns out, when you're living life as a need-greater, you don't really own much stuff. "Moving house" is more of "packing my one suitcase and chucking it onto a wheelbarrow". So in about 15 minutes, I was finished.

All my worldly possessions, minus clothes and books.

This house came with a TV. WITH A TV!! No DVD player though... :'(

Outside shot! No idea why there's a door leading to nowhere.

And a gorgeous expanse beneath to hang hammocks and laundry, even in the rain!! Huzzah!

The only slight learning curve with the new place (besides not having running water) is that now I have to rely on the village generator to provide electricity, which usually only runs for a few hours each evening. At the other house we have solar panels, so anytime you're struck with the fancy to turn on power you can. Now it's rather limited to just those few hours.

Or sometimes not at all, as I learned one evening while preparing a public talk...

But again, that's not too much of an issue, one gets used to it pretty quick. Okay, so the lack of running water is the issue then. I'll have to address that soon.

A rather fun event which came up this past week was, after having been in this house for only four days, a group from Rosignol congregation on the coast came in to spend the weekend. Unfortunately (there it is again, that pesky 'unfortunately') the place they'd originally arranged to stay turned out to be unavailable, two days before they arrived. So Dustin and I offered to let them stay by us for the duration of their trip. However, shortly after making that offer, we slowly realized "This is a two bedroom house. There's four of them coming in. Easy enough to fit them here, but.... where are we going to sleep??"

Turns out, that expanse under the house comes in handy even more than we'd expected!
And then the jaguars came....
 So it was a fun two days with the group. Had some delightful times swapping Guyana tales. Horror stories blended with positive experiences.

"And then Josh was all like 'AAAIGH GET THIS JAGUAR OFF OF ME!!'"

Then after two days, we shipped them back off to their homes. Which gives us all of tomorrow to relax and have some quiet before we head off for another Siparuta trip on Tuesday. Stay tuned to hear how that goes!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Goodbye, Other Mom & Dad

Odd title for a blog entry, I know. I'll explain it soon enough.

First off though, the Circuit Overseer visit! Visitors into Orealla are always a big deal for us since we're so secluded from most of the country, so traveling overseers are especially exciting for us. This was reflected in the meetings for field service through the week.

Wednesday: 18
Thursday: 14
Friday: 12
Saturday: 20

For a congregation of 23, it'd be hard to ask for better. Seemed like nothing could stop the brothers from going in service. Public witnessing when the rain begins? Just take shelter and keep at it!

"If you could seeee / What I seeee...."

In fact, we had such good support that we were able to work our entire village in just the one week! Obviously this led to everyone getting invited to the public talk on Sunday, which led to an amazing turnout of 67!

Yes, all my KH pics are from the same angle. Every time.

Of course, all the Bible Studies and Return Visits everyone had got invited as well. None of mine were able to make it, though the wife and daughter of one of my studies came.

Look at that evil little glare.

After the visit was finished, the C.O. couple got taken back out to the coast early Monday morning on a speedboat. Kindly, they let a few of us from the congregation go along with them...

VERY early in the morning.

I was eager for the chance since it provides me with a final chance to stay with Tom & Michelle Sanches. If you've read this blog before at all you've read about Tom and Michelle. They're the ones whom I first stayed with upon arriving in Guyana. Picked me up at the airport, provided me with housing for a month, helped me acclimate to entirely new surroundings, etc. They're my other mom and dad. I think I could go on forever about how they've helped me.

But anyway, they recently received a new assignment, one which is outside of Guyana. They'll be departing by sometime in April, so they invited me out to stay with them for a week as a final hurrah of sorts. I'll still be seeing them again soon at our Circuit Assembly, April 5th, but this is my final chance to stay with them in their home. So, taking advantage of it.

Naturally, there's been some interesting stuff happening so far. For one, they've been redoing the landscaping in front of their Kingdom Hall in time for the Memorial, so I got to help out with that. Of course, I'm utterly useless with that kind of thing, but at the very least it was a ton of fun to watch and listen to them all, in their manner of polite bickering and faux fighting with one another as they worked.

A rare moment of peace at the work day.
Now since we were uprooting a fair amount of grass and assorted plants in the yard, this did attract some unwanted attention from the neighbors. And when I say neighbors, I of course mean...

Insert your own puns here.

After that all got finished (sorry, no pics of the finished result. Maybe Thursday) I got to go in field service with the Brighton congregation the following day. However, we weren't working a standard territory. See, Brighton has a large section called "Black Bush", a name spoken in hushed tones by many a pioneer that's served in this area. Allow me to give you a glimpse of why...

I'm not talking about the pink shirt. I mean the mud.
Absolutely ridiculously psycho amounts of mud are everywhere in this territory. This pic was taken in the nice part. I tried taking pictures of the bad part, but my corneas kept frying from the true horror that lay below. Needless to say, your shoes get utterly caked in the stuff, with each step getting heavier and heavier, until finally your shoes fall off under duress from the weight of mud.

It was so much fun.

And since this territory rests so far from the main road, the only way to get there is for everyone to pile into one or two vehicles, which winds up looking like this.

In case you can't accurately see, there's eleven people in that car. Only two of which are in the front seat, the rest are in the photograph.

So as you can see, I've had a great week thus far, and certainly expect it to continue getting better. I mean, every morning I wake up to this....

Drat. I'm going to miss these two.