Sunday, April 19, 2015

Updates on the Work Camp

Been a while since I've given you all news about the guys at the work camp. So here goes...

After a couple visits out there, the holiday season rolled around. We had Phagwah (Hindu holiday) followed shortly thereafter by Easter. Due to these, most of the men were sent back home for a time. Only one man, Wazim the boss, was left behind to keep an eye on everything. So we kept returning to see him alone.

The only picture for this blog entry. Sorry.

Finally, the holidays passed. So after all the hullabaloo (holidays, Dustin's departure, Memorial, Circuit Assembly) on a Wednesday afternoon I made the trek out there alone to see Wazim and find out when the groups of workers were returning. I get out there and find a new man, alone in the place. I introduce myself and he tells me his name is Byron. I ask if Wazim is around, but he says "Wazim is gone. He's been sent to another place. I'm the new boss."

So I briefly explain what we do out there, how we come and talk to the workers and they take a few minutes (or more accurately, an hour) out of their day, stop working, and listen. I check with the new boss Byron if it's okay if I keep coming and doing this, and he mumbles an allowance, turns away, and continues what he was doing before I came.

Taking this an an indication of "I'm busy" I left. But my spirits were high. Even if this Byron doesn't seem too excited, he's still going to allow me to come preach to the guys that are interested!

The day after this (Thursday), a group arrived to do renovations on the Kingdom Hall and the Pioneer House right behind it. Naturally many from the local congregation have been doing what they can to assist. So one night as we were collecting sand from the beach for concrete mixing, I was pushing one of the wheelbarrows back to the Hall when I heard a man crying out "White man! White man!" I assumed it was a drunk man or something, so I continued. But I heard footsteps running behind me, so I turned to see if this was actually something important. To my surprise, I saw Byron.

He says "After you left I was looking through the house, and I found a book that Wazim had left behind. I began reading, and immediately I thought 'I have to learn more about this!' Can you come talk with me and teach me more about the Bible?"

"Um," I reply "Sure! When do you want me to come?"

"Tomorrow! Anytime. I'll be there all day." He went on to tell me that while he'd been reading the book, he'd gotten a call from his daughter who had attended the Memorial, and was telling him how much she enjoyed it and indicating to him that he should go there sometime.

So Friday morning, I set out for the work camp again. When I finally reach, Byron is nowhere to be seen, but there's another new man. He tells me Byron had gotten a call and had to run out, so he (this new guy, named Trayvon) had been left to keep an eye on the place. So I begin preaching to him, and he agrees to a Bible study. After a while there, I asked when I could come back and talk with both of them, Trayvon and Byron both. He says "Tomorrow!"

Saturday: I hike out to the work camp again. I get out there, and rather than seeing Byron or Trayvon, I see the man who first asked us to come out and preach to them. He and the other workers were back! So I begin talking with him for a while, before eventually asking about Byron and Trayvon. He says they've gone out, but if I come back later I'm sure to find them. I ask when, and he says "Later today! At 1 or 2!"

Therefore, after going back home, eating lunch, all that good stuff, I hiked out again, for the fifth time in four days. Upon arriving, I learn the two guys still haven't returned, but the other workers tell me "We have a new guy with us who just arrived. You need to go talk with him too!" I head over to where they're pointing and meet a new guy, the youngest one of the lot. I begin showing the magazines I have and whatnot, but he stops me and says "I don't really like reading very much. Can you just teach me and I'll listen?"

I begin explaining the subject of God's Kingdom and its relation to the Lord's Prayer and all, and just as I finish Trayvon arrives. So I talk with him again for a good little while. Finally when I finish, I ask when I can return. They say "Monday!'

So in addition to all the guys already out there, we've added three more studies to the mix. This little field continues to be my favorite part of the ministry here. For obvious reasons.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Memorial and Circuit Assembly

Wow. Quite a weekend for us. Here's what happened....

Of course the Memorial this year fell on Friday, April 3rd. The unusual thing is that our Circuit Assembly this year was scheduled for Sunday, April 5th, which meant the Pioneer Meeting was April 4th. This presented a difficulty for us since boats only go to and from Orealla two days a week.... Thursday and Monday. So it seemed as though we only had two options.

1) Leave Thursday to attend the Memorial in a different congregation on Friday, which meant we wouldn't be having the Memorial in Orealla at all. Obviously this is not a good option.

2) Have the Memorial in Orealla on Friday, and then simply miss the Assembly and Pioneer meeting. Obviously this was also not a good option.

Happily, an option 3 was presented to us. There's a man named Clement who owns a large boat that's used for shipping lumber from Orealla up to the coast in Skeldon, and we were able to arrange a deal wherein we hired his entire boat to take us all Friday night after the Memorial was finished. The timing would be really, really tight, but it would work.

So with those arrangements out of the way, we were free to focus on the others things we needed to get ready for the Memorial (Kingdom Hall cleaning, etc) for the week. We also got an elder from Georgetown and his family to come in to deliver our Memorial talk. They arrived Thursday afternoon and had some time to settle in and even help with some final Hall cleaning.

All this of course led us to Friday. On the upside, we had a great turnout of 90. On the downside, the boat plans didn't go quite as they were supposed to....

The only picture I had time to get...
See, the boat was supposed to be at the dock and waiting for us before the Memorial began. This way we could all throw our bags onto the boat, and then head to the Kingdom Hall for Memorial, socialize afterward and talk to all the invited ones who came, and not have to rush.

Unfortunately (see how that weasels in, like, every time?) the guy got hired to do something else earlier that day. He thought he would be able to make it back in time to get us. Turns out he was running pretty late, so he didn't get to us until about 9.

So fast forward to Saturday morning. We arrive at the coast at 5 in the morning. I was able to run to a brother's house, have breakfast, and get dressed for the Pioneer meeting. I rushed out, and was able to make it in time, so very happy about that.

I must say, this circuit is doing an incredible job of promoting pioneering. Well over 1 in 10 of the publishers are regular pioneering. The attendance at the pioneer meeting was 135, which I believe is the best we've ever had.

(wow, shoulda done some fact checking before writing this. Sorry!)

One thing we quite appreciated though: in the closing prayer, the circuit overseer specifically thanked Jehovah for the "pioneers from Orealla and Lethem congregations being able to make it in time" to attend.

Brief digress: two excellent experiences I heard at the pioneer meeting!

One comes from a sister talking about the "Who Are Doing Jehovah's Will Today?" brochure. Admittedly, I've never yet used it, so I was glad to hear her experiences. She talked about what approach she uses for it (briefly covering a point from it at the end of each study) and how she focuses on showing the worldwide unity of Jehovah's Witnesses. When asked how many students she's used this brochure with, she said "Eight." When asked how many studies she has attending meetings, she said "Eight." Man, I've gotta get my act in gear.

The second comes from a brother to whom I was talking to about living in an Amerindian village. He told me they actually have an Indian village in their territory, but they can't get to it because it's up a river. I asked how they're able to work it, and he says "We always set up a public witnessing cart in the marketplaces around, and we began noticing the Amerindians will come out of their village to shop in the market on occasion. However, since the cart has been there so long, they know to look for it, and they've actually begun coming to the cart first, and then doing their shopping. In fact, just this morning I was working with the cart before coming here. I was beginning to pack it all up, had the case over it and everything, when a group of Indians rushed up. They asked if they could still get some books, and said they'd rowed out from their village that morning just to come for the cart!"

We now return you to our regularly scheduled program...

So after that lovely bit of relaxation and catching up with friends, I left and spent the night with Micaiah and Jessica, again. Which I cannot overstate how great that was. After having been constantly rushing from 4 PM on Friday until 7 PM on Saturday, I finally got a shower, a bed, and sleep. I was even awake at 6:30 the next morning! Unheard of!

Which led to the actual Assembly. Which was awesome. It was the same program I had heard in October in Ohio, so I always enjoy hearing how different brothers are able to develop and deliver the same material.

Orealla congregation arrives!

Stairs to the upper seating area.

View of the parking lot from the aforementioned above seating area.
And it's also great to hear this material in company with an entirely different set of people as well. And how I said that the pioneer ranks are growing in our circuit? It seems that growth isn't just amongst the pioneers. Our total attendance was 1,306! We didn't have that many for our conventions when I first came to Guyana in 2010. Can't wait to see how our Regional goes in July!

It's happened again. I've gotten to the end of my story but lack a powerful conclusion. Ah well, an occasional shaggy dog story never hurt anyone.