Saturday, October 17, 2015

2015 Fall Circuit Assembly

If memory serves (which for someone like me, it most rarely does) I last left you all just before it was time for us to head out for our Circuit Assembly. It was an eventful week preceding, as the boat schedule had changed somewhat.

See, the Pioneer Meeting was to be a Friday afternoon. The boat leaving Orealla typically would depart Thursday night and arrive early Friday morning (we're talking 1-2 AM early), so everyone could simply sleep on the boat in their hammocks and awake with the sun and taxis ready to take us wherever we need to go from there.

This seemed such a convenient layout that for our previous circuit pioneer meeting, I left with the Thursday night boat, thinking we could land early Friday and I could go from the docks to a brother's home, shower, change, and continue on to the meeting. Except I forgot to account for public transportation being horribly irregular and unreliable, thus causing me to arrive to the pioneer meeting a mere two minutes prior to its start.

Not wanting a repeat of that, I this time determined I would take the earlier boat, one which left Sunday night instead, giving me a full five days to prepare myself for the meeting. Which is where the former tantalizing "boat schedule had changed" statement comes in to play.

As previously stated, the boat would arrive early and everyone would sleep on the boat. This particular night, however, the boat was carrying on to Suriname, meaning we landed at 2:30 AM and were told we were to disembark. Immediately. Since the boat was carrying on so fast, it didn't have time to... oh, how do you say... dock. So, an 18-inch wide plank was stretched out over the ten foot gap between us and the dock. With a (roughly) 25 foot drop to the water.

Naturally, we were all very careful. We went one at a time as well. Seemed wisest.

Happily though, a brother who lived nearby took us in for the night (morning) and when the sun finally came we breakfasted and moved on to the house where we were to spend the week up until the Assembly.

Time passed well. Field service Tuesday and Wednesday, Thursday a trip to New Amsterdam (if you're not familiar with Guyanese geography, it's the closest place to us to visit an International Bank, and do some good shopping!)

Brief diversion into geography: The red dot on the map is Orealla where we had begun our journey. The boat goes from the red dot (Orealla) up to Corriverton. From there we took a bus to New Amsterdam to visit the bank and all. The home where we were staying, and the location of the Circuit Assembly, were both in between New Amsterdam and Corriverton. Our Circuit is mostly in the region between those two villages as well, but there are at least five congregations over the Berbice river (the one you see next to New Amsterdam).

Continuing on brings us to Friday, day of the Pioneer Meeting. It was beautiful and excellent as usual, though there was a slight impediment to our enjoyment of it. The Assembly was the following day, Saturday, but unfortunately there was a huge school event going on in the same venue Friday, and the volunteers for cleaning couldn't get in until 5 PM. Which meant a whole lot of work in a very short period of time. Thus, immediately upon the pioneer day concluding, most of the pioneers who lived on this side of the river hightailed it over to the Assembly site to begin cleaning as well. Work lasted well into the night, until many people were being employed to do nothing but hold a flashlight so others could see their work. And the amount of garbage we collected and disposed of was astounding!!

There was actually more. We nearly doubled this after.
By about 11 I'd left, though apparently work was done up until midnight. The late night panic, however, was not readily obvious the next morning. Everything looked perfect (even though there was still some paint on the stage drying out).

There were many good interviews, including three from Orealla (seen in the heading image), plus a grand total of nine baptized, out of a total attendance of 1,130.

I must now take this opportunity to apologize on account of not having any good pictures from the assembly itself. I was much too busy. And by "busy" I of course mean "forgetful to remember to take pictures for all those nice people who read this blog and enjoy seeing the pictures of what all is going on".

Suffice it to say, it was a great day, and we continued to enjoy another two days on the coast with more field service and related joviality before we began the journey back to Orealla.

Where I shall be remaining for the next 12 days until I head out again for... a thing. You'll see soon enough.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Update on Orealla

It's been interesting for me to watch the progression of the Orealla congregation. I first ever visited in early September 2010, after I'd been in Guyana only two weeks. I would periodically visit for the following two years, and by October 2013 I was assigned there by the branch. Now that I'm spending all my time there, I decided to sit back and reflect on what had changed since my earliest visit. And I was frankly blown away by it...

For starters, I first attended one of their meetings shortly after the unexpected death of their sole elder, which left the congregation entirely on the shoulders of one ministerial servant, with only one other baptized brother to assist him. Now, we have two elders (one of whom was the aforementioned ministerial servant), plus two ministerial servants and four more qualified baptized brothers.

As for meeting attendance, well.... here's the attendance record from my first meeting there.

Yes. Five. And that 20 that you see represented the best attendance they'd had in months. However in present day, last Sunday we had 63! That's proven to be the average for Sunday meetings, and the lowest we've had for a midweek meeting recently was 30.

The congregation is now up to 31 publishers with 5 regular pioneers and one continuous auxiliary. On top of that, in the month of August we had 16 who participated in auxiliary pioneering.

One obstacle Orealla was facing on my first visit was having a limited territory. The territory itself is huge, but only a small amount is accessible. The rest of it is homes and farms that can be reached by boat on the river, or there is a large population in a village (Siparuta) which can be reached via a 3 hour walk through the jungle. But now, both those problems have been solved with the purchase of...

In case you can't see, that's a small JW ORG printed on each green bench.

This allows us to reach the village of Siparuta easily, and allows access to most of our river territory (we're still at this point testing the boundaries of the boat).

A huge plus of this is that now, instead of visiting the village once a year like we used to, we're visiting twice a month. Not only that, we've received approval from both the Circuit Overseer and the village itself to hold a meeting there once per month. We have yet to implement that due to our upcoming Circuit Assembly (this Saturday!) but stay tuned for updates in the coming weeks.

Of course, not all is perfect. We still deal with apathy from our territory on occasion, we still struggle to find our Bible students at home sometimes... we still have a Hello Kitty clock hanging in our Kingdom Hall...

You thought I was joking, didn't you??

But things are looking up. All in all, it has been an excellent reminder to me of how far the congregation has come, and how much further it can go if we keep putting forth the necessary effort. So, uh, back to work I guess.