Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Kingdom Proclaimer VII

This last week I finally got to do something I've longed to do since October of last year: go on a trip with our new congregation boat, the Kingdom Proclaimer VII!

Brief diversion explaining the name: if you read the 2005 Yearbook (which I highly recommend) it tells the history of the preaching work in Guyana, and recounts how many of the territories in the country are only accessible by river. Due to this, a lot of congregations will purchase a boat solely for the purpose of covering these territories. The first of these boats was named Kingdom Proclaimer, which quickly became a thing, leading to nearly every one of these preaching boats getting named in following increments. Kingdom Proclaimer II, III IV, etc.

Which brings us to Orealla's Kingdom Proclaimer VII (I'll be totally honest here, since several congregations do this, we're not 100% sure whether this would VII or VIII, or even IX. So, uh, just roll with it). The attempt to acquire a boat of our own began in October of last year, but finally came to fruition in June. Unfortunately, we couldn't get our engine as well at the same time, so by time everything was set, I had already left to return to the US for a work trip. Therefore, I haven't been able to use this boat. Until now!

Many things can affect the trips, so scheduling can be difficult. navigating the river can be difficult (sand banks build and crumble quickly underneath the water), and so not only must the tide level be just right, you also need a skilled captain to drive.

(Do you drive a boat? Pilot? Steer? Dunno, let's say drive)

Which, again, makes scheduling difficult. Which is why one Thursday morning at 6:30, I get a phone call from our service overseer. "We're going to Siparuta and have space for two more. You and Charlie available?"

Therefore we get dressed and rush to the Kingdom Hall in order to catch the 7 AM meeting for field service. We stockpiled on literature, had a brief meeting, and shuffled down to the riverfront to pile on the boat.

L-R: Alyssa Camacho, Geno Chacon, Dowlan France, and Charlie Brohard.
Not pictured: myself and Jonatan Camacho in front row.
The time it takes to reach Siparuta fluctuates due to a wide variety of factors (see aforementioned sand banks, tricky tides and whatnot), and this morning was a very slow ride with very bumpy waters. Fortunately, we had a cheerful crew who handled it with glee, and within 30-40 minutes reached our destination.

"Sip-aree-do-da, sip-aree yay...."
Considering the lack of territory maps and such, the easiest way to work this village, and keep track of progress, is by dividing it into three distinct areas. The uphill portion of the village, and then two halves of downhill. To the left of the stelling (pictured), and to the right.

Having six people, we divided into three pairs and set about preaching the downhill left portion. Well, two pairs did anyway. Jonatan volunteered to give up his day of door-to-door to accompany me on my studies all day. Which were...

Raymond: I honestly don't remember how much I've talked about Raymond before on this blog, and I enjoy the thought of just rewriting it all from the beginning instead of looking through old posts to find what I've already written. So to start fresh...

Raymond's family was first contacted by Tom Sanches and myself back in September of 2010 during my first ever visit to Orealla and Siparuta. In fact, his was the first house we went to, and he could plainly see we were suffering after the 3 1/2 hour hike though the hills, mud, sand, and whatever else. He and his wife invited us to sit, provided us with food, and listened to us talk at length (you know, once we'd recovered our breath).

Fast forward to Memorial season in 2014. We return to Siparuta, and to that specific house. Since neither of us had been there in so long, we'd quite frankly forgotten everybody we'd talked to before. So we return to Raymond's house, and after a substantial conversation, we suddenly remembered one another based solely off the sound of each other's laughs. After the conversation, Raymond said he had great difficulty understanding the Bible. We remind him that's what the Bible Teach book is for, but he says "No, I can't understand the words in it! My Bible makes no sense! Your gray one though, I understand everything! Can I get one?" He also specifies that his eyes aren't great and asks if there's one with large print. Considering this was mere months after the historic Annual Meeting, the large size Bibles were still a distant dream, especially somewhere as far off as Orealla. But we promised as soon as we came into possession of a large gray Bible, we'd deliver it.

Fast forward again to Memorial season 2015. Tom Sanches had finally gotten ahold of a large Bible (from the first shipment of them sent to Guyana) and had it delivered to Orealla so I could finally (finally!) take it to Raymond. This is pre-Kingdom Proclaimer VII, so our options are rent a boat or walk. Unfortunately, we only had one day's opportunity to go, since Memorial was in a few days and we still had lots to prepare. Therefore, we walked.

The intrepid, mostly barefoot senior citizens, crew!
We reached Siparuta and made a beeline for Raymond's house. Unfortunately, there was no one home. I honestly was incredibly disappointed. A year of waiting, three hours of walking (and trying to keep up with Amerindians, no matter that they were all old enough to be my grandparents, is no easy task), and here NO RAYMOND! Nonetheless, we still went ahead and preached to as much of Siparuta as possible, seeing as we had plenty of invitations. Finally, as we were preparing to begin the arduous walk back, I thought we really ought to check Raymond's house again.

As we approach, we see Raymond approaching from the opposite side! I rush up and begin excitedly talking to him and telling him we've brought his Bible. He stares at me, confusedly, and doesn't seem to remember me or our conversations at all. So I finally just pull out the Bible to show him, and when he sees the gray cover his eyes shoot open and he grabs it out of my hand, suddenly remembering everything. He holds it to his chest and says "Even when I forget what I've prayed for, Jehovah makes sure to remind me."

We talked for as long as we could until the time to leave was absolutely imminent (you do not want to get caught on the Siparuta trail after dark. Plenty safe in daytime, but many animals at night).

Fast forward once more to July of 2015. We visit Siparuta along with three of my friends from the US (Neil Rogenski, Jake Walsh, and Gavin Stallard). Neil goes along with me to Raymond, which we make the first stop of our day. As we approach the house, we see Raymond laying in a hammock, and we call out our greetings. When he sees us he invites us up and says "I was supposed to go out to the jungle to work today, but I told my wife I just really felt like I needed to stay home today. Now I know why!"

We converse at length about the Bible we left him and the features of it he's enjoying, as well as many other spiritual topics. Eventually he tells us "You need to come back and study the Bible with my son Gavin. He learns things very well." He goes on to relate that just the previous day, when church had finished, his son Gavin approached the pastor/minister/etc and asked if he could be permitted to speak before everyone. The pastor agreed, so Gavin goes up and begins explaining to everyone the meaning of Daniel's vision in Daniel chapter 2, and how we know that means God's Kingdom will be a government that will rule over Earth. After it's all finished, Raymond asks Gavin where he learned all of that, to which Gavin replied "In that yellow book the brothers gave you."

So, uh, ripe student there.

Which brings us to this Siparuta visit with Jonatan. Unfortunately, Raymond wasn't home this time, but his wife Mavel was, and we had a great 1 1/2 conversation with her, mostly based on the November magazines. We discussed how religion was becoming full of hypocrisy, and the conversation ended with her asking why we don't start a Kingdom Hall in Siparuta.

Good idea! I think we should take that one to heart...

Wandering about.

The other call we got to was...

James: This was a man which Dustin Reynolds had started calling on during that Memorial 2015 visit, and he asked me to continue on with the interest. So after visiting Mavel, we headed over to James and talked for a good long while. During the visit with Neil I had left my personal Bible with James, so on this visit he had several questions about it. Particularly, the footnotes and cross references. I was astonished at how quick of a student he was. After showing him those two things and the Glossary, he used those with Matthew 28:19 (which was the Scripture we randomly chose to examine footnotes and cross references) and arrived at the conclusion, on his own, that the Holy Spirit is not a person, but rather God's active force. This conversation went on for an hour and a half as well. So therefore, Jonatan and I spent our entire morning on just two studies. A morning well spent.

Since the time had arrived, we arrived at the prearranged spot with the other two pairs to eat lunch. Jonatan and I actually arrived first, and as we were on a bench waiting for the others, I noticed a man standing nearby, who had the look of someone curious who we were, but a bit too shy to approach. Finally I call out to him and begin general conversation, until he finally asked why we were there. So, since we'd just had a meeting part about offering the Teach book, I opted for the direct approach. Right off the bat offered him a Bible study, which he accepted, so we began right there on the bench. He chose the chapter on Family Happiness, which we covered several subheadings until someone else called him away. First I made sure to find where he lives, so I can return next time. And finally, the rest of the group arrived and we had a lovely lunch break.

Time is an illusion. Lunch time doubly so.
We still had a few hours left (taking the boat allows for much more preaching time than walking) so Jonatan and I finally got to do some proper door-to-door. It went like typical Siparuta territory (i.e. half an hour at every single door) until we finally reached our last house. Living there was a woman named Yanet who had begun studying in Suriname and had nearly reached to baptism even, but then had lost contact with Witnesses. She also pleaded with us to start a Kingdom Hall in Siparuta (recurring theme here...) and asked for a wide variety of literature. We reminded her there is always the Kingdom Hall in Orealla, so anytime she can visit there there will also be a meeting she can attend.

She said she'd try that Sunday, and while she personally wasn't able to make it, she ensured her daughter was able to come. And who has made it to each weekend meeting since.

So all in all, I'm a huge fan of Kingdom Proclaimer VII.

More recently, an interesting piece of news is that an MTS grad from Granada will be coming and rooming with me for two weeks. Unfortunately at the same time Jonatan and Alyssa will be returning to New York, which will then also be followed by Charlie Brohard the following week.

Hmm, that's a bit of a bummer. I don't want to end my blog post on a down note.
Here's a pretty guitar!!

That's better. Stay tuned for news of the MTS Granada brother person guy!


  1. How old is Gavin?

    Awesome experience. Keep em coming sonny boy.

    1. I believe 16 or 17, though I'm very unsure of that.