Friday, December 25, 2015

A Surprisingly Moving Account of My Stove Running Out of Gas

Ever have one of those weeks (or several) where you feel as though you're forgetting something very important? You check your to-do list, you call everyone you typically have arrangements with, etc, and you're definitely up to date with everything. And yet, something eludes you.

Then you remember, "Oh yeah, I have that blog some people read. Oh, and I haven't added anything in a month and one day? Yikes."

Or maybe that's just me...

Anyway, apologies for the huge delay. Been really busy, yadda yadda. Here's a quick recap.

"One of these things is not like the other..."

After the departure of the Camachos, Charlie and I had another brother come and stay with us a little while, Shane (something) from Grenada. If you recall my mentioning Kojo several times (my former roommate and COBE in Orealla for a time) Shane had attended the final School for Single Brothers with him. He'd heard much about Orealla so decided it was finally time to come see for himself.

As you can see from the picture, he's quite tall. You could always tell when he was coming up the steps because the entire house would begin to rattle.

After a week with him, it came time for Charlie to depart back for Ohio, thus leaving Shane and I. A few days passed uneventfully until a group of my friends from Hopetown congregation (for more on my time in Hopetown, see any blog post written between 2011-2013) came for a visit. As much as I was looking forward to it, it did present a slight problem seeing as five of them were coming, and I have only a two bedroom house. Which already had two occupants.

The whole gang. L-R: Shane, Jehu, Kepler, Jared, Randy, and Aaron.
After some searching I was able to find a house that would take in three of them, then another two in my house. It would be crowded that way, but it would work.

Unfortunately (that word that always pops up when you're discussing well laid plans) when we were coming into Orealla the boat was having some issues, so we weren't even close to the village when the other hosting household was preparing for bed, so the decision was made to simply have all the guys crash in my house that night.

So instead of a tight squeeze of four people in there, we had an incredibly tight squeeze of seven. Two in each room, plus one on each couch and one in a hammock strung in whatever available spot we could find.

Don't get me wrong though, I'm not at all complaining. It was a ton of fun, especially since I hadn't seen these guys in about two years. Plus they were only there from Friday-Sunday (and wound up just all staying in my house the whole time) so it wasn't for long enough for the cramped space to get uncomfortable.

Finally Sunday came, and all five Hopetown boys left, along with Shane. And thus, for the first time since May, my household is just me. I've never experienced this much quiet before.

Hmmm... brief recap of guests in the 11 months I've had this place. Dustin, Chris and Fern, Dale, Neil, Jake, Gavin, Charlie, Michael, Jonatan, Shane, Aaron, Randy, Jared, Kepler, and Jehu.

16. Not bad.

The only downside to the last burst of guests is the gas for my stove ran out. Which isn't surprising at all, but is a major inconvenience in a place like Orealla where the closest place to replace it is an eight hour ride away. Plus also consider the boats only go twice a week, and that's assuming everything is going well.

So here's what happened with me. I know the man who owns Orealla's largest shop pretty well, and he has his own boat with which to ship in goods, so therefore he makes his own schedule when he goes out. I asked if he could take my empty gas cylinder out and replace it (since he'd offered several times before to do so). He agreed, but was unsure when he would be going out next. So this left me with the question of, where would I get food until then?

Around this same time, in my personal Bible reading I got to Romans 10:11 which says "No one who rests his faith on him will be disappointed." This struck me because almost immediately after, a brother from the congregation came by and said "We were making lunch but accidentally made too much. You want it?" and hands me a box full of already prepared food. I hadn't told them my gas had run out, since I'd just discovered it. But I took the food and was very happy.

Shortly after finishing I began thinking about dinner. What was I going to do about that, since Orealla hasn't got restaurants or anything of the sort. Either you cook on your own or you go hungry, and now I couldn't cook. As I'm thinking this I get a call from a family asking "We're making dinner right now, you want any?"

So I had a fully prepared, free dinner. But of course, I begin wondering about breakfast.

"Inside!!" I hear someone shouting at 5:30 AM, waking me from a peaceful (if perhaps excessive) slumber. I open my front door and see a brother on a bike holding up a box saying "Mom wanted me send this over for you. She made you breakfast."

In case you haven't gotten the gist of where this is heading, this happened for six days. In all that time there was exactly one meal that no one provided for me, but I was still content with the frankly ridiculous amounts of fresh fruit growing in my yard. But what really struck me in all this is that at no point did I tell anyone I was out of cooking gas until after I'd gotten it replaced. No one knew, there was just a sudden outpouring of support. And believe me, missing meals in this place is not a good thing. Considering how much walking is done in the ministry, and anytime in general, you simply cannot get by without three full meals. And at no point did I ever have to worry about if I would get it.

If I may digress briefly, the following verse after the one quoted above is "There is the same Lord over all, who is rich toward all those calling on him." This verse has stuck in my mind a long time, due to a conversation I heard between a missionary and a need-greater who was just starting out.

It went like this: the need-greater was only spending a short time in Guyana because he was concerned about losing his job back in the States. The missionary encouraged him to pretty much just quit and use his savings serving where the need was greater, since that's what the brother was hoping to do someday anyway. Most foreign brothers serving here will simply work in the States, save a bunch of money, then live here as long as they can until they run out of finances. Then they return to the US and find another job and repeat the process.

The need-greater expressed worry about doing that since he would then be unsure where he could find money and work when he returned, then sighed and said sarcastically "If only I just had a rich father I could beg money off of."

The missionary was silent for a moment then read that verse, Romans 10:12. "There is the same Lord over all, who is rich toward all those calling on him." Then after another pause, the missionary asks "So if you would feel confident trusting in a rich human father, then..."

And of course he didn't finish the sentence since he didn't need to. The point was made very well already, and that verse has ever since stuck with me.

Continuing on. After the departure of all my guests came the other thing that's eaten up my time. Our elders also left in order to attend Elder School all the way in the capital, Georgetown. This means that from last Thursday up to next Wednesday all will have to be handled by myself and our other ministerial servant, Mark Herman. So far all's going well and we haven't been horribly stressed out, though we definitely have no spare time to kill.

Which is why after a month and a day, when I finally had two hours with nothing left needing to be done (clean house, clean dishes, public talk prepared for Sunday, Watchtower studied, lunch eaten, dinner already prepared, no guests, no calls or studies scheduled for today) it suddenly dawned on me how long the blog had been neglected, and how I actually have time - and electricity! - with which to update it.

That's right, I said electricity too! The village generator has finally begun working again, as of last night!

I am waaaay more excited about having electricity than any American has been since 1893.


  1. 6 days straight... Jehovah is incredible!

  2. What interesting experiences about the meals and about the conversation between the missionary and the needgreater. They give a person a lot to think about.