Friday, March 25, 2016

Big Plans and Little Bananas [Bruce Westfall]

Hard to believe it hasn't even been a week since we arrived. Really getting to know the town and congregation well. Here is a rundown of activities so far:

Airports and a boat. That's all the energy for that. ( I said I would do a separate post about the boat,but decided not to. Much more fun stuff to talk about.)

Got to the dock around 7am, unloaded, unpacked. Before we could finish, a boy comes to the house with fresh pastries a sister had made for us. Delicious, of course. About half hour later another boy stops by and asks if we would like to buy some pumpkin. So we got a quarter pumpkin ( not a huge one – a little bigger than a cantelope ) That cost the equivalent of less than a dollar.
We then went for a walk around the village. If you want a map, go to, then search for Orealla. I think it says it is in Suriname, but it is not. Anyway, click that then zoom into the town. No aerial view, just a map. All the way near the bottom is the police station. Joshua lives 2 doors down. If I had to be a policeman, that would be my first choice. The only siren you ever hear is a bird that sounds like a british police car. Bwee-do-bwee-do-bwee-do-bwee-do.

Kingdom Hall is about in the middle. Pretty sure it is labeled too. ( Offline while writing this.) The main boat dock is very near to he hall. All docks are called “stellings”. I mean, what else would you call them??

Along the “main road” are little shops. One place just has eggs, another has snacks, but the main store is called “Carl's” or “the shop”. It is the Orealla equivalent to Walmart. They mostly have what you want and need, but sometimes are out of stuff. Here's a picture:

Made scrambled eggs and some other thing that is now in the distant past and I cant recall. But it was good too, of course. Then to the meeting at 9:30. Hellos to everyone and names are a blur. Local brother Lennox Johnston (David White likes that name) gave the talk and great participation at the watchtower study. 60 in attendance with 33 publishers.

Came home ( for ease of description, of course), had a quick lunch, gave the hammocks a real workout, then back to the hall for the broadcast at 6pm. Around 30 people showed up for that. Charles and Pamela Chacon ( pronounced Chalk In ) handed us a bag with dinner that was still hot and fresh. Sorry, no pictures, but more yummy stuff. Apparently we looked very hungry because Brother and sister MacKenzie handed us a tote bag with breakfast for the next day.

Ate previously mentioned breakfast. Southeast Ohio and the rest of the country could learn from the following. Every Monday a large percentage of the village spends the day cleaning up. Picking up trash, hacking down overgrown lots and other types of upkeep. I must admit, if Joshua had not warned me ahead of time, I could have really been worried sitting in the hammock drinking coffee and snacking on the breakfast remnants when I look up and see about 15 people walking toward the house with machetes. It was for the lot next door.
Speaking of cleaning, the congregation met around 9am to clean and do touchup paint at the Hall in preparation for the Memorial. The group kept changing in size but there were always at least 15 there at any time throughout the day. Around 3 oclock was a meeting to coordinate Memorial preparations, then finishing setting up and decorating.

The Big Day Out. Around 30 friends from the hall including the visiting Memorial speaker and his wife went out to an area called “The Resort” It is a clearing in the jungle with a slow clear little river flowing alongside with shelters and cooking areas, along with a small house that is used by whoever is care taking. Open to anyone in the village that wishes to use it. Takes around an hour to walk there or 15 minutes by motorcycle ( 2 people) or 20+ minutes using an ATV( 5-7 people). ATV's are kind of like an SUV here.

So we all had a great time rowing up and down the river in a dugout canoe, swimmins and splashing, playing with a soccer ball, cards, following a guide thru the jungle as he clears a path with a machete so we can see the howler monkeys ( yes, but too far for a photo to do any good. ) also eating, roasting the largest marshmallows the world has ever seen and just gaffing ( chit chat ). The only issue came when the 4 wheeler that was supposed to be there by 4pm was still not there after 4:30. So we started walking, Some stayed behind a bit hoping the ATV would show up which it finally did. But we fulfilled the scripture “the last will go first and the first will be last.” But it really was a gorgeous walk along the jungle trail and into the savanna, then down to Orealla again.

Meet at the Hall around 8am, get everything organized, make sure we are forgetting nothing and then 6 of us into K-Pro the boat (Kingdom Proclaimer) and off to Siparuta about ½ hour upstream from Orealla. ( Refer back to openstreetmaps – the only site that has not just the towns in the right location, but even the streets are fairly accurate.)

We get there, unload some things at Yanets house and take what is needed to the Health Center to setup for the Memorial there. Once that is done we freshen up, get into service clothes and split up to either finish an area that was partially worked or do return visits. I was working with Geno Chacon (our boat captain and a quiet humble man who can do nearly everything.) We approached one house and I was extremely thirsty. Some children were washing something off at an outside faucet and I asked if I could get some water. The lady looked confused at me so I asked “Can I fill up my water bottle here?” She said of course I could with the puzzled look of someone when you ask if you could breathe oxygen in their presence. The only people who did not take the invitation were ones who already had one.

Setting up for Memorial. Had plenty of posters to cover up at the Health Centre.

Then back to Yanets house, relax a bit with that incredible breeze that is almost constantly blowing and get fed more food than I could eat. Finally time for Memorial clothes and we walk the very short distance there. As time approaches, 2 women show up, one of whom is studying and was expected to be at the congregation farther south and across the river in Apoera, Suriname. She was worried about the sister who studied with her not knowing where she was. I'm sure she has found out by now. By the time to start 8 had shown up, with 5 more coming slightly late and 3 who were very sad as they got there as the closing prayer finished. It's OK, we talked to them for another 20 minutes. We all felt it was a fine turnout for the first Memorial scheduled with invitations and all. 14 years ago, 2 brothers do go and did the Memorial in Siparuta since a visiting speaker was coming to Orealla to give their talk. 6 showed up then. Next year will be better since it was a Hindu holiday and soccer (Editor's Note: Football. It's football) tournaments were going on all day long.

So, pack up, back on the boat with calm smooth water and an amazing full moon lighting the way.

Wakeup, start some coffee on the gas stove, then off to borrow the Toyota Pickup of Orealla, the wheelbarrow. Neighbor by the water who repairs boats is not home, so walk down the road about 3 houses away to ask the Miguels ( Queeneth and Kates family ) but it is currently out to bring home a load of cassava. So over towards the hall and up 2 streets to check with Chacons and success! They give Carol some peppers, then next door to buy Corrillia ( wrong spelling I'm sure) and Okra from Allen. I ask how much it would be and he says “lemme see what I have”. Comes back with 8 of these and 8 okra. A dollar.

Next stop is The Mall. So at Carl's we get 2 water bottles, baking powder, some cookies and a few other things. Heading home we stop at a house that raises chickens and get 6 eggs. Pretty sure the grand total was less then a happy meal.

Return the wheelbarrow, then back home and start cleaning, cooking and laundry.

Field Service! Breakfast of okra, onions, eggs and rice. And several cups of coffee.
Then we get ready and meet at the Hall at 9. Or that was the plan. Joshua left first since he was leading the group. Carol and I were getting our service bags together and running a bit behind, but finally got out the door. A breezy cool cloudy morning. Partway to the hall the sun peeked thru and scorched off a layer of my skin reminding me I forgot my hat. It is a very necessary thing here for a freckled old man. So back to the house for that and got to the meeting in time for closing prayer.


Had about 15 meet. Some went to the upper part of town – uphill. The majority worked downhill, the main part of town and a couple did the cart. Our group went to the farthest south part of town finishing a few houses that had not been worked.

Since the Memorial was Wednesday, the mid week meeting is tonight, but all I got assigned was to be a householder. That is a new record here for a visitor, I believe. So now post a blog, say hello to all and get ready for the meeting. Been a busy week and all 3 of us are worn out.

Oh yes, Little Bananas. Here they are.

"Ladyfingers" as the Arawak call them.


Editor's Note: I may possibly post something of my own soon. Or not.

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