Sunday, July 3, 2016

2016 Regional Convention

As a general rule when writing this blog, I try to strike a balance between upbuilding experiences and a realistic look at some of the difficulties you'll experience with this kind of life and service.

And, as it turns out, the conventions.

Our regional convention for this year was held July 1-3, and was (as is the custom) from a Friday to Sunday. The only downside with this arrangement is that when you're leaving Orealla, the boats only run Sunday night or Thursday night. So you have two options: (1) You can leave Thursday, land on the coast early Friday morning, and go straight to the convention site while carrying all your luggage and without having gotten a decent night of sleep, or (2) You can leave the previous Sunday and find somewhere to stay for the entire week, and then travel back to Orealla the Monday after convention is over.

I personally prefer option 2.

So on June 26th, several of us traveled out to a variety of places to spend the week at. It was a very pleasant boat ride, since the boat is usually shipping out a large amount of fresh fruits that will be sold on the coast.

If you could smell this right now, you would never again know sorrow.
After passing a lovely night sleeping next to several piles of these, we landed the following morning at 7. The whole Orealla crew had breakfast together at our preferred spot at which point we parted ways. Myself and a younger brother named David were going to spend the week with a fairly new(ish) brother in the Brighton congregation, who also happily has two spare bedrooms.

We were able to spend the week mostly helping with cleaning work at the site. Guyana doesn't have an assembly hall or any permanent place for these, so of course we wind up renting somewhere, usually a cricket grounds or such. Obviously, this results in a lot of work to make it suitable for an assembly. Among the usual work to do (sweeping, mopping, collecting garbage) there's things you never have to do at an assembly hall. For instance, removing gum off of chairs. And seeing as this is Guyana, what is the preferred tool for gum removal?

Expect this to be a recurring image.

Plus then there's the sound equipment, stage construction, and video stuff that needs setting up for the genuinely impressive show that gets put on at convention these days.

MacGyver would be proud...
This is where I was stationed throughout the convention. See, the system had been thoroughly tested on Thursday afternoon to ensure everything would work. The big screen worked, the sound worked, the videos played without interruption. 'Twas awe inspiring.

But then there's that nasty disclaimer I gave you at the beginning....

Friday morning. Excitement is buzzing for the assembly. Over a thousand people gathered together. And no video.

As we scramble to sort it out, the first few speakers do an admirable job of covering for the video's absence.

Finally it turns out there's not sufficient power supply, so two men (employees of the company providing the screen and equipment) hustle out to start up a generator that's standing by. After some starts and stops, the generator fires up. They're able to use it to provide half the required electricity, and the screen begins showing clearly.

Good. Settled. Done.

Oh. No audio.

Bear with me here, because I'm not 100% on the cause, but I think what happened is that the generator firing on and off for a few minutes caused various power surges that fried and/or meddled with the channels on the mixer being used (again, not 100% on the details so this could be complete hogwash), so we had to hastily replace the cables so as to allow the audio to work properly. Once it got running proper, all went great. And since we'd missed a few of the videos for the morning, the Circuit Overseer decided to have us play them during the lunch break so everyone could still see them.

Happily, that was the end of the troubles.

The remainder of the convention carried on as they're expected to. Catching up with loads of friends, meeting new ones... and occasionally running into someone you had seen from a great distance six years ago and randomly snapped a photo of because you really liked his hat!

My hero.
This pic was from July 2010, and just Friday as my eyes were scanning the crowd, I saw this most extraordinary hat again and had an immediate flashback. Naturally, I had to rush up and meet this man. I tried stealing his hat too, but his reflexes were much too fast.

Saturday morning and afternoon were fantastic too, but I can't divulge why without spoiling it for everyone. However, we also had a great Saturday night, as myself and David and Michael were asked to assist with site security. Joining us with this was Kojo, my former roommate from several years ago. Let's see.... several hours by ourselves in a large venue... what to do? Answer, ROCK! With, um, acoustic guitars. And one harmonica.

"Old pirates yes they rob I / Sold I to the merchant ships"
Doing this does tend to cause one to be rather sleepy during the program the next day. But happily, there's plenty to keep you awake during convention.

("ASSYRIANS! AT THE GAAAATE!!!" Don't worry, no spoilers. You've seen the preview already)

Ditto on Sunday. Great, won't talk about why specifically, but was very glad about the weather. All throughout the morning and afternoon we had some storm clouds gathering. Not like an assortment of darkish clouds. I mean a full on approaching apocalyptic Hollywood blockbuster storm. Pure black skies with incredible wind gusts. Thankfully, weather held right up until the final amen. Almost immediately afterward....

Ah yes, the obligatory convention flash flood.
Okay, I can't really call this a problem per se, seeing as this came at the end of the program. Essentially this just caused the shoes of some of us to get wet. And also led to single greatest post-cleaning job I've ever seen...

Of course I'm thrilled about a job that involves being barefoot,
hiking up one's trousers, and slogging through mud puddles.

But naturally, despite the handful of issues, all was handled admirably and we still got a great convention out of it. Two personal highlights for me: (1) some from Siparuta were able to make it out (specifically Yanet, whom you can read more about in the entry about our last Memorial) and (2) the aforementioned two company employees. You see, this is the second time we've used this company to provide the equipment for convention. Last year, the guys showed up to set up, then left to sleep/chill/otherwise not be at the convention site. This year, something different happened.

They had already left to do their sleep/chill/otherwise by time the program was beginning on Friday morning. But when we realized the screen wasn't working, they quickly returned and fixed the issue (as seen above). Once this happened, they were taking no chances. One of them rooted himself in a seat and stayed there throughout the entire program. At first his eyes were focused solely on the large screen and camera equipment, but over time his gaze shifted. Began looking directly at the speaker, following along with my Bible, standing for the songs and prayer, and finally applauding at the end of the day.

When the program was over, he mentioned to me that in two weeks he's going to Georgetown to do the same for the convention there. He seemed quite happy about that.

So when everything began failing first day, I was worried that no good would come of it. Turns out I was wrong.

Summary: Great convention. Now back at Michael's and preparing to go to sleep, then suddenly realizing I ought to blog eventually. Which I've done. So now to bed.

"This blog is mine. It belongs to me. This blog, that is to say, my blog, is as it were, mine. This blog that is, is mine. The next thing I will write is my blog.





The blog, by J. Westfall. Mister, brackets brackets. This is my blog. Ahem."

1 comment:

  1. Hi Josh, I'm coming to you Live from Hackettstown, NJ. I'm married to your dad's old friend Richard Bell from FL. We met when u were a youngin. This past weekend we had the privilege of hosting your Dad after his assignment on the Warwick project. He shared photos of their trip to you. I know, this is a long winded comment... Thank u so much for sharing your life serving Jehovah in aa place where the need is indeed great. It keeps us "spoiled" brothers and sisters focused on "the more important than things". We're all in this together no matter the distance. You are surely bringing praise to Jehovah's name. Rich and I will be with you in spirit and look forward to future posts. Send our warm greets and love to your Brother's and Sisters in Guyana!