This last week was our Circuit Overseer visit. Not only that, but it was our final visit with our current C.O. and his wife.
While of course the entire week is exciting and all, I primarily want to focus on (what else?) our trip to Siparuta. Typically when we go we use K-Pro (or Kingdom Proclaimer VII, the congregation boat) but that only has six seats. Fine for a typical service group, which is usually between four and six, but not for the group we get during CO visit. This last Thursday when we went, we had an astounding 20 out of our 34 publishers. Our circuit overseer looked at us and said "You're gonna need a bigger boat." Then he shot an oxygen tank in a shark's mouth.
Wait, maybe I'm remembering that wrong.
We had anticipated the large group and rented the use of a second boat ahead of time. Fortunately one of our pioneer sisters has a generous father who also has a speedboat twice the size of K-Pro, which he offered to let us use for the entire day on the sole condition that we pay him for the gas we used.
|Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water ... oh wait, it still is.|
|Pictured: Sister West, Geno, David, Brother West|
Not pictured: Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Bruce
|You're gonna need an adequately sized boat.|
So thus, 6:30 Thursday morning, the group gathers on the landing in front of the Kingdom Hall and begins filling up the boats. We took 20 people, a public witnessing cart, and all the literature and lunches we could carry. After a trip over exceptionally choppy waters we arrived safely and quickly made groups and dispersed. By 11:30 AM we had managed to cover the whole village, which left us a long and leisurely afternoon in which to do return visits and Bible studies.
If you've read this blog before, you know Raymond was my top priority. We got him home and talked for about 45 minutes, during which I invited him to the talk on Sunday. He said that he and his wife almost never travel outside the village, but he said "My two sons will be in Orealla next Saturday and Sunday. I'll tell them when they get home that they need to go to the Kingdom Hall."
He's told me repeatedly about the interest his sons have, but I have yet to be able to meet them. While asking about them, I asked which church they attend in the village. He said "My wife and I go to the Pentecostal church and my sons go to the New Life Ministry church, but all of us are Jehovah's Witnesses."
So first off, yay. Secondly, looks like we have some stuff to talk about.
I've also been able to get a really good study going with a young man in the village named Trevon. He had wanted to go to the Memorial but didn't get a chance to, but then a week later he visited the cart while my parents were working it and he recognized them. He grabbed a Bible Teach book and requested a study, which I've now been able to get to four times.
We also met a very young girl named Anisa. Actually, we had first met her weeks earlier on the big boat traveling back after convention. She was uncharacteristically outgoing and spent the whole seven hour ride back talking with myself, Geno, and a few others. When she told me she lived in Siparuta I promised I'd have a book for her to read. Fast forward to this last Thursday. As I was preparing to leave I was thinking in the back of my mind "Bring Bible Story book in case we find where Anisa lives." Which I remembered. The trouble is, I thought to save myself having to carry it around everywhere, I'd leave it in the cart with Mark.
You see where this is going...
|"What? Me? Place your literature? Nooooo..."|
Just as we're about to head back to where the cart is located so we can eat lunch, we find Anisa! She's heading the same way, so she walks with us. We reach the cart and.... nothing. Book has been taken and placed.
So instead I promise to bring another one the next time we come. Well, Anisa is having none of it. I told her she'd get a book to read and by golly was she getting one! So in between bites of lunch, I find her a Listen to God brochure and begin showing her through it and talking about the pictures and the Scriptures in it and everything.
As this is happening, I notice one of the sisters in the congregation come over and sit next to us. I ask what she's doing and she says "I'm auxiliary pioneering. I want to keep my time going during lunch." So, fine, pretty good idea. Unfortunately she said it loud enough that everyone else heard, and pretty soon everybody was sitting around. Anisa looks up confusedly and says "Do they all have books for me too?"
|This picture contains 0% Anisa. Just to spare you from the most disappointing game of Where's Waldo ever.|
Finally by about 4 PM we've finished with our calls and headed back to Orealla. Friday was of course service again, and in the afternoon I got to take West with me on some Bible studies.
Well, more accurately, I was supposed to take West on studies. Turned out to be just one. Lorenzo.
Ooooooooh I just realized I have yet to tell you about Lorenzo! So, if you follow my Instagram page (official motto: 1 out of every 5 guaranteed to be good!) you probably have seen a photo of a new and young sister named Shania who just kinda started coming to meetings and was an unbaptized publisher before anyone knew it. So anyway, Lorenzo is Shania's father. He came to the meeting when Shania was being a householder for a talk for the first time, so naturally I talk with him there. Find out he would actually be interested in a study so I try to establish a time to go by and start that. He says "I'm never sure when I'm working or not so it's hard to say. How about I'll just come to your meetings whenever I can, and we'll study after the meeting?"
Kinda brilliant plan actually. Why do I never think of things like that?
The following Sunday he comes to meeting, and almost immediately after he comes up to me and asks when we begin. We sit down in front and go over Lesson 1 in the Good News brochure, cover the whole thing. When we finish, I look at the clock and say "That took us about fifteen minutes. Is it okay if we take that long again next week?"
He says "No, I don't think so. We should do half an hour."
Since then he's missed one meeting, and we've begun covering the brochure "Who Are Doing Jehovah's Will Today" as well.
I forgot how this story got started. *looks back through blog draft* Ah yes! After the one meeting he missed, I asked if I could come to his house Friday so we could catch up, and he was enthusiastic about that. The plan was for West and myself to go by him and another study that afternoon. Long story short, we only got to Lorenzo. We had a good long study, and though we ran out of time to get to the other one, I learned that he was busy and wasn't home anyway. So it all worked out!
Aaaaanyway, throughout the entire week we had amazing turnouts for ministry. Wednesday was 23, Thursday 20, Friday 18, and Saturday 32. Sunday for meeting we had a record breaking 84 in attendance (including Lorenzo and his wife with their infant son, for whom they had bought a tiny dress shirt), the largest we've had for anything outside of Memorial. Pretty soon we'll need to knock out the back wall of the Kingdom Hall so we can fit everyone.
Sunday night we had a going away party of sorts for the Wests. They'll be here for Pioneer School next week (to which I'm going!!), then visiting one more congregation before moving on to the new assignment. There were some truly awe inspiring things that happened at that gathering, but were in fact so awe inspiring that I cannot discuss them until I have pictures to back up my story. So stay tuned.
Before concluding, I have a long winded story to tell. A few days before the overseer arrived, I had run out of money. More specifically, run out of cash. I still had enough in the bank, but due to no cash I had no way to get to the bank. I wasn't too concerned though. I had everything I needed already - rent was paid, light bill paid, phone had credit, etc. All I was concerned about was food. But considering my experiences here before, even this wasn't too concerning. I just prayed and told Jehovah that for this next week, I was going to have to depend on him for food.
I looked around my house and realized I still had a pretty good supply of food. Rice, chick peas, and cassava bread. Not the kind of thing I'd normally eat on its own, but hey, it'd work.
Three days later I ran out. I began wondering what to do when someone came by with food. It was enough for lunch and dinner. Then came Siparuta. Three people brought me lunch. After we got back, someone offered to make me dinner. After eating that, someone else came by with dinner. They were there though when someone else offered me dinner. After accepting it I asked why they'd brought me food when they had just heard somebody else offer the same. They shrugged, said "I don't know" and left.
In case you're not used to these stories already, this kept up until yesterday. What happened yesterday, specifically? Well, at this point I started wondering how I'd get out to Pioneer School. Food is awesome, but it doesn't buy me boat passage. Well, three people, at various times, gave me a combined $11,000 GYD ($55 U.S.) which easily covers my passage, gets me to the bank, and lets me buy my own food until then.
Now in case you're wondering "But Josh, aren't all the people there kinda poor? And you're taking all their food?" True, that is true. But you think they'd be generous to a fellow Witness and not have Jehovah pay them back too?
I say this because a boat came in just before our meeting tonight with over 500 pounds of rice, plus sugar, flour, and other foodstuffs, with the instructions that it be distributed to the Orealla Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. None of us sent for this. None of us asked anybody for this (no human anyway), and I don't think any of us know who sent this. Nonetheless, we all now have so much food that we spent a few hours after our meeting hauling wheelbarrows full of food to different brothers and sisters homes.
The Imitate Their Faith book tonight was about Peter trusting Jesus and getting so many fish his boat began to sink. Just gonna mention that.