Friday, April 28, 2017

"Do All Things for the Sake of the Good News"

"Do all things for the sake of the good news, in order to share it with others". This is the phrase that kept running through my head as I held my hands against the floor of the boat, desperately trying to stave off the leak that had suddenly sprung as we hurtled down the Courantyne river in the midst of a heavy rainstorm.

Perhaps I should explain.

After the fantastic assembly we had a few weeks ago (an assembly which three of my Bible students were able to attend) we had to immediately return to Orealla to begin setting up for the Memorial. Both Memorials, in fact, as we have two villages in our territory which are separated by a great distance. This makes it incredibly difficult for people from the other village to attend in Orealla, so we've finally come to the conclusion that it's better for us to bring a Memorial to them.

Better. Not easier.

Due to the manner of the boat schedules, we had less than a week to set up for these two events. Thankfully, we'd known long in advance that this time crunch would come, so we were able to get a lot sorted ahead of time. The venue for Memorial in the next village had already been reserved, we already had the decorations and things put together, we still have a mobile sound system on hand from last year when my parents came to help us out with it, so all that was sorted. It looked like perhaps we'd have an easy time preparing.

Until, of course, the Saturday before.

In technical terms, this is known as a big boo-boo.
With three days to spare before Memorial, the Orealla sound system suffered what we chose to call a "total existence failure". This came as a shock to precisely no one, as this sound system has been on death's door for the better part of four years now, held together only by twine, duct tape, Geno's mad MacGyver skills, and holy spirit. Finally, however, it reached a point of inoperability.

This naturally led to a mad dash of phone calls, texts, emails, etc, to each and every person we could think of who may possibly have anything to lend us. Computer speakers would've sufficed for us. Thankfully, a solution was found. A brother from somewhere (so I don't actually know the guy, apologies) had a subwoofer and two computer speakers he was willing to lend us. The only slight downside was there were no more boats until Monday night, meaning Sunday at meeting we simply did without a sound system.

"Ground control to Major Tom ..."
"Josh! What's going on in there!"
"Just testing out the new system."

Side note: this congregation can carry a tune super well. I mean, sure, North Athens is louder, but still...

So that wrapped up our exciting endeavor of the Orealla sound system. Which leads us to the excitement in Siparuta.

Memorial this year was of course Tuesday, so Monday we went over in order to ensure everyone had gotten invitations and to set up for the venue. Last year we'd used the Health Centre (yes, British spelling), but this year we'd been offered use of the largest school in the village. There was, um, a lot of cleaning needing done.

Before ...
... and after.

Naturally we set everything up and began testing. Except one little issue. Now this sound system wasn't working. We ran through everything, and soon realized it was the microphone. It seemed to have just completely given up. The amp and speakers were working fine, just this one mic. Unfortunately, we didn't have a replacement, and the plug on it wasn't a standard microphone plug, rather being the same size and build as a headphone jack. We returned to Orealla that afternoon and very quickly set about the same routine of calling, texting, and emailing everyone we could trying to find a replacement. This was exceptionally more panicked though, since perhaps you'll recall the boat would be leaving for Orealla that afternoon. Just in case we couldn't get anything, we set about building our own microphone. Yes, you read that right. We built a mic.

Necessity is the mother of invention.
In case it's not readily obvious, what you're looking at here is a six inch piece of PVC pipe with a mic cover on the front, with an old pair of earbuds stuffed inside, taped shut. Why earbuds work as a mic, I don't know. This isn't even one of those earbuds with a mic built into it. Just ordinary earbuds. Still baffled by it. But hey, it worked!

Thankfully we didn't have to use this, as shortly after someone who lived nearby the dock in Skeldon found a suitable mic and sent it down to us.

Finally, the day came. A brother from New Amsterdam came in Monday night to give our Memorial talk in Orealla (and to deliver the mic and sound system), leaving a group of six of us to travel over to Siparuta Tuesday morning to finalize preparations for Memorial there.

Loading up K-Pro, as Joel Freeman from New Amsterdam sees us off.
4 of 6
5 of 6. I'm 6. In case that wasn't obvious.

All was going well on the journey, until all of a sudden a hole appeared in the front of the boat and water began shooting through the opening and spraying us in the face. At first we had a good laugh at the spray, but then the hole began to get noticeably bigger. And water began pouring in more quickly. Really quickly. We were too far from Orealla to turn back, too far from Siparuta to continue, but it would be senseless to pull over and land on one of the islands since we had no tools to patch the hole, and there's no phone signal in that part of the river.

Having nothing else to do, I pulled a handkerchief out and stuffed it over the hole, and held it as tightly as I could. Sherine (the sister in the back row) began bailing as fast as possible. Naturally, the weather chose this exact time to begin pouring buckets of rain on us.

Normally the trip to Siparuta takes us 15-20 minutes in our boat, but the leak necessitated our traveling at a lower speed to avoid undue pressure on the front of the boat, which likely would've widened the hole. All told, it took nearly an hour to reach. Just as the village finally came in view, I turned around to everyone else and said something to the effect of "Once we get off the boat, this is all going to be really hilarious."

No one laughed. Or smiled. Or agreed.

Anyway, we made it alive, though considerably wet and cranky. We were able to dry off and finish setting up for Memorial.

Guyana has a thing about curtains. Still confused by that.

With a few hours to spare, we set about changing into our meeting clothes. While doing this, I realized something...

Shower? Shower.

I think it's a good sign you've been in the jungle too long when you see a shower that has three walls and no door, and is overgrown with weeds, and you think "Oh awesome! Running water!"

Anyway, we all got cleaned up and ready in plenty of time. Memorial was amazing, having a grand total of 33 attending by the end. Orealla as well set a  new personal record with 117, bringing us to 150 total between the two venues.

After all this was done and finished, we had ourselves a lovely congregation outing at the end of the week. We traveled out to the furthest edge of the village for a bush cook/swim day/etc.

And I finally found someone who is a worthy match of my football skills.