Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Orealla's First Circuit Assembly

Welp. It has finally come and gone. After only a few short years in existence as a congregation, Orealla has successfully hosted its own Circuit Assembly. As a reminder, let me tell you why this was such an important and necessary occasion for us.

Orealla is located far from the main coastal area of Guyana, so going out to the Circuit Assembly requires several days of travel for us, and the cost for many of the families just to attend a one day program is equivalent to about three months of living expenses. Additionally, the boats (the only available method of travel out) are highly unreliable, which has caused us to nearly miss the assemblies numerous times.

Due to this, the branch eventually gave permission for us to host our own assembly, even providing visiting speakers to come in and help us out. Happily, we got this permission several months in advance, allowing us to figure out where we could find a location that would hold the 100-200 people we were expecting for it.

Consider the difficulty in this: for a small village (1,000+ people) to have a venue of that size is unlikely, and the only one that we do have isn't equipped with running water or any of the related facilities.

Finally we learned that the school here has an auditorium that is broken up into smaller classrooms by the use of mobile wooden walls, so if we would come in and reorganize those, the head mistress would let us use the building free of charge.

However, another difficulty quickly arose. Our assembly was scheduled for a Saturday (for numerous reasons no Sundays could be considered), but here we were going to be using a school. Which is in session from Monday - Friday. And hosts evening classes for students seeking extra credit. The question came up, how will we get inside to set everything up? We needed to set up the sound system (including bringing a generator as the school doesn't have a source of electricity), remove the auditorium walls, reorganize the chairs, set up the stage, find spots for the various departments, and install the sign with the assembly theme. We would have to find a way to get all that done late on Friday, all through the night into Saturday morning, and somehow still be awake enough to actually get something out of the assembly. On top of all that, the school's water is provided by water tanks that fill up Monday morning, and usually are exhausted by Friday afternoon, so we'd have to find some way to fill up the water tanks. As if all this wasn't enough, after exhausting ourselves we would then have to clean the entire school all day Sunday and put everything back up the way it was before in time for classes to resume Monday morning.

So you know how anytime on this blog when I begin mentioning some huge obstacle that seems impossible to work around, it always happens that some ridiculously off-the-wall thing happens that makes everything go incredibly smoothly?

Thursday morning the head mistress calls us (she also happens to be my landlady, so we've got a good relationship going, which is an added bonus) and asks if we'd like the keys to get into the school and begin setting up. We're very confused by this, since it's, again, Thursday morning. We ask if we'd be disrupting class, and she says not at all. Why not?

Thursday was a school sports day, so no one would be in the school all day long. That night they would be traveling out to the coastal area to play against the schools out there, and they wouldn't get back until Monday night. So we had from Thursday - Monday to do as we liked with the place. So, as soon as we'd finished with door-to-door work that morning, we proceeded up the hill leisurely to begin setting up. On Thursday alone we finished all the wall removal and reorganizing of the chairs, leaving all day Friday to set up the sound equipment and stuff. And because there was no school for the last two days, the water tanks still had a good supply of water.

OK, so yes, everyone is sitting down in this picture, but that's because they'd all been working nonstop since 5 o'clock that morning.

We were thankful for the slower pace, because the work was intense. See, this school is located at the top of a 140 foot hill, one which is steep as all get out. Our Kingdom Hall, where all the material was stored, is at the bottom of the hill. So repeatedly hauling load after load of generator, sound equipment, speaker stand, cleaning supplies, etc etc etc got tiring incredibly quickly. We started at 5 AM, hoping we could get everything carried up before the sun got hot. We made it. Barely.

Barely any catastrophes to be seen!
The main work finished at about 8 PM that night, though there were scattered jobs needing done that kept some of us there until near midnight (and then of course there was the night watch brothers ...)

The following morning though, all went well. No disasters to be seen, all the parts went off great, and the baptism was amazing.

Best pool ever.

We had two candidates: Florine Herman, a thirty-something woman who had begun studying a little over a year earlier; and Queeneth Miguel, an eight year old girl who is far more spiritually mature than I've ever been.

Speaking of her, she was there throughout the entire process of setting up. She'd heard all the difficulties we'd had getting this assembly to happen. She knew of the things Florine had gone through to reach this point. She knew what the visiting brothers were experiencing, coming into a remote location like this. And she'd thoroughly examined the program for this assembly, about not giving up in dealing with the troubles we face through life. And factoring all this together, she left a message for everyone on the blackboard backstage, a message that I'm now going to conclude this blog by sharing with you.

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