Welcome to Michael and Lara's Ministry Updates from Guyana! (AKA "Mike and Lara" AKA Myk-en-Lara" :-) We Love to keep in touch with all our family and friends, but its difficult when we are so far away, and our internet here is not so reliable. So we will post our experiences and pictures on this site for everyone!

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Venezuela - Land of Arepas

Hello Everyone!

Well this will probably be our last post on this blog for a while since Tomorrow we will be in the States again! So we are greatly looking forward to seeing many of you again soon and catching up on things!

We were in Venezuela for the past three weeks getting some treatments and therapy before we return home to work, and it has been going very well. The Dr here found a few problems and one problem that specifically that had been causing a lot of Lara’s back pain. So she has been feeling much better now after having treatments!
We stayed at the actual facility while we were getting therapy which was actually quite nice. Basically the Dr here has a small facility where he treats all his patients, and his home is directly connected to the facility. We stayed in one of the rooms that are prepared for long distance patients, buts it’s a lot like staying in a home, very cozy! All the food was provided for us which was delicious! And we went to the meetings with the family there since they are all witnesses. It was a lot like being at a small bethel since all the employees are witnesses too, with some subtle differences of course.


While at the Facility we were very well fed. and we quickly learned that the people of Venezuela Love Arepas! Arepas are kind of like a flat bread made with corn meal and toasted or fried on both sides. Then they cut it on one side and put all sorts of meats, cheses and even fruits inside it. Sometimes they eat it for every meal, with slight changes in the filling. So on our first day in Venezuela we of course had Arepas for Breakfast, and I had heard of it but never eaten it yet. Lara even asked me, "So How do you eat it?" and I explained confidently, "I think its like making a sandwhich". So I got two of the arepas and proceded to build my aprepa sandwhich, first some eggs, then meat and some cheese to top it off. I started eating it and miway a brother came by and saw what I had done. His exact words were, "Wow, that is the first time I have ever seen that..." Even even repeated it a couple times, "I have never seen that before". So I'm feeling pretty dumb, but it gets better as he proceeds to call other people over to see my "Arepa Sandwhich". Everyone looking and laughing, then they all explained the proper way to eat arepas. It took a while to live down actually, and the next few days people would say, "Hey you're the guy who made the arepa Sandwhich!"

 - - Wrong - -                                   - - Right - -

- - This is smilar to another very common dish called "Pavellon" (Spelling?) pronounced Pa-vey-yon.  - -

The Doctors son, Juan Pablo brought us with him and his family one day to a beach nearby. A lot of the public beaches are pretty nice but of course he preferred to take a speedboat out to one of the many islands near the coast. It wasn’t an elite excursion or anything, its just not free like the public beaches. So we pulled up to a dock and hired one of the many transports to get to the small islands. It was very exciting to see such beautiful blue-green water! The only downside is that in Venezuela the people are not shy at all,Meaning they all wear very skimpy bathing suits even if they are way overweight! Talk about shameless! Otherwise we had a blast there!

After about two weeks at the facility we left all of our new friends and family to go back to the Venezuela Branch. This branch has about 150, which is huge compared to the 8 at the Guyana branch. And of course the grounds at the bethel are amazing! I would say it’s even more beautiful than Patterson, since for one its tropical, and two, the complex is right at the base of some beautiful green mountains!


 We learned a lot on our Tour, including info about all of the Kingdom hall and Assembly hall Construction going on in Venezuela. And despite all the work being done they are only meeting about half the demand. I n the past few years they have constructed around 40 Kingdom halls but they still need another 100 to meet the need!

Not to mention there is a huge need in service and foreign language. Aside from Spanish there is a large population of Arabic, Chinese, Haitian and Portuguese! Not to mention there are Hundreds of English speaking Guyanese that have immigrated in on the Far East side of the country. We met a missionary couple who have been assigned in the area and the explained that they are pretty overwhelmed with how many are coming in. They have moved to a new location to better meet the need, but they said there is a large town of 3000 further east with hundreds of people just waiting to study! We are definitely going to keep an eye on this area for when we come back to Guyana!

We also learned that originally the land that is now Guyana belonged to Venezuela, but during the war they sold the land to England for money and help in the war. But hundreds of years later the government of Venezuela decided that they wanted that land back, which is about Ninety Percent of Guyana. Of course since Guyana is now independent, there is no way they would give up their country, but on a lot of the maps of Venezuela it has Guyana on it marked “Reclamacion” meaning Reclamation!

- - Circled is the part of Guyana under Reclamation - -

During our tour of the branch it was a treat to also meet the LSV group at the branch who are currently translating literature in the Venezuelan Sign Language. They were a super fun group to meet!


- - Brother Longa in Charge of Translation Services - -

On our last weekend here, a bethelite couple offered to take us to a few of the sights in Venezuela, since we hadn’t seen much while staying at the facility. So they took us to a small town waaaaay up in the mountains nearby. And get this, the Town is German!


Apparently back in the 1800s, 300 Germans came to Venezuela because of war and political problems and started a colony up in the mountains, very secluded from the rest of the people in Venezuela. All of them were very adventurous and hard workers, and a testimony to their race since none of the original settlers died during the long journey there. It was also a very secluded town and no outsiders were allowed in until recently. But once they did allow tourism and access roads, the town grew very quickly! But they always maintained the original German feel and architecture. While up there we met a former bethelite couple who are Special Pioneers now in the town. He is German and she is Venezuelan. He speaks English as well as Spanish so he explained all about the history of the town and how he is now teach German to reach the population in their native tongue. Truly, Venezuela is a Melting Pot of Peoples and Culture!

 Here's a link for more Info on this amazing Town!  Colinia Tovar

- - The Tall Brother is the one from Germany, and his wife on the Left. - -

- - It was unbeleivably cold up in the mountains!! We we're literally up in the clouds! - -

Finally on Sunday we took a trip out to the Huge Capital City of Caracas. We didn’t spend much time there but we went in a tram all the way up to a mountain over looking the city, and boy was it high up! We were amazed at how huge the city is! It has a staggering Seven Million people!

- - Up and Up - -

- - And Up and Up!! - -

Of course with over population comes poverty, and there is a lot in Caracas. But like most large cities, there are good parts and bad parts. In the poor areas the houses are stacked right on top of each other on steep inclines. It seems that people can simply find a plot of land and build a house there, tax-free. Of course construction codes are non-existent, so there are a lot of accidents and damage from collapsing houses. One brother also told us that near the city is a fault line and the mountains on either side are slowly moving together! They even had to rebuild one of the bridges because it was literally being crushed between the mountains!

So we took this trip mainly for medical reasons but it turned out to be very educational and a fun vacation at the same time! Everyone asked when we would be coming back and we would love to if Jehovah permits!