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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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Guyana Trivia

Since we dont want to assume that everyone knows where Guyana is, and what sort of place it is, we have decided to make this Educational posting for any who are interested. Enjoy!

Guyana Statistics

Pronounced Guy-au-na

Not to be confused with Ghana (Africa) or French Guiana (Further East of Guyana)

Population Approximately 770,000

Currency: GYD (Guyanese Dollars) Approximately $200 GYD = $1 USD

- - Guyanese Dollars - -                                              - - Population Density in Thousands - -


Guyana became independent 1966. and became a Republic in 1970, but was previously owned by the Dutch, then Britain and known as “British Guyana”. The Dutch Colonized the country in the 1600’s, bringing African slaves, then the British came around the 1800’s with East Indian Indentured slaves. Thus the Population is Primarily African and East Indian. Although it is situated on the northeast corner of South America, it is culturally part of the Caribbean Community. Thus the majority of the communities near the coast have strong Caribbean influence in their Language, Food and Culture.

Natives of Guyana - (Amer-Indian)

Although the initial feel most will get when coming to Guyana is Caribbean, the deeper into the interior you go, the Less Caribbean influence there is. In fact there are many remote villages in the interior that are not Caribbean at all, but are still strongly connected to the original Natives of South America, some even speaking the native languages such as Wai Wai, and Makushi. Among most Amer Indians the food is also very different, the main staple being Casava or Yuka root as Americans know it. These tribes carry many of the customs of their ancient descendents, Yet even in the most remote villages all speak proper English, and the education levels are generally much better than on the coast.

- - Amer Indian with a Cat Skin - -                          - - Making "Fereen" Out of Casava (Yuka)
- - Amer Indian Witness Family - -                         - - Amer Indians - Remote interior Village -


Because it was controlled by Britain for over 200 years, English is the Dominant language, British English being taught in schools. But a form of English Creole is more commonly spoken, also known as “Creolese”. This language is very different from standard English and can be very difficult to understand. Thankfully most have learned proper English in school and some can adapt depending on the extent of their schooling. One of the biggest differences between English and Creolese is that the use of personal pronouns is very poor.


"I am Looking for Him" = "Me lookin fa He"

"I told her not to go" = "Me tald she na fa go"

The word "Have" is often replaced with "Get":

"I don't have any" = "Me na get"

"Will you have any" = "Ya Gettin any?"

"Did you have success?" = "Ya Get Troo Der?"

Words with "TH" are pronounced with just a "T" sound,

and "O" is often replaced with an "A" or "I" sound:


"Three" = "Tree"

"Truth" = "Troot"

"Through" = "Troo"

"Thief" = "Teef"

"Forty" = "Farty"

"You / Yours"= "Ya / Yars"

"Oil" = "Ayl"

"Toilet" = "Tylet"

Other examples of Caribbean sounding words:

"Alright" = "Arite"

"Them / There / These" = "Dem / Der / Dees"

"No Problem" = "Na Prablem"


It would seem that the food is largely influenced by its East Indian decedents, and a little from Africa. The staple is rice, normally served with a variety of meats with vegetables, always very well cooked and strongly spiced and seasoned. A favorite is Curry Chicken, also Roti which is like a very thick oily tortilla. There are also several fried breads, which are common as snacks, like “Bara” which is like a doughnut with mash beans mixed in. Most of the foods are very oily so blood pressure and blood sugar problems are very common.

- - Bara - -                                                                - - Roti - -

 - - Curry Chicken w/ Roti - -                                   - - Chow Mein / Curry Chicken / Chana


The culture in Guyana is very close to that of the Caribbean, and so you will find most are very laid back and easy going. The people of Guyana love to “Gaff” which means to chat or enjoy light conversation for extended periods. It is also considered very rude to turn away strangers abruptly, most feeling obligated to invite visitors in to talk and share a refreshment. Religious tolerance is very good, most adopting the customs of several religions. A common saying is “Me no give against any religion you know”, meaning I don’t have anything against other religions. These factors make the ministry very easy and enjoyable, leading to many good conversations and bible studies. Most people on the coast of Guyana are very social and people oriented, so all consider it their responsibility to know what is going on with their neighbors especially regarding marriages or deaths. In fact a common pastime for many Guyanese is to sit on front of their homes or on the porch and watch people who pass, striking up conversation with them to see what's new.

In contrast, the Natives of Guyana, or "Amer-Indians" are often painfully shy. As foreign ministers we are considered among an elite class, or highly educated, so some may even avoid making eye contact. But for the most part the people live very simply and work very hard, adhering closely to traditions and customs of thier people.


Although Religious tolerance in Guyana is generally very good, during war times the authorities were quick to fall in line with their mother nations, often putting strict bans on bible literature and public preaching. The most recent of these bans was lifted in the mid 1960's, after which a huge amount of confiscated literature was finally released to the brothers. Since then the preaching work has thrived to point that now, just about everyone in the coastal communities know who Jehovah's Witnesses are and what our message is. All are favorable to listening to our message, and a great deal of spiritual seed has been scattered throughout the country. Evangelistic Christians are very prevalent, so most witnesses are very fluent in using their bibles to break through false teachings. Still, it would seem that right now, much more emphasis is being given to Cultivating the seeds that have been so thoroughly scattered. Many householders are accustomed to the monthly sermons, yet many have never been asked simple questions like "Does God cause our Suffering?" or "Would you like to know more about the Bible?".
So with this concentrated effort and gentle guidance from missionaries and pioneers, the congregations are quickly seeing an increased number of bible studies and return visits.

- - Guyanese Hindu in the Mininstry - -

On the other hand, the Ministry in the Interior of Guyana is a very different story. For one, because the people come from a very different background, and two, the interior villages are very remote and difficult to reach. Starting around the 1920's the brothers made efforts to reach these remote villages, but even to this day there are people in the interior who have never heard of Jehovah. This is partly due to being in remote areas, but also because Gideon bibles were widely distributed among the Amer-Indians, and sadly this translation makes a bold effort to remove and obscure Gods name. Thankfully in recent years there has been a large increase in the number of expeditions to reach these villages, with many more to come!


  1. Thanks for the educational posting and the history of Guyana. That was great information. We miss you guys. Romans Family

  2. Another very interesting and informative blog. I so appreciate you taking the time to share your experiences. You have a way of putting things so that we can see your experiences through your eyes and enjoy them with you. Looking forward to the next blog. Thank you so much.

  3. I know this is one of your older posts but it really is amazing - hope you don't mind I've been sending a link to it for everyone who asks us about visiting guyana

  4. Thank you very much for both your research and observations. Very astute!