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!

If you want to be notified of any updates by email, submit your email in the box in the column to the right. Or your can "Follow" this blog by clicking the "Join this Site" Button just a little further down on the right. This helps us know who is reading and commenting! Thanks so much and Enjoy!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Guyana District Convention 2011

This will be the third District convention we have attended in Guyana, and its always a treat to enjoy the Caribbean flavor of the conventions here!

For those who have visited our blog in the past you might be familiar with the less than ideal venues here in Guyana. 2010 was one of the worst that many can remember, mainly because it was a poorly drained cricket field and it was a very rainy month. So the brothers had to do a lot of work to make the area more usable. For one they built a series of wood bridges across the lakes of mud between seating areas and to reach the stage, also they brought several truck loads of sand in order to make other areas more solid. In the end everything worked out great, even the weather cooperated! To read more click HERE.

- - Last Years Venue...Nice... =) - -


Thankfully this year we were blessed with a venue that was like luxury compared to last year! The brothers found a horse racing track that has been keep in very good condition. The grounds were dry, the bleachers were clean and freshly painted, and it even had a building in front of the bleachers that would work perfectly for a stage. (Normally every year the brothers have to spend hundreds to rent a portable metal platform on which they would build the stage, but not this year!)
But above all our favorite feature of this site was the amazing breeze! Since it faces the ocean at only a few hundred miles away, there was a constant strong breeze the entire time.

On top of all that, the owner of the venue was so impressed by Jehovah’s witnesses that he agreed to let us use the venue free of charge! The brothers were so appreciative that they offered to do some painting and other maintenance work as a payment.

So the week before the convention we did all the cleaning work which took very little time and was finished in one morning. Then the next few days were devoted to setting up the stage, which got a new paint job inside and out. Our local carpenters did some structural repairs to the stairs and even build a second staircase on the back for easier access. As usual they purchased sheets of plywood and secured it to the front of the stage so they can paint the stage using the theme colors of the convention. This year was purple with pink to match the colors on the programs.

- - This existing building made the stage set up a lot easier! - -

- - The brothers added an extra staircase on the side for easier access - -

  Along with the light work load, Lara and I also had an easy time reaching the convention this year, seeing as how it was literally right around the corner from us! It was about a 15 minute walk to reach it from our house, so ahead of time the brothers asked if we would be willing to give accommodations to some of the friends from distant Oreala. It would take a full day to reach the convention for them, and they are very poor so they would often require a place to stay from anyone in the area.

So we agreed to accommodate two people, an old great grandmother, and her great grand daughter. The daughter was very quiet, which is usual for most Amer-Indians. But the Grandmother was a huge talker and an amazing story teller! I struggled the whole time to understand her since she had a very strong Guyanese accent, plus when we would ask her to repeat something or asked a question she could never understand us as she was stone deaf! Yet somehow her great granddaughter was able to communicate with her, go figure. So we mostly listened and nodded out heads while she told us her life story.

- - Lara helping the old Grandmother back to our house - -
All in all we had a great time getting to know them better, from the Grandmothers stories we found that she grew up very poor and worked very hard her whole life. This is typical for the older generation of Guyana, since most of the more modern provisions were unavailable, especially in remote areas.

She was very intrigued by our food so she told us some stories about the various foods that she had to eat. Like one time a few years ago, a Guyanese brother traveled to their village and stayed with them, and she said she loved him because he would eat just about anything and love it! She said one day they found a wild monkey and she was going to get rid of it but the brother said “no don’t throw it away!” She said “You want it??” He said “Yes, I’ll eat it if you prepare it!” So she cooked it up with different spices, seasonings and vegetables and served it to him and he loved it! We were amazed to find out later that we knew the brother, he is currently a special pioneer in another distant village. And he happened to be at the convention so we just had to verify this story. When we asked him about what the auntie told us he looked stunned, and he said “yes, in my younger years I did a lot of crazy things” .

Side Note: It would seem that the Guyanese have stomachs of steel because many will eat just about anything, for example one day we were in a taxi and the passenger asked him to stop at one of the little stands along the road that sell snacks and get some food for his kids for dinner. So he pulled up the stand like it was a drive though McDonald's and told the lady what he wanted. So she grabs a few clear cups and fills them with what looks like some kind of soup. He then has his son get out and collect the “soup”. As they bring the “soup” into the car we cant help but notice that each of them has some vegetables and a chicken foot sticking out of it! And they are just eating this soup like it’s the most delicious thing in the world, the man even picks out the chicken foot and puts the whole thing in his mouth! Doesn’t spit out anything! So Lara and I are struggling not to laugh out loud, but I cant help but to ask them what they are eating. The man says “Dis heea sous you know... ya want it?” I declined and asked him if he said its called “Sous?” He said yes, and that its like chicken soup. So there you go.

 - - Look close for the chicken foot! - -

Lara was happy to have two of her bible students come to the convention, one of which came to all three days for the whole session! After she came to Friday, she went home so excited she talked it up the whole night to her husband and he decided to come on Saturday! This was quite a feat, considering he hadn’t been to any Christian church in years since he hated the Baptist style meetings, with all the yelling and clapping that goes on. So he was very impressed by the calm and dignified spirit at the convention and has started to listen in on his wife’s study more regularly.


I would say that the experiences are what make the conventions so distinct here and give it the local flavor that we have come to love so much. Here are a few that stood out to us.

This first one isn’t really an experience but more like a demonstration with the mother that’s trying to stay calm when the daughter takes an angry tone of voice with her. For those of you in the states that remember this demo, you might have noticed the extreme tone and volume of the daughters voice as she screams at her mother. We learned from the first outburst and the second time we quickly covered our ears.

So we wondered what to expect from the Guyana version of this demo, and we were pleasantly surprised by the respectful tone of the daughter this time. Afterward we related to others that in Guyana children wouldn’t dare raise their voice to their parents, for fear of death, lol.

Another experience was given by one of our local elders who has a severe disability, Brother Lekraj. The experience was about coping with disabilities and health problems. Everyone in the audience listened closely as our brother related the many difficulties he deals with. For one he has only partial use of his legs, which were severely damaged when we was run over by a tractor as a child. So now that he’s getting close to 60 years old he has a great deal of pain from the muscle and bone damage. He also struggles with stomach ulcers since he has to take so much medication for his pain. So he was asked what he does to keep strong spiritually, and he explained that he tries to never miss any of the meetings even though it’s always a trial to get out to the road and find transportation to the Kingdom hall and back. He said by keeping regular at meetings and service it keeps his hope alive of the Paradise where he will have a healthy body and legs and will finally be able to walk without crutches!

One other experience was about a young brother who was dealing with persecution in school. In schools here they have the flag salute like many countries, but the problem here is if children disobey, some of the teachers will beat them! So one day the brother was standing during the flag salute and the teacher notices he is not saluting. So she tells him twice to salute, and both times he refuses. The third time she grabs and stick and threatens to beat him with it. So he quickly prayed for courage and again refused to salute. So the teacher grabs him by the arm and takes him to the Head Masters office. She tells the head master that the child is disobeying her and the he should be beaten. The teacher again turns to the brother and says “Why did you not listen to me when I spoke to you!?” The brother again prays for courage and explains that the bible forbids him to worship anyone or anything other than Jehovah God. Thankfully in response to this the head master sent him home for the day and did not beat him.

- - There were 11 baptized and a peak attendance of over 1200 - -

Drama Pictures


 - - Yes those are feather dusters - -



As usual no Convention would be complete without a Need-Greater Party, and since we lived so close we got to have it at our house! Michelle helped a lot since we were a little overwhelmed doing it for the first time, but everyone chipped in generously with food and drinks.

We really enjoy having these gatherings since for one thing, its a chance for us all to see everyone! Since the congregations are so spread out (Often 10-20 miles apart) we rarely see other need-greaters unless they have a car or we travel to their KH. Plus we just love to hear about all the experiences everyone is having in their local territory and the experiences of all the New need greaters. How they got here, what they had to do to get here, and how Jehovah helped them.
- Yes this was the silly group pic - -

- - Michelle even prepared a game to play called "Name that Tune" but JW style. - -