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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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Visit to Barbados

From time to time we have found that serving where the need is great has its perks. And one of these times has come with our recent border crossing!

As explained on previous posts, foreigners in Guyana have only been able to receive three months visas, and according to the authorities, we must leave the country and come back in order to get another three months.
So some have gotten creative with this border-crossing requirement and have decided to use it as a chance for a vacation getaway, seeing as how we are only an hour away from several of the Caribbean Islands. On top of that, a new airline called Red Jet has opened up offering great deals on Caribbean flights, some as low as $1 USD (Before Taxes). So we kept hearing of several need-greaters making these affordable Border Crossing / Vacation trips and we decided to look into it! In the end we were able to refund a previously purchased ticket that Caribbean airlines forced us to buy, and use the money to fly to Barbados!
Of course we tried to keep in mind that the purpose of our visit there was to extend our stay in Guyana, but it was hard not to bubble with excitement about visiting a “True” Caribbean Island!  You see in Guyana we have thoroughly experienced the Caribbean Culture, but without the Caribbean Environment most would expect. So we had some visions in mind, but to our surprise, it was even more beautiful than we expected!

We contacted the Branch ahead of time, as we normally do, and asked about accommodations there. But since our visit landed on the same week as the Zone Visit for Barbados, things were just too hectic for them to have us stay there. So instead they put us into contact with an amazing Special Pioneer couple, Ken and Edmarie Brathwaite, who graciously took us into their home for the week! This turned out to be another unexpected blessing as it lead to many up-building conversations, and to forming yet another close friendship! We felt privileged to hear all their stories and experiences, and especially how they have endured in their assignments despite various difficulties.

Ken and Edmarie Brathwaite
Although we had a busy schedule or tourist activities, we tried to join the couple for service to get a taste of Barbados Ministry.  We found that it had some similarities to Guyana since the people are also laid-back and talkative. But many of them seem very preoccupied with their daily activities and were just too busy to talk. This may have been due in part to the fact that the territory gets worked very often, sometimes twice a month. It’s common for the friends to be well acquainted with the householders, often knowing their names and various trivia about them. Aside from that, there is no ignoring the strong influence of tourism, which has influenced many to pursue material riches.

One of the greatest things about Barbados is that it has no restrictions on the Beaches. So anyone and everyone can enjoy the entire coastline! This is unusual because many other islands have the nicest beaches closed off to the public, or you have to pay a fee to get in. But in Barbados we had our choice from secluded coral beaches, to calm sandy beaches, even resort beaches with fancy umbrellas and lounge chairs!
Barbados Beaches
Sharks Cove Beach

Strom Comming In!

Barbados Bethel
One of the days the Brathwaites took us on a tour of the entire coastline, including a tour of the Barbados Bethel! As they had warned it was a very busy time for everyone at the Bethel preparing of the Zone Overseers Visit. But they lovingly squeezed us in for a tour and gave us a thorough presentation on the various Islands under the direction of the Barbados Branch. We were surprised to learn that they are in Oversight over 9 other Islands including :

St. Vincent and the Grenadines
St. Lucia
Antigua and Barbuda
St. Kitts/ Nevis
View of Bethel from the Front

Us and the Brathwaites in Front of the Bethel

Kingdom Hall on Bethel Grounds

One of the brothers there gave us some details about Dominica, a beautiful island that currently has  need. We were surprised to hear that it has Ten Missionaries, which shows that the Organization has responded to the need, but most of these are assigned to one side of the island where the city and heavy tourist population live. On the other side of the Island is a more rural territory, which has recently opened up, but only has two missionaries there. This territory has been showing excellent growth, especially in preaching to the natives who speak a French Creole, which reminded me of the amazing response we have been getting from the natives of Guyana. So the brother gave us the emails of the missionary couple there and we will be doing research on whether we could make a visit!
Area in Need shown in Box
A highlight of the day was seeing the east coast of Barbados, which many refer to as “Little Scotland”. The area has beautiful green elevations overlooking the wavy Atlantic Ocean. The water has a very different look from the west coast, not only because of the waves but because it is a much darker blue. It also has a quaint little town area called Bathsheba, with a few restaurants and shops.

Largest Functional Windmill in the Caribbean!

Although this Mountainous area of Barbados doesn’t have as much to offer in beach recreation, it does have some tourist attractions of a different kind. One of these is the Harrison Caves, which offer a guided tour of coral and limestone caves with many amazing rock formations. The tour cost $30 each but everyone we spoke to about it said it’s worth the price to see, and after seeing it we were glad we did. They did a nice job of making the tour fun even though you don’t get to hike through, it’s more like a ride at Disneyland. They added some neat lighting which makes all the stalagmites and stalactites look even cooler. And they stop at a few spots so you can get out and look around and take pictures. An interesting factoid about the stalactites is that these ones grow at only the thickness of a paper every year! They are very sensitive, and if touched it will retard the growth completely. So no Touching Allowed!


On our last day of Barbados we were really hoping to enjoy the beach a bit more since the weather had ruined our plans on more than one occasion. To our surprise, word of our visit got through the grapevine to a brother (Jayden) that had previously taken some family of ours on a boat trip to snorkel with the fish and turtles. So the brother contacted us and asked if we would be interested in doing the same, to which we exclaimed, “Yes, thank you!” So we made arrangements to meet up with him and one other brother, James Larrive, who was visiting from Connecticut and helping out at the Bethel. They took us to meet with the boat at one of the resort beaches, where we swam for about an hour until the boat came. The man who owns the boat and does the tour is Jayden’s Cousin, so he gave us a great deal! We had awesome time swimming in the blue ocean with the fish and turtles, and after that Jayden took us to another beach not far away and gave us each a turn in his Kayak!

Lara - Swimming with the Fishes!

Riding the Waves! Pretty Righteous!

From Left to Right: Jayden, me, Lara, James

 All in all we had such an entertaining and invigorating time, mostly because our little vacation / border crossing trip could have been very expensive but turned out to be quite affordable thanks to all the loving generosity shown by our fellow brothers and sisters! Of course we were very sad to leave, but thankfully we left feeling refreshed as opposed to stressed and exhausted. And most important, were able to return home to Guyana with renewed zeal and determination to reach our goal of staying until the end of the year!