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, October 31, 2013

2013 Annual Meeting - "We Need Bibles!"

One of the many quotes from the meeting that will be remembered for a long time I think! Not to mention "Sister Proof" lol. 

That was certainly a historic and monumental meeting and we were so glad that everyone was able to enjoy it! We viewed the feed from the Patterson Auditorium, but when they were passing out the bibles we figured they would only be available at the Stanley theatre. We heard that most had the same reaction initially, what a surprise new release! Our thoughts quickly went to the friends in Guyana, since we knew they were tied in to the program, but since literature takes sooo long to get there we never imagined that the new bible would be distributed there too! But we called my sister Michelle in Guyana that evening, and she happily declared that she was reading her new bible! Apparently the bibles were delivered to a missionary home under cover of darkness so as to keep it confidential. We spoke to a brother from the Art department who worked on some of the illustrations in the new bible and he was also amazed that they could get them all shipped out so quickly since he only completed his work on the illustrations about a month prior. 

Our reaction to the new Bible was sheer amazement! We knew there would have to be some kind of revisions being made, especially with the long build up, and hints from all the previous talks on the program. But we had no idea there would be so many revisions not to mention all the extra features! One sister even said that if we are ever under ban and all our literature is taken away, we will still be just fine with "only our bibles" Truly we are "completely equipped".

Some were very excited!

After the bibles were distributed and they explained some of the new features, we were again blown away by the new JW Library Ap! When the curtain first opened and they had all the pads and computers lined up I was thinking, "Hey I didn't know Steve Jobs was working with WT???" Didn't he look just like him? Especially with the headset and all the tech on the table.

It's so cool to be part of such an up to date and professional organization!

Gilead Goulash 

Since most everyone was able to be tied into the program I won't go into detail about the parts of course, but we did have a great time after the program with the Fortuna's and a few other friends that they invited over. The Fortuna's always like to have a gathering after the Annual meeting and invite ones that are visiting the branch alone or don't have a group. They always make the same dish and they call it "Gilead Goulash", they used to call it "Annual Meeting Goulash" but Tim said that didn't roll off the tongue quite as well. =)

The first couple we met were Pioneers in the Italian congregation, which has a lot of need in NY. They've both been serving there for about ten years and they are loving it!

The second couple we met were recent Gilead Graduates from England. They were serving at the London Branch for some years when they were invited to attend Gilead. Most of the Graduates have been assigned back to where they were, like the traveling work, or full time service at a Bethel branch. The couple we met though were being re-assigned to the Cameroon Bethel Branch in Africa! So apparently you still can't really say for sure where you will end up after Gilead.

Audio / Video Displays 

After eating we all went up the AV Department of Bethel to look at some special displays. They set up a really nice display for both the "Prodigal" Video and the "Caleb" Videos! There were even parts where you could pose and pretend like you were in the movie! Speaking of the Prodigal Video, Tim mentioned that most of the cast were workers right there at Patterson, and after walking around we started to see a lot of them! My first inclination was to go up to them and get a picture but of course we didn't since it would really embarrass them. But we did get to meet the Couple who played David's parents. They were very friendly and told us how they even did Traveling work in Oregon for some years but not in the Portland area.

Sound Recording Studio

Caleb! You're a Real Boy!

A series of boards explaining how the Caleb Animation works. =)
Apparently they are working on Caleb the Ride....
The Car from the Police Chase in "the Prodigal"
The even mounted cameras to the car to get those awesome shots!
Super Professional!

Bad News Al? ... Meet Bad News Mike!
Art Displays 

After that we went down to the art department which had several amazing displays from recent projects and videos that have been put on the JW Website! 

The first was a white board which they used to make the video about "Beat a Bully without your Fists" and "What's a Real Friend?". They showed how the Artist would draw the entire picture and while being recorded and then they would speed up parts, and add animation later. 
There were many actors in costume around the department also who you could pose with and even try on some of the outfits. We had a lot of fun pretending to be bible characters.... Maybe a little too much fun? 

We also saw an amazing new device that the Organization has been using to get the aerial shots of the new Warwick project. You know how the recent videos on the website look so professional and hi-tech? Well this flying camera has made a big difference in capturing scenes and angles that would be impossible otherwise. So the next time you watch, look for flying video shots and remember what made them possible!

You know how in a lot of movies there are scenes where the person looks like they are flying in space, or underwater or with an alien planet in the back ground. Well in the next display we saw the "green screen" which helps to make this possible. But instead of adding space or planets they can also add a barren dessert, or maybe a view of an ancient city in the background to make the scene look more real. An example of this is in the Video "Walk by Faith, not by Sight". So while the person is in costume they act out their part in front of the "green screen" and afterward the brothers can remove the green and add whatever desired background they like! Cool huh? 

 Lastly we saw the rooms where the actors get their costumes, makeup and beards put on. Did you think the brothers just grew their beards out? Not likely, instead the costume hair gets pasted to their face, and then is trimmed just like real hair. And in some cases they have to put on a mask first to make their skin look old, parched, or even bloody!


It was a very eventful day, and one we will never forget, but the fun wasn't completely over yet! We still had the privilege to join the Bethel family for the Watchtower study on Monday. Plus we were right in time for a Special Lecture after the WT study by Brother Jackson of the Governing body. So stay tuned for our next post!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Our Return to Guyana - Year Four -

A Guyana Reunion Party we had in Oregon! So Happy!
Well we've had another successful return trip, working and saving to extend our ministry in Guyana. Our last stay in Guyana was the longest yet, 18 months!
We returned home around February this year, stopping at our Doctor in Venezuela on the way to get our routine cleanse and check for any unwanted bugs.
As usual we came back to the states with our hands completely empty, no jobs, cars, or even a place to stay. But Jehovah took care of that in a hurry, and some of it even before we arrived back home! We greatly appreciate the loving Generosity and Hospitality that was shown to us by our Family and Friends in the past seven months!
We had a lot of nice experiences that helped us to see Jehovah's Blessing on our efforts to find work. For one, when I returned to the states this time I had to start nearly from scratch to get the plumbing business going again since my father had to sell his business. It was a tough choice but he just couldn't afford to keep it going while I was gone, plus there was no one reliable enough to do the work. So I had been dreading all the time and expense it would take to start working again including the purchase of Tools and a Work Vehicle. Thankfully my brother in Law had recently purchased a second truck since his first one was too big and bad on gas, but he offered to let me use it while I was there working. Awesome! Then in my search for tools I had been trying to find a Drain Cleaner to use, but they were very expensive to buy new, around $500! And We could not seem to find a used one that would work for what I needed. We had almost given up when my Dad suggested that we try Pawn shops. I had never tried that before but he called around to a few local ones and on the second call he found the exact one I needed for only $100!
The Truck I Borrowed
My New Drain Cleaner!


I also had wondered what kind of response I would get from our previous customers that we had to neglect for so long. Would they give me their business again, or would they be satisfied with their new plumbers? When calling several of them, every time I got a very happy response that I was back, and they all seemed eager to give me plenty of work!
Lara also had some good experiences looking for work as it is difficult to do temping long term since they send you all over the place, and the schedule is very sporadic. We seriously doubted that she could find a stable job since most Dental offices are looking hire permanent workers, not ones that can only stay for 4-5 months. But we prayed a lot about it, since the schedule was making it very difficult to Pioneer. Before we even started asking around, a sister called Lara out of the blue since she had heard we were back and looking for work. This sister explained that she knew of an office that needed help since their lead assistant was very sick. So Lara quickly sent over her resume, but the schedule ended up conflicting with our meetings. That was a bit discouraging but about 3-4 days later Lara got a call from a different Dentist who was also looking for a new assistant. He we in contact with the office that Lara applied for originally, and he was in desperate need of a lead Assistant. Strangely enough he only needed someone for about 4 months! Their schedule fit perfectly with ours, and Lara would even get off early on our meeting nights. She worked there for the next 5 months, and they even gave her a goodbye party when we left. Plus the Dentist hired me to do some plumbing work for his office in exchange for some much needed dental work. So it was kinda like killing two birds with one stone!
These were just a few experiences that were really reassuring since it is very difficult to give up stable work for long periods, and we never really know what we will come back to. But Seeing Jehovah's support little by little along the way greatly strengthens our faith, and helps us to remember his promise to provide the "other things" when we strive to put his kingdom first
So our Original plan was to return to Guyana around August but early on we received an email from some friends of ours at Patterson who invited us to attend the Annual Meeting with them! We were so honored we couldn't say no, even though it would mean postponing our departure date to October. We decided to just stay longer in the states since the extra airfare to Guyana , back to NY, and then back to Guyana again would take a huge chunk out of our savings. So we made plans to fly to New York for the Annual meeting, and then fly down to Guyana right after.

Since we had some extra time, and we kept hearing about all the need for volunteers at the bethel branches, we decided to apply for Temporary Bethel Service! We sent the applications in around the end of June, and made ourselves available for up to three months starting in August. Not long after we sent them in the letter was read at the meeting asking for volunteers to come help with the Warwick project. So that was encouraging and we felt that our chances were pretty good to be accepted, but as the weeks went by we started to lose hope. We went to the Bethel Volunteer Meeting at the convention and spoke with one of the brothers, asking if we should call and see if the application went through. The brother suggested to give it a few more weeks, and if we hadn't heard anything still, then to call. So we waited... and finally we couldn't take the suspense and I called in to the Volunteer Desk at Brooklyn Bethel. I asked the overseer about our applications, he checked and verified that yes they had received them early July. Then he paused and he asked me "So when are you and your wife going to be back from Guyana?". I almost laughed and then explained that we had been back since February. Apparently there was still a memo on our file from a previous temp application, that we would be in Guyana and couldn't come temp until we returned. So the brother explained that they book all workers at least two months in advance, and they were booked out till the end of September now! So I explained that we wouldn't be able to come in October since we needed to get back to our assignment, but we will try again next summer when we return to the states.

Even though we didn't get to go temp at Bethel, we were still very excited to  be able to go to Patterson and attend the Annual meeting there!
So stick around for a experiences and photos from the Annual Meeting in our next Post!

View from Hill at Patterson Bethel