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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Monday, April 21, 2014

Memorial in Kwakwani

So at the assembly last month we received a special invitation from an old friend to attend their memorial. The congregation is in a mining town called Kwakwani just about 4-5 hours into the interior. Over the years this congregation has had a number of special pioneers assigned to it, but even now there are only two elders taking care of this congregation and the two other groups about an hour away. This year one of the elders was assigned to handle the memorial for one of the groups in the town of Ituni, and the other elder would be gone attending  in the BSSB, so Kwakwani would be very shorthanded. So our friend Joshua Dorris, who served in Kwakwani for 5 years as a special, mentioned that he would be traveling there to give the memorial talk and that we were welcome to come along also!

Joshua is on the Left, and Joel on the Right is his former Pioneer Partner, currently assigned in Kwakwani

On a map, the route we took to Kwakwani appears to be a very round about way, but there just aren't any direct routes to get there. The Berbice river does eventually go there but some say it would take about 3 days even with a large boat motor, and even then the gas would be very expensive. It just goes to show how dense and undeveloped the interior of Guyana is.
Our Bus going to Kwakwani from Linden

The Buses going down are normally packed with Supplies

We had often heard of Kwakwani before, especially from Joshua, since the town is remote with a large territory, but it still has a lot of "luxuries", like stable electricity, water, a variety of groceries, and even internet! The only problem we had was that the road was often impassable in the winter time, and we would have to leave every three months to renew our visas. But apparently the road has been improved and buses travel there every day now! 

This Part of the Road was quite smooth since its more dry.
Abandoned Bauxite mine on the way to Kwakwani 

 Logging is also big in Kwakwani

The Ministry

Something that makes Kwakwani unique is its population. It has around 5000 people but instead of Amerindians, the people there are primarily African Guyanese, and they are all very Devout Christians. So Josh was telling us that you really have to know your bible well and have strong lines of reasoning since almost everyone is very familiar with the bible. This leads to a very enjoyable ministry since most everyone is willing to have an in depth discussion with you, and you are able to really hone your teaching skills.
For example, one bible student who was traveling back to Kwakwani on a different bus, came by the house looking for one of the brothers. She had apparently had a very long conversation with the bus driver on several topics, like the meaning of Sheol / Gehenna , the immortal soul, and Trinity. We told her the brothers would be gone for a few days but we offered to answer any questions she might have about the conversation. So she sat down and explained the whole conversation that she had in detail. After listening we found she had very good reasoning points even the she is only a student! For about an hour afterward we had a nice conversation and answered a few questions she had.
We have noticed some on the east coast also have good bible understanding, but only about 30-40 percent, since the rest are either illiterate, rarely read their bible, or are Hindu and know very little about the  bible. So needless to say Kwakwani would bring a very different experience in the ministry, but sadly we only had three days there, so we are making plans to return for longer and really experience what it has to offer.

Sunday Meeting
Walking to Meeting in the Rain!

 Memorial Preparations

This was a very exciting Memorial to attend, simply because we both got to have such a huge share in the preparations. Even though the congregation only has about 20 publishers, the brothers we expecting about 100 to attend! This meant we would have to set up an overflow seating area outside, since the kingdom hall would only fit around 60. So after we helped clean out the kingdom hall, Josh came with a large 30 x 30 foot canopy, along with some large wooden supports to help hold it up.
Kwakwani has a brand new Kingdom Hall thanks to the KH Construction Program.

Setting up the Canopy
Making an extension cord for the Generator. Lethermans Rock!

The Emblems

We also got to help with the emblems which was pretty fun. The brother had already prepared the wine which was made from a berry called Jamun (Sounds like Jamoon) If you taste Jamun by itself it has a sweet flavor initially followed by a very dry tart flavor. The Guyanese love to make Jamun wine which they ferment in a bucket for about month. They normally add a lot of sugar to offset the tartness, but for the memorial wine there would be no sugar. We had even tried making some recently but it didn't ferment right and turned sour.

Jamun Berries. Yes it Will Stain!
We also got to make the unleavened bread for the first time which was not as easy as we thought it would be. The first attempt didn't go so well as the mixture was too dry and it was really hard to roll it out even. So we called my sister and she recommended using more water, then after rolling it out using a bowl to cut out a circle shape. We baked the "unleavened tortillas" on a flat skillet called a Towa, and it worked out really well! 

First attempt on the left. Improved method on the right.
After Sundown
The time arrived for Memorial finally, but of course right about the same time it started to rain! Unlike the rain on the coast which pours down for a few minutes and then finishes, this rain stuck around for over an hour, and it was heavy! Walking to the Kingdom hall in the rain was fun but we were in for more fun once we got there. The tarp on the outside of the hall was still up, but now all the rain was catching in the middle creating a large pool of water. So every ten minutes we had to use a broom and push the tarp up to let the rain empty out. On top of that we also had to set up all of the chairs on the outside of the hall, and set up the emblems, all the while trying to meet and greet everyone as they arrived. As usual we were thinking "Only in Guyana..."

This Pic is bad but it gives an idea of how much water was collecting

I was the chairman for the meeting so I got ready to go up on stage and begin when I noticed that one of the speakers was not in place. Since there would be people outside the hall, Josh wanted the speakers pointing outside the building so everyone could hear, perfectly reasonable. But it was now time to start so I told another brother to quickly move the speaker. So I made my announcements and we are singing the opening song, when I see Josh signaling me to come back to him. I gave him a gesture like "Really? Come off stage Now?", and he signaled again. So I ran back to him and he explained that they needed my height to reach the speaker and move it. I laughed and quickly jumped on a chair to take the speaker off the wall. I got it moved just in time to run back on stage and offer prayer. Again I was thinking "Only in Guyana..." lol.
Josh gave an excellent talk and was able to really adapt it well to the community there since he had served there for so long. You could tell from his mannerisms and tone that he was speaking to the congregation as you would to a really close friend, very warm and enthusiastic.

The time for the passing of the emblems came and everything went well with the bread, but not so well with the wine. In the front row a family had arrived late along with their children and baby. The baby was moving around a lot and of course right when the wine came to them the baby kicked and the wine went everywhere! Thankfully the mother held on to the glass and being in the front row no one got wine on them. But there were two glasses thankfully so I grabbed the other one and continued to the rest of the group without any further spills.

The total count for this memorial was 113! And at the other location in Ituni they had 50 in attendance with only four publishers! So the potential for growth in these areas is very apparent.

After the memorial we also had a nice time talking with several of the new comers. They all enjoyed it and some had several questions. I talked with one man named Godfrey who was just passing through the area for work, but he said that he always tries to find the witnesses wherever he goes, and he never misses memorial. He was very adamant about his stand against idolatry and false worship since apparently he had seen a lot of "Obia work", aka black magic. But he moves around so much that he hasn't been able to have a bible study, so I gave him a bible teach book, and told him to ask the witnesses for a bible next since Kwakwani was out.

So it was a very memorable memorial to say the least and we look forward to our next trip there hopefully soon!




  1. Beautiful!! Thank you for sharing:)

  2. Make Jehovah continue to bless your efforts! Agape, CC

  3. May Jehovah continue to bless your efforts! Agape, CC