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, June 12, 2014

Seldom, Seldom Worked Territory

Black Bush Highway during the rice farming Season.

Hello there to all our readers! As we return home from Guyana for the third time we would just like to thank everyone for your support and for reading the blog! Time seems to fly by so fast while we are in Guyana that we seldom get to post as much as we would like to. Also we prefer not to bore everyone with the mundane activities of our daily life, so we mostly post about events or preaching trips. This last 8 months hasn't had too many of those but we have had a sort of "New" territory opened up to us that we hadn't really been able to explore as much as we would have liked to the past. The main reason it's "New" for Us is because the area is difficult to reach and cultivate unless you have your own transportation. It's not impossible, but we just found it very daunting until recently. You see we finally purchased a vehicle! A friend of ours was selling his motorbike that previously belonged to another pioneer sister, and since it was still in good condition and selling for about half the normal price, we grabbed it!

Our New Ride!

So, now equipped with some wheels, we were able to venture out faster, further and longer than we ever could previously. One of the areas that we ventured was a remote rice farming community in the back-country area of our territory. This area is called Black Bush Polder, and is split up into four major parts along one main road, each having about a few thousand persons per section.

Our Main Territory is Outlined in Red, Black Bush is in Yellow

Now keep in mind that there is already a huge need in the particular part of Guyana that we live. This area is called East Berbice, and our congregations portion of Berbice that is barely covered once a year. Just driving through the territory would take about an hour. The need is so great that you can literally study with as many people as you like, before we left Guyana this year, Lara and I had about 30 studies between the two of us. So you can easily stay busy in just the more regularly worked part of our territory, but Black Bush for quite some time, was only getting covered about once every 2-3 years. Since the arrival of a Special Pioneer couple and a few new Local Pioneers stepping up, that figure has increased to being worked every 1-2 years. But that is still a more recent development. 2013 was the First Year ever that we were even able to cover Black Bush during  the memorial Campaign. This was made possible because our neighboring congregation sent 30 publishers to help us. This is just to give you an idea of what kind of need there is in Black Bush.

Brothers and Sisters from the Skeldon Congregation helping out for the Memorial Campaign!

Get ready to do some walking in Black Bush!

Testing the Waters

We were also very excited to be able to attend a Meeting arranged in a part of Black Bush for the first time in 10 years. Our special pioneer couple were getting such a great response in one section called Yakasari (One of the Four Communities in Black Bush) that they decided to try and hold a meeting and see how many could attend. They did this because the majority of their students were unable to make the 40 minute trip to reach our Kingdom Hall, but many had a keen desire to go to meeting. Also when a territory is large it's not uncommon to hold meetings in more than one location.

So the brothers arranged to hold a meeting on a Sunday Afternoon after our Morning meeting. Right after meeting, everyone that could loaded up into a few buses, one brother even loaned us his sound equipment so that we could have microphones. The best location the brothers could find was a classroom in one of the schools. We got everything set up and eagerly waited to see how many would turn up. Slowly but surely the students and even some new-comers began to trickle in and take a seat. By the start of the meeting we had about 25 in attendance, not including publishers! Brother Joseph (The special) gave the public talk on Jehovah's name, and Tom Sanches conducted the Watchtower. Amazingly several in the audience gave comments after the figured out it was an audience discussion. At the end brother Joseph gave the group a warm welcome to join us again at our next meeting, and to continue with or to start to study the bible.

Richard giving the Talk

 An Unlikely Student

Another nice experience we had was with a young woman named Nadira (Pronounced Na-Deer-Ah). When Lara first met her she described Nadira as a very melancholy and shy teenager, barely looking up to make eye contact. But Lara noticed that the girl seemed very interested in, and appreciative of the message she was sharing. So when we both came back the next time we were happy to find Nadira and her father (Christendoff) was home too. So we started with a discussion of the magazines Lara left, but slowly Christendoff began to explain that they were having a lot of turmoil in their home because of Nadira's Sister, Indira (Pronounced In-Deer-Ah). Apparently in the last few weeks Indira had been verbally abusing both of them repeatedly every day, often without any provocation. We were surprised to hear this since the girl looks just as sweet as can be, but this was causing both of them a lot of emotional pain since these tantrums seemed to have started out of nowhere. Christendoff explained that he was trying hard as a single parent to raise the girls well and provide for them ever since their Mother left them for another man some years ago (Not uncommon in Guyana). About this time Christendoff started weeping uncontrollably out of frustration and had to go into the house. While he was gone we started sharing some scriptures with Nadira trying to console her and after a while Christendoff came back out. He told us that he decided to just leave Indira alone, and not try to talk with her anymore since talking seemed to cause more problems. We read him (Prov 25:11) and tried to help them see that communication is very important to heal emotional wounds. But the timing of when to try to talk is important, to wait for a time when everyone is relaxed. We also explained that Indira may be struggling with an emotional / mental disability which is not unusual during the teenage growth period.  Before we left we promised to come back and give them some literature on Families and Teenagers. They both thanked us repeatedly and walked us out to the road.

In the next few weeks things seemed to calm down a bit, and Lara invited Nadira to the convention. She didn't seem interested in going since she is so shy and rarely ever leaves the house, let alone Black Bush. To get to the convention she would have to take a 20 minute taxi ride, so that was a little overwhelming for her. But she said she would think about it and let us know. Then the night before convention Lara gets a text from Nadira saying that she wants to come to Convention! Lara did her happy dance, and then explained to Nadira how to get there. The next day we saved seats for her, but were amazed to see both Nadira and her Sister Indira came too! They could only stay for the first half of the session, but they said they loved it and really enjoyed the music too. This was a very pleasant surprise since normally it takes a long time to get our bible studies to come to meetings and conventions. In the months to follow Nadira continued to study regularly and even came to memorial too!


 Lost and Found

We had an interesting experience with a man named James who we used to study with a few years back. James was a great student, very smart and really enjoyed learning. In fact the first time we spoke with him he adamantly stated that none of the other churches were willing to show him anything from the bible except for Jehovah's witnesses. The biggest problem he had was his struggle with alcohol as he was often intoxicated when we would come by.  He was making some progress but sadly he ended up moving some distance away so we turned him over to a brother in the next congregation. So it had been a few years since we saw him last, but one day in Black Bush we were riding out to study and we heard someone calling my name. I looked around and saw it was a man in an excavator and as I got closer I saw it was James! He said he had seen us ridding around the last few weeks but couldn't get our attention. I asked him how he had been doing and he explained that he studied for a few months but then his work schedule got really hectic so he stopped. He recently started working in black Bush, cleaning out the trenches, but the job had long hours so he was rarely home. So I offered to come find him once a week and study with him on his lunch break. He agreed and described what part he would be working the next week since he moved around a lot.

So the next week I called his phone and he told me today he was in the far back-dam area.  So I rode the bike as far as I could and then walked the rest of the way. I finally found him and by that time his lunch was nearly over so we had a brief discussion and I gave him the most recent magazines. We continued doing this over a few weeks, but eventually he was working so deep in the back-dam that I couldn't find him. So I gave his number to a brother that lives close by him and from what I've heard he has started up is study again.

So Black bush has been a very enjoyable addition to our Ministry, and we look forward to seeing what other gems we find there!

You can barely see the excavator at the end of this path