Friday, February 25, 2011

Raindrops are fallin' on my head, they keep fallin'

Remember! More pictures by clicking on the 'View More Pictures' link to your left!

Since my return from Orealla, it's been raining cats and dogs here, but on the bright side, there's been another adventure ... This time the capital of Guyana, Georgetown.

A few months ago a country wide invitation was made to all of Guyana to attend the Zone Visit. This was a big deal because, 1) Zone Visits are like Circuit Overseer visits for the branch and Bethelites. So the fact that the entire country was invited was really exciting! 2) This was possibly the last Zone Visit for Guyana, ever! Last month, during our Circuit Overseer visit, a country wide announcement was made that the Guyana branch would be merging with the Trinidad branch starting April 1, 2011 (meaning that the Guyana branch will be closing). And 3) I had never even heard of a Zone Visit so I was very happy for the opportunity to attend one.

As a special treat for the Zone Visit, Jessica, Dania and I had Indian Saris made, the traditional Indo-Guyanese dress.

To begin the journey, a group of us had planned to go a day before the Zone Visit and go swimming. So early on February 12, a group of 12 hopped on the bus and 3 hours later we arrived at the Princess Hotel & Casino. 

I would like to mention that a swimming pool is a rare thing here, so we were like kids in a candy store. We had every intention to swim until the cows came home. 

Granted, after about 4 hours of swimming we got hungry so me, Dania, Jessica, Shemeniel, Travis, Kristen, Sage and Joshua decided to go to Pizza Hut. We ordered just about everything on the menu, it was delicious.

At Pizza Hut with 'Kravis'
The day of the Zone Visit, Jessica, Dania and I got up early and got dressed up in our Saris. Once we got to the stadium there was already a lot of people there. We found our seats (Josh and Sage saved us some), put our things down and made the rounds looking for familiar faces. Even though there were over 5,000 people there, we ran into a surprising amount of people we knew. 

The program began with song and prayer. Brother Edsel Hazel did a summary of the Watchtower.  Then Brother Hinds (Branch Overseer) gave the talk “Where Are We and Where Do We Go From Here?” He started off with service highlights for the 2009-2010 service year. Here they are: 
- April 2010 a peak of 2,575 publishers reporting. That's 1 publisher to every 300 people.
- 122 elders in 42 congregations. Works out to be 2.5 elders in every congregation although that is not the case. Many congregations only have an M.S. or no elders at all. For example Kato, where 2 sisters take the lead and conduct all the meetings!
- There were 4,000 bible studies conducted
- 12,000 were in attendance to last years Memorial
- There was an average of 239 pioneers each month which was an increase from the 2008-2009 service year by 34.  
- There were 18 missionaries serving in Guyana 
- At present there are 36 need-greaters (I think this number represents permanent need greaters)
- There are 3 official groups in ASL, 11 ASL publishers and 6 baptized recently.  
- A Chinese group and a Portuguese group have been started recently.  
- There is a great need for Ministerial Servants and Elders!
He then talked about the announcement regarding the Guyana branch merging with Trinidad branch. He mentioned how this is going along with changes being done world wide such as with other branches being merged with bigger ones: Ireland under the England branch, Central America under Mexico branch, French Guiana under French branch, Cyprus under Greece branch, and Togo under Benin branch. The reason for these changes are that with bigger branches there are more available resources open for small countries such as Guyana. It also helps the Governing Body to keep a closer eye on needs and progress of the countries.

He made a point I really enjoyed: Jehovah's organization is progressive, always on the move to fulfill Jehovah's purpose so "When Jehovah changes things, it can only get better!” 

The next talk was by the Zone Overseer, brother Jim Mantz. His talk was called “Are You Ready for Jehovah’s Day?" The part from his talk that really stood out to me was not becoming 'satisfied' in our attitude (Deuteronomy 8:11-14). He gave the example of the nation if Israel who became satisfied and forgot all that Jehovah had done for them (Hosea 13:6). We too can fall into that trap where we can become so focused on the daily things of our lives that we slowly become 'satisfied' in our attitude and of the time we're living in. We need to always have a waiting attitude (Micah 7:7) and use this time to grow spiritually, to seek Jehovah and draw even closer to him and to stay active in our ministry. Always prove yourselves ready (Matthew 24:44).

After the program not many stayed long because it was really windy and raining which was too bad because I would have loved to visit with more people. 

So we went back to the sister's house who we were staying with, changed out of our Saris and met up with Shemeniel, Fran and Sage at a Chinese restaurant downtown where we ran into more friends from Zone Visit. 

Fran suggested we go bowling. Shemeniel had never been so we all piled into a taxi (Dania in the front seat, Shemeniel, Sage, me, Jessica, Fran, and Josh in the back seat. Not sure how we managed that). The bowling place was really cool, not only did they have bowling but they had air hockey tables and pool tables. There was music and food too! After we all picked ridiculous bowling names, we explained to Shemeniel the object of the game and how to bowl (got this on video!) Not that it really mattered, but I did win the first game.

On Monday, our last day in Georgetown, we went back to a little coffee shop called Oasis downtown and sat around, had some coffee, talked, ate and laughed for about 3 hours. 

Since it was a 3 hour bus ride back home we didn't want to get on the road too late so around 3:30 we walked back to the Berbice Bus Park.

Since this was the last time we were going to hang out with Sage before he went back home, we wrote him goodbye letters ...

... and made plans with Josh to come visit Brighton before we leave.

Next Friday, we're going to Suriname to visit Maryanne and some other friends I met when I went to renew my visa in December. We have plans to go out in service while we're in Suriname, so I hope to have a lot more experiences and a lot more pictures up.