The greatest improvement we see however is in the ministry. During the past month each of us has had good experiences in street and casa en casa witnessing. Interestingly, in our territory we have pockets of Mexicans, mostly males who share apartments. We get a very good response from them. In some cases it appears they are here without documentation but they listen to us. I have been very impressed as they are in general a very humble people. They have a basic knowledge of the Bible and a respect for religion; they readily accept literature and converse with us. The trick is finding them to make a return visit. They are very transient and when you call back at the apartment and find someone different, the cycle starts again! Oh well, many seeds of truth are being planted!
One pleasant surprise has been the opportunity we have had to "talk up" needgreatering in the past few months. When we have been out at social functions and people ask "what congregation are you from?" and we reply "Longwood Spanish" we get a long pause and we see the wheels turning in their heads. Usually the next statement is something like: "but .....you're not Spanish...?" and we then get a chance to tell what we are doing. This has happened a few times and I realized many friends may want to know more about needgreatering or have thought about it and are curious to see someone else going through the "transition". So, I got the idea to write about a few of the questions we have been commonly asked. Therefore without further ado....
YOU WANT TO DO WHAT? ARE YOU CRAZY?
Okay, no one has really asked us this but we have asked ourselves when we started out in this process. We are about to leave a home, good jobs and the comforts of Florida, I mean this is the country's playground, Mickey lives here! When compared to the joys of teaching the truth to someone we think it's a good tradeoff!
WHY DO YOU WANT TO SERVE WHERE THE NEED IS GREATER?
The ministry is often compared to fishing for men. If you were to go fishing and heard the fish were biting in another part of the waters, you would get in your boat and go there. This is how we feel. We also realize that many are serving faithfully here and cannot for various reasons pick up and go. Some also need to be here to preach the message, we all can't leave, right? For now our circumstances allow us to "lift anchor and pull out to deeps waters" so to speak and we want to take advantage of that opportunity while we can. We know not what the future holds for us and would truly regret if we missed an available opportunity to expand our ministry while favorable season was here!
HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT CHOOSING A COUNTRY?
We started out looking at the statistics in the yearbook. We looked for lands with high ratios of population to publishers, memorial attendees and bible studies to publishers. We focused on Spanish speaking lands because Danielle has had it in school for 3 years now and I had it for 1 year in high school. We felt we had a basic familiarity and would be able to adjust to the language. We did a lot of Google searches on various countries and focused on the Caribbean because of its proximity to Florida and ease of travel there.
WHAT IS THE COST OF LIVING LIKE AND HOW WILL YOU SUPPORT YOURSELF?
Many people are able to live in retirement in developing lands on a social security check. Much of your expenses depend on how you want to live. Do you want a home just like the one you had in the U.S.A.? A beach front condo in a gated community? Marble counter tops and air conditioning? You can have it but it's gonna cost ya! When we were in Santiago we inquired about a modest apartment to rent and were told we should expect to pay at most about $400/ month- and that would be for a high end place. As for supporting ourselves, we are leaving much in Jehovah's hands. We will be living off of savings and hope to sell our home. We will stay until the money runs out and if we need to, come home to work for a few months and then return to our assignment.
WHAT ABOUT THE LANGUAGE?
Got that one covered! That's why we switched congregations after all. In many locations the Branch Offices will arrange for language classes as well to help needgreaters learn a local language. As an example the branch in D.R. has offered classes in Haitian Creole which is in great need there. Want to serve where the need is greater but unsure about learning a new language? No problemo, English is needed almost everywhere!
HOW ABOUT SCHOOLING FOR DANIELLE?
She will complete her final year of schooling online. Our local school district offers virtual schooling as an option and we will take advantage of that.
IS IT SAFE IN D.R.?
In the time we stayed there we at no time felt unsafe or in danger. We were there for the ministry and spent most of our time there or at meetings. Doing this and using good discretion and common sense we felt safe. Interestingly we found the Dominican people in generally to be very friendly. When we talked to them they were in amazement and seemed to "admire all things American". One caution is about theft. If you leave anything out or unlocked it is an invitation to have it stolen so caution must be exercised in this area.
WHAT IS LIFE LIKE THERE? WHAT ABOUT RECREATION, ETC. ?
We loved it there!!! Life was centered around the ministry and meetings. Much time was spent socially with the friends. We made friends with other needgreaters and got to know local friends as well. There are malls and movies if you want those things. With high speed Internet you can watch tv shows and sports events from home if you wish. We also went to the beach and spent time at a waterfall and sightseeing. Mostly we enjoyed spending time with our brothers and sisters whether we were just talking, playing dominoes or dancing meringue. Oh and did I mention the WINTER BASEBALL LEAGUE IN D.R.-yes!!!
So, there you have it a few frequently asked questions. Hope it was helpful....