ACTS 16:9,10: And during the night a vision appeared to Paul: a certain Mac‧e‧do′ni‧an man was standing and entreating him and saying: “Step over into Mac‧e‧do′ni‧a and help us.” Now as soon as he had seen the vision, we sought to go forth into Mac‧e‧do′ni‧a, drawing the conclusion that God had summoned us to declare the good news to them.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Around the World in 50 Days

  We returned to Guasave in mid-July after having left here near the end of May. We were enjoying our ministry and hated leaving behind our Bible Studies and return visits. Traveling however was a necessity however as our six month visas were about to expire. We also had another important matter to attend to:  Baby Girl Has Graduated From High School!   There were moments of doubt (see pre-calculus class) but in the end you did it, congratulations Danielle!!!

            the happy graduate with her proud mom and pop

   Our travels took us through Texas where our first stop was in the Dallas area. We got to meet the family and friends of Tonya, a pioneer and fellow Needgreater serving with us here in Guasave. We were welcomed and made to feel like family while there. We visited her congregation and chowed down on some homemade Texas 'que, had lots of deep fried foods (we loved the catfish! and the chicken fried steak! and the fried chicken! We loved all of it!!!) and plenty of sweet tea to wash it down!
   We then headed to Florida where we went to the graduation and then hopped on a plane for a very special trip. We wanted to celebrate Dani's graduation but also keep a spiritual focus while we were away so we took a trip in what I call the "footsteps of the Apostle Paul". We took a cruise that started in Rome and visited Athens, Turkey(Ephesus) and Crete- all locations mentioned in the Bible book of Acts.
   Rome was quite a city to behold! Seeing so many old buildings and streets was amazing! We of course did some sightseeing; visiting the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain. We of course ate great Italian food (Pizza! Panini! Osso Buco-can you tell I am a foodie?) But for me the best part of being in Rome was getting to meet our brothers and sisters.
   Okay now, stay with me on this one. We had two days in Rome before our ship sailed. We were going to be on the ship for a week and did not want to go so long a time without our spiritual food. So we looked up on meetings in English in Rome. Unfortunately the only English meetings were held on Sunday mornings, when we needed to be on the ship. So...we visited a Spanish congregation on Saturday evening. Imagine the picture: the three of us-in Italy- walking into a Spanish meeting ( it's so weird hearing Spanish spoken by the Italian friends. I understand the words it just sounds a bit off) We arrived a little late so there was no sneaking in-we stood out like the tourists we were. But once we felt the love of the brothers we knew we were home. After the meeting one of the sisters asked us what we were doing in Rome. We told her we were leaving on a cruise in the morning and she asked: "oh really, which one?" "The Navigator of the Seas" we replied. "We are going on that ship too!" So it turns out that there was a group of 12 brothers and sisters going on the ship and we were able to join them for meals and some sightseeing. It was quite funny when we asked the waiter to change our table to sit with the brothers. "You want to sit with them? But they all speak Italian" he said. "Yes, they are our friends" we said as we were all smiling and waving to one another, saying "Hola!, Buonasera!" The waiter looked at us all incredulously. Just think had we not gone to the meeting we may have traveled alone and missed the chance to meet our brothers and sisters.                                                                                                       
visiting with the Roma Spagnola Labaro Congregation
   It was very enjoyable spending time with the Italian friends, especially when we were in Sicily. They were so lively and fun to be with! Plus they spoke the language and we didn't worry about getting ripped off while we were with them! So we toured, ate Gelato and Rice Balls and enjoyed the beautiful Mediterranean weather. Our trip really kicked into gear the next two days as we reached Athens, Greece and my favorite stop on the trip Kusadasi, Turkey and the ancient city of Ephesus.
   As a family we have decided that whenever we travel, if there is a Bethel branch in the country and it is at all possible for us to do so, we will pay them a visit. To me Bethel is such a special place, it is Jehovah's house. When there I am reminded of the privilege I enjoy of serving Jehovah. So when we were in Athens we visited the Athens Bethel branch. This was quite an exciting day for us as we rode the trains and buses to get there. What a welcome sight when we arrived at the gates and saw:
  Once inside we took a tour and learned a bit about the history of the work in Greece. In years past our brothers and sisters there faced imprisonment for their neutrality as well experienced restrictions on the work, not being able to meet freely and preach. There is a nice section showing photos from those days, friends gathering in the woods for assemblies disguised as picnics or wedding ceremonies-complete with a "bride and groom"! Thankfully those days are in the past and our friends now worship openly and receive a steady supply of spiritual food. Much of the work done by the 80 member Bethel family involves translating the literature into Greek. On the site there is also a recording studio used to record Kingdom songs, sung in Greek of course! After touring Bethel in the morning we spent the afternoon viewing some historical sights in Athens including the Parthenon and the Agora or marketplace mentioned in Acts 17:17 before heading back to the ship.
  Next stop-Turkey and the ancient city of Ephesus. Being there made the Bible account (Acts 19) come to life as there were so many ancient buildings and ruins. Walking through the old streets I could just imagine the silversmiths rioting, throwing the city into confusion. As we passed by the theater I could almost hear the thunderous roar of the crowd, whipped into a frenzy by Demetrius: "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" The stone walkways, the marble columns; yeah, Ephesus was quite the scene back in the day. Now whenever we read the book of Acts  these images will come to mind.
   Alas our cruise had to end at some point. After a stop in Crete we returned to Rome and bade our new friends goodbye. We stopped off in Jamaica to visit Suzanne's Dad for a bit and then made our way back to Florida to see my folks. After return  flight to Dallas, we attended the convention there (Great Program!!!), and picked up Tonya for the drive back to Guasave together. 
   All told in the month of June we traveled over 16,000 miles (wow), got to visit with family and friends old and new. We return energized and ready to get back to work in the field here in Guasave.

***some photos from our trip***

The Colosseum construction was funded by spoils from the  Judean War 66-70 C.E.

The Arch of Titus, commemorates the victory in the  Judean War

Trevi  Fountain

with our brothers and sisters on the ship

site of the Temple of Artemis, all that remains is the one column

Theater of Ephesus (Acts 19:29)
The Library at Ephesus

"It's all Greek to me!"

for bonus points: can you guess what it is?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Say Hello to:

   I thought it would be a nice idea to  interview some of the friends who are serving here in Guasave, to hear their expressions first hand. Each of us whether we are foreigners or locals have a different story of how we came to serve in Guasave. What motivates us to leave behind home and family and come to this small city on the Pacific coast of Mexico and serve? What preparations did we make to come here? How has the experience been for us? So, to answer these and other questions the premiere edition "Say Hello To: " presents....                                                                                           

Aaron Lee is a 25 year old publisher, serving as a  Ministerial Servant in the Streatham Congregation, in London, England. Aaron served with the Guasave English Congregation 3 months from May-July 2013.

What has motivated you to serve as a Needgreater?
Reading the experiences in the yearbook, especially about Papua New Guinea did. Additionally the series of articles "They Offered Themselves Willingly" appearing in The Watchtower was an encouragement.

Why Mexico and how did you choose the city of  Guasave?
I was influenced by a pioneer sister in my congregation who had served in Guadalajara, Mexico in the past. She had very positive comments about serving in Mexico. After writing the Mexico Branch and inquiring about places that needed assistance, I had a selection of Nicaragua, Guasave and one other location in Mexico. I chose Guasave after prayerful consideration and communicating with the COBE here in Guasave. 

How have did you manage to get the time/money to spend three months in Mexico?
At work my foreman is a Witness. When I mentioned to him my desire to serve, he approached the company director without my knowledge and got an o.k for me to go. He "paved the road" so that when I asked for time off it was granted. They agreed to hold the job for me until I return. Just a few weeks before leaving, the boss emailed me to ask "when are you coming back?"

I paid off my credit cards before coming. I have kept my life simple and saved money. Some in the congregation gave me gifts when I left;  my boss did as well;  that was a surprise. My family also has offered to help me.

What are some positive things from your time here?
How nice it is to spend time in the ministry every day! People listen to you-there is no rejection. I have enjoyed spending more time with the brothers and sisters here. At home it's pure work; here I have more time for the friends.

What are some of the challenges you have faced?
Being sick (Montezuma) was not easy but I got past it. I would not let that deter me from coming back again though.

Have you learned anything about yourself from the experience?
"When you trust in Jehovah, he takes care of you." There were many potential anxieties but none are really necessary when you trust Jehovah. 

Would you try serving where the need is great again?
Yes! I'm going to!

What encouragement would you offer to others thinking about Needgreatering?
"Pray, plan, and go."

Friday, August 9, 2013

"When Life Hands You Lemons... make lemonade." Boy oh boy, could I ever use an ice cold lemonade right about now! The hot season is here and temperatures in Guasave are routinely around and above 100F  lately. The extreme weather is taking a toll on our ministry as it's very difficult to stay out for more than 40-45 minutes before you are totally drained. We have adjusted our schedule to preach more in the evenings as it's a bit cooler. Yesterday evening for example we were out and at 7:00 pm the temp was still 94F ! The high temperatures however aren't the only worries we have now though.
   On our recent circuit assembly program, we had a needs of the circuit part which placed much emphasis on preaching to people in their native tongues. Under direction from the faithful slave, this means that for example a native Spanish speaker should be witnessed to in Spanish even if they speak another language. This adjustment will greatly affect the English field in Guasave. Why do I say that?
  Well to be honest many of our Bible studies and calls probably should be Spanish studies. Previously we would study with almost anybody. If they had a pulse and could speak a few words of English ( "hello, yes, no" ) we would study with them. The new emphasis however severely limits whom we can study with. In Guasave, there really is not a population of expats so the only ones left are Mexicans who may have been schooled in or lived in the U.S. and prefer to learn in English. How many people are like that in Guasave? We don't know so it places special emphasis on our census work we are now doing.
   Some congregations nearby have been dissolved, some have been changed into English groups. Change is never easy but we see the wisdom in Jehovah's ways. We often are told that a person may understand a foreign language but to reach their hearts what could be better than your native tongue? Also in the English congregations here in Mexico, there are a number of faithful Mexican brothers and sisters supporting the work. Not all of them are fluent in English. Surely it would be a blessing for some of these to return to meetings and be able to worship in their native tongue would it not? In this way they can fully understand all that is being taught and this will no doubt strengthen the congregations.
   Change is never easy. What will become of us here? How will our congregation and territory be affected? We don't know; but until we receive further instructions we will try not to be anxious but keep ourselves busy with the preaching work. By doing so we hope to keep pace with Jehovah's chariot as it moves ahead. And we'll enjoy the lemonade as well.
   In other fruit related news mango season is in full swing and everywhere we go mangoes are cheap and plentiful. Even the thousands of stray dogs we have here in Guasave are enjoying it as they get to feast on all the fruits that have fallen to the ground.
harvesting mangoes from the tree in our yard
 Indeed in some areas the smell of fermenting mango is high in the air. Oh well, when life hands you mangoes; you make mango sherbet!

Mango Sherbet

1 cup simple syrup
2-1/2 cups mango puree(3-4 large mangoes)
1 cup milk or cream(use cream for a rich sherbet)
pinch of salt
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons of alcohol (vodka, rum or Tequila!)
*the alcohol is not necessary but will help the sherbet keep a softer consistency

make simple syrup by combining one cup of water with one cup of sugar in a saucepan. heat until sugar is dissolved and then cool. use one cup of this mixture in the recipe.
stir all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. taste and adjust for sugar( depends on how sweet mangoes are)
add mix to ice cream maker and freeze according to directions.

to make without an ice cream maker: place mix in a metal bowl in freezer. stir every 20 minutes or so to help maintain a smooth product. freeze until firm (about 3-4 hours)