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, July 13, 2015

A Trip to The Country

   "…It's a small congregation of 16 publishers but they only have one elder. On Sundays after giving the public talk he has to do the Watchtower lesson as well. We'd like to send a group of friends up there  to support the congregation and give the brother some relief. Can you go?"

   So began the phone call that got me to do something I have dreaded and up to that point avoided doing-driving across the island of Jamaica. Last month we took a trip north to St. Mary parish to support the Camberwell congregation there. Wi a go a country…Jamaican patwa for we're going to the country!

   Jamaica is a mountainous country, full of winding mountain passes. The roads are narrow, not well paved and lacking guard rails in most locations. Nothing quite like driving up a hill, rounding a blind curve and seeing a car coming in the opposite direction straight at you!! As you small up for the pass and look out the window you see nothing but the steep drop off the mountain side and think to yourself: I am so happy for the resurrection hope!

   Thus the reason for my aforementioned fear of driving across the island. However after hearing about the needs of our brothers, how could I say anything other than "here I am send me!" So off we went, two cars of friends from Kingston to work in the country for the day. Wah gwaan? Weh ya a go? Mi a go country, soon come back.

a banana plantation
   The Camberwell congregation is located in the Parish of St. Mary on the north coast of Jamaica. The parish is noted for among other things having numerous banana farms in the area. It is also the location where the good news was first preached in Jamaica:  
"In 1897 something even more beautiful entered Jamaica—the good news of God’s Kingdom. (Isa. 52:7) This is how it happened: Two Jamaicans who had migrated to Costa Rica learned the truth in that country and felt that such wonderful good news should be taken back to their homeland. So it was that H. P. Clarke and Louis Facey were the first to preach the Kingdom good news in Jamaica.

the blue bags protect the bananas from insects
   Reports tell of their going to the village of Camberwell in the mountains of the parish of St. Mary, where they preached to Patrick Davidson and his brother. Both accepted the Bible’s truth and immediately joined in the preaching. The response to the message was encouraging, and on March 26, 1899, which was two years later, 300 persons attended a convention and Memorial celebration of the death of Jesus Christ."    From 1985 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses pg. 68

   What a day it proved to be as we enjoyed an interchange of encouragement with our Camberwell brothers. We worked together in the ministry in the morning, taking in the beautiful mountain scenery. After having lunch and freshening up a bit, we headed to the Kingdom Hall for our meeting. There it dawned upon me how heavy a load Br. Prendergast is carrying. One of our brothers gave the talk, another read the WT, and another handled mics for the WT study. Had our group from Kingston not come he would have to do the talk and WT lesson. For midweek he has to do all the parts as well as there are no servants or young brothers there. And this he does week after week. So…anyone out there want to serve where the need is greater in the English (mostly) field? Camberwell would love to have you! And don't worry Jamaican patwa nah hard mon! 

   We had a wonderful time serving together that day, made some new friends and look forward to our next trip there. Below are some photos from the day:

suzanne and kara resting after climbing the hills

br. prendergast and son

kara serves with our congregation in kingston but camberwell is her home. here with her mom


the brothers were very hospitable, sending us home with...

...bananas, plantains, yam, pumpkin, tangerines, sugarcane, coconuts & more

the camberwell congregation and visitors for the day!

Monday, July 6, 2015

"Build For Yourself an Ark…"

   In May we left Jamaica for a few weeks to do some traveling. It was time for me to visit my folks as, well, I missed my mom and dad :-(    sniff sniff . Before heading back to FL though we passed through Guasave for the wedding of Aaron and Lizeth.

   We had been looking forward to this visit for quite some time. Since leaving Guasave my heart has longed to return there. The experience of serving where the need was greater, getting to know and understand my brothers and sisters from another culture, of being fully involved every day in the ministry was one I will always cherish. We served with our brothers, we became family, we learned many things about warmth, love and hospitality. We grew spiritually and in many other ways.

   What I didn't realize though was just how much of an enriching experience serving where the need was greater would have on all of us. Each of us have been changed by our experience in the Guasave English Congregation. Some of us from the old congregation were talking about how we are different people now. Some are more mature spiritually, some have new privileges and responsibilities, for some it was simply a realization that they could do more and taking the steps to increase their service to Jehovah.

   For our family it has put us on a new life path, we desire to serve as needgreaters for as long as we are able to. We still have hopes that we may one day have the privilege of attending SKE. We have changed our "family tree", and for Dani we are encouraging her to spread her wings leave the nest, enjoying new experiences on her own as she begins a life in full time service.

   I recently heard a talk in which the brother giving it spoke about Noah. While it's true that he preached before the flood, when he spoke about Jehovah after it we can be sure it was not the same way. His faith would have been strengthened.He would have a greater conviction. When he spoke about Jehovah he would have done so with a greater zeal due to his experience in the ark and Jehovah's delivering his family.

   He likely built a house as well after the flood. That too we can imagine was done in a different manner. In his experience building the ark he would have likely acquired some practical skills that helped him build a better house; no leaky roofs in his home! To be sure, he came through the flood a changed man, bettered by his experiences.

   I think that serving where the need is greater has had a similar effect on us. When we extend ourselves, get out of our comfort zones and put ourselves more fully in Jehovah's hands we come out changed people, changed for the better. We learn to live simpler, to rely more fully on Jehovah, widen out in our love for our brothers,  and become better teachers of God's word.

   As our family continues to build our "spiritual ark", we look forward with anticipation to where Jehovah will lead us in this need greater life.

with our Guasave friends family