Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Guyana - November, 2003

Greetings from Guyana!

I imagine many of you are starting to dust off the old Christmas CDs, tapes, record albums, and A-tracks. Can you believe it is almost “the most wonderful time of the year”? Amazing! Trust me, although I will certainly “Go tell it on the Mountain” and announce my “Joy to the World”, I won’t be “dashing through the snow on a one horse open sleigh” and I won’t be having a “White Christmas” any time soon! This will be a Christmas Season like no other!

During the past month I experienced one the largest festivals of the Guyanese Church Year. On November 9th we celebrated our “Harvest Thanksgiving Celebration Service”. “Harvest” is a time when our worship service is focused upon giving thanks to God for the numerous blessings received throughout the past year. It’s an amazing experience! Congregation members provide sugarcane, coconuts, bananas, mangos, and all sorts of produce in order to decorate the church. It’s a spectacular site! Then, after the service (which lasts over 2.5 hours!) everyone sells the decorations in order to raise money for the church. It was a lot of hard work, but everyone joined together and made it a success! I continued to be amazed by the passionate spirit and diligent work ethic of the people!

Preparing for the Harvest Celebration was more of an adventure than the celebration itself! On the day before the service, as I was trying to gather as much sugarcane as possible (I was determined to be the church’s top sugarcane gatherer!), I found myself in a pretty comical situation. I had learned of a person who had a substantial amount of sugarcane and was willing to donate some to the Church. I decided to seize the opportunity and head over their field early on Saturday morning. This is where things get funny. I assumed the sugarcane was already cut and all I had to do was pick it up and transport it to the church. How wrong I was! When I arrived at the home, I quickly realized that I was expected to go out into their field and “cut the cane” myself! After pondering the situation for about a minute, I figured “Why not? Let’s do this!” and before I knew it I was in the middle of the field, giant knife-blade in hand, fighting off mosquitoes and red ants while chopping down giant pieces of sugarcane. It was crazy! When I finally got about 25 pieces, I loaded it up and took it to church. When I got back, my clothes were a total mess, my body was covered with ant and mosquito bites, and I was bleeding (I accidentally cut myself with the blade). I had to explain to everyone what happened because they all thought I had got in a fight! Funny stuff! Granted, the task was more grueling than I could have ever anticipated, but I didn’t mind. It was a unique experience, and of course, it was all worth it because I achieved the status of top sugarcane gatherer of Ebenezer Lutheran Church!

As for other happenings of the past month, lately I have spending a lot of time visiting with the elder members of the congregation – many of whom are unable to attend Sunday worship because of physical ailments. These visits have been a blessing. For example, this past week I visited with a 98-year-old lady who has seen many changes over the decades. Her stories are priceless. She has certainly “seen it all”! Also, this week I visited with three widowed sisters, all in their 70’s, who all live in the same house (I call them the “Golden Girls”). These ladies are a total riot! They are like a comedy act because they are always arguing with each other! I simply love going to visit them! And, just the other day I spent time with an elder man who seems to get pure joy out of complaining about the Guyanese National Cricket Team. He’s one of those guys who is convinced he knows exactly how to “straighten” the team out! (It reminds me of how my relatives speak about the Green Bay Packers!) All in all, being able to visit with all these people has reminded me what ministry is all about – people. God has reminded me that people are more important than programs, relationships are more important that projects, and that “people don’t care how much you know unless they know how much you care.”

I hope all is well with you and your loved ones. I care about you deeply and appreciate your continuing support. I love you and give thanks to God for having you in my life. Thank you for everything!

I wish you all a blessed Thanksgiving and wonderful start to the Christmas season.

With peace and love,

Brian Konkol