Saturday, August 23, 2003

Guyana - August, 2003


Friends:

Greetings from Guyana!

The countless months of preparation, training, and anticipation have finally come to fulfillment. After spending two days in Guyana’s capital city of Georgetown, I arrived in New Amsterdam late Wednesday evening.

I am living in the parish parsonage located directly east of the church. The house includes two bedrooms, one bathroom, a living room, a small office, and a kitchen (there’s plenty of space for any visitors!). The living quarters are located on the second floor, which is common for Guyanese homes due to the country’s below sea-level elevation and massive yearly rainfall. The first floor is used exclusively for storage, hanging laundry, and growing plants. I have a small yard already supplied with various flowers, bushes, and two gigantic coconut trees. (I tried to climb them but it didn’t go so well...) All in all, by North-American standards my home would be considered rather ordinary, but when compared to most Guyanese citizens, the house is extremely pleasant. I am extremely blessed to have such a wonderful home. The church members have taken care of me very well!

There is already a great deal I wish to share with you! From the “not so perfect” travel from Chicago to Guyana to the even scarier voyage from Georgetown to New Amsterdam, let’s just say it has been an “eventful” week and I am relieved to finally be here. As for New Amsterdam itself, the weather is warmer than I could have ever imagined, the mosquitoes are terrible (they love tasting the new “white meat” in town!), and the power seems to go out two or three times a day. However, even with all the various hassles, the joyous people make all the troubles easily forgettable. Because of their hospitality, friendliness, and overwhelming generosity, I am already beginning to feel at home. New Amsterdam will surely be a wonderful place to spend this next year.

A common question I have received is whether or not I have experienced the “culture shock” that often accompanies international travelers. I most definitely have! For instance, I am already amazed by how accustomed I’ve grown to the finer things in life – the various American luxuries that Guyanese have never been able to experience. For example, I never thought I would be able to last a week without ESPN, ice-cream sandwiches, or Subway, let alone an entire year! Yikes! But seriously, during my time in New Amsterdam I will learn many things, but one thing I will especially learn is the difference between a “need” and a “want.” All those American luxuries and privileges I crave must be thrown aside in order to concentrate on acquiring enough basic living necessities. When I am forced to deal with power outages, water leakages, and mosquito infestations, I have little time to worry about catching the nightly Sportscenter broadcast or scheduling my next massage appointment.

My work at Ebenezer Lutheran Church officially begins on September 1st. As the “Intern Pastor” I will be asked to handle a variety of tasks: worship planning, preaching, teaching weekly Bible studies, leading youth group activities, and making various visitations within the community. The weekly schedule will undoubtedly be difficult, but any time I need help there will be numerous people to support me. And, even more importantly, I know that God is on my side – and God will not allow me to screw things up to badly!

I ask that you continue to pray for me as I begin this yearlong experience. Although I am extremely excited about all the year has in store, I know there will be difficult times down the road. I already miss you all dearly and eagerly await your Emails, phone calls, and letters. Your support means more than you could ever imagine, so I ask that you continue to keep in touch and include me in your hearts and minds.

I love you with all my heart and look forward to sharing more stories in the future.

With peace and love,

Brian Konkol