Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Guyana - April, 2004

Greetings from Guyana!

I pray that your Easter Holiday went well (and that you found your Easter basket and enjoyed your Easter eggs!)

Last month was the most hectic and demanding of my time in Guyana. I was flooded with activities, meetings, and all sorts of responsibilities pulling me in a million different directions. It was extremely challenging, especially in the days leading up to Easter when I held services each day of the week – highlighted with a three-hour worship on Good Friday and a two-hour sunrise service on Easter Sunday. When all the activity came to a close, I felt like Jesus wasn’t the only one who needed to be raised from the dead!

Following the busy Easter Holiday, I was able to enjoy a much-needed “mini-vacation” in the town of Linden – a small mining community located in the Guyanese interior – about a five hour drive from my house in New Amsterdam. I traveled there in order to visit my close friend Kristen Tews – who serves as a Health Educator through her involvement with the United States Peace Corp. I was able to see the clinic where she works, explore the town, and meet some of her new friends. In addition, we had a great time hiking, swimming, joking around, and trying to understand how God could possibly place two small-town Central Wisconsin kids together in Guyana! (I’ve always believed that God has a great sense of humor!)

My time in Linden was a total blessing, not only because I was able to visit with such a close friend in Kristen, but also because it provided me with some quiet moments to reflect upon the great experience I am having in Guyana. During the past eight months I have seen God at work in so many different ways. The people here have shown me more about God than I could ever learn in a book or film. They’ve shown me what true Christian faith is all about, and what it really means to rely on God for guidance and strength. The Guyanese are amazing people, for although their physical needs are great, their living conditions are poor, and their struggles are many – their faith is strong and their lives are grounded in the life-giving promises of Jesus Christ. Not a day goes by when I don’t thank God for the opportunity to serve with them. I pray that they have learned something from me, because I have certainly learned a great deal from them.

I feel inclined to mention that one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about this experience is being able to write these monthly updates. A large part of my role in Guyana is to inform as many people as I can about global mission and help others to realize the importance of supporting those who live within developing countries. (And, because my Email list continues to grow rapidly, I feel like we are making some great progress!) I know that it is impossible for me to describe everything in Guyana with 100% accuracy, but I know that just providing little “snapshots” of my experience provides others with a small idea of what it’s like to minister within a foreign country. There are many needs within an area such as this one, but because of the support and love that you have already provided, I truly believe there are less needs today than there were eight months ago. We’ve done a lot of great work! I thank you for all you have helped me to do, and I ask that you continue to pray for me and ask God to guide my steps.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

With peace, love, and God’s blessings,

Brian Konkol

Friday, April 16, 2004

April 16,2004

On to Linden...
So I finally finished up with training in the Georgetown
area after 8 somewhat long weeks and am now in my site in
Linden for good. We finished up the training with our
official swearing in ceremony on the 2nd of April. I was
talked into giving one of the speeches and thought it would
be a great idea to make up a funny little song with another
gal. Needless to say, when I was up in front of all the
people, the idea seemed a little less creative. But, it
went over well and coincided with the fun poems two other
guys gave from my group.
I have now been in Linden for a little less than two weeks
and already I am getting a really good feel for the place.
It is funny that I can already go through the market and
know some people by name and face. The hard part is that
everyone remembers the 'white girl'...One of the guys in my
group really said it best when he said that if you ever
wanted to know what it is like to be a celebrity, just
become a PC volunteer. Meaning, everywhere you go and
everything you do, people know! You can't walk down the
street without all eyes on what you are doing, who you are
talking to, what you're wearing, what you're buying.
Everyone is certainly in your business. But, I guess it all
comes with the territory.
The Easter holiday is really big here in
Guyana. Actually,
Easter sunday is really the least celebrated of holy week.
Most go to church every day of the week and then
everything is shut down and people go to church for
much of the afternoon. Many eat only fish and crossbuns.
Sunday is also a service and then
Easter Monday is another
big day where everything is again shut down and people go
out to fly kites to emmulate rising to heaven. I was
fortunate to be out on the sand bluffs out of town hiking
over that day and saw many beautiful kites flying above the
city. The big kite flying and competitions go on in
Georgetown on the seawall and is supposed to be a colorful
sight to see.
Yesterday was yet another exciting day for me in going down
the river into the interior. This time we headed straight
from the docks by the market and were off to Muritaro. It
is another rivering community down the Demarara river.
Myself and 3 other people from my health center went down
to have clinic for the day. It is crazy some the things you
see. I have to admit that I did get nauseous (from the
smell) once with an diabetic ulcer so infected that the
wound was exposing down to the bone. Also, we saw 2 twin 7
year old girls who were both born with their feet going
backwards. They were actually in for chicken pox, but I was
suprised that they could pretty much walk just fine in
their own way. As we were down the river we also ended up
attending a funeral. As we headed down river further from
the health center, you see a clearing with an old church
way up a hill. People were coming from all over in boats
from up and down the river very dressed up to attend. You
almost wonder where everyone came from as all you see along
the river are homes spaced apart amongst the rainforest. It
was a long service of singing, clapping and the pastor
giving one of the "loudest" sermons and congregational
responses I've ever been a part of. It was quite the
experience. Oh, yes and as I got out of the boat and
climbed the hill I saw my first tarantula spider and even
saw a snake down near where the hold was dug for the
casket. Needless to say, they didn't find the later a very
good omen for the dead. Again, came back up the river as it
was completely calm, quiet and sun going down. It always
brings a huge smile to my face seeing all the waves and
smiles of women washing clothes by their sunken docks, kids
swimming and bathing, men fishing and others working the
small gardens by their wooden homes on stilts. Those are
the times I can hardly believe I am here. Any visitors I
have will certainly get an eyefull. It is certainly a much
different lifestyle here for me that I only wish I could
better explain.
with love,