Thursday, June 17, 2004

Guyana - June, 2004

Greetings from your favorite “International Man of Ministry”!

A couple days ago, I was about to conduct one of my weekly Bible classes when I noticed a frequent attendee was absent. After inquiring about her, I learned that she broke her ankle and wouldn’t be able to leave the house for a couple of weeks. I felt sorry that she wasn’t able to participate, so instead of going through the usual Bible class routine, I felt urged to change plans. So, I closed my books, packed up the supplies, and proclaimed, “Field trip!” And before I knew it, my students and I were all trekking to the neighboring village to visit our fallen counterpart. It was great!

As the class and I approached the house, we noticed our injured friend peeking through her window with utter amazement! She couldn’t believe her eyes! And although we had to wait outside for a few minutes before entering (she wanted to clean the living room, brush her hair, and change her dress!), she eventually welcomed us into the house - where we sang together, prayed for her health, shared food and drink, and ended up having an all-around fantastic time! What was originally intended to be an hour-long bible class at the church ended up being a three-hour social extravaganza at her home! It was a night that I will never forget!

My Bible class experience summarizes one of the main lessons I’ve learned while in Guyana: that the best of life’s pleasures are not planned or predicted. When I left my house to teach that particular class, I figured most everything would go as originally planned. When my students walked into church that day, I’m sure they had no idea what was ahead of them. And of course, when my injured friend rested in her chair that late afternoon, I’m convinced she didn’t expect the entire class at her front door! By all accounts, we all thought we knew what was going to happen that day; however, we later realized that God had a different plan!

My year in Guyana has been one unpredictable event after another, which has left me believing that God is definitely a “God of surprises.” As much as I try to program my workdays and plan a monthly calendar, I never do what I originally intend to do and I never end up where I first expected to be! When I anticipate a peaceful day at the church, I get an emergency phone call and find myself sitting in the hospital. When I expect a busy day of appointments and errands, I get a last-minute cancellation and end up sitting on the veranda with a book in my lap. I never know what to expect, for there is no such thing as a “typical day” when you’re serving the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Guyana!

I continue to thank God for this amazing opportunity to serve in Guyana, and I continue to thank you for all your prayers and support.

I look forward to seeing you soon,

With peace, love, and God’s blessings,

Brian Konkol

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

June 16, 2004

So it has been quite the busy and eventful couple of hold on to your hat because here I go...
First I have had this repetitive and ongoing thing with
snakes appearing in my life. As I walked to school one day
all the kids were like, miss, miss, there's an anaconda in
school...well, come to find out it wasn't an anaconda, but
rather a very poisonous 3 foot labaria in the kindergarten
classroom. Yes, school was canceled. Then, this week at our
clinic, as 2 other of staff and I walked down the hall to
the backroom, we saw a labaria slithering around the scale.
Again, clinic canceled. Then, on my way into georgetown
today to get my skin looked at (some rash/fungus/something,
probrably got it from the kids), I saw about 7 guys on the
side of the road wrestle a 15+ foot anaconda out of the
trench and carried it down the road right beside me still
alive. I think they said they were going to curry it
As for adventures, this past weekend was a chance to get
out and see more of the country. We found a new coca cola
colored creek outside of Linden we hiked to where we
decided that making skirts and dresses out of the huge 3-4
foot leaves and holding big warriorlike sticks would be
very peace corps rugged. Yes a few pictures were taken with
one of the girls
digital camera and I hope to get them
out...maybe (they are tasteful indeed, no need to worry
mom/dad). As we were about to leave, what we thought was a
snake in the water (yes, I know) ended up being a huge
waterdog. It certainly got us out of there quick, but in
the end it is only something similar to an otter, so no
Saturday was spent out of town down the road to
Brazil into
the forest where we were in search of a friends
banana/plantain farm. It was a beautiful and peaceful hike
that went on for hours only to have us not ever quite find
the farm amongst the forest. But, the good thing is that we
linked up with our ride out. Now, that is another story. We
came upon an old rickety tractor chained to trees in front,
men standing on the front axel as it did wheelies pulling a
full load of freshly cut timber up an unmarked hill in the
forest. My first thought is wow, that is not safe, but
secondly, I am witnessing deforestation firsthand. How are
you to judge, though, when it is there livelihood at stake.
After slow progress and inching forward, they eventually
made their way out and we hopped on the 15 foot high timber
trailor behind the tractor and headed out.
Sunday, was yet another day of excitement. One of our
friends was on his way to carry fuel down to his workers
down towards
brazil and offered to bring us along. So, off
we went down the bumpy and red dirt covered "road" in the
4X4. After a couple hours time we made our way to the camp
where we loaded a boat and went another hour up the Demara
river to Great Falls. It was such a sight to see, I can
hardly explain. Basically about a half mile of class 4 and
5 rapids filtering down to the river. We hiked all around
the falls amongst the thick, moist and beautiful foliage.
They were so majestic and powerful and we were really lucky
to have the opportunity to have this trip during wet
So, I guess you can say, that yes, I have been quite
entertained as of late. My only hope is that I will be able
to send some pictures if/when I get a
digital camera in the
I hope all is well with everyone, and as promised I am
going to send out my first set of recipes tomorrow as a
separate email as this email is clearly long enough for
computer memory at this point.
love to all, kristen