Saturday, November 26, 2005

Guyana - November, 2005

I receive a lot of questions. Whether it is face-to-face conversation or over the phone or Internet, I am always fascinated by both the amount – as well as the diversity – of questions I receive.

When I visit people in the local community, some ask why I came to Guyana in the first place (“Did you get in trouble? Are you hiding?”) or why I wanted to be a Lutheran pastor (“Who would want to do such a thing?”). Some ask why I go running in the mornings, others ask if I play soccer or cricket, and some ask if I have ever met Oprah or Judge Judy. Numerous people ask about my family, some wonder about Wisconsin (“Isn’t that next to New York?”) and of course – some ask whether or not I would consider marrying their daughter or niece! All in all, the Guyanese are great at numerous things – and flooding the Lutheran pastor with questions is definitely one of them!

The questions I receive from across the ocean are equally entertaining. People seem to be quite curious about Guyana! Some ask about Guyanese weather (“Is it really that hot?”), the food (“Has anyone heard of a Big Mac or Whopper?”), sports (“How does cricket actually work?”), and clothing (“How can you live without The Gap or Banana Republic?”), while others are more interested in the church, Caribbean worship hymns, or ongoing community projects (“Pastor, are you still building bathrooms all the time?”). Several people wonder about the local music and dancing, and of course, I have friends that seem most interested in the South American beaches!

All in all, as I speak with the local people and communicate with friends and family abroad, it is wonderful to receive the variety of questions, for each one reveals a great deal about the person asking the questions! Each individual is interested in different things, and through it all, I am reminded that just as I receive a mass diversity of questions, I am blessed with a mass diversity of friends!

However, amidst all the diversity, I do find some striking commonalities. I am extremely blessed, for if I took a survey of all the questions I receive, surely one of the most frequent would be, “How can I help?” I am thankful for those who wish to offer assistance – for it makes a tremendous difference in all that we are trying to do with the churches. And thus, in order to answer this most frequently asked question, I want to use this month’s newsletter to share how you – no matter where or who you are – can assist with what is happening here in Guyana.

The first thing you can do is PRAY. Now I understand full well that some who read my letters are not “spiritual” people, for many of my friends spend more time brushing teeth than praying, and some see the dentist more often than they see their pastor! Nevertheless, I want you all to know that prayer makes a huge difference. Personally, I doubt if I will ever truly understand how prayer works, but what I do know is that – through the mysterious power of God – prayer does work! And so, when you think of all that is happening here – please know that prayer makes a huge difference. And so, before you do anything else – please pray and ask God to guide and strengthen the ministry taking place in Guyana.

Secondly, COMMUNICATION is a major source of assistance and inspiration. I absolutely love sharing the various stories about life in Guyana, but also, I love hearing from you and learning about all that is happening in your life. And so, please do not hesitate to contact me and let me know how you are doing! With the onset of the information age and our access to technology, there is no excuse not to stay in touch. We can all communicate quickly and effectively, so please do not hesitate to E-Mail, phone, or write letters. There are many days when a simple note makes a huge difference.

Third, many of you have offered to CONTRIBUTE financially. As you might imagine, financial contributions are always welcome (…unless you are a South American drug lord looking for favors…), for they always make a significant difference. As Director of the Lutheran Camp and Retreat Centre and pastor of the Emmanuel Parish, we are always striving to improve facilities and provide new opportunities for the people. (For example, we want to build a new basketball court in the coming months, and we need help!) And so, if you are interested in making a contribution, please contact me directly or inform the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – Division for Global Mission. Each contribution, no matter how big or small, can make a significant impact.

And so, please keep the questions coming – and I promise to respond as best I can! I appreciate all the love and support that has been provided thus far, and I look forward to many great things to come.

May God bless you always.

With peace and love,