Monday, February 17, 2014 was a travel day, but it was also a seminar day, too. Brother Nigel Milo, Bonnie and I departed Linden, Guyana in the church van around 4:30 a.m. for the Ogle International Airport—the smaller airport outside Georgetown. That means Bonnie and I got up, dressed and finished packing at 3:45 a.m.! Along the way, we picked up brother Joe Latchmenarine at his parents’ home in Georgetown.
We all checked in for our flight for Port Kaituma at Air Services Ltd., and then we drove back the few blocks to the terminal building to clear Immigration—an oddity to me since we were not leaving Guyana. By 7 a.m., two Cessna Grand Caravans were loaded, aloft and headed for Port Kaituma on the northwest area of Region #1. Our route initially took us over the Atlantic Ocean along the coast before crossing overland and depositing us at our destination.
Sister Cheryl Etwaro received us into her and brother Kishore’s home and fixed us breakfast. Later that day from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., we four presented our seminar at the meetinghouse of the Estate church of Christ in Port Kaituma; about 30 brothers and sisters in Christ (including their children) attended. Very tired, we went to bed early.
As a sidebar, Kishore is a budding rancher. He has turkeys, ducks, rabbits, turtles and he wants to add sheep and a horse to the mix. I can just see it all now, brother Kishore astride a horse herding turtles, rabbits, turkeys, ducks and sheep. It brings a smile to my face and a fond memory of a dedicated, loving Christian family.
Tuesday morning, we made our way by boat to the Turu Mission church of Christ building for a seminar program from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Several congregations were represented with an attendance of about 101. As in all of our seminars, Bonnie taught some ladies’ classes while brother Joe and I spoke for joint sessions of men and women as well as taught men’s classes. An unintended guest (and unwelcome, as far as I was concerned) was a huge, hairy, black tarantula spider on the rafters above where the speakers stood to present their lessons.
Port Kaituma has some of the worst mud roads that Bonnie and I have ever encountered in any of the countries to which we go. Commonly, locals say that it is literally faster to walk than go by car. The remnants of the Jonestown encampment happened to be only approximately three miles from where we were lodging with the Etwaro family, so Bonnie and I had a brother take us to the entrance of the site. People are always asking me if I have ever been to Jonestown, Guyana; now we can say that we have been there, and we have a picture of us at the arch on the entrance to prove it. Late that night, an ATV with two people aboard collided with a truck, killing both riders of the smaller vehicle.
Wednesday morning, Joe, Nigel, Bonnie and I traveled by boat 90 miles from Port Kaituma to Mabaruma for still another seminar; this is where Joe lives with his wife and two daughters as he works as the minister for one of the area congregations of the Lord’s church. Whereas last year, it took three hours (in the rain) for us to make the trip in an open boat, this year with a faster craft, we cut the travel time in half. At first, the wind seemed so ferocious because of the speed at which we were hasting that we could hardly open our eyes. Later, we were able to open our eyes, though they watered much.
Traveling the rivers, we observed boat buses taking children to school, dugout canoes, women washing clothes in the river, mothers washing their young children in the waterways and simple tropical homes up on the banks. For many miles, all we saw was limitless jungle on both sides of the watercourses.
One hour up the river, we stopped for gasoline at the junction of another river. After refueling, our boat captain navigated our water taxi up the next river, and half an hour later, we arrived at Mabaruma. First, we checked into our hotel, the Broome Guesthouse. Within the hour, we traveled the short distance to the meetinghouse for the Mabaruma church of Christ, whereupon we presented our seminar program from 9:30 a.m. through 4 p.m. Four congregations were represented with a total of around 30 present. After supper, we returned to the building for an extra program with teenage Christians; they and we totaled about a dozen.
Earlier in the day shortly after our arrival at the meetinghouse, Bonnie made the acquaintance of one colorful bird that flies about the Mabaruma neighborhood. It did not want to let go, and it even pinched her with its beak, maybe to see if she were real.
By the dark of early morning on Thursday, we attempted what by daylight are routine and ordinary things—get dressed, shave and pack our suitcases. Electricity is only available in the rooms, by way of a generator on the premises of the guesthouse, from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. Even after 3 a.m., we sleep with the noise of the generator in the background out our window, but management directs the electrical power only to the hallway. Apparently, the water is only available at night, too, since we had absolutely no water in the morning with which to wash, etc.
We made our way to the small, local airport. Each of us checked in with the airline representative, the local immigration officer and the local policeman. The one-room terminal was full with people who had come to ride the two flights from different airlines scheduled to fly out at around 8 a.m. Checking includes weighing luggage and passengers! I kidded Bonnie as to from which “gate” we would be boarding our flight. As I predicted, the intangible “gates” from which we boarded our little plane and others boarded the other “airliner” were adjacent bald spots in the gravel adjacent to the asphalt runway.
By 9:30 a.m., we had arrived back in the greater Georgetown area. A little later, we four plus a brother from the Dora church of Christ, who also flew from Mabaruma, but on the other puddle-jumper, ate “brunch,” a combination late breakfast and an early lunch, in a Georgetown hotel restaurant. At about 11:30 a.m., we four pointed the church van toward our next venue, the Bath Settlement church of Christ. Along the way, we picked up three other Gospel preachers and the sister-in-law of brother Joe. Even with brother Milo driving slowly (the speed limit), we arrived too early for the afternoon appointment. Fortunately, in front of the meetinghouse was a relatively new, well-kept and commodious Chinese restaurant. Our van load nursed cold drinks and some partook of the food for about an hour while waiting for the appointment time to come.
Several congregations were represented at the seminar that night. Our attendance was around 55, with the women as usual outnumbering the men. We had several classes, some combined men and women, some split with Bonnie teaching the sisters in Christ and others with brother Joe and I taking our turns teaching the brothers. Next came the panel discussion (questions and answers), which almost always proves to be a popular facet of the program. Of course, the evening was capped off with refreshments of fruited or cheesy pastries and flavored water.
As a side note, while teaching the men’s class was my first time to use a folding chair with a 5-gallon bucket on it for a lectern. It was my own devising from available materials in the room to hold my mini laptop up close enough that I could use for my notes. Decades ago, I stood behind a floor-standing television in an American home to use it for a pulpit for preaching.
After dropping several new riders to their homes, we headed back to Georgetown. We retraced our steps, including the re-depositing our passengers who accompanied us to Bath. Tuckered out, we three rode into brother Nigel’s compound around 10:15 p.m.—weary and in need of bathing before retiring for a much coveted night’s rest. Brother Joe stayed in the greater Georgetown area and will meet up with us again Saturday for a seminar, and Monday as we start another 4-day foray of seminars scattered in different Guyanese communities. Friday, Bonnie and I will return to the high school boarding house to present lessons, and Sunday, we will be with the Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ. Mostly, Friday for Bonnie and me is wash day, or otherwise we would have to start looking for our cleanest, dirty clothes!