Archive for February 2014

Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ Ladies’ Day

February 8, 2014

by Bonnie Rushmore

Ladies' Inspiration Day

The ladies of the Amelia’s Ward congregation are to be applauded. For several months they have been preparing for this day – a Ladies’ Inspiration Day – a day of fellowship and study of God’s Word with sisters from other locations. Their hard work came to fruition with over three hundred ladies in attendance from thirteen congregations. The building was packed, extra seating was brought out of the classrooms and some were sitting in the doorways.

Ladies' Inspiration DayThe building was beautifully decorated to the theme “Colors of the Rainbow – Depicting the Christian Lifestyle.” Each guest was exuberantly greeted with a warm welcome. The day was filled with songs, prayers, poems and four ladies were selected to have their feet washed as an act of showing love for our sisters. One lady gave a brief lesson on the “Rainbow and its use in the Bible” (Genesis 9:12-17; Revelation 4:3). I was privileged to present a lesson on the “Parable of the Talents” with an emphasis on working together to use our talents to glorify God. Another lady presented information on “Breast Cancer.”

Ladies' Inspiration DayA mid-morning snack and lunch were provided to all attendees. The attendance was so great that by the time the visitors and their male drivers were fed, the ladies who worked so hard preparing and serving were left with nothing to eat. They planned on feeding 250 and fed about 325. It was a good day of fellowship and learning.

Ladies' Inspiration DayAs the guests left, the local ladies began cleaning and straightening the building in preparation for Lord’s Day worship tomorrow. Already, they are talking about next year’s program.

Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ

February 8, 2014

Nigel at LethemThe Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ is one of the most promising congregations of the Lord’s church with which we are acquainted anywhere. The members routinely canvass their city door to door three days weekly, without prodding or superintending. Church members exercise a mentoring program for new members, and new members continue in guided self-study with weekly guidance from more mature members. Christians there save their money to fund two in-country mission trips annually to both encourage sister congregations and evangelize distant communities.

Nigel at ParikaSeveral men and ladies teach or in other ways contribute to the edification of the church there. Brother Nigel and sister Jasmine Milo serve the congregation as brother Nigel preaches for it. Christians are added to the Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ with regularity. If necessary, when delinquent members cannot be recovered, they are withdrawn from; on a recent visit, one sister from whom the church had withdrawn was restored. This congregation is living and active and doing its best in every quarter to follow the New Testament pattern for Christianity. No one could accuse these brethren of playing church or keeping house! Consequently, the Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ is one of the largest and most thriving churches in Guyana.

The present facilities are overwhelmed with the number in attendance. Hence, a new, 2-story building is being constructed on an adjacent lot. It is a handsome structure that should provide all of the space needed for the foreseeable future. It can be a fine tool for the cause of Christ for many years to come. The new facilities will accommodate the hundreds of Christians and visitors already attending.

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Humble and modest, but ambitious for the Lord, Nigel Milo is a sparkplug. He would put the Energizer Bunny to shame. Brother Milo is the director of our Annual Nationwide Mobile Guyanese Seminar, and he doesn’t stop making it successful and planning thereto. Even in airports or at boat docks while going to or returning from the seminar venues already in progress, Nigel works the phone with congregational contacts. This year, he simultaneously worked with contacts for the seminars as well as the ladies’ day.

As the result largely of the Amelia’s Ward congregation and brother and sister Milo, many hundreds throughout the nation annually are encouraged and edified within the body of Christ. In addition, hundreds attended the ladies’ day. It is a great pleasure to be associated with this fine church and these outstanding brethren.

Bartica, Guyana, South America

February 7, 2014

Bartica Church of Christ meetinghouseLast night for Bonnie and me ended at about 1 a.m. this morning, and our new day began 4:30 a.m. Who out there thinks that missionaries generally are just taking exotic vacations at the expense of the Lord’s church? We’re going to have to return to the so-called normal grind of everyday life—just so we can get some rest!

By about 5:15 a.m. on Friday, February 7, brother Nigel Milo (he got less sleep than us, and he is the driver) and we two weary souls bounded from Linden toward Georgetown. We made our way across the floating bridge straddling the Demerara River; barges anchored sequentially the span of the waterway support metal plates for two way traffic to traverse from bank to bank. Being on the edge of Georgetown, it is always packed with stopped or at best slowly moving vehicles of all kinds. Tolls are collected for one direction only on this pontoon bridge; there is no need to collect a fee going both ways because all returning automobiles and trucks have no choice but to return via the same passage.

wharf at ParikaThen, we drove along the river for about five miles to the river port on that side. There we retrieved two more passengers—brother Joe and his sister-in-law who had arrived by water taxi. From there, we proceeded by minivan for an hour or so to the river port town of Parika, whereupon we boarded a speedboat to go inland about an hour and a half to Bartica. The boats everywhere around the huge dock ferry passengers to various river ports accessible on the Essequibo River, which is as wide as a reservoir and seemingly endless in length. Since only full boats depart, passengers have to wait until other commuters happen by and want to travel to the same destination as you. We waited about two hours! We could have left almost immediately upon arrival, but would have had to take the last four seats (for five of us) on the front seat of the boat; that seating position provides the roughest treatment of any on board, from the bouncing up and down to the hard smashes on the waves.

Bonnie and I have no need to spend good money on American amusement park rides for the pleasure of finding a little excitement and experiencing nausea. Only one passenger had preceded us onto the boat we finally boarded, so we could have the best seats in the house, so to speak, the back bench—unfortunately, also the loudest venue, being positioned closest to the dual, high-powered outboard motors.

Despite leaving Linden early, we nevertheless arrived over 30 minutes late for the seminar program. The local, routine travel does not afford very much control over one’s travel time. Find a boat going your direction, put on a life preserver and wait for the craft to fill. Zip up the river at speeds certain to cool one down, sometimes spraying muddy river water in the faces of boat occupants. After a while, the hard, wooden seats, themselves taking a severe beating from being battered by the crash of the boat on the water, tend to aggravate one’s body, especially the tailbone. Cramped quarters for the feet are more restrictive than typical of commercial airlines. About 30 passengers, hand luggage, cargo, a boat captain and one crewman whiz through waters, dodging pilings, other boats, docks and river brush.

96 dpi 5x7 Bartica CoC2Brother Michael Osborne who preaches for the Bartica Church of Christ and that congregation hosted the seminar today. The program was scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Because of that, most of the men were absent, being at work. Still, we had an attendance of around 32. Joe, Bonnie and I took our turns teaching; Bonnie taught a ladies’ class sometimes when either Joe or I spoke to just the men. Nigel taught the young children, who to our surprise their mothers kept home from school so they could be present for the occasion. In the three years that we have been conducting these seminars across Guyana, this was the first time that we brought the program to Bartica. Should we return in the future, we may be able to alter the times, if we can schedule all venues within the frame work of four weeks, as well as factor in the variables of river transportation to Bartica and back (the water taxis stop running before dark).

By 9 p.m., we had retraced our steps, and brother Milo and Bonnie and I arrived back in Linden. Bonnie went over her lessons for the ladies’ day on Saturday in which she would speak at the Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ in Linden. We bathed and retired for the evening. Another good day had come to an end!

Lethem, Guyana

February 6, 2014

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Five o’clock a.m. Monday on the morning of February 3 came too quickly, and frankly too early. I could have used a couple more hours of sleep—at least! By 5:45 a.m.—15 minutes past our ETD (estimated time of departure), brother Nigel Milo piloted the minivan out of Linden, Guyana with Bonnie and me aboard. We made our way with few impediments along the highway—until we neared Georgetown; from there on it was pretty much a crawl along streets overwhelmed with cars and trucks.

We had allotted two and a half hours for the drive to the Ogle airport outside of the capital. The plan included picking up my co-speaker, Latchmenarine Latchmenarine (“Joe”) in Georgetown, but instead, brother Milo called ahead for Joe to take a taxi to the airfield and meet us; he made it there before we did.

A couple of hours later, we were airborne and headed for Lethem, Guyana. Our little single-engine flying machine with 13 aboard (including our lady pilot) pierced the rain-soaked sky and blindly pushed through the overpowering clouds. Much of the trip was cloudy, only infrequently permitting a peek at the jungle canopy below. (Incidentally, last week, a small plane carrying drums of fuel with the pilot and one other aboard mysteriously crashed into the jungle. Several days later, the crash site and the remains of those lost souls were discovered.)

About an hour and a half after leaving Ogle on the Atlantic coast, we dropped below the clouds and set our sight on the landing strip at Lethem. We dove and simultaneously banked left, having already passed the airfield and crossed the river separating Guyana and Brazil (flying ever so little into Brazilian airspace). As the small craft lined up with the runway, it swayed from left to right and to the left again, but soon straightened out before the thud of the fixed landing gear striking the asphalt. We didn’t need more than half the available airstrip before our plane slowed enough to pivot and turn toward the walkway leading through the fence to the adjacent road and row of buildings.

No sooner had we retrieved our luggage, we were packaged into a taxi operated by a member of the local congregation of the Lord’s church. He dropped us at a different hotel than in which brother Milo and I stayed the year before. It proved, though, to be less accommodative than where we formerly lodged. This hotel didn’t turn out to be a place on which we could rely for our daily meals, and therefore, we walked to the other hotel for a late lunch.

We returned to our room drenched in perspiration. However, owing to the limited amount of clothing we could bring easily with us, it was necessary to dry out. After we walked again to supper and returned to the room, we could bathe. Otherwise, we would have soiled two sets of clothes in the same day, which we could not afford to do.

Bonnie and I were well situated in a convenient room with a suitable bed, mosquito netting, a toilet, a shower, a small refrigerator and air conditioning. I worked on the February issue of Gospel Gazette Online, and we both looked over our lessons for the following days and nights for the 2-day seminar and 2-day nightly Gospel meeting. When the electric failed, the hotel generator took over to restore light and AC. As it turned out the shower was not so convenient, having no hot water.

Tuesday, we walked to breakfast a quarter of a mile away to the hotel where we were not staying! From 8:30 a.m. through nearly 4 p.m. brother Joe, Bonnie and I taught numerous classes, with Bonnie teaching several classes to the ladies simultaneously as either brother Joe or I taught the men. Each afternoon, we concluded the day sessions with a panel discussion where brother Nigel moderated (and answered some of the easy questions!) while Joe and I answered the religious questions asked aloud from the floor.

Last year, the first time we brought our program to Lethem, 35 brothers and sisters in Christ attended the day seminars. However, this year, the attendances slightly more than doubled! Everyone listened attentively throughout the breezy, but hot and humid day hours. Most present had traveled with great difficulty by various means up to a hundred miles or so; no one came for the free meal of rice or opted to snooze despite the heat of the day, even when taking a nap after lunch might have been desirable. Tuesday evening, we had two hours of preaching a Gospel meeting, with accompanying songs and prayers; about 115 were present, down some from the previous year.

Tuesday afternoon between the seminar and the Gospel meeting, Bonnie and I along with brother Joe changed rooms. Supposedly, we were changing rooms because the rooms in which we were lodging had no hot water. Sadly, later that night, we discovered that the rooms to which we moved had no hot water either. Not only that, but we had needlessly sacrificed electrical outlets, furniture, space and barely having enough cold water to mist ourselves—with no hope of rinsing lather from body or hair.

Before returning for the night sessions, I attempted to print off a copy of a lesson I had presented earlier in the day, per the request of one preacher. Assured by the manager that could be done at the hotel, yet I was not surprised that in reality there was no ink in the printer. Assurances throughout our stay were hollow and disappointing. When we go to a remote area knowing that amenities are not available or that the stay will border on primitive, we steel ourselves ahead of time to endure whatever minor inconveniences we may encounter for just a few days. However, it is disappointing to be sold amenities that the sellers know full well that they do not have and for which they charge premium prices.

Next year, we tentatively plan to return to the other hotel, though the local brethren were trying to distance us from a bar adjacent to it. The bar near the hotel where we stayed this year was a little further from it. Given the circumstances (bars near both hotels, the lack of services and serviceable rooms where we lodged in 2014 and walking down to the competitor to eat twice a day), for us, the decision seems obvious.

Wednesday, again we had seminars by day and a Gospel meeting by night. At the request of local brethren hosting the seminar in Lethem, we began the day earlier, extended the day session an hour later and added an hour to the night Gospel meeting. This provided the opportunity to add an additional lesson in the morning, an extra hour of panel discussion in the afternoon and an additional lesson (total of three) that night. Everyone, including our team of four, was completely exhausted! I only saw one adult and one toddler drop off to sleep, while everyone else remained attentive—only parting from the building a good long time after the closing prayer.

These brethren from this region of Guyana asked us last year to spend a week with them in 2014, which we could not do and maintain our schedule throughout the country in the 15+ venues over 28 days; we have only three days in that time when we are not involved in teaching the Gospel—travel days mostly. This year, we were asked to come for a seminar twice a year, which we are unable to do either. I mention this to portray the eagerness with which these brethren hunger for the edification available through the presentation of the Word of God. The others and I are as eager to present the Gospel as brethren are eager to hear it preached! In summary, the four of us presented 21 lessons and taught the Word of God for 23 hours.

Thursday was another travel day. After visiting brethren again and taking the once over through the towns of Lethem and St. Ignatius (Amerindian Reservation), we boarded a plane bound for Ogle on the coast. From there, we dropped brother Joe with his parents in Georgetown and stopped by the hospital for brother Nigel to pick up the results of sister Jasmine’s recent biopsies. Praise God! Cancer fears have been allayed. Then, we drove back to Linden. Sister Jasmine and other Christian women made preparations for the Ladies’ Day on Saturday; brother Nigel conducted two home Bible studies in the community; and Bonnie and I washed clothes. Since water use here relies on gravity delivering it from tanks aloft into which it has been pumped, the kitchen faucet is used via PVC pipe to direct it to the washer (washing and rinsing cycles); of course, one cannot get far from the washer because of that.

We still need to bathe and ready ourselves for a 5:30 a.m. departure to our next venue: Bartica—approached by land until we switch to a boat for the balance of the journey. I’m sure we will be worn out by the time of our return to Linden tomorrow night. Saturday is the Ladies’ Day, and Sunday we begin our next 4-day roundtrip for 2 days of seminars and 2 nights of Gospel meetings. We will not be getting much sleep over the next month, and often we will not have good communication opportunities. We covet your prayers.

A Week Gone By

February 2, 2014

Sunday, January 26, Bonnie and I worshipped in the a.m. with the Old Union Church of Christ in Carroll County, Mississippi. That evening, we worshipped with the brethren of the West President Church of Christ in Leflore County, Mississippi.

Wednesday, our trip to Jackson, MS, where I was to teach the auditorium class for the Siwell Road Church of Christ, was cancelled due to inclement, winter weather. Therefore, we changed course and attended Bible class with the Elliott Church of Christ in Grenada County, Mississippi.

Thursday, among other things, we shipped 54 cases of The Voice of Truth International. All week, Bonnie and I were busy finishing our lessons for our February mission trip to Guyana, South America. In addition, we attended other duties that typically punctuate our days at the World Evangelism Building (warehouse/office complex).

Friday, we drove to Collierville, TN to the home of our daughter Rebecca.

Saturday was a travel day! We reluctantly arose at 3 a.m. to go to the Memphis International Airport. From there, we flew to Charlotte, NC, before flying onward to Miami, Fl. Our third plane ride for the day took us to Georgetown, Guyana, with a stopover in Port of Spain in the Atlantic Ocean. Finally, we bedded down in Linden, Guyana around 1 a.m. Guyanese time.

Sunday, Bonnie and I worshipped with the Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ in Linden. No one takes a count, but the building was packed—with maybe 400 present. The week prior, even more attended, requiring extra seating to be brought from classrooms—and some still had to stand. A larger building is under construction on the adjacent lot—being built by church member labor.

It was my pleasure to speak for both the class and the worship. In the Bible class, I showed the congregation the PowerPoint that I showed in the States about our 2013 Nationwide Seminars in Guyana. For worship, I preached “Which Covenant.”

Monday, we will begin the seminar program throughout Guyana by traveling by small plane to Lethem on the Brazilian border. Tuesday and Wednesday by day we will have the seminar for members of the church, and by night, we will have a Gospel meeting. Last year, 170 showed up for the evening program. This year, Bonnie will teach ladies, while Latchmenarine “Joe” Latchmenarine (yes, his first name and his last name are the same—no, not one name, but the same name twice!) and I teach the men and combined sessions. More details and pictures to follow, God willing.