Since my last blog entry, Martha Lynn and I have completed two more venues in our 6-week foray across all 10 regions of Guyana in our annual nationwide seminars. Of course, the director of the program and national of Guyana, the esteemed brother Nigel, was our co-speaker and brothers’ keeper—no one could take better care of us. On Saturday, February 4, the three of us headed out from Linden to the village of #77 Housing Scheme on the country’s southern coast abutting the Atlantic Ocean—about a 4-hour trip by car—literally, flying low with Milo!
Several congregations of the Lord’s church converged in the bright pink meeting house for an afternoon and evening program. Nigel and I spoke, but the occasion did not afford Martha an opportunity to speak to the ladies who were present. This site enlisted participation by some brethren and congregations who had not previously participated in the seminars in former years; brothers and sisters in Christ who join us annually for these workshops attended, too.
Afterward, we three drove back to Georgetown and deposited ourselves in a hotel for the night, owing to a morning departure from Ogle by small plane to the country’s interior destination of Monkey Mountain. Had we returned to Linden, we could have quite possibly met ourselves coming and going at the same time, and there would have been no time for rest over the night. We slept about 15 minutes from the quaint, little airport.
Sunday, February 5, Nigel, Martha and I along with a few other passengers set out for the bush aboard a small single-engine aircraft. Not everyone on board was headed to the same place. Therefore, the flight landed first at Mahdia, second at Paramakatoi and finally at Monkey Mountain. That being the case, next year, we may try to hop a flight between Paramakatoi and Monkey Mountain, which is not a scheduled route. That would save time if not be a better use of funds also, since ordinarily passengers would need to use Ogle on the coast as the pivotal point for flights to both endpoints. (I don’t think we will save money—only time—because the posted rates on a placard show fees comparable to flying back to Ogle anyway.)
The cloudy sky hung low on Sunday. I was fully aware from previous flights in past years over the mountainous jungle terrain that foreboding summits below punctuated the unseen landscape under our permanently fixed landing gear. Guyanese pilots fly no higher than necessary to clear the highest peak over which the intended route takes them. While sometimes the dense forest canopy lies thousands of feet below as we glide across the horizon, at other times the earth rushes to greet our craft as we sashay over a mountain top. At other times, we fly adjacent to a mount that was not necessary for our puddle-jumper to hop. In the dense fog, I was hopeful that we would see the ground before the ground found us.
Descending to a few hundred feet, low enough to clear the white fluffy obstruction afforded by fog and rainy weather, we banked left and lined up for touchdown on the dirt landing strip of the Amerindian village of Monkey Mountain. Aside from the cows, donkeys, chickens, sheep and people adjacent to or often on the runway, we were greeted first by the wreckage of a twin-engine plane that had crash landed some months before just off the airstrip, coming to rest in the high Savannah weeds.
We were greeted by brothers and sisters in Christ who had interrupted their Sunday morning Bible class to meet us at the plane. First, we registered at the police outpost, manned by two coastlanders, who were as much out of place and conspicuous as were we three travelers. Then, we scurried over to the weathered and worn, blue wood-framed meetinghouse of the Monkey Mountain Church of Christ for a.m. worship. Brother Paul Daniels, a native of the next village over of Paramakatoi, is the local preacher, and he ably preached the Word of God. All ages were represented in the small gathering of the faithful, who greeted us and remembered me from a previous visit, as well as from The Voice of Truth International of which I am now the Editor. I see to it that about two tons of Gospel literature are shipped to Guyana annually, and brother Nigel Milo and the Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ in Linden with which he labors for our Lord distributes it—including The Voice of Truth International—to congregations throughout the country.
The village guesthouse was not ready for us upon our arrival; the caretaker may have been somewhere on the mountainside tending to the subsistence crops on which villagers largely depend for their sustenance. Therefore, Nigel, Martha and I camped out for the afternoon in the church house; Martha stretched out on the rough, narrow plank of a primitive “pew” with her feet sticking out of a window port—no screen or glass therein, but only wooden shutters for protection and for security when no one is around. (She has forbidden me from posting that pic!)
Monday and Tuesday, we three spoke mornings, afternoons and evenings. Over the course of the two calendar days, Martha taught four ladies’ classes while Nigel and I each taught about lessons apiece either to the men or to the combined group. Once more at this venue, we together presented about 18 lessons before readying ourselves for our journey onward and elsewhere.
Our lodging accommodations were improved over my last visit to Monkey Mountain. This year, an outside brick shelter had been constructed, which contained a shower stall as well as a toilet in its own stall; water was available from a storage tank. Sleeping quarters were similar to a tractor shed in the USA—concrete slab, exterior walls open to the inside at the eaves and partitioned rooms inside with half-height walls (over which someone more agile than I am could foreseeably climb). Whereas previously there were no doors on the rooms, homemade wooden doors now complemented single-bed sheets slung over a wire atop the doorways. Our room would not securely bolt. Inside, a simple bed with a clingy mosquito net was the only furniture. (Over the years, it seems that everything crawling, slithering and flying wants to bite me. This year, however, I have a secret weapon—Martha! They like to bite her even more than me. This year, I brought along bait with me!) Wood window shutters when opened provided our only light during the day; at night, a solar-panel-fueled battery powered two strategically placed florescent bulbs hanging from the highest rafter and lighting each cubicle below.
Martha and I simply loved being at Monkey Mountain as well as communing and fellowshipping with precious Christian brothers and sisters, who are now dearer friends to us than the mere acquaintances they had been to me upon the conclusion of my last visit years ago. I am married to an Indian princess, or so it would seem, after I purchased a feathery headdress for her. One of the incidental perks for such short persons as Martha and me is that, comparatively speaking, we are tall among many of the Amerindians. Like Bonnie and me previously, Martha and I love little children and babies—to borrow, spoil and give back when they cry or need fed or changed.
Martha and I both were reared in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern part of the United States, and though she has an affinity for sandy, coastal beaches, too, we both love mountains. Paramakatoi and Monkey Mountain rise to a maximum of 3,000 feet.
When it came time to leave Monkey Mountain on Wednesday, we waited endlessly it seemed at the police compound adjacent to the runway for the flight scheduled to arrive “TBA.” The announcement of the plane’s arrival was the sound of its engine as it approached in the sky. When it landed, it was greeted by people pouring from their homes and schoolchildren vacating their classrooms on the far side of the “airport” to watch and wave. Waiting and waiting for about five more hours was our lot as we were ushered from our plane in another mountain town of Mahdia while our aircraft was de-seated and the void replaced with barrels of fuel to be ferried to mountain villages and mining camps; other planes carted all manner of merchandise and goods. Before dark, the fleet of varying sized planes returned to Mahdia to transport the final cargo—passengers—to Ogle on the Atlantic coast outside of Georgetown.
Finally, dirty and tired, a couple of hours or so later, we arrived back in Linden, our base of operations and the home of the Milo family. Thursday and Friday are down days, during which we will do some much needed laundry and fire up our computers and attack some “office work”—Gospel Gazette Online, The Voice of Truth International, etc. Saturday, we’ll be off again! We are having the time of our lives, and Martha and I are delighted to contribute to the edification of fellow Christians and non-Christians, too. Most of all, we purpose to glorify God!