Colombia #9 "10 brothers in flip-flops, hurling boulders at their feet"


Howdy Guys,

The weather is changing as we are now moving into the rainy season. There was a day last week where it rained so hard that we couldn’t see more than 30 feet outside, yet the local Brothers said that is nothing to what is coming in April. On the plus side, the rain will bring out Rhino Beetles the size of children shoes! Can’t wait to get some pictures of them.

We went to the Circuit Assembly last weekend. It is a brand new building that was built last year. It took 16 months and some of the Bethelites said that it was a very difficult project. The Colombian Government made as much trouble as they could but in the end the building was finished. Tamara and I were invited to the dedication three months back but we were stuck in Atlanta at the time, so we missed it. The building its self is one of the best designed Assembly Halls I have ever seen. It is very simple and efficient but very comfortable. 5400 people can fit inside it and it would still feel roomy. The floor is concrete and it doesn’t have a false ceiling but it is still very dignified. Like all of Jehovah’s buildings it is well used, it takes 6 couples, who stay on site, to care for such a large facility.

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The Assembly was good….for being in another language. I could understand some of the scriptures but mostly we just studied for upcoming meetings. A few of our friends here, who can speak Spanish , had some parts. The Baptism was exciting with 29 of the 2300 in attendance getting baptized. When the Brother asked if they were dedicated…they all said with one loud voice “Si !”

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For lunch , the back of the property is filled with covered picnic tables, where everyone can eat their lunches. Most brought sandwiches or pots of bean to share with friends and family.

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We have really enjoyed our time here in Colombia and it is sad that we only can stay here for another month and half. Tamara and I have prayed for direction and talked about what to do with our lives after this assignment. We still have a little bit of money left and are just not ready to come back home, but we will have to leave the country soon. What to do? While we were deciding what to do, we received an email from some Missionaries in Peru. They are assigned to a small town called Pisco that has one congregation. I could tell you what they said but…it would be better if I just show you…. Below is the letter from the Missionaries;

Things are fine down here in our new assignment. Our congregation is happy to have missionaries, and we’re glad they’re patient with our bad Spanish and endless questions.

Pisco is a fishing community. Old timers say that the coastal waters used to teem with fish and a family could make a decent living from the sea, but this system has not been kind to Pisco, and these days the brothers are very poor, many living from day to day. But despite economic pressures they are cheerful and optimistic, and they zealously preach to their neighbors about ‘better times ahead’.

For years the closest Kingdom Hall was in the neighboring town of San Andreas – not too far away but far enough to make it pretty tough for most of the Pisqueños. So last summer the brothers acquired a small property right in the heart of our territory, only two blocks off the ocean, and a new congregation was formed – “Pisco Playa” – or Pisco Beach.

[Our Kingdom Hall as it looks right now]

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When the brothers first bought the building it was only four walls of crude, unfinished brick. No floor, no bathrooms, no electricity – just four walls, open to the sky. So the first task would have to be putting on the roof. It never rains here so roofs are flat: wooden beams laid over with cross pieces, finished with reeds on the inside and a crazy type of concrete made of sea shells on the outside. But how to find the $900 needed to put one on? The brothers saved and saved. The went out and had big “fish-a-thons”, donating the money from their catch to the ‘roof fund’. Finally there was enough money to build the roof. So one Saturday they put up the beams, the cross-pieces, the reeds, the fluorescent lights, everything except the concrete to seal it all down. When they came back the next morning to finish it off, someone had stolen THE ENTIRE ROOF. That gives you a bit of an idea about what Pisco is like – rough town. So, what to do? They started saving again, more fish-a-thons, until they finally put the roof back on, sealed it the same day and started meeting there. Admittedly, the Kingdom Hall is still far from finished. The walls are still unfinished brick, no floor, no chairs (there are benches, though), an awful sound system and most everything unfinished and ugly. The brothers are aware that the Kingdom Hall reflects on the name of Jehovah, so they are doing everything they can to fix the hall up as the money becomes available.

Sometimes the funds to care for a certain necessity have come from unexpected sources. For example, about two months back a witness couple from Arizona passed through Pisco as tourists. Although they were told that the TMS began at 7:00pm on Thursday night, the meeting was already in progress when they arrived. Had they been misinformed? No, it was explained to them that because the Hall has no “second school” room that the second school has to be held half an hour before the meeting begins – at 6:30. This seemed to really touch the visiting couple, and when it was time for them to go they left an ‘anonymous’ donation towards building a second school room. The brothers got to work right away, and now, two months later, the second school can finally be held during the regular meeting. What an encouragement to the students with talks!

The inside of the hall before the second school…and after

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The young sisters are willing workers

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The building of the second school really had a positive effect on the morale of the brothers. They have renewed their own efforts to save money, and just last week it was announced that there would be a big congregation effort to build a new stage before the Memorial. The existing structure was unsuitable for our needs (a massive concrete platform, built like a bomb shelter – and as ugly as can be!) so the call went out that volunteers were needed to help rip out the old stage. The next day the brothers turned out en masse and the demolition began.

It is interesting to see what determination and willingness can accomplish. When we arrived Sunday morning to demolish the old stage, I realized that nobody had a sledge hammer. I thought that would be it for the morning right then and there, but the brothers said “no problem!” and ran outside, appearing a minute later carrying 60-pound rocks. “We’ll smash it with these!” they said. I wish you could have seen it: 10 brothers in flip-flops, hurling boulders at their feet, trying to smash a concrete structure a foot thick in places. What determination! Happily someone did later find a sledge hammer and out came the old structure, making way for a cute, compact stage just right for a Kingdom Hall.

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…meets determined brothers with rocks…colombia-94

…and a new stage is poured!

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So that’s where we’re at right now. There is still much to be done: a floor needs to be poured, ceramic tiles installed, walls painted, the property needs a wall to keep out thieves, chairs, sound system, a little landscaping perhaps, the list is overwhelming if you look at it all at once. I imagine it will take years. But the brothers are very positive, and bit by bit the work gets done. Has it been worth all the effort? Absolutely! Having our own Kingdom hall has had excellent effect in the territory. Whereas last summer the weekly attendance was about 70, we now have more than 100 at every meeting and as many as 140 for the public talk. And this Thursday we are expecting – get this – 350 for the Memorial! All credit goes to Jehovah for blessing the hard work and generous spirit of his servants.

Anyway, that’s us right now. We look forward to hearing from you and news from back home. Talk to you soon.

All love, James & Leslie

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This is Christopher again;

Wasn’t that encouraging! It really made our week to get this letter from them. In fact it made such an impression on Tamara and I that we are headed there to help in May. I talked my Parents, Roger and Jean, into coming down to Peru and bringing a few items that the Brothers there really need. We will show my Parents around Peru for a week or so, then after they go back to the US, Tamara and I will head down to Pisco to help the “Pisqueños” on their project. It amazes Tamara and I how quickly Jehovah acts when you make yourself available and ask for direction!

I have asked James to send me a list of things that the Congregation needs. If you are interested in helping get some of the items, send me an email and I will forward you the list. My Parents will be heading down to Peru on May the 14th and will bring the items with them.

Our Memorial is tomorrow and we are extra excited because we found out that the Branch is going to provide the meeting in English for the Internationals here. We can’t wait!

Hope your staying busy and haven’t fun!

If you missed any emails or want to share them with other Brothers and Sisters check our web-site at www.WeGoWest.com

Christopher and Tamara

Colombia Adventure part 10

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