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Tamara and I just wanted to let you know how our Colombian Bethel adventure ended, so if you can bear one more episode please read on.
As you may or may not remember we left the Colombia Bethel after our assignment and traveled to Peru. My Parents met us there and we took a week or two to rest up and explore the city of Cusco. Cusco is a great place with lots of history (being the oldest continuously inhabited city in the Americas) and exotic sights. One of the many ruins we visited was the “lost city” of Machu Pichu. The trip required 6 hours by train then lots of hiking but the views were worth the efforts.
After our vacation with my Parents, Tamara and I traveled along the coast of Peru to the small town of Pisco. This is where our Friends James and Leslie were assigned as Missionaries. The town is very poor and many make a minimal living off of fishing in the ocean. Not only were we warmly invited to stay with some local Brothers but they had a party for us… complete with music, dancing, sweets and party tricks.
Pisco is in a very poor area of Peru. The unemployment rate is well into the 50%. Many home are made of weaved grass mats arranged to be walls, floors and the ceiling. This only works because it never rains there. That part of Peru is one of the driest places on earth.
We came to this area to help our Missionary friends with their Congregation’s Hall construction project. It has been in construction for many years and will be for many many more. The reason is that the work is taking so long is that the Peru Branch is focused on building Kingdom Halls for areas that have 3-5 Congregations that don’t have a building to meet in. So in a way, the Pisco Congregation is very fortunate to not have to travel many miles (none have cars) to find a place to meet in.
The building that they meet in is slowly taking shape. You might remember James’ email that showed the Brothers demolishing the old stage with large rocks, well the new stage looked great. They have yet to get a floor but the cost on that will be $1500 US or more, so it might be a while.
My parents were able to bring some donations from the Oregon and Washington area for the Pisco Congregation. The total was a bit over $600, which amazed the Brothers and Sisters. Many expressed their thanks and love in tears, notes and giant smiles. (They should be sending “Thank You” notes very soon.) We used $325 of the money to buy the materials needed to work on the a large outside wall. The cement, sand and lime were all delivered by bicycle from the nearest construction yard
During the next 11 days, a few Brothers, Tamara and I worked on resurfacing the wall. It was extremely uneven and needed some repairs even before we could coat it with a new surface. What a change from working at a Bethel!
Here is a quick before and after.
When the wall was smooth, they wanted some texture put on the wall. You will notice that some of the windows are not quite finished in this picture.
The meetings are extremely warm, not the weather but in the love shown by the Brothers and Sisters. Here are a few pictures of the Kingdom hall and of the home we used for Bookstudy.
Meetings for Bookstudy was always funny. The family only had one 35 watt light bulb for the entire room, so every week another Brother brings two light bulbs so they have enough light for the meeting. After the Bookstudy, the Brother takes his light bulbs home so he can have light in his home. This picture is of a party we had after Bookstudy, someone brought a thing of Inca-Cola and someone else brought some apple pie. The Sister next to Tamara is our Missionary friend Leslie.
Service is always the highlight of any International assignment or trip, I am sure you agree. Because only one or two brothers own a car everything is done by foot or sometimes they rent a van-taxi to take them out of the city to the “really poor areas”.
Here are a few shots from Field Service.
Sorry this newsletter is so short but we are home now and are busy trying to find a place to live and work…ect. We are looking forward to what-ever Jehovah has in store for us.
Well, I just wanted to share the last part of our trip with you and hope you found it as encouraging as Tamara and I did. If we ever get to Peru again we hope to return to Pisco and visit our friends there. If not, we will see them in the New System…and hopefully we will be speaking the same language!
Christopher and Tamara Hudson
Welcome to the twelfth and final Colombian WeGoWest Newsletter.
We would first off, like to thank Jehovah for allowing us to share in this and all forms of service to him.
Second, we want to thank you for letting us share our Colombian experiences with you. The past five months have moved by so fast, that sharing them with you, has somehow made the time and experiences more real.
Third, we would like to deeply thank those that supported and encouraged us during our short stint as Bethelites. Without the support we literally could not have gotten here and without the encouragement we would have failed in our efforts. To be honest, there were a few times that we both became discouraged or lost our perspective and would think of how we could have used the past five months to create some veneer of financial stability or enjoy some meaningless comforts that we miss. Yet a well timed email or phone call from you, would set us back on track with the knowledge that we all are doing all things for God’s glory. (1 Cor. 10:31) Please if given the opportunity, please encourage others that are sharing in full-time service.
Colombia is such a wonderful area of the world. The friends here are warm and generous, always willing to expend themselves to help others and Jehovah. They usually have a joke or experience to share and a desire to visit with those that are from another area of the world. We have made so many friends and experienced so many things that it is hard to pick just a few to share with you.
One experience is of a Brother here that has been teaching me Spanish for 4 months. Only a few days ago, he told me of growing up in a poor area of Colombia. Of being constantly under threat of the Guerrillas and of his first job working in the Cocaine fields of his Cousin. The power that the Rebels and Guerrillas have on most of this Country is amazing to say the least. Then later he left the area and joined the Military. In the Army, he fought the Rebels in the Highlands and Jungles. He said that after a few years, the endless circle of violence and drug money started to “crush his heart” and so he left the Army and started to study the Bible. When contacted by Jehovah’s Witnesses he immediately saw that they actually used the Bible and that they had the Truth. Now he is on his 4 year of Bethel service and teaching me Spanish on Tuesday nights.
Another experience is of a single Mother in our Congregation. Her husband was a drug addict and used to beat her and he children. The Children are plagued with health and learning disabilities from poor diets when they were younger. The Sister has dealt with situations and violence that could not write here but her faith and determination has kept her close to Jehovah and his Organization despite anything that Satan can throw at her. One elder that I talked to called her their “little Job”. She is always at the meetings with her Children and share their love of Jehovah with all those they can.
Well, Tamara and I are packing to leave and so I must keep this short. Yet, take a look at some of the memories that Tamara and I will think of when we remember our time working at the Colombia Bethel.
We leave the Colombian Bethel on Friday and travel to Peru. The first of June we will be heading down the coast to work on a Kingdom Hall in the small town of Pisco. Since we will be traveling mostly by bus and trains we had to pack very light. Even so, we were able to pack all the donations and tools we need for helping on the Pisco Kingdom Hall building project. We hope to be able to write back and share some experiences and pictures from Peru.
We will greatly miss our local friends and the work here in Bethel but excited to see what opportunities Jehovah will make available to us, whether it be at home or abroad.
Matt 24:14 says “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” There are are so few of Jesus’ disciples on earth, compared to the billions on the earth, yet we can be sure that Jehovah’s hand is not short. He has the ability to have the Kingdom good news preached in ALL the inhabited earth with or without us. It is our wish that during the past 12 issues of our Newsletter, that you have gotten a small taste of what it is like to be a International Volunteer, just one of the many ways we can show Jehovah that we want to be used by him.
See you next adventure!
Christopher and Tamara
Hope everyone is doing good. Tamara and I are in our fourth month here in the Colombia Bethel. We are comfortable with the schedule now but looking forward to heading to Peru in the middle of May and visit our Missionary friends in their assignment.
Our work is going well. Tamara has had the privilege to work in a number of different departments from Housekeeping, Shipping to Printery. Her Spanish is so good that after only four months here, she has even been asked work as a Translator for Bethel Office a few times. My Spanish is horrible. I only understand 1 in 5 words at meetings…which is really not enough to understand much of anything. Yet, it is part of our assignment so I keep trying to learn and get better at it every day.
I am still working outside doing Plastering. We have almost finished a huge extension for the Printery and an office building. In a few weeks they will be ready for work on the new residence building. It is 5 stories high and quite large. They say it might take a year to finish it. The need for rooms here is very large, as an example there are 50 Brothers living in one large converted storage building. It is nice but very crowded with only three large rooms filled with bunk-beds. I have asked them about it and all have said that they are happy where they are assigned yet excited to see the rapid progress on the residence building…which will be their new home!
Tamara’s Sock-Monkey sickness is in full swing. She had a class the other day and over 20 people showed up to make monkeys. The weird part is there were three guys in the class! They spent all night making monkeys and by the end of the class most were infected with the Sock-Monkey sickness. Tamara is really making many many great friends here. I am always amazed at how well she can fit in and make friends in random environments and situations.
We had some exciting events recently. Tamara’s parents signed up for two weeks to work as International Volunteers and were accepted and asked to come to Colombia! It is really great to be able to work with family at a Bethel. Vicky was assigned to the Carpentry shop and Frank was working with me in Plastering. The two weeks really have gone by quick and in just a few days they head home to share their excitement and zeal with those in their home Congregation.
The security here in Colombia seems to be increasing. There are more soldiers on the streets, more checkpoints and random security checks. On the way to Sunday meeting our bus got pulled over and all the guys had to get off the bus. They searched us for weapons but only found Bibles. It was not scary but it was really weird to be in such a controlled environment. Tamara was able to get a quick snap of me being searched.
After meeting Tamara’s parents, Tamara and I went in service around the small town. Frank placed some magazines and I was able to talk (Spanglish) with a man for 10 minutes and get another return visit. Even though the field here is worked every single week, there always seems to be a few that develop interest in learning what the Bible says.
The Colombians are so hospitable, not only as a culture but as individuals. The other night a family that live 30 minutes away invited us to come to their home for dinner. It was a safe area so with another local friend we took the local bus out to their home. It was small, clean and filled with the smell of Empanadas. Empanadas are the local favorite food, they are meat, potatoes wrapped in a crescent shell of dough made of corn. I love them and ate at least 10! We had such a great time visiting with them and sharing our experiences in Colombia. They were able to borrow a DVD player and we showed them our ten minute video that we made from our last volunteer assignment in Zambia. They warmly expressed how very special it was for them to be able to see their Brothers and Sisters from Africa.
Well, I really need to get ready for meeting. You get so little personal time at a Bethel that if anything comes up…you usually have to make up the time with sleep or meeting preparation.Yet I want to share one more thing with you, if you have the time.
I have always wondered where I got the desire to travel and see different parts of the world. Probably a large part came from my Grandparents. Every since I knew them, they would randomly pack up a motor-home filled with Country Western 8-Track tapes, carob candies, and a irritated poodle that always seemed to have a skin condition… then they would drive somewhere. Often they would visit National Parks or explore different areas of the North West and South Western United States. When they returned they would have pictures of a weird looking tree or of friends at the Kingdom Hall they attended while there. I have always wanted emulate their adventurous spirit. Even after Grandpa had a number of strokes, they always find a way to stay active in Kingdom proclaiming. Once a week they have large groups of Witnesses over to their home to do telephone witnessing. Sometime they would have groups that numbered over 20. Unfortunately, my Grandpa lost his battle with being old last week. Most all of our family was their to support them as Harvey’s health started to fail. Tamara and I wished so much that would could have been there.
My Grandpa Harvey, as all of Jehovah’s Witnesses, believed in the New World that Jesus and the Bible speaks of. His faith was evident in this life and even in the final seconds of his life. As he slipped away in death, his final words were “Thank You Jehovah.”
I personally will miss him and look forward to seeing him in the promised New World.
(Psalm 37:29) The righteous themselves will possess the earth, And they will reside forever upon it.
Have a great day and make your God proud.
I had a bit of time after our Sunday meeting, so I wanted to send a small email and let you know what we are up too. The Plastering is going nicely, a few more Brothers from England, America and Canada have shown up to help so we are on schedule. The weather is really starting to act strange. As in, the sun will shine but then in only one hour it could be a torrential downpour. Tamara is still working as a Housekeeper but every once and a while and on every other Saturday she works in the kitchen or shipping. She likes the change of pace.
On a recent “walk-around-the-town-cause-we-are-going-stir-crazy” trip Tamara was able to preach to a Army guy. They are not normally very nice to Witnesses…but then again they are not used to blond Witnesses.
Many of the International Volunteers that have come to work have left or are leaving. It is so hard to make such good friends only to watch them leave. Most come for 4-6 weeks, some 3 months and one or two for 6 months. We try to have a Friday going away party but there are so many that leave it is hard to do it every week. Of the picture here (that was taken a month ago) 75% have gone home. Some take vacation time from their jobs, others quit their jobs. Some saved for months, others rely on Family to get here…All are really wonderful people that Tamara and I are fortunate to get to know.
After our Memorial, Tamara’s study and family came up to our room to visit. They attended the Spanish Memorial and enjoyed it very much. We had 76 at the English Memorial and Brother Brown, the Branch Overseer gave the talk. At one point he read this scripture;
(1 Corinthians 15:20) 20 However, now Christ has been raised up from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep [in death].
After that he talked about those that will be Kings and Priests …then talked about the “Other Fruits” which was most of us. You know it is a good day when a Branch Overseer calls you an “Other Fruit”.
Many have written and asked how they can help the Pisco, Peru Congregation that was in my last email. We received three requests from Brothers and Sisters that wanted travel with Tamara and I down to Peru, to help in the construction work. Yet, we are unable to take anyone with us down there, mostly because of third world travel logistics and timing issues.
After talking to the Missionaries (James & Leslie Kaminsk, Graduated Gilead Sept 2002, from Canada) who are assigned to that area, James gave me some suggestions and a list of things that they really need. Most of the list is labor intensive projects that require mostly bags of cement or brick. Here is the list he sent me;
Pour concrete floor: $750
Install ceramic tile: $1200
buy 200 folding metal chairs: $2300
Build perimeter wall for security: $1700
Build facade to improve look of KH from the street: $350
As you can see the projects are not small yet all are basics that we take for granted. James told me that they know that their Kingdom Hall, like most Kingdom Halls in poor lands, will take many years to complete. But they are focused as you could tell by his letter. I am still laughing about the “Fish-a-thons weekends! If you missed that email you can find it at our site; www.WeGoWest.com
There were a few tools that they needed for the upcoming projects but I was able to get most of the here in Colombia. James suggested that for those that still wanted to assist the Pisco Congregation, they could put a monetary donation into a sealed envelope (Wrapped in paper, if you mail it, so no one can see that money is inside), with a picture of your family and your mailing address (for a Thank-You card). My Parents will deliver the envelopes to Tamara and I and in turn we will take them down to Pisco when we head there to visit/work. I will do my best to document and share with you our time and work in the Pisco area and show you how your donations were used.
James wanted me to thank those that desire to help Brothers and Sisters that they have never seen.
Christopher and Tamara Hudson
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.
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 !”
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.
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]
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
The young sisters are willing workers
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.
The old stage last week…
…meets determined brothers with rocks…
…and a new stage is poured!
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
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