Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Harvest is Great, but the Workers are Few...

This past week has been like night and day for us, compared to the first week and a half of setting up our living quarters.
We were starting to get a little bummed out because we were spending so much time just getting started! But, I’m happy to report, we are now active in service and are already starting to see some very wonderful results. We now can see why we came here, and we are so glad we did!

Of course, not everything is as we thought it would be. Things in life are usually like that, aren’t they? I mean, when you think of serving where the need is great, you don’t really imagine it raining nonstop so hard that you can barely open your front door, or having to watch every step you take so that you don’t step in a nice, fresh, steaming pile of horse poop. The field ministry, however, has really lived up to the hype. “Come to Nicaragua, and you’ll have studies coming out of your ears!” we were told. And we are pretty sure that it really is the case.

We have really been active in service for about a week, and Marlene already has two studies, one more possibly, and I have one. (Two of our studies will most likely be at the meeting this Sunday.) We both also have several VERY promising return visits. It is SO refreshing to actually be talking to someone where they don’t just nod their head and say “Uh huh, Uh huh, yes,” but actually THINK and ask questions, and give real answers from their hearts! My study, a man named Wilfredo, lives about three blocks from us, and during the first chapter of the “Qué Enseña” (Bible Teach) book, he put his book down and looked me straight in the face and said, “Why does God allow suffering? Doesn’t the Bible say he is a God of love? My family members help me when I have problems…why won’t God do the same thing, since he has so much more power than a human does?” I started smiling, rubbing my hands together for the nice Bible-based explanation that was to come.

On Monday we went to one of Marlene’s studies, a young woman named Carla. Her home is in a semi-rural area of our little town, and she has dirt floors and was cooking in a steel barrel that was cut in half and laid on its side in the corner of the home. I really wanted to take a picture so I could post it here, but I didn’t want to offend her. . . Marlene had promised to bring her a Bible and a book, and when she brought them out of her bag, Carla’s eyes lit up and said, “Finally! My very own Bible!” and immediately opened it and started looking through it. When we showed her how to find scriptures and pointed out the Table of Contents, she looked like she was listening to someone pointing out all the cool features in her brand new state-of-the-art Lexus. When we read to her in Isaiah how Jehovah will make blind ones see again in the new system, she asked, “Could that apply also in a spiritual sense? Could some people that don’t see spiritual things come to know God as he really is?” Just amazing.

Oh, and I forgot about another study that we have, together, with two little kids that used to study with a sister a long time ago in the Great Teacher book, but for some reason the sister stopped visiting. We think the sister was a foreigner who left. The boy, Beldin, was up to chapter 16, while the girl, Naomi, was up to chapter 11, when they stopped. It seems like they were studying separately, but I think we will do it together. They are cousins, aged 8 and 9, and are very excited to start their study up again. Naomi’s mother likes the Bible and wants to study, but she hasn’t taken the step yet because she likes to go to parties in the town, and when she used to attend meetings, people would point to her and say, “And she’s a Jehovah’s Witness, and going to parties!” So she stopped attending meetings. But several of her family members are Witnesses.

In Santa Teresa, Witnesses really ARE under the microscope. The brothers won’t even buy beer here, because they will totally be judged negatively by the local people. So whenever they want to get some nice rum or beer, they go to Jinotepe and bring it in secretly. It’s like the Prohibition all over again! I think I will start brewing it in our little patio and have some friends over for “secret” meetings, ha ha.

One good thing that we have going for us here is that the town, like most of Nicaragua, has a strong evangelical presence. How is that a good thing, you may ask? Well, the good thing about it is that the evangelicals are total hypocrites, and everyone sees it. They go to their church where they play really loud party music and have their pastor scream non-sensical things like “We are serving God with our music, yeah! Turn up the music, let’s serve God more!” and then they go to the bars and get totally smashed. We’ve had more than a few people tell us that they are sick of the evangelicals and that they are no different than anyone else in the town.

One brother told me that the evangelicals try to get you to come, because they baptize you in a week and get to fatten up their membership roll. After about a month, most stop going to their meetings, but are still technically evangelicals. So when we preach to them and show them what the Bible really teaches, and since we already have a good reputation in the town based on the excellent conduct of the brothers that have been here before us, we have a lot of weight with what we say and the people really listen and reason on the scriptures.

We sometimes have a zealous evangelical open up the door who doesn’t want to reason on anything and instead tries to impress us with how godly they are, but they get all twisted up and finally shut up after just a minute or two. They just keep repeating all the gibberish they get from their pastors. It really is sad, actually. These poor people think they are doing good, and some of them really are sincere, and all the while it’s Satan, with his finger in the world even way down here, in the middle of nowhere.

We are, however, having extremely good results so far. I have one return visit that REALLY wants to study; he actually asked me to come again soon so we could go over the Bible Teach book together, but he lives so far away, kind of the outskirts, on the border of the forests… Sumitaka said I could borrow his bike, which I might do. I’m trying to convince Marlene to let me buy a motorcycle, but after some senile lady hit me while I was riding up in New Mexico, that’s probably not going to happen. I tried telling her that instead of a motorcycle, a horse might be a good investment. It doesn’t really break down, and they don’t eat that much, do they?...... but the look she gave me pretty much shut that door. Oh well. I will figure something out.

This is our little group on the way to the little town where my interested return visit lives...

On Tuesday we went to the town of La Conquista, which is a charming little town a few kilometers away, where we are taking care of a little group. The preaching there is wonderful, as well, and it’s such a delight to have people invite us in and say, “I’ve always wanted to know this about the Bible”, and proceed to ask questions. It’s such a small town, and we split up, and it’s funny to be walking up and down the streets and seeing the brothers and sisters through the windows of the homes, sitting down for a discussion with the householder or conducting a study. We run into each other quite often, as it is so small, and we basically blanket the little village in just a few hours. Here are a few pictures of us in La Conquista...

All in all, it is a total preaching paradise down here and we love it! So, together, we have 4 studies, most likely 5 in a few days, and probably about 3 others that will study relatively soon. All in a week’s worth of preaching! And of course, it’s not due to our talents. We aren’t even that good at this point. We kind of feel that in the States, we would prepare these presentations, but we seldom got to use them, so we never got really polished as teachers. Now, we start off with the presentation, and we are amazed at the results we are getting! Applying all these things that the faithful and discreet slave teaches us in the Theocratic Ministry School is really paying off! We are now preparing more than we ever did, because we know that at almost every door we will have a good conversation. We also know that we really aren’t anything at all except tools in Jehovah’s hands, but what a privilege that really is!

On another note, my manliness took quite a hit on Monday night. In retrospect, I really should not have behaved like a little school girl while my wife rescued me from, what I thought, was certain doom, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me explain. Monday night, I’m sitting at the desk in our bedroom, doing some work for the office back in the States, and someone is at the door. It’s Silvia and her daughter, Emily, who are already pretty good friends of ours, and have helped us a ton to get adjusted to life here. (We’ve spent a lot of time with them in service and just associating, while the husband, Everet, who is one of the elders here, is in the States working for two months. Emily is the little girl with me in the last picture.) It’s a pleasant surprise, and we welcome them inside and we start chitchatting, you know how it goes. She brought us a George Foreman grill, which is an absolute treasure. . .now we can have cheeseburgers, grilled chicken, toast, etc. We are so happy with it! So we’re sitting down, shooting the breeze, and I’m sitting in a chair where I have a perfect view of the kitchen. As we’re talking about certain things regarding Nicaragua and places we want to visit, out of the corner of my eye I see movement over by the fridge. All I can tell, with my peripheral vision, is that it is large, dark, and moving. My first instinct is that it’s a cockroach. For a split second, I think, “Okay, don’t make a big deal out of it (Marlene hates cockroaches more than anything else and screams when she sees a baby one doing nothing but sitting and getting some sunshine. . .we don’t get many in the house but she practically has a heart attack, and yes, she does scream. I mean that quite literally).” I just plan on getting up out of my chair and silently murdering it. However, this is what I think when I am seeing this moving object out of the corner of my eye. When I turn my head a little and see what it actually it is, I see that it is a mouse. Yes, a mouse. But to me, in my warped phobia for rodents, it is a giant man-eating rat, running its disgusting stinky tongue over its sharp yellow teeth, eyes glistening for the man-flesh that it’s about to enjoy….so I, like the little school girl that I was, yell “Oh no! Oh no!” and jump up on my chair. Yes. Literally. I’m standing up on my chair, pointing at Mickey and screaming “Kill it! Kill it!” At this point Marlene is practically running out the front door, thinking I saw a giant roach. Silvia and Emily are freaking out, turning to look into the kitchen, at which point Emily starts screaming too and jumps on the other chair. At this point, I realize that I might be overreacting a little bit. I jump down and tell Marlene “It’s a mouse!” and ask Silvia (since she is the one that knows everything about Nicaragua and how to handle pests), “Should I spray it full of Raid? Should I kill it with Raid?” She doesn’t answer immediately, she’s trying to get a look at the poor thing, and I grab her by her shoulders, practically shaking her, and say, “Tell me, should I spray the thing with Raid? Will it kill it?” At this point she sees Mickey and proceeds to freak out, running over by Emily. She tells me to kill it with the broom. I say, “What? I can’t beat a mouse to death!”

Marlene comes closer and says, “What? It’s a mouse?” She then goes into the kitchen and says, “I’ll just shoo it outside with the broom.” So she walks in there, and I start yelling at her about all the diseases that mice have, and when she starts poking behind the fridge with a stick, I jump back up on the chair and hold one of the dogs while Emily has the other one.

I suppose the mouse did run outside, because it certainly didn’t run past us into the dining room, and we looked for it all over the place in the kitchen afterwards. The back door was open, and Marlene has the opinion that since we were all screaming and jumping up and down, the mouse probably got fed up with us and left. Later that night, however, I awoke in bed with the terrifying thought that the mouse didn’t run out, after all. That it just hid somewhere, biding its time until it could crawl up on top of us while we are sleeping and crawl in our mouths or something. I thought of going into the kitchen and checking it out, but the thought of having a frenzied, squealing fight with a giant rat, blood spraying the walls while he gnaws on my face, didn’t appeal to me, so I just tried to get back to sleep.

I’m not really ashamed to put my girlish fright on display here. One must be as modest as possible. I can kill a cockroach with no thought of his wife or children waiting for him in his hole, wondering why Daddy hasn’t come back from picking up some crumbs yet. I’ve seen big flying cockroaches as well, in the Kingdom Hall, and just laugh. We have little gecko lizards crawling on our walls and I want to pet them. But mice? No way. I just can’t deal with it. It’s actually pretty funny. Marlene acted like she wouldn’t mind keeping the plague-carrying rodent as a pet, put a little leash around it and take it out in service, but she wants to jump out of her skin when she sees a little insect peering up at her.

Anyway, that is all for now, but I will definitely be keeping you all up to date, next week at the latest.

We love you all very much, and please keep us in your prayers, just as we constantly ask Jehovah to take care of you back home.


annalisa said...

Love the pics and so happy for you both! oh and Luis? SQUEAK!

David Schneider said...

Thanks for sharing! We wish we were there! Tell Emily and Silvia hi from the Schneiders. Oh, how do you feel about 2 foot iguanas falling through a hole in the ceiling? That happened to us on two different occasions. Fortunately, we didn't have to deal with rodents. A suggestion before the clothes and stuff in your closet start getting covered with mold - rig up some 20 watt light bulbs and keep them on in the closet with the door almost closed. They give off enough heat to keep things dry in there.

Keep up the excellent work y que Jehova les sigue bendiciendo!