Friday, 1 May 2015

Two Years Completed - Observations

One Year in Review was posted 30 April 2014; the information posted there is still useful for those considering a move here or a visit.

Two Years in Review:
Life is very busy, thus Peter has helped formulate some thoughts, as I sort out some pictures.

First, regarding the volcano Fuego ... this year we learned that the puffing and puffing of bigger and bigger streams of smoke....'is not necessarily a good sign' ..... like it is 'letting off steam' and preventing 'a big blow'.   It DID blow (nothing compared to some other recent volcanoes in the world, but still a great big mess for us).  Fuego still creates a thin film of ash on our terrace every few days.

April 28, 2015

Congregation Over the Past Year:
A year ago we had close to 40 publishers from Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, United States and visitors for short or long periods from other parts of the world as well, providing a constant international flavor to the congregation.  Many of these followed the direction of the branch by coming here for a period of time to serve, and as their funds became low (as expected) (or other reasons), returned to their native countries.

Now we are at about 22 publishers with close to 800 confirmed calls. The vast number of confirmed calls are a result of those who came here to soften the territory, do a lot of footwork, and built up the confirmed English territories.  At present, it is a challenge to cover our confirmed territory while attending to the many return visits and Bible studies.  Also, the cart witnessing is continuing.  We are now back on the "Need" list.  There are now a number of Bible students attending the meetings, in particular on Sundays.

Field Service: Peter and I have made a change this year over the previous year.  We have gotten comfortable carrying our tablets with us during the daytime, and especially have enjoyed showing the videos to many at Central Park, especially in the afternoons, thus getting off our feet and extending our field service day (walking the cobblestones for hours is physically tiring).  We have downloaded some 42 videos/songs in Spanish/English/Quiche/Cakchiquel and have shown them beyond number to adults, children, locals, foreigners, and other folks from other areas of Guatemala who frequent Antigua, and especially its Central Park.... a very unique opportunity and location.

The photos below are from December 25, 2014, at Central Park

Therefore, we have an interesting variety of productive service:  door-to-door search work, calling on confirmed English-speaking calls, public witnessing with the carts, much informal witnessing and approach work as hundreds of tourists frequent Antigua weekly, and the opportunity to sit in the park with our two tablets on the go, magazines visible for those who desire to read them (and many do come up and ask for their copy), as well as crayons and pencils and pictures for the young ones to color or do number-to-number pictures from for the youth and the children. Many of the children know the songs and the videos of Caleb and Sophia in Spanish by heart.   They are also enjoying having some of the brochures and books read to them.

Many have asked for Bibles (Spanish) while we have been sitting in the park and, as Peter is fluent in Spanish, it has been very enjoyable conversing with many.  Later they have returned and expressed great appreciation and tells us they are reading their Bible.  Most of these folks do not live in Antigua; they come to sell their goods or to shine shoes, etcetera.  Some get on a chicken bus at 5 or 6 a.m. to come to Antigua, and return to their home the same day, catching the return chicken bus at 6 p.m. Thus, they likely do not have much opportunity to have contact with Jehovah's Witnesses other than here at the park in Antigua.  At the same time, while enjoying this avenue of service, many English conversations get started because of people's curiosity re the crayons and pictures, videos and the fact that many of the indigenous come up and call us by name and give us hugs.  It is a very, very happy part of our day.

A number of pictures in review of this past year:

Field service transportation:

Bicycles for some (not for Peter and I, ha ha...too bumpy and don't trust our balance)

The truck is great to transport many!

Walking is the mainstay!

Adventurous gals.

Friends visiting Antigua; I know I only have a few pics to post of the many many visitors:
We met these friends in the market while visiting Maria, who is studying in Cakchiquel, with a sister who comes from Guat City to study with her.  The sister second on the right used to be a missionary in Guatemala, I believe in the 1970s!!!

Friends, I believe, from El many visitors over the year, but yes, I am quite sure El Salvador is correct.

Guatemala City, Mexico and Costa Rica!!!!
July 2014

October 2014

Friends from Germany

Friends from Western Canada, Germany, and other parts of Guatemala

Friends from Guatemala, Japan and Canada, and probably from elsewhere.

Canadian friends.

Italian friends, now serving as CO and wife in Spanish in another area of Guatemala.

In service in one of the outside towns; one of the couples in this pic is now serving in Italy in an English group, reaching out to African refugees in the many camps in Italy.  Another couple is back in Toronto, busy with the new construction program.

Mexico, Costa Rica, and now Guat City but originally from Kansas

I think, El Salvador friends.

Friends...serving in other part of Guatemala, if I remember correctly, from the U.S. ...????

Wesstern Canada, Nevada and another state (Kansas?) friends
My boys came to visit!!!!!!

British friends, served as substitute CO and wife early April.

Friends at the park today, two visiting from Nebraska, some from our KH, and a brother who is photographer in the park.

Finishing off with four of our newest members of the congregation, moved here absolutely recently, from Australia!!! with two of their friends who serve elsewhere in Guatemala in the Spanish field, who came to help them get settled into Antigua.


There is so much more I would love to post in a year in review, but then the posting would be unmanageable.  Hope you enjoyed what got posted.  I am sure pictures from last year will creep into some of my future posts.  There were many, many, many more visitors to Antigua that have not make it into this posting.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

FUEGO events from Feb 7 to 11, 2015

Fuego certainly made the world news on February 7th and 8th.  Apparently active for 22 hours from approximately 3:30 pm the 7th.  The explosions were on the far side of Fuego so the area on the opposite side of Antigua's view of Fuego got the worst ash, and the lava, etcetera. The newspapers showed thick heavy ash on the ground over that side.  Antigua got off relatively easy.  Our home, we have been told, is 18 km as the crow flies - or, as the ash falls, from Fuego.

We were at the park with the children coloring at 2:30 p.m.

...and, at around 3:30, with the tablets on,  Peter felt some stuff landing on his hair, thinking it was stuff from the trees overhead.  However, within seconds we noticed that the tablets were covered with a film of dust, and we realized something extraordinary was happening.  People were saying 'ceniza', not 'polvo' (ash, not dust).  I checked that one of our young friends using the tablet wrapped up his baby brother well and would be safely off, then we scurried home.  The pictures below start at 3:27 p.m.

The lady is bundled up, as everyone did with their scarves covering faces.  There was a lot of noise at the park,with a rock climbing event going on, etc., so we never heard the explosions of Fuego.

3:30 pm

From our terrace at 3:45 pm.

By 4:40 p.m. the sun was breaking through.

9:15 in the morning

We did some sweeping on the terrace, but soon decided it was pointless for the time-being.

Volcanic ash is amazingly/surprisingly heavy!!!

 We had our meeting at 11 a.m.  The Spanish congregations (2) had arrived at 6 a.m. to start cleaning for their meeting at 8:30 a.m.  During our meeting, when turning from one scripture to another in our Bible, we found ourselves wiping off our Bible pages as they were gritty within a few minutes.  The song book at the end of the meeting was totally covered with gritty ash. After the meeting we did a cleanup of the KH, but we knew it was of little effect, as the ash was still very much in the air, and would be for some time to come. We also gave a try at sweeping our terrace in the afternoon, but the wind is always up in the afternoons, and once again pointless, and not particularly healthy, and not necessary.
Monday, February 9th
7 a.m. Monday from our terrace.  Look closely and you can see Fuego and Acatenango, and a wisp of smoke from Fuego on the left... 'she ain't done yet!! with her smokin'"

We swept up probably 20 lbs of ash on Monday morning; ....the next day, probably 10 lb, (today, Wednesday, when working on this post, did not sweep, but tomorrow morning, Thursday, the 12th, and 5 days after the eruption, we will sweep again in the morning, as there was quite a bit of grit happening this afternoon, while we were at the park with our dibujos and tablets with the children and adults,  and I can see quite a layer on the washing machine (on the terrace) again, which is sheltered a bit, as well as the table you see below, and of course, ALL of our beautiful terrace....
....slippery stuff it is as well!!!


Table on the terrace, on the 10th,Tuesday, (eruption was on Saturday)


Zoomed in pic of Fuego....doesn't seem to have changed physically on our side.

Some of Feb 9th sweepings 

Peter hosing down the skylights of our living room.

Tuesday February 10th, 7:45 a.m.

We have our meeting on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. Congregation had a cleanup at 3 p.m.

We had swept and cleaned hard before the meeting, but were surprised at what was getting swept up AFTER the meeting!!!! (picture below)

Well, this is a brief account of our first experience with dealing with a volcano eruption.  We know that here in Antigua, we got off easy, as we live far enough away from Fuego.  But it sure has been/is a dirty nuisance!!!. We look forward to when the ash is no longer blowing in the air, from the volcano, from the rooves (roofs), from the streets.  Rainy season doesn't really start until May......A gentlemen at the park today who lives on the other side of Fuego (the erupting side), said they got rain the other day and it cleared off the ash from the coffee plants and everything is fresh and clean.........we look forward to that day here in Antigua.

Three years ago today, Peter and I were enjoying our wedding day.  Two years ago at this time, we were ending our exploratory trip to Antigua.  What an eventful three years!!!!

Looking forward to MANY more!