It has been a while since we last talked and a lot has happened in relation to the Guyana Experience.Today my wife and I landed in Guyana to revisit the Sammy’s and the Elim church to see the rewards of the Chosen 300 labor there.Before I begin with my blog, let me do a little catching up.
After leaving in October of 2006, I faced a lot of challenges with re-orientation.I was challenged by the sometimes lack of appreciation for God and his work here in the US compared to those who had little of nothing in Guyana.I saw how they worshiped; I saw how they were committed to God regardless of their condition.I had a lot of energy when I came back, but was not very good at channeling the energy to make it productive for about the first 3 weeks.I found myself almost minimizing the need of the people we serve in Philadelphia due to the abundant need of those I saw in Guyana.I had to do something about the need in Guyana, but the Lord had to first get me together.After 3 weeks of my return to Philadelphia, my life really took a turn in a positive direction.I actually got a more of a drive to help the homeless of Philadelphia realizing they had more opportunity and the one thing that was lacking at Chosen 300 was making those opportunities alive in their lives.Since then we have had more people find jobs and get off their feet then ever.I also give God the praise for the new anointing that was placed on my life while in Guyana.I know we are constantly filled with the Holy Spirit, but I remember 3 distinct times in my life where I felt God elevated me to a higher plain.One when I was about 15 years of age, The Second was when I was about 22 years of age, and this last time was when I was in Guyana.It does not say that I was not growing the entire time, it is just I remember these significant outpourings of God’s anointing on my life where it was a new season for me.
As far as Guyana, things have really been looking up.After leaving in October of 2006 we began a food distribution here in Guyana distributing over 2500 lbs of food per month.These distributions included Rice, Flour, Peas and Dry Milk.The congregation itself has more than tripled to the point the church needs to put on an extension.Pastor Mike attributes the growth as a direct result of the food program.
Over the last two months we have been planning to revisit Guyana unknown to the Sammy’s or the Elim Timerhi Church.As far as they knew, tomorrow which is Fri. 15th Shandai & I was supposed to call in to do a message over the phone; we even mailed over a adapter to connect the phone to the sound system to throw off any scent of what we were planning.We arrived in Guyana today at 7:15 AM.The flight was not that great (North American Airlines gets a thumbs down).The luggage pick up was a lot better than my last experience.If you remember before my clothes came out in pieces across the conveyer belt.We exited the airport and there were plenty of cabs willing to help, however we had pre-arranged transportation through the Lott Carey Staff.
For our hotel stay, we are staying at the new Buddy’s International Hotel that was just completed back in March of 07.The hotel is rated a 4 star and I must say I was quite impressed.Big difference from the Hotel Tower; no mold included in the room price and there is a full size bed in the rooms.Ceilings are 9-10 feet high; architecture is superb and the staff is outstanding.They are still doing some of the interior renovating, but the hotel is more than ready to accommodate guest.Now a 4 star here is not the same as a 4 star in the US, but it was a big step up from Hotel Tower without the 4-star price of the US.The hotel also has an outstanding restaurant with a top-notch clean environment.Shandai and I almost felt bad about staying here it was so nice, but I justified it by indicating we are keeping a lot of people employed and boosting the economy; ok that was lame.Although I feel a little discomfort, I guess it is a trade off for having a clean place to sleep so I don’t get sick.The only downside to the hotel is that it is not close to much and you have to get a cab to go where you need.My biggest suggestion is that they would have a shuttle from the hotel to the center of Georgetown a couple times a day.
Oh by the way, every hotel we ever stayed in the US we always took the unused toiletries each day and brought them back for the homeless.We were challenged with this decision as well.So what we decided is that we will still do the same thing, but we will take them to Elim Church on Sunday and give them out to the families as part of the food distribution.
Anyway when we arrived at the hotel today, I hopped on line and the Sammy’s were on,I told them I had to go and eat, but at this point they still did not know that we were in Guyana.We went to breakfast and the breakfast at the restaurant was great.When we returned to the room we got on line to talk to our son’s David & Jonathan who are staying with Byron & Josie for the week.It is amazing technology these days were you can see and talk to your family right on line.
After talking with the boys the next thing on the agenda was some much-needed sleep.In moments I was knocked out from the long flight that began in NY at 1:30 AM.We woke up about 3:00 and then had our driver pick us up at the hotel at 4:00 to venture out in to downtown Georgetown for a little shopping.Now our intent was not to inform the Sammy’s we were here and just show up tomorrow for the service.There was one problem.We were spotted by one of the members of the congregation and even though we asked him to keep it a secret,we know that it was almost like the song we sing at home,I said I wasen’t going to tell nobody, but I couldn’t keep it to myself.We hurried back to the hotel and Shandai got on line.She started by telling Pastor Sammy that she did not think it was a good idea for me to do the service over the phone.Now mind you they had planned a whole service for me to call in to talk with them about the food program and everyone was expecting my call so, you can imagine at this point his disappointment, so all he could say is “can I ask why.”Well the answer blew him away and that was because we were in Guyana.
They could not believe it for a moment.We put up a Guyana magazine that we got at the airport in front of the web cam, they still did not believe us.So finally we took the laptop out on the balcony and then they were convinced about 90%.Then the hotel phone rang and it was the Sammy’s.They were so overwhelmed with joy, and although we were not able to delay the surprise till tomorrow, they were glad to have the extra day with us and we were able to plan the weekend as well.
The Sammy’s came over to the hotel and we had a chance to have a light snack and drinks at the restaurant.I had the warmest feeling in my heart and yet humbled by their appreciation for the support of Chosen 300.To all my supporters that are reading this I am sending the warmth of my heart out to all of you for helping the people of Guyana.
By the way the guy that said he would keep it a secret that we were here.He had already called out to a few people and right after we got off the phone, the Sammy’s got a call that there had been a sighting of me in Guyana,I am not sure if I should think of myself as a rock star or a UFO.Probably a UFO, (LOL).
Tomorrow is a new day.We have some downtime in the morning to hang out with the Sammy’s and then tomorrow night we go out there to share the Gospel.I will have a chance on Sat to see the shipment of food coming in and we will be getting our hands dirty sorting the food.Shandai will be teaching a dance workshop on Sat for the young people to dance on Sunday.
Shandai, she is holding up pretty good but she is going through some of the same shocks I encountered on my first journey here, the children at the airport, another degree of homelessness that she did not see before.
One thing I am real happy to see is that there has been some economic development even since I left in Oct.In March Guyana hosted the 2007 World Cricket, which was a big motivator to develop hotels and industry.Although the success was not that great, it has created a good tourism opportunity to the country.There has also been an increase of Churches Chicken (Thank You Jesus), which is a huge, plus to me, and they now have a few working traffic lights.This is a big deal since the last time I was hear there was not one working traffic light in the country.
June 16, 2007 11:00 AM
Well all I have to say is that yesterday was full day.I mentioned earlier that as a result of the food program started by Chosen 300 the church has grown tremendously over the last 8 months.They now are expanding the church to accommodate about 100 more people.Shandai and I had breakfast and had the chance to talk about the night before and talk about our conversations with the Sammy’s the night before and what a good time we had.
Oh let me break for a second, Shandai just accomplished something, flushing the toilet on the first try.The toilet system here in the hotel is a little weird, I thought it was broken but you just have to flush it at certain way.Ok it is just hard to explain.
Anyway Pastor Mike picked us up at 11:00.We made a couple stops along the way to the church.We first stopped at a friend of pastor Mike’s business who owns a battery factory.He is one of the wealthier businessmen in Guyana in Guyana standards.He also gave pastor Mike his concession on a piece of land to build a second church.The plant church concept is real effective here in Guyana.We have some of it in the US, however more and more churches have become self-centered and only want to see their own churches grow.They are more kingdom minded here, wanting to continue to extend the work of the kingdom in communities that may not have as much access to the Gospel.This is a big need as most people do not have transportation and having a church within walking distance may not always be the case.
Our conversation with the Battery Factory owner was very good.He talked about the wealth of the land and how the US and other countries are now becoming friendly with Guyana because there has been oil detected.It seams like the only time our government wants to help when it will benefit them.The current president of Guyana is in his last term and the law requires there is only 2 terms for each president like ours, but he is trying to push for another term.If they do this they will destroy the integrity of the democracy.But the goal is for them to strike a deal on the oil.I asked why could Guyana not drill for their own oil and export it?The reason is because of the lack of resources.It is like having a gold mine under your feet and not be able to access it.
We talked a little further about the crime issues here in Guyana, particularly around the US deportation of criminals.He indicated what often happens is that someone leaves Guyana and they go to the US.They commit some crime; they are jailed by the US and then deported.The problem is that the US has not taught them how to be better citizens, but the jail has taught them how to be better criminals.You know till yesterday I never looked at this deportation issue in this way.
I know as a US citizen we can always look at our own problems.I realize that our prison systems lack the true rehabilitation services it needs to turn prisoners around.This has always been the case, but now since the privatization of prisons it has gotten worse.This not only affects our country, but in the area of deportation it is detrimental to the developing countries that do not have the ability to track these persons returning to their country, nor have the resources needed to fight crime effectively.
One thing I notice this man had a true heart for giving.He had promised Pastor Mike to deliver something to him and he had his own truck on a job.He went and paid for a truck and even when Mike offered to pay him he turned it down, indicating it was for the work of the Lord and he wanted to keep his promise.
After this we stopped at a lumber shop on the side of the road.The owner was not there but Pastor Mike was trying to work out a deal to get the lumber he needed for the construction and said he would come back later.
We headed off to the church where Shandai and I helped out the guys from the church who were setting the iron rods for the foundation and the pillars for the walls.We started with helping to clear the land of the excess sand and clay that came out of the trenches for the foundation, moving it with the one wheal barrel and 3 shovels they had.There is not a lot of machinery to work with and all the tools are borrowed from neighbors.They did have a cement mixer but that was borrowed as well.Here there is a sense of community and everyone does what the can to help each other.
After about 2-3 hours of moving sand and clay in the mid-day sun.We drove out to see some of the members of the church that did not have phones.Remember this was a shock to everyone that Shandai & I were actually here.
By the way the guy that said he was not going to tell anyone lived a couple doors down from the church said he really did not tell anyone so I think someone else may have spotted me in Georgetown as well.
We stopped first at the lady who gave me her ring off her finger during the last trip.They cannot give money but they give you what they can.She has a little store at curb of her property selling juices and snacks.She gave Shandai and I a drink and a snack, we tried to pay for it but she was not having it.I received with humility, but they take the concept of you as their guest very seriously.A company called digetell a Cell phone company offers them $150 US dollars to paint their logo on the front of the store.I know it does not sound like a lot, but it is about 10% of most peoples average annual income in Guyana.75% of the population lives below the poverty level of $1800 US a year.
Inside her house there was a couple of the young people that I remembered from last time and their faces lit up when they saw me.You cannot imagine the warm feeling I had.It was as if a family member who had went away, came home again.I know that the US is my home and to Pastor Mike who is reading this, I am going home on Tues.But this is my Guyana home away from home.
Also at her house was a guy who had a business who exported snakes.Now what happens is that people catch snakes, bring them to him and then he sells them at a profit.I was about to pick up one of them that was not deadly and Shandai looked at me as if I was out of my mind, which helped me rethink it.
We stopped at a few more of the members of the house letting them know I was here and they were not just getting me over the phone.We then stopped people on the street.Complete strangers,Pastor Sammy would call them over to his car.(you can’t do this in the US)People think you are going to either jack them or your picking up a kid.But we asked people to come to the crusade and it was easy as cake.They heard there was church tonight.It did not matter where and about 50% of them said they would come.And I saw a lot of them that said they would show up, actually came.
When we were asking them we made them promise.The ones who would not promise said they would try and some of them came. But the one’s that promised they held to their word.Their word is something of value here.
We got back to the hotel at 5:00 and then showered all the sand and construction must off of us.Yes we went out to tell people about the crusade looking like that.
We ordered some Chinese food, let’s just say General Tso chicken here is not the same in the US,I will just leave it at that. Shandai said her’s was good though.
We headed off to Church and I have to tell you I was full of excitement.Oh before I get to this.Shandai said something in the ride with Pastor Sammy.She said “is it all like this” and Pastor replied what do you mean?She said the poverty and the houses that are just totally unlivable in our standards, “It just never stops as the tears rolled.”This was the same effect that was on me the last time.To us this is detrimental but to the people of Guyana, poverty has become a way of life, and although they suffer everyone is suffering together.I just know if I can help a few and do my share and if some of you out there that is reading this will help out and do your share, then we can make the world a better place.
We arrived at the church about 7:15.They began praying at 6:30.I did not even step in the door of the church and the tears started to roll.Just looking and seeing the people who had packed out the church because they heard that I was coming made me feel real good. I receive this in the most humble way I can and realize that God gets all the Glory.Thank you all who support Chosen 300 and I wish all of you could get a glimpse of what I see.
They started out with singing Come let us worship and bow down and continued on with several songs.Pastor Sammy introduced me.I mentioned earlier that we were staying at Guyana’s new hotel. When Pastor Sammy mentioned that’s where we were staying I was a little embarrassed, because I realize that the amount we are spending to be there in a day, although less then a standard hotel room in the US, it was more than some of the people here make in a month even maybe 2 months.
I was talking to one of the waters that brought us food.He only makes $220 Guyana dollars an hour, that is about 1.10 an hour.So much for minimum wage – the min wage here is equivalent to about $100 per month.Everything is driven by the market and when you have 100 people lined up for the same job they can just about pay what they want.On the other hand the guest like me get the most outstanding service you can imagine.
As Shandai and I walked towards the front of the church and they began to sing, I realized I was in the best possible place I could be in at this day and this time.Nothing in the world could be better than this moment.There were no dignitaries there; no offering would be taken for the preacher, but I felt like I was speaking for the most important people in the world andI had to give it my best, because they need a word from the Lord more than any one.
I shared with you earlier that the expectation I was going to call in and speak about volunteerism encouraging the people to not only be receivers of the blessing but partakers in volunteering and learning to help others.
The word was well received and about 15 people gave their lives to Jesus, and a additional 11 joined the church.The spirit of God moved, but I also think the people were still in shock that I was there.I almost feel like Joseph who can become a leader of all of Egypt because he found favor with God and the people easing the pain of famine in the land.I am remaining humble, but the appreciation they have for Chosen 300 and our help to their country is amazing, but even looking around at the constant needs of the people and how big the problem of poverty is here it feels like we are not even touching the tip of the ice burg.
We headed back to the hotel and they had a band playing Caribbean music outside, soordered some food before we turned in.Dinner was really not that great.Shan had Curry fish and I had a fried fish, but it just did not agree with our stomachs.We decided to just eat breakfast here and dinner we will shoot for Churches Chicken.We are prepared for the worse though. We have our Vienna Sausages for me, and sardines for Shan and some granola snacks in case of an emergency.I admit that this trip has not been as hard with food compared to the last one.
June 17, 2007 7:00 AM
I did not have much time to write at all yesterday and just a heads up I am writing free style with no grammar checking and no going back to see if it sounds right so pardon me for any errors.
Our day started yesterday of course with writing my blog from the previous day.But Saturday was eventful as well.Pastor Mike had asked Shandai to teach the kids a dance and when we went to search for the music could not find it anywhere.Today was Sat and it is pretty much a hard fast rule that at around 2:00 everything shuts down on Sat.There are some fast food places open and maybe a few stores, but Sat here is a day of rest and Sunday is a day of worship.Most people do not work on these days except the cab drivers.
We arrived at the church at 2:00 PM, our goal was that to meet the truck there for the delivery so that we could work with the people to sort the food.Well the truck was real late; it did not arrive till about 3:30.Mind you I was on pins and needles.Part of my reason for coming was not only to surprise the Elim Congregation, but I wanted to see the program in it’s rawest form with out any additional preparation for my coming.When it did not show up I was a little scarred, but I also realize that in this culture anything can go wrong and you live your life making adjustments.
While we waited, Shandai worked on her presentation for the 4:00 Session and then showed pictures on our laptop for the people waiting.When the truck arrived with our 2500 lbs of food I was happy till I had to pick up one of those bags.My GOD those things were heavy.Some of them were about 125lbs each.We unloaded the truck and tonight the guys at the church will do the sort or work on it in the morning before we arrive at church due to the lateness.
Oh that’s another thing,Mike Jr and the young men from the church spend the night at the church all weekend as a fellowship.But you should see how they wash up in the morning.Just a little faucet pipe in the back and a mirror for shaving, soap and a rag.They did not real shaving razers here, just the blade and that is what they shaved with, but not one cut.If I would try that, let’s just say it is better that I don’t, it would not look pretty.
At 4:00 Shandai began her class and I worked on some technology stuff with Marina for the church.I think she was trying to get out of the dance, but after I was done Shandai puller her right back in.Shandai did real good teaching them a dance in 3 hours, especially since they go by a different beat, it is not the black one nor the white one, it is the Guyana one.
At 7:00 I began my session with the youth & young adults, this was an open forum where they could just simply ask questions about dating and marriage.One question was real funny.Jr. ask when do you know it is the right time to begin holding hands or putting your hand around a girls waist.I said if this was the only problem we had in the states we will be doing all right.Their mentality of right and wrong is different here.But just for clarity they do have problems with sexual misbehavior, but I think they also have a stronger social rejection of the behavior, but in the United States it has become more acceptable to live together.
They also had questions of leadership in the church in regards to people living in sin, and I expressed that people in leadership should have a standard of living, and although we all have done wrong and make bad choices, people in leadership should have a standard of living that is a example to the congregation.
Towards the end of the night I decided to ask my question, and ever since Pastor Mike mentioned that I was staying at the new hotel it had been bothering me.I really wanted to know what people thought, so I asked what do you think about me coming from the United States to be with you and staying in your best hotel.
I was really amazed at the answer.One person said it shows that you don’t want to be a burden.If you would have stayed with us even on a planned trip, it would have taken the entire village to take care of you, we would have been happy to do it because you are our guest and that is what we do, but you staying in the hotel shows you just came to give and not receive.This really blew me away.Another person expressed it shows that we really care that we would come and just be with us and help impact our church and our village.
I went away that night not only had the opportunity to share, but also the opportunity to learn again.This entire mission emersion in this segment of my life, from the experience in Oct 2006 and now has been life changing.
The Sammys drove Shandai & I back and we stopped at Churches chicken, but like the US we could not stay there because it gets a little rough at night and they will break into your car.We went back up to the hotel and ate there and had some great conversation.
This morning I am up early getting ready for church, but I have to go as I have to get dressed and also talk to my boys.So until later, God Bless.
June 18, 2007 9:20 AM
All I can say was yesterday was a powerful day.We left the hotel at 9:00 AM to head out to the church, and by the way no one should ever complain about how long church is in the US.We did not get back to the hotel till about 9:00 PM.I was really looking forward to this day.I mentioned that yesterday we received the delivery of food and unloaded it, but today we had the chance to actually put the food into the hands of the people.But let’s back up for a moment before we get to that.We arrived at the church and the Children were just finishing Sunday School and right afterwards they went in to praying.I went in the back and saw the piles of food packages that Mike Jr and the guys from the church separated early in the morning.I mentioned before that they spend the night at the church on the weekends as a young men’s fellowship.
We brought them over a projector from the center as we needed to upgrade ours and helped them set up easy worship at their church since they cannot afford pew bibles. They also can’t leave anything in the church, so they have to take everything home with them after each service due to inability for the building to be completely secure.
Their eyes lit up when they saw the screens and see the words to the songs they were singing.Most of them still had their eyes closed as the songs went on, but it helped the newer people including me who did not know the words.They sang about 10 songs and I did not even care about how much time they took I was just having a ball.
One of the ladies in the church had a heart problem and had passed out.Thank God this was the day that I brought the toiletries from the church.Now they had asked me for this to help the lady revive right away, but I could not understand what they were talking about.They mentioned a name of a product, but it just was not connecting.Finally, somebody asked where were the toiletries from the hotel.I had given them to the guys that spend the night at the church.Apparently one of the products has a good smell to it that can help revive a person.Now I know it was the Lord that had me get the toiletries out of the room for the week.
Shandai’s Guyana Dance team did awesome.I was amazed that she was able to get them to do an organized dance in 3 hours of practice, especially Marina.But they all did really well.I found out later that the guys never went to sleep after we left, but practiced till 5:00 AM and then sorted the food.All the young men in the church then dedicated a song to Shandai & I,I don’t remember the title but it had a message about coming from nations to help people from nations.It confirmed that we were making a difference.
I struggle with the extreme poverty here and I know I cannot change all of their lives, but if I can just do what I can and hopefully that the people we help will become ambassadors to help others.
My sermon was on Corporate Faith, learning how to believe God together.Everyone needs a miracle in his or her life.Your miracle may different than my miracle but we all need a miracle.It is through faith that brings the manifestation of the miracle.With corporate faith it is agreeing for the miracle just not in each other’s lives, but also for the vision of the church, the work of the kingdom, the governments of our nation, and the world at large.
At the end of the sermon I invited people to come to the alter and just believe God together and the presence of God came on them and they believed God for their miracle.I mentioned a song by my good friend Alyn Waller.I know he can, and I believe he will.I did not sing it because I would have destroyed it.But the truth of that song sends a powerful message.It is not a question of whether or not God can do something because God is almighty and all powerful.It is just believing that he will do it for you.It is by faith in God that your miracle becomes a reality.
After this 13 more people came to either give their life to the Lord or join the church.Oh by the way I was off the other night. I estimated 15 but Mike Jr said they recorded 26 on Friday and 13 on Sunday.So 39 people were either introduced to Christ or redicated their life to become part of the Elim Church.What a blessing.I don’t get tied up in numbers and I get excited about one coming.But in the church we should have an expectancy that when the Gospel is preached that someone will come to Jesus.I cannot remember the last time at my church when someone did not come to the Lord.
I always share that there is only 2 purposes of the church, share the Gospel and help the poor.In sharing the gospel it is so people would come to know Jesus and that the Kingdom of God would be added to.Often we are just preaching to each other to see if we can “have Church”but are we really doing the work of the church.Every believer has the responsibility to go out and share the Gospel with someone else.When Sunday comes we should just have to open the doors to the church confirming the work that was already done before, the problem is that we are not bringing people to God we are just coming to God for ourselves.It does not negate the need for each of us to grow, but our mission is to bring people to the kingdom of God.
At the end of service a few people brought us gifts. The lady that gave me the ring last time brought me my favorite snack “Banana Chips” that she had made.She also bought me a golf shirt.This golf shirt may not be a big thing in your eyes, but realize this was a big dent in her finances to give this, but they treasure the idea that I had come.
Mike Sammy and some others also brought us gifts and we felt so appreciated, that they valued our coming.They were just small things but those small things made such an impact in me.
After service one person from each family lined up.Shandai helped Marina with writing the names of families that receive the food and having them sign.I began to pass out the bags.I looked over and saw people struggling to sign there own name.In the US we have problems of illiteracy, but our illiteracy is not because of the lack of opportunity.Here illiteracy is because of the impoverished systems and lack of quality education.The best schools in this country don’t even measure up with worse schools in the US.
As I began to pass out the bags of food I got a little choked up.You know we look at people both here and the US.We may see that they have dignity and do what they can to look nice, but we really don’t understand their condition.These people really need this food and it may not make a huge change in their life, but just helps them to get by a little easier.We served about 70 families at the church.We then packed the remaining 30 bags of food into the Sammy’s 4X4.Me and 4 of the guys from the church road on the back of the tailgate.Shandai, Marina, Pastor Mike, and Jr road in the inside of the truck.We stopped at houses along the Temerhi Rd.The poverty I saw yesterday was worse than I could imagine.Some of the houses were simply an upgrade from a cardboard box.It was not just a few here and a few there.There were a lot of houses we went to.One house was just a single room about 12 X 15 Feet that a man his wife and 3 children lived in.It sat on stilts to avoid flooding, but it just was a wood structure with not much safety to offer.
Another house we went to had the cutest little girls you could ever see.But I looked at the house they lived in and my heart was overwhelmed.It was just pretty much a frame with 3 side walls.The front of the house was completely opened.No door on the front, big open space that a large window should be there but wasn’t.A clothesline stretched through the center of the house with there clothes hanging.A sheet hanging from one pole to the other in the house for someone to sleep on.There was not safety; no protection for their family and this was their way of life.Why.I don’t understand I am struggling with this.How can we have so much and they have so little.Why are things so out of balance?Everyone should have a chance in life.I don’t have any answers for you.All I do is try to help where I can.
I talked to the Sammy’s this morning and I am going to find out what I could get for this family that will really make some kind of difference.I can’t rebuild their house but I have to do something.I can’t sit here and just watch.
With each family we stopped at we had a word of prayer with.We were on the road from about 4:00PMtill about 8:00PM.Our last stop was by the river dock were some of the members of the church lived.Some of them already received food, but there were others in the neighborhood.There were a couple of families sitting by the river as well and we gave them the last of the food.All we had left at this point was flour.One of the members of the church had a coconut tree in his yard.He brought over to all of us a coconut that he had cut down and took his machete and sliced the top off and put a straw in it.It was refreshment from the long day of work that was well needed.
Even though we helped about 100 families yesterday, for some reason I was not fulfilled because on every corner, on every street there was still more people that were suffering that needed help.Even the amount of food that we are giving the people will only last them for about a week or two to help them get by till next month did not seem like enough to me.I know in their eyes it was so much more than they had, but to me it was just not enough.
We headed back to the church to drop the boys off and to pick up Sis Sammy and also and Marina’s Friend Lisa.We dropped Lisa off at her house and then headed back to Georgetown.We stopped at churches chicken and then headed to the hotel.
We had some good conversation with the Sammy’s and joked around for a while to ease the pain of the sights we saw.I asked Marina what could be better about the program and she said if we could get the people to come to the church and pick up the food.I told her we would work on getting some brochures made for them so they could distribute to the families.This way they would know when the food is being distributed.They also need bibles so there is plenty of giving opportunities to those reading this blog.
Oh Shandai offered them some of her Sardines and Marina looked at her and said no thank you.I agree I think they look disgusting too.Jr did have the guts to try a Vienna sausage.This was just some things we had left from our Guyana survival food.
I walked the Sammy’s downstairs and we heard the sounds of the Caribbean music that was playing at the pool.We stopped in and had a drink while we listened.I was glad to see that there were more people there.Apparently on Sundays a lot of people who can afford to come there to eat do so.They can’t swim in the pool though.I actually had my feet in the water and one of the staff came over right away to make sure I was a guest at the hotel.Shandai was a little mad at me for leaving her alone, but I started to get a little forgetful that this was her first time in this strange land, and although it was easier for me to ajust she was still having a tough time.For the ladies reading this go ahead say it “men are so insensitive”
Shandai stayed up all night typing in her blog.She was really affected by the events of this trip and she is going through a lot of the same things on my first time around.I have not become comfortable to the poverty, but just more focused in doing all that I can do to help.
We are on our way out as the Sammys are about to pick us up to do some technology training with Marina & Mike Jr.We look forward to sharing more later.
June 19, 2007 8:20 AM
We are boarding the plane for to head back to New York, and I have to say our hearts are torn and bleeding with the pain of suffering that we have seen, particularly over the last2 days.It is my desire to stay, but yet to go, knowing the work I have in Philadelphia and I can do more for Guyana from the US than I can do from here.As Paul said I am betwixt between two, desiring to stay and to go, but I must I must do God’s will for the furtherance of the Gospel of Jesus both in Philadelphia and wherever else the Lord will lead us.
Yesterday, we woke up with no real agenda, we had breakfast and the Sammys were scheduled to pick us up at 12:00 noon.My heart kept crying out for all the families we visited yesterday, but one in particular.I mentioned about one house I went to where there were 3 little girls and her mother.There is a father I found out, but he was not there at the time.The images were and are still rolling through my mind.A house with spaces for about 8 windows but no windows were there, a space for a door but no door was there,a space for a large window in the front, but no window there.
I told you before that although the program we started was helping, for me it is just not enough.If you are reading this I need your help to do more.The Sammy’s picked us up at 12:00 and we went to their house to do some computer training with Mike Jr & Marina.I first started by reviewing their quicken program that we gave them last year, they were very open for me to look through there accounts.Again this was a surprise visit and I am pleased to report that every dime is accounted for and they are even spending beyond what we are sending them on the program.I showed them a couple things that they could do to provide reports for their congregation and promote the program to others.
Shandai & I then worked with them on easy worship,by the way right now they have a trial period.We had provided them with a laptop before so they could manage the food program, which they can also use for easy worship.We had just upgraded our projector at the center, so we gave them the other one.We could have kept it to do other things, but they needed more.For easy worship, after the trial period, they will need $400 US to purchase the program.I am only telling you the needs so if someone wants to step out in faith and give a gift to support these items it would be really appreciated.
After helping them with the technology needs we tried to figure out what could we do for the family with the 3 girls now.I could not leave the country without doing something.I wanted to be able to put windows in for them, but it was just not enough time.
After riding around in the Sammy’s truck, we decided to buy everything we could at a local grocery store.In the process of getting there, Pastor Sammy suggested that we also help one of the families from his church, Natalie.I admit, at first I really was not focused on anyone else but those 3 children.I had kind of put it in my mind that I really could not help anyone else to a great degree, but if I could just help one family change their life for one month, maybe, just maybe it could give them some hope and possibility of making it.So I kind of ignored him the first time.He asked me again, and I kind of just brushed it off.Looking back, it was kind of like I was the unjust judge.So while were shopping clearing shelves of food, he went and asked Shandai and she came to me, so finally I say ok, just get another cart.We loaded up 4 carts of food and then proceeded to check out.
I did not realize how much the bill was going to be, it was $110,000 Guyana Dollars ($553 US).One problem I only had $320 in my pocket and the rest was at the hotel.No credit cards accepted.Now this was amazing and this would never happen in the US.The storeowner said “don’t worry about it, just bring the money tomorrow,” as they were closing the store.This would NEVER happen in the US.
We were headed to the church to sort out the food and divide it for the 2 families.And then it hit me, I had been fine all week, but now I had the runs.I told pastor Sammy I had to use the men’s room, and we stopped at a gas station that only had a urinal.I told him he did not understand, I needed a place where I could sit and I needed it bad.
We were close enough to the hotel, so he drove me there.He was driving a little slow for the emergency and I told him that the gas pedal was on the right.We arrived at the hotel and he drove right through security.He pulled in front of the door and I went out running.I get to the room and Shandai is right behind me talking about she had to use the bathroom first.NOT THE RIGHT TIME.As if I could hold it any longer.I was a gentleman but was not exited about being one this time.
We then headed out to the church and sorted out the food.It was a lot of food.We loaded up the first families into the truck; Mike Jr & I road on the tailgate and the Shandai, Marina, Sis Sammy & Pastor Mike road inside.The first house we went to was Natalie.She has 6 sisters and brothers, their mother passed away last year.The father is there and their family is really struggling to make it.This is the family that Pastor Mike encouraged me to help.As we arrived at the house I could not believe my eyes.I mentioned earlier you can not look at a person’s dress, just because they keep a smile, it does not mean everything is ok in their life.This was another house that was only about 500 square feet for 7 children and a father.It too sat on stilts made of wood and had thetrue essence of what we would call a “Shack.”Natelie was at another house with some friends at the time and she got word that we were at her house she came running.We waited till she got there before taking the food out of the truck.
I told her we had a little surprise for her, beside us showing up in her country unannounced.We took her to the back of the truck and showed her the groceries we had bought for her and her family.She tried to hold back her tears, but could not contain herself as I too am still trying to hold back mine.We started unloading and bringing it into the house.She sat down on the chair in disbelief that someone would care about her as much as we did.More so that God had cared so much that he would send us her way.Natelie was the one of the worship leaders at the church and the family that Pastor Sammy encouraged us to help.
What amazes me about all of her sisters and one brother, they served God with joy with the little that they have.Seeing them worship the Lord it would look like nothing at all was wrong, but they gave God all they had in worship.This what the scripture talks about “when the true worshipers shall come.”We are not to worship God because of the list of things he has given us, but we should worship him just because he is God, nothing else.
The afternoon before, I had just spoken on faith and believing God for your miracle, I said in my message that what may be a miracle to me may not be a miracle to you and what may be a miracle to you would be just be normal to me.Their miracle was that they could just have food to eat, and God had provided that miracle to them.Even as I am typing I can not hold my tears.I can’t believe that people live like this.What we call homelessness is nothing compared to the poverty I see here.I am not putting the side of the need of the poor of our country, but we don’t know what poor is.Here mostly everyone is poor, and think of the poorest person in the US you can think off, and the average person in Guyana is worse off than that.This hurts.
We left Natalie’s humbled, I know I did not understand their need at first, but when I saw it, I was glad that Pastor Sammy kept asking.He had a burden in his heart to help them and knew he did not have the resources to do it.I am so glad we could.We have to do more.I know when I came back from Guyana the last time, I came back confused and not sure what to do, it took me a while to process and I finally got something done.When I am coming back now I am coming back with a stronger purpose.So lets get the checkbooks out and do more.I promise you will be blessed by helping but I also promise you will be cursed by turning your head.This is not me talking this is a prophetic word from God for you that is reading this right now and it is backed up by the scripture.Prov. 28:27“he that giveth to the poor shall not lack, but he that hides his eyes (shall not have just one curse) but shall have many a curse.”I pray that you will walk into the side of those that won’t lack.I am not trying to scare you, but I do want you to understand that God’s word is real.I did not intend to type this but the spirit of God just rose up in me, and this is the word that he has for you right now and at this time.
After we left we went back to the church to pick up the 2nd load.Oh before I tell you about that you should just have seen Mike Jr from the trip from the supermarket to the church.He was in the back of the 4x4 hanging over the back seat with groceries all around him.Jr always gets the short end of the stick on the transport but he is such a good sport about it.He and Marina are 2 great young people and I am real proud of them both.
We headed towards the second house where the 3 adorable little girls were. If these kids were standing outside of their environment, you would never know they were in the condition that they were in.They were dressed nicely; they even had uniforms for school.Their mother did the best she could for them, but struggle was all around them and poverty embraced them every morning.We arrived at the house and it was so dark you could not see in front of your face.They did not have any lights in the house, but just had an oil lamp that the mother came out with when we called out.We told her that her girls touched our hearts and we did not know what to do so we went out and bought all the food we could.If you could just see the look on her face.It was a look of almost confusion that why would someone just come and help her.Her confusion turned into a great smile of gratitude standing almost speechless as we unloaded the truck and entered into the dark house.I only saw a glimpse the first time we visited, but now I got the chance to see where they slept.There was a small room in the back that was about 12 X 12 where the mother and her 3 children slept.This one room was divided in 2 by a makeshift partition wall.She did have mosquito nets to cover her children to keep them safe at night from the bugs, but there was no safety, but the hand of the Lord from stopping some one from coming in and taking the girls and hurting them.
When you go home tonight from work and you turn the key to open the door, maybe turn on your alarm at night to protect your family.Thank God hard.On any given night there are predators that steal the innocence of young children.Although you have safety, something as simple as a front door and windows, they have none.So if you happen to hear me say I thank God for my front door;I thank God for every window;I thank God for the light switch and the water that comes through the pipes; you know why.Thank you Jesus, no matter how bad it gets in my life there is someone else that has so much less.
The children were not there at that time, but were down the street at their grandfathers who was very ill.There is no real care for the elderly here, no social security to lean on, if you have no family to care for you, you are almost better off dead than to live longer and suffer.
We headed back toward the Sammy’s to pick up the laptop.We stopped at Churches chicken and Pastor Sammy demanded that he pay, and his wife joked and said he can’t say no now anyway because he is broke, and she was right,I had enough to pay the cab, pay my fee to get out of the country and catch the bus to Newark once we arrived at JFK.
Shandai talked to Marina a little while about school and work.She is scheduled to go to the University in September, but she was also called for interview at the bank, which is a good opportunity as well.At the bank she would make a whopping $1.70 cents an hour.The minimum wage here comes out to about $100 US dollars a month.I am not even sure which one would be better.School or work, so we are praying that the Lord will lead her in the right way.
We stopped at Churches chicken and then headed to the hotel.We had our final talk with the Sammy’s and it was as if all of us were bracing ourselves for the hard goodbye that was ahead of us in the morning.I had trouble getting in touch with my cab driver and he finally called, but I am glad he was late calling, because we all wanted to see each other one last time before Shandai & I got on the plane the next morning.We lingered as long as we could and finally we made the rational decision that someone had to pack, and that someone was probably me.There is no organization to my packing especially when the clothes are dirty; just ball up everything and stuff, and let Shandai find out when we get home.
June 20, 2007 11:00PM
We arrived back home yesterday but I have been swamped all day catching up with paperwork for Chosen 300, but let me bring you up today on Tuesday’s events.And even before we get to that,I gota email last night from the waitress who wanted to thank us for being kind to her.She went out and bought us a gift.Wow, did not expect this.Anyway she is going to leave it at the hotel for the Sammys to send back to us.The Sammys picked us up Tues Morning at 6:00 PM.No time for breakfast we just had to live off of the Churches Chicken from the night before.
All we could talk about is that we were going to miss each other and the tear drops were mixed with our love for the Sammy’s; the people of the Elim Temehri Church and suffering for the people of Guyana.As we drove we saw Natalie walking along the road with her brother.This was the oldest sister of the 7 children that were at the house we had dropped groceries at the day before.I had Pastor Mike stop the car and I jumped out with Shan right behind me.They embraced us as if we had just saved their lives the day before.It made me feel good, but I still struggle that what is going to happen when the food runs out.All I know is that we made life a little easier for many and we made it greater than it ever was for 2 families, at least for a little while.
We continued on the airport and as we looked to the right we saw the house where we took the other groceries.The family was there and the children were in their school uniforms headed off to school.One was headed down the road.We stopped and turned around.When the children saw us, they came running and the other child came back and jumped in our arms as if we were their heroes.For the first time in a long time they had something as simple as cereal in the morning and they could come home knowing that there will be something for dinner that night.Our ministry focuses on changing people’s lives, but this one moment of holding that child, giving them a little hope that they did not have before, was one of those life experiences I will never forget.If you could see the joy on their faces just to have something as simple as food.I was talking to my wife on the way home from the center tonight; We in the US always talk about how we are going through, but on our worst day would not would not be a fraction of their suffering.
We arrived at the airport and we embraced the Sammy’s.Pastor Mike helped me bring the bags in.We checked them through and thank God they forgot to weigh my big suitcase because I know it was overweight.We checked in and we then had to pay our fee to get out of the country.Security would not let the Sammys back into the airport without a ticket, and they would not let us out after we checked in.We stood at the threshold of the door and embraced each other one last time.Shandai & I’s feet hanging inside the airport and the Sammy’s hanging on the outside.It was the last physical connection that our worlds will have for a while, but they remain planted in our hearts and we in theirs.
We sat in the airport and waited for our flight.I was supposed to do some blogging, but Shandai & I looked at the pictures on the camera and took turns shedding tears at the plight of our newfound brothers & sisters behind.We had a smooth flight home so I took some time to write, thank God we were in a plane and not a boat, because we would have sunk from the tears that came out as the words came out from my heart.We arrived in JFK, got through customs.The security guy asked about 50 questions before he stamped our passport and since I gave him all the information about what we were doing in Guyana, I gave him a ministry brochure and told him we take credit cards on line to support our mission work.Eh he asked for it.
We took a bus from JFK to Newark, transferring busses at Grand Central.While we were on the first bus, I fell asleep and someone stole my ticket right out of my hand.When we got to Grand Central I had to pay another $28 bucks for the bus I had already paid for.I forgot I was back in the USA.We arrived in Newark where one of our church congregants (faithful congregants Carey, just in case she reads this) picked us up to take us back home.We made a stop at one of the rest stops along the NJ turnpike.It was good to have American food again, especially a Cinnabun,It was the bestI ever tasted.
Carrie dropped us off at the house and we went to Byron’s to pick up the boys where they had stayed while we were gone.They jumped in our arms and were so happy to see us.We arrived home and we put them to bed.Now strangely enough, my wife turned in to a monster at this point and she started getting mad over little stuff.I had been through this before so I understood.She had a lot of emotions tied up from the trip and was not sure how to channel them.I had this before as well.The best way to describe it; it is like a women in about month five of pregnancy with twins.I had been through this before because we have twins.The best thing to do is to agree, apologize even if you are not wrong (well that is all the time) and say your right I’m sorry and stay out the way.
She realized her challenges later the next day and said she thought she would be better by now.I told her to give it about 3 weeks and she will begin to get focused.Hey when I got back the first time,I beat the congregation up for 3 weeks because they were not praising the Lord hard enough when people were suffering more in another country.Things improved and even my preaching improved tremendously, but it took time to heal.
Today is my thirty… something birthday.I spent a lot of time at work today catching up, but I look forward to doing more for the people of Guyana.Oh before I go,I had some great news yesterday morning via email.One of the US pastors that went with me the last time, Pastor Larry Branch, he was the one who came with me on Thurs nights service back in Oct.He has shown interest of his host church from Guyana joining the food distribution.I am praying that this will happen and will break the ice for others to join in to create a large network, touching several communities in Guyana.
After you have read this blog,I ask that you would pray about sending a gift and designate it to the Guyana food project or support any of our missions here in Philadelphia and around the world.You can send your gifts to: