I admit that I was a bit nervous about the trip with this especially being both Brian and I first time away from our sons David and Jonathan. Our flight was not the most pleasant since there was so much turbulence (a lot of prayer going on, I tell you that much) When we arrived to Guyana, there were lots of Cab Drivers who hustled (and I mean HUSTLED to get our business). We let them know that we had someone already accompanying us, but they still insisted. It was weird because usually I am the one with problems understanding individuals with strong accents, but this time my husband was struggling to understand what they were asking. One cab driver came back to insist that we call the person that was coming to pick us up and if they were not arriving then he was available to take us where ever we wanted to go. Brian finally gave in to make the call. (Our guy did show).
As we began walking over to the car, I noticed a little boy from a distance but didn’t think anything of it. As the driver opened the door for me I stepped in and the door shut and as I looked up I was startled by a child who was very dirty as if he may have been sleeping in the dirt. He put out his hand in a cup like position with a language that I couldn’t understand. As he pleaded to me, all I could say is, “Oh sweetheart, I don’t have anything to give to you… I’m sorry” (it is always our goal not to give out money regardless of whether we are in Philadelphia or abroad; but to give help and food which we were not able to accommodate at that time).I watched him walk away and as he walked away, he continued to look back as if to hope that I might change my mind. I will never forget. I only hope and pray that our ambition to make a difference in Guyana will somehow reach their entire country down to even the smallest child struggling (down to even the young boy that stood before me pleading for help). June 14, 2007 3:30 PM
We finally arrived at the hotel, which was newly built in Guyana. Very nice I must say, but what was weird to me is that we only seen one other hotel guest the entire day. We went to the restaurant and were the only ones being serviced, this beautiful hotel was empty. I began to question why and was told that it was built 4 months ago to bring in revenues for a hug event called “World Cricket”. The event was in town for 2 weeks, but it was only successful for one day.
I began to wonder how the employees where getting paid when there where barely any revenues coming in so I felt uncomfortable about leaving lights on, asking for new towels and wash cloths etc. My husband mentioned to me, “Oh good…they have toiletries” I replied, “We can’t take from the poor to give to the poor”. What it is that whenever Brian and I go to different hotels, we collect toiletries each day. By the end of our stay, we would have gathered enough toiletries to take back to Chosen 300 to give to our homeless guest. We finally got the idea to gather toiletries to give to the needy population of Guyana, which we will pass out on Sunday after service. (I felt much better about this idea).
We got on the computer to connect with Byron and Josie so that we could talk with our sons David and Jonathan. They were so amazed at not only being able to see us, but to also be able to see themselves. Jonathan sang the song with me, “This is the Day” and David just kept looking as to wonder how this was possible. We blew kisses to them, we waved at them, we sang to them, and they were just thrilled. Our goal is to pray with them each night the same way we would if we were back in the US so that they would not feel that we were actually gone from them. (YES I miss my boys).
We then traveled into the city of Guyana to do some touring and shopping. Where we were going wasn’t the safest so I kept the camera for 2 reasons…so Brian would not break the camera like he did during his last visit, and because I run faster than Brian in case someone were to try and take it from us. June 15, 2007 8:00AM
The people of Guyana have a lot in common with the people of NY. (They are Hustlers). They work out of carts that are about 5 ft high and 4 ft wide. They sell items from boxes and crates. One guy walks up to us with about 8 pairs of swim trunks asking if we wanted to buy. Brian purchased a pair from him and my American thoughts automatically said, “We need a bag to put them in”, however we just carried them opened handed along the way. As we continued walking I found myself running to get out of the way of the cars and buses. We were like squirrels in the road as we were trying to cross the streets. I learned quickly that the streets lights didn’t work, so you had to cross at your own risk. As we were crossing the street someone yelled out, “Pastor Jenkins!” this man was one of the congregants of Elim Church. Here’s the thing, The Sammy’s did not know that we were coming to visit them in Guyana; this was to be a surprise to them as we were coming to experience what the Lord had done in Elim Church since Oct. 2006 as well as do some mission work.
Our plan was for Brian to call in to give a 20-minute talk to the church about some ways they could improve the program during their Friday night service. But in all actuality we were going to walk in the church during a song selection from the praise team and surprise them then. This is the church that we help develop a feeding program with. We were planning to call them in the morning but realized that our plans had to be quickly altered. Brian ask the man to not let the Sammy’s know that we were here and that we were going to surprise them. The man shook his head as to say “OK”. But I knew that he only meant “yeah right!” We knew then that we had to move fast to let them know today because it would have been a detriment to them to have to hear it from someone else that we were in town.We then traveled to a place that we were familiar with to eat called “Churches Chicken” I wasn’t for it since I don’t eat meat. I later discovered that they also served fish and was a happy camper. The cost of our meal came to $1,852 +, which is equivalent to $9.25 + as the currency in Guyana is 200:1. I needed to use the ladies room and as I went to the bathroom I was amazed that there was a gate over the toilet with a pad lock on it so that no one could steal it. I said to myself in these exact words, “Oh my God, I so have to take a picture of this”.
We met the cab driver to head back to the hotel and no sooner than we walked in the door, we were on the computer to tell the Sammy’s. I had to make it interesting so I told Pastor Sammy that I had some information to give to him about tomorrow concerning Brian. I said to him that Brian mentioned that he was to call in and speak to the church to talk about the program and I thought that this was not such a good idea. I could tell that Pastor Mike was floored as he responded to say, “Can you explain why?” I told him that I felt that it would not be a good idea so I decided to bring Brian to Guyana to speak to the church directly. He didn’t believe me and needed to see proof as we had a web cam for them to see us. I put up books and brochures for him to see and he still wasn’t convinced until we showed him the view of the balcony from the hotel. Then he was a believer. They were excited and came to see us as soon as they could. We went down to the restaurant of the hotel to chat till about 11:30pm and I think that they were just trying to assimilate everything that had just occurred in the last hour. It was good to see how happy not only the Sammy’s were, but how happy my husband was to finally be back in Guyana to see the family that he called friends. June 15, 2007 5:55 PM
Today we awake ready to work. The pastor of Elim and his family were concerned about us being overworked by the evening. But we insisted on that being what we came to do. We were picked up by 11:00am to head out in our journey. Our first stop was “Good Will” Battery Factory. Owned by Mr. Joey De France who was an extraordinary individual as he was the person to give the church a piece of land on a concession, which means that the church would pay just a fee and afterwards it would be theirs. The only thing they would have to continue to do is pay taxes. What favor for the Elim Timehri Church. We then stopped at a lumber place as Pastor Sammy was trying to get lumber for the expansion of the church delivered and then we headed to the Elim Church. We were so excited to get our hands dirty that we didn’t see the inside of the church right away (Well Brian saw it before of course) We went directly to where the shovels were and began shoveling up piles of dirt and putting it in the wheel barrel to carry it all to one location on the side of the church. The Guyanese refer to it as “fetching”.
I really felt like in the short time we were helping, we were able to lift some of the load off of the guys that were working in the hot sun all day. Brother Sammy was ready for us to head out to do some evangelizing and we had one pile left. We really wanted to help the guys finish it up but didn’t want to tell Bro Sammy, so Brian kinda stalled him with talk about church and ideas etc. while I finished helping clear the last heap of dirt. In the process we got a couple of rewarding abrasions while working and yes it was rewarding. I must say that this dirt was not the dirt that you would expect to lift. It was mixed with clay, which made it very heavy and it would stick to the shovel. There are no huge machineries that they are using to build; it’s all manpower. (Forget the Chiropractor)
We then headed out to tell everyone who we came in contact with about the service and encouraged him or her to tell as many people as possible. As we stopped and talked with families at their homes it was a bit heart wrenching for me…. OK it was very heartbreaking to me, as I couldn’t grasp the poverty level that I was seeing. To help you to understand what I mean in more detail I’ll say that in the past, the one major city of Philadelphia that had the highest crime and poverty level was North Phila., this consist of crack houses, speakeasies, high prostitutions, gang banging, and homelessness going unnoticed all in one section of the city. Here in Guyana the poverty went for miles and miles.
I kept hoping that I would see an improvement, but all we kept approaching were shacks that looked like if one world wind came by their homes would blow right down. (Totally unlivable) I couldn’t stop thinking, “How blessed we are! How blessed we are! How Blessed we are!” Each mile made it harder for me and I began to weep while riding in the back seat of The Sammy’s vehicle asking the Lord to PLEASE bring restoration to the country of Guyana, swiftly Lord, do it now! You’ve granted my prayers for many things and I’ve seen you move by your mighty power my God, so I’m asking that you would show your mercy again Lord! Again!
Another thing I encountered in the city of Georgetown is the trash baskets that hardly had anything in them. In the US we can’t get the trash company to come quick enough for us to clear our baskets to fill up more trash. This also means that the homeless don’t have anything to pick over in the trashcans in Guyana and I’m sure that with the average cost of employment being $1600 a year, there’s not too many people passing out money so that the homeless can have a cup of coffee, a donut, or a sandwich. I began to see why each homeless person was so malnourished.
We headed back to the hotel to get ready for the evening service and we were able to talk to David and Jonathan over the computer before we headed out to the church. David asks us if we were still helping people? Jonathan said, “Hi mommy and DaDa” they seem to be getting the hang of seeing us on the computer till our return home. The boys are being occupied with many things to do and activities like homework, learning time, The Zoo, and chuck e cheese by their God Parents Byron and Josie as well as their God Brother lil Byron. We thank God for the Battles, as they are caring for our children. It’s nothing like having peace in knowing that your children are in good Godly hands. June 15, 2007 (writing on the 17th at 11:00AM)
I never thought that it would be so hard to keep up with a blog while doing mission work in Guyana. Therefore I am still on June 15, 2007 heading to the church. The service was wonderful; when we arrived the church was full. They received us with love and a warm welcome making us feel right at home. The praise team helps to usher the presence of God while the rest of the congregation joined in to worship. I would have to say the worship is quite different from our worship in the US. (I want to mention that on the first night here in S.A., Pastor Mike asks me if I would teach on health and nutrition as well as teach dance at Elim on Saturday? I was quite excited because this was a confirmation to me letting me know that the Lord was directing me to bring my black dance attire with me to Guyana. I was told by my husband that it gets so hot in Guyana that you could be standing in one spot and sweat would just come out of your pours. I ask the Lord, “Are you sure that this is the dance outfit that you want me to bring? I don’t want to pass out in the middle of the dance.” I told my husband what I believe God is telling me to prepare to bring it and he said that he thought that it would be too hot. I reiterated that this was what I believe that God wanted me to do. He said, “If it’s what you believe God said, then bring it.”So this brings us to the restaurant with the Sammy’s. We were told this is Guyana’s rain season where it rain’s about 3 times a week. It was cooler than normal meaning that black was the way to go. Pastor Sammy asks me to teach Nutrition and Dance for Elim Church. I was both excited and honored to do so. I turned to Brian to look at him as say, “Remember what I told you the Lord showed me?” I brought my CD’s and didn’t have any idea what I was going to teach, and then I had an idea, so I thought.
Anyway; back to the church…as I began to indulge in the worship as I said before, it wasn’t our culture of worship. Like my sons David and Jonathan love to say from there favorite book “The little Engine that could” INDEED NOT! When you walked in the church, you knew that you were in another part of God beautiful earth. From the adults down to the children, the people worshiped. Their worship was so authentic and genuine that it would have been impossible for the Holy Spirit not to show up this night. Children had their hands lifted up and mouths filled with praise and this went on song after song. No one stopped to say, “What are we singing next?” or“Wait! Your singing on the wrong note.” They just went for it and it was, as the Sammy’s would say, “LOVELY!” Elim also clap on the first beat of a rhythm and not a the second beat as we do, so I knew that if I was going to teach them anything about dance in 2 hours, then I need to revamp to their culture and possibly blend a little of mine. I ministered in song right before the message and I must say the message was good that Brian preached and I’m sure that he’ll get into detail about it in his blog. He was really happy to come back to Guyana and you could see it all over his face as the tears ran down.
At the end of the service, Pastor Sammy announced that I would be teaching dance and nutrition as well as Brian doing a rap session for the youth on that next day (Saturday). I was amazed of how great the response was. Both male and female said that they would be there and they did show. (All 12) June 16, 2007(writing on the 18th at 1:13AM) We got up early to type our blog and find out from the Sammy’s if they needed help in any way since the distribution of food was to be at the Elim Church by 2:00PM. Pastor Sammy mentioned that with Brian and I heading over to the Elim Church, we need to eat some point, so he wanted to go to a restaurant to bring me back something that I like to eat such as baked and not fried. I insisted that I was ok. We headed over to the church arrive about 1:45PM. I decided to finish working on my message concerning nutrition and what does the Bible say about staying healthy? Before I knew it the clock said that it was 2:15PM and the truck for distribution of food had not arrived. More time had gone by making it close to 3:30PM. I didn’t think anything of it, as class was about to be in session. (By the way food did arrive). Both classes were successful and the Guyanese people said that they really enjoyed the challenge of being pushed to a place that they never imagined going.Many of them had a very different learning pattern, so I decided to split them up in three different categories of dance. The first group moved by interpretation of the song in worship like fashion, the second group moved by interpretation but in praise, and the third group was made up of the guys dancing in a firm form. I gave them a little Latin flavor as well as some power moves where they danced on each side. Each person was so attentive to what they needed to learn. We were able to complete the dance in 21/2 hours and then the final question came, “Are they going to do the dance for Sunday service? Some panicked and some said, (lets go for it!) I later found out that they stayed up all night till 5:00AM trying to perfect the dance (Talking about determined). The guys even made up their own dance that they wanted to present to church. I’m sure they’ll make their presentation at one of their Sunday services. After dance class was over, Brian began a wrap session where anyone could ask any question about some of the questions they felt that they could never ask. It was dead silence at first, but after a while they began to warm up and ask many questions that became a couple of hot youth topics (Rated R). It was good for the youth to open up with thoughts that were never shared before. OK I’m at the point of where I can’t write anymore due to lack of sleep. I’ll finish blogging later today. June 16, 2007 (writing on the 18th at 8:03AM)
We stopped by “Churches Chicken” to grab takeout. We went back to the hotel to chat and chew. It was like pulling out a whales tooth to get Sis. Evadney (Pastor Sammy’s wife) to come in to the hotel. She was tired and at the point of getting home to go right to bed, but everyone else savored every moment to be together, this lasted till about 12:30 AM or later. I had a fried fish sandwich that upset my stomach. That’ll be the last time that I eat anything fried that late again. June 17, 2007 (writing on the 18th at 8:33AM)
It was 7:00 AM on Sunday morning; I was awakened by the telephone. The Sammy’s were calling to wish Brian a Happy Father’s Day. I said to myself, “Did they go to sleep last night?” We got on the computer to talk to the boys who are doing fine. Byron and Josie thought that it was best for them not to go to our church and not see us, because they weren’t sure on the boys thinking process of whether they thought that we were helping the homeless at the center where they always see us helping or not. Brian and I thought that was a wise decision.
I got dressed in my black dance attire ready to head out to the church and I asked Brian if he had my CD’s for the music. He said that the Sammy’s had it and that they would make sure that they brought it with them. We got to the church and Brian asked me for my CD’s and I didn’t understand what he meant since I had already asked this question back at the hotel. He thought that I was speaking of the music that I taught with on Saturday, not the music that I was actually dancing from myself. He didn’t bring the bag that the CD’s were in, therefore I couldn’t dance. I know that anyone reading this blog who knows me really well can imagine how this affected me. I couldn’t help but think to myself, how important is this to Brian. What measures could have been taken to get the CD’s so that this could be possible especially since I knew that I was directed by God to bring the music to minister. I quickly regained my focus realizing that whatever situation arised that God was going to get the glory in it all. I went to change my clothes thinking this would help me feel better, I struggled with it a little while longer, but not much longer. I could see that Brian was really sorry for the misunderstanding and I knew that I needed to get myself together so that my husband would not be hindered in his message to the people, so I gathered the young people together for a final briefing on the dance moves and encouragements of the ministry of dance, letting them know that they could do all things through Christ which strengthens them.
Service was a delight and the people were out in full affect. Brian gave a message on “Corporate Faith” many people of the church confirm that this was exactly the message that was needed for the church. Pastor Sammy seemed either a bit tired or in thought as I looked across the church to greet him, but of course…, he didn’t sleep much the night hanging out with us. The dancers ministered in dance and did a wonderful job. They were very surprised at the turn out of the dance themselves. The congregation was blessed and some were in disbelieve, as some of them had never danced before. They promised to continue in the dance and would perfect what they learned on Saturday. Pastor Sammy will video them dancing and will send it to the US for all to see. It was a pleasure doing ministry with you Debbie, Denika, Camelia, Romeo, Parvina, Jr., Marina, Latchmie, Kelsey, Tivan, Devon, and Tony. You all did outstanding. I want you to know that I have never in the 15 years of instructing dance been able to complete a dance in 21/2 hrs. AWESOME! June 17, 2007 (writing on the 18th at 11:30AM)
There was a song dedicated to Brian and me during the service that talked about somebody that had come along to make a difference to those touching nations and how we were appreciated. We don’t know if they wrote the song themselves or not, but it was very beautiful and moving to our heart.
There were many bringing gifts since it was our last day with the congregation. I received a beautiful pair of earrings by a woman named Linda that showed the map of Guyana. I also received a pair of earrings by the same woman who gave Brian the ring as a going away gift the last time he was here. I received their gifts with love and gratitude and began to understand more of what Brian was going through during his first visit.
I was especially moved when a young lady by the name of Latchmie came to me to thank me for coming and teaching the dance. She said that less than a week ago she went to the Pastor to let him know that she felt she had been anointed to do ministry of dance as well as sing in the choir and just days later she had no idea that God would send someone into her life to help her to discover so much that was already placed in her. She knew that it was in her, but did not know how to go about bringing it out in ministry. She said that she was going to miss me soooo much. I’m going to miss Latchmie too as well as the rest of the Gang.
Elim Church had gathered together gifts for the fathers that were to be given away to them by their children. Pastor Sammy asked that I would pass out the gifts to the children to give to their fathers. As every male came up, some had their child while others came alone. I had a feeling that we were going to run out of gifts and we did. I said, “Lord this is harder than I thought to tell someone that we ran out of gifts to give”. June 17, 2007 (writing on the 18th at 12:53 PM)
At the end of the service, we began to prepare to hand out the flour, rice and peas to the families in need. They had to get the dry milk from another distributor and was unable to receive by the dry milk by Sunday. I believe that the shipment will come later in the week for the Sammy’s to take to the homes as well as have a service for pick up. As we were taking the names of the people, they had to write signatures verifying that they received food. To my surprise, many of them didn’t know how to write their names, so I would just write it to them. They began to sing the song that was dedicated to us as we handed out the food and I looked to my left and saw that Brian was overwhelmed with emotion as the people said thank you. I could see clearly that whatever nation we helped, I wanted to be apart of it hands on. It would be good for me to heal with feeling each hug and to hear each thank you from the people we reach.
We fed about 70 families and had 30 more families to give food out to, so we all packed in the Sammy’s vehicle and headed out to the houses of families in need. As we stopped at the different homes, sometimes I could not tell if they were abandoned because none of the homes had electricity in them. I couldn’t help thinking, “how do they operate when the sun goes down”. We had to walk across a very wide creek that was supported by a bridge of sticks that looked as if it couldn’t support no more than 100 lbs. (Yes I was nervous being that I can’t swim) but I had to make it to the house on the other side. One house that we stopped at was completely opened with no doors or windows. The little girls reminded me of my little cousins Imani, Victorre, and Baja.
I could never explain to you on paper what came over me as I seen the child outside in the public taking a shower because they don’t have showers and bathrooms indoors. The homes are like a box 7 to 8 ft long and wide give or take. We prayed with different people, some were Christians some Hindu, but we still shared the love of Jesus Christ to them. One lady reminded me of my grandmother as well as another man reminding me of my dear Uncle Larry that I love so very much. I’m beginning to think that I may be of some Guyanese bloodline. This REALLY affected me a lot and I can still see their faces even now. We went to a part of the town called the docks, which we would call the projects in Philly. This time Pastor Sammy recommended that we not get out of the vehicle because the people were a bit hostile in that area. We greeted them from the car and handed out food. We continued to drive deeper into the docks where they have the people travel to and from the bush amongst other parts that the creek may direct them.
There were people sitting on the edge of the dock waiting for a boat. Some were with their infants too. We could not stay in that area with it being a bit dangerous as there was a drunken man that lingered the area and Brian had to escort me to the car for safety. Prior to this, one of the members of the Elim Church who live right next to the river where the boats docked, both he and his wife were very generous to us. They gave each of us a coconut from the coconut tree they owned. The husband pulled down the coconuts from the tree and chopped the tops off with a machete, and then sticking straws in them for us to drink. I’ve never in all my years drank directly from a real coconut (talking about healthy?). I REALLY felt like I was in another part of the world. June 17, 2007 (writing on June 18th at 11:30pm)
As we headed back to the church I was pretty numb at what I had just encountered during our evangelizing. It gave me a new outlook on living. I couldn’t process everything right away, so I tried to understand and couldn’t, I wanted to give much more and couldn’t, I wanted to share what I was feeling and couldn’t as my thoughts were in shambles.This is what frustrated me the most that I was so broken down that I was handicapped in focusing on what I could do to help.
We headed back to the hotel after picking up “Churches Chicken” A place where Brian likes to eat. After the second time I couldn’t do fried fish because it really got to my stomach so I just had corn on the cob. We went back the hotel again to talk about the day and Sister Evadney once again wanted to go home. I think we were wearing her out.
After the Sammy’s left, I stayed up all night typing my blog trying to just go over what took place earlier that day. The family with the 3 little girls was one of many that we felt compelled to reach out to. I remember as I approached the house with Jr. and Marina and some of the guys, I called my husband back because I wanted him to bear witness with me on seeing this completely opened house with no doors, no windows, no bathroom, no stove, and no electricity. I had to ask Jr. who is the son of the Sammy family, “is this a house?” He replied, “Yes”. I said, “ Where do they sleep?” and Jr. pointed to a section of the house where there was a corner partition separating the sleeping quarters. It was outrageously heart breaking as he pointed in the direction of where they would most likely sleep. June 18, 2007 (writing on the 19th at 12:20AM)
I awake troubled the next day, feeling grieved for the people. I wasn’t sure whether Brian recognized my grief for the people of Guyana. He was so happy to see the Sammy’s that often times it seemed that he was not sensitive to knowing what was going on with me as he usually does. I explained to him what I was feeling and that Guyana was a completely foreign place for me. I wanted to be able to digest what was happening not only with my husband, but someone from the US who had experienced this journey. I began to help him to realize that now that he had some people who he had come to be familiar with here in Guyana such as the Sammy’s understandably it set him at a level of comfort that I hadn’t received as of yet. As I cried for the people, I needed time to process and take this thing all in.
We quickly took our shower and typed some of our blogs then headed down for breakfast. Pastor Sammy picked us up and we headed into Georgetown making a few stops along the way. Brian and I were still concerned about the family with the opened house, so we wanted to do something to help, but we just didn’t know what to do just as of yet. We stopped in a mall that wouldn’t be considered a mall in the US. Their mall is more like our Home Depot or Lowe’s, which would consist of one home improvement store, but they sell items by each individual store. While we have malls for pleasure, luxury, and convenience, they shop for things such as Toilets, tubs, sinks, siding, plumbing items, etc. We looked at the picture of the house of the family with the 3 little girls and thought of some ideas of what we could do to help. Brian thought of getting the children bikes, but I felt we needed to make an impact on the actual home. Sis. Evadney confirmed this by letting us know that the road that the house is on is very dangerous and a car could hit the children. There is no other place for them to ride bikes. I was more concerned about the dangers of them sleeping in a open place and Brian agreed and so we asked Pastor Sammy if it was possible for us to buy something that would cover the windows and doors of the house? He said that it was possible and that he would have his guy that is currently working on the expansion job at Elim to help this family. So our goal would be to work on getting those items needed for the house today, but we had to first stop at the Sammy’s home. Brian wanted to show Jr. and Marina how to work a program that we use at our church called “Easy Worship”. While he was showing them, I had the opportunity to speak with Sis. Evadney (Pastor Sammy’s wife), we talked about many things. We were basically learning about one another, which was good.
Bro. Mike mentioned that stores closed as early as 3:00PM so I went to inform Brian about us maybe leaving to get the things we talked about earlier at the mall and suggested coming back to finish showing the “Easy Worship” program to the Sammy’s, but unfortunately when Brian gets into his mode of what he is doing there is no stopping him. By the time he was finished with the computer, it was too late to pick up the items that we needed and we began to panic on what and how we were going to help this family, as this was our last day in Guyana. We concluded with getting groceries for this family and so we headed out to the grocery store, which was about to close. I felt like we were on a shopping spree as we ran in the market grabbing many of the carts darting down the aisles throwing items in the baskets. We had the Sammy’s help us to shop as we were not familiar with items that were more frequently used in the Guyanese culture. There were also things that would not have been suitable in the type of environment they were living in. Things like boxed goods that the Rats would eat right through. They didn’t have a Fridge for Perishables, or an oven for baking goods, etc.
While we were shopping, Pastor Sammy mentioned a family that he had talked about earlier who had lost their mother in Dec. 05 to cancer. There are 7 children, which consist of the majority being females and 2 males in the house all sleeping in one room. The girls are mainly teenagers who have no privacy when keeping themselves sanitized with the female necessities. I told Brian what Bro. Mike had shared with me, and he didn’t hesitate to help out this family also yelling, “Grab another cart” I looked at him and questioned whether we had enough money for all the food that we were shopping for?, and he said “Yes”.
In this home the father is the only one working. The minimum wage is $146 Guyana dollars an hour (73 cents US) or 23,360 Guyana dollars a month ($116 US based on 120 hrs per month). Keep in mind that most of the Guyanese citizens work longer hours in order for them to make it, such as our waitress Sabrina at the hotel who made 220 Guyana dollars ($1.110US). She worked 9 hours one day and ended her shift at work to go home to take a 3 1/2 hr. nap to only come back to work 9 hrs the next day. This is a pattern that repeats, which means that they work two shifts in one day. They are not taking breaks the way we do in the US.(Not taking breaks after a 8 hour shift!?) We would have a conniption!
I’m trying to paint a picture for anyone ready this blog. As we received this information, we just poured out our love to the families putting food into the carts until we felt better. Before it was all said and done the bill came to $110,600 Guyana dollars. Thank God we were in Guyana with that price. Brian reached down in his pockets to only find out that we had over spent, realizing that we had left a portion of money back at the hotel in the safe. I guess that’s what you would call “having a heart bigger than your pockets”. We didn’t want to bring any of the food back, so Pastor Sammy began digging in his pockets to see what he had to add to the bill, but before we pulled together anymore funds, the owner of the market told us to bring the rest of the money the next day. The reality became more real to me that we were DEFINITELY not in the United States of America. I don’t care if you were the President of the US, if you attempt to make a purchase and find out later that you are unable to pay for it, that item WILL be going back on the shelf for the next customer to buy (It’s called restocking).
We wanted to get other items such as towels and washcloths, but obviously we were out of money and couldn’t. We headed back to the church to sort out food between the two families. I have to say that as I was sorting out the food it was 6:30pm and getting dark. I begin to think of the houses with no electricity and couldn’t help but think of this being a time that people would come together to have dinner with their families pulling hot food from their ovens, grabbing something cold from the fridge, binding with one another, asking questions like, “how was work and school today”. In Guyana, this was not as practical to do with most families. My eyes began welding and my throat began to knot as we started putting the sorted food for the first family back into the vehicle. We then headed to the first home of a father and 7 Children (mostly teenagers) and as we pulled up to the house I couldn’t contain the grief, so I wept aloud being embraced by the Sammy’s.
I quickly got myself together to enter into the home of faithful members of the Elim Church not ever imagining that the story Pastor Sammy was telling us was that of one of the main worship leaders in the church named Natalie. Looking at Natalie, you would not have ever known that she was apart of a great struggle in her life loosing her mother over a year ago and helping her father to take care of her younger siblings. Natalie worships the Lord with all that she has, giving him all the glory obviously not for what he’s given to her, but for who he is. This is to me what I consider authentic worship.I believe that he heard her cry.
Natalie and her family seemed as though they were in a state of shock to receive the food that was given to them. Even though their expressions were not as open to what we’re use to, I could still see the gratitude as the tears rolled down their faces. I ministered to Natalie with hope as the others sat to listen. We all embraced each other in gratitude for one another. Our gratitude was for them allowing us to come into their lives to feel just a sting of what they encounter on a daily basis. Their gratitude I believe was for our humility and selfless hearts to want to know their difficulties and press to make a difference.
We were able to visit some of the neighbors’ houses that were also members of the Elim Church. One person that I became emotionally attached to was a young lady by the name of Shandel. I was introduced to Shandel by a friend of hers named Kelsey who was one of the gentlemen in my dance class after the Friday night service at Elim. Shandel seemed very reserved and quiet and yet I felt her spirit crying out. It was getting late and I didn’t have an opportunity to talk with Shandel right then, but she promised that she would return the next day during my learning session with dance. I didn’t see her during the session, but she did come and I was able to talk with her as she opened up to me. I believe strongly that the love that I was able to speak to her that day was penetrated through the love of Jesus Christ. Finally after leaving Natalie’s house, I was able to visit and pray with Shandel and her mother who by the way was baptized by my husband during his last visit. There is something very special about this young lady. God has his powerful hand on Shandel’s life and I will be interceding for her as she will remain on my heart and therefore in my prayers.
We traveled back to the church to load the food for the family with the 3 little girls. When we arrived the children were over their grandfather’s house that was ill. We could hardly see a thing as we walked toward their family home, so the mother had to go and get a lantern. The husband was outside bathing in the shower when we arrived. He approached us apologizing for being indecent with only a towel wrapped around him. We replied that we were sorry for intruding without notice. As we brought the food in their home, I whispered to the Elim Pastor’s son Mike Jr. if it would be offensive to ask them where they slept? He said that it wouldn’t be. The mother was more than happy to show us their way of living by taking us to where her children slept as well as she and her husband. There was a mosquito net over the children’s bed so that the insects didn’t bite in the middle of the night and she and her husband were separated from the children by a petition of sheets. Their cooking facility was outside as well as their bathroom and shower. The front of the house was completely unsafe with there being no doors or windows. I could best describe it as saying that this family was living in the shell of a house.
The Mother and Father were thrilled to know that someone thought of them as we talked about the Elim Temehri church doing the food distribution once a month, they promised that they were going to visit Elim that upcoming Sunday. The smiles on their faces were more than a million words. I am so glad that we were able to touch their lives in some way.
As we headed back to the hotel, I was so fulfilled that I felt like I had just eaten a whole Thanksgiving Meal (Fish, greens, yams, mac & cheese, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and…well you get the point). Even though I felt fulfilled, I also felt emotionally drained knowing that our visit was soon ending and I didn’t know when I would embrace and helping the people hands on again. I knew that we were going to continue to help by sending finances, but I really felt the impact when we got the chance to get our hands dirty when working in the vineyard. We ordered food for take-out and brought it back to the hotel. We talked and digested our entire day, it was exceptionally rewarding. June 19, 2007 11:00 PM
The Sammy’s were picking us up that next morning at 6:00am to take us to the airport and even though it was getting late, we didn’t care. We slept just a few hours but knew that we had to conclude our mission journey. As we headed to the airport, we saw Natalie walking in the road and asked Brother Mike to stop the vehicle. We ran back to give Natalie a hug and along with her brother who was walking down the road with her. They thanked us once again and we replied, “We were happy to have the opportunity to serve you”.
As we hopped back in the truck we continued traveling to the airport, we drove past the house of the 3 little girls and I yelled out, “There’s the family with the girls in their school uniforms getting ready to head off to school!” Brian said, “Can we please stop again? I’m sorry.” Pastor Mike and the family were happy to stop as Pastor Mike said that we had plenty of time to get to the airport. The road traffic was so crazy that it was difficult for Bro. Mike to make a U Turn, so Brian said, “We want to make it home to our children, so could you pull into a roadway to turn around”? The family could see us from their home and one of the children had already left for school and turned around running back down the road to her house as she noticed the vehicle that had come to her home before.
We were able to see the Family that touched our lives one more time before we left the country of Guyana. What more could we have asked for to hear the 3 little princesses Zaphina, Zakhira, and kelly tell us that they had cereal and milk for breakfast before heading off to school and to hear the words “Thank You” meant all the world to us.
As we headed to the airport I began to accept this as our final destination but didn’t want to at all. I knew that there was no turning back to talk and embrace with the families that were suffering, so I just stared out of the window in silence as I grieved the rest of the way to the airport.
I know that this could not have been possible without the Sammy Family and I am filled with gratitude that they made this all possible for us. The earlier part of our visit, Pastor Sammy explained to me how the people have become accustomed to this way of living, because they haven’t lived life any other way. I could understand the explanation with my husband and I having a homeless ministry of our own in Philadelphia and seeing the struggles of the homeless we serve, but this explanation was not good enough for me, because if your suffering you are not accustomed and no infant, no child, no man or woman should ever have to suffer.
As we entered the airport, we said good-bye over and over again to the Sammy’s through the window of the airport. We even hugged at the doors of the airport between the guards, as the Sammy’s were not able to enter because they didn’t have a ticket and we could no longer exit the airport once we were checked in.It was bitter sweet for me as I saw the airplane, I then became anxious as I knew that I was closer to seeing my baby boys as I was missing them like crazy and yet as I left the families of Guyana I was struggling to depart from them.
Brian and I negotiated on who would have the laptop at the airport while waiting for the plane, but that went all out the window. We both just sat and looked at the pictures that were taken from the beginning of our arrival to our departure of Guyana. We began savoring every moment as we talked about ways to accomplish some things as we put our ideas and goals together. We talked about how we could petition help from church families, businesses, and people whose hearts would be impacted by our experience, helping them to learn how they could make a difference in Guyana as well.
We arrived at JFK airport in NY, but still had a long way before arriving home in Pennsylvania. We purchased a two-way ticket because we needed to catch 2 buses to get to Newark, New Jersey Airport. On the first bus Brian fell asleep with the ticket in his hand and someone stole it from him so we had to pay another $14 each to get on the next bus. I said in frustration, “Brian, we are in New York, you have to put your items away as soon as you get them, people are watching and ready for that one opportune time to rip you off”. I found myself in that next breath comforting him. (Why can’t women get away with that? I wouldn’t have heard the last of it.)
We were picked up by one of our members Carrie who I was so happy to see. We began to talk to each other in a Valley Girl language that Brian can’t stand to listen to, but it’s all in fun. We once again showed pictures and talked about the trip. It’s amazing how you can never get tired of talking about this journey, as you were ready to help more and more.
We arrived home to get our car and head out to pick up our children that were about 40 minutes away. I was wide-awake in anticipation to hold my babies while Brian started feeling fatigue but driving vigorously. When we arrived to Byron and Josie’s home the boys were watching a video and when Josie brought them in the kitchen to see us they waited about 3 seconds to process that it was Mommy and DaDa standing there. They both jumped up and down in one spot yelling Mommy! DaDa! And running and jumping in mid air knowing that we were going to catch them. Jonathan was holding on for dear life and not letting go of me. They wanted to share with us so much in one breath showing us their Mickey Mouse balloons, purple beach balls, and animal hammers that they bought at the Zoo, and of course I was “all ears”. David says to Byron and Josie, “I’m going home to get in my own bed”. Jonathan says, “Come on Mommy lets go! I think I go home”. Byron and Josie told us that the last couple of days were a bit challenging for the boys, but they didn’t want to tell us while we were away.
By the time we got back in the car, my body rapidly went on “E” (empty). Brian was really tired too. But somebody had to drive home so of course we agreed on the responsible party and it sure wasn’t Brian J. Brian played music and shook me all the way home to keep me awake. By the time we got home, I was physically and emotionally drained, however; there was a lot to do before bedtime and my husband is not the very best when it comes to tidiness, which is not usually a big deal for me, but I came home with a no tolerance disposition as to say, “Appreciate what we are blessed with and take pride in all that we have”. OK, by this time my husband had totally written me off as crazy and insane, but thank God he understood what I was going through and he accepted it as I vented my frustration.
I am supposed to preach this upcoming Sunday, but as we looked at Brian’s first visit to Guyana, we remembered how he preached in frustration to our congregation at Chosen 300 Ministries. We didn’t want this same thing to occur again, so we agreed that it would be better for me to share my experience at our home church in Ambler, PA. We stayed awake all Saturday night picking pictures for a presentation to present to the congregation of Ambler. As we looked at the pictures, my emotions began to rise up again and Brian felt that it was best for me to get rest and just speak from my heart the next day at church. I will say that it was the best thing for me as I was able to talk about my experience in letting my church family know what was real and not just on Television. I received a very positive feedback from the people of God. Some said that they were walking with me as I told my experience and wanted to see how they could be of help to the Guyana project. Others just wanted to give to make a difference. This was a breath of fresh air to hear the rapid responses of those who wanted to join in to lend a helping hand.
If you are reading this blog, I encourage you to never feel as though your financial gift won’t be enough to make a difference, for where there is unity in any positive decision we make, there is strength and our decision to help will make a powerful impact to those in need especially with the help of the Lord. When God sees your heart reaching out to his very own, he WILL help you to make a difference for this is his desire. Therefore, we as children of God should always look at our desires as being his desires.
If everyone set in their minds as not being able to accomplish, then there would be no production in the world today, but as we assemble ourselves together for the cause of Christ to help whom he (God) calls his children, we can accomplish ANYTHING and I do mean ANYTHING! Isaiah 58:6-8
6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
7Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
8 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy reward. We gotta believe by faith that we as individuals can make a difference. WE CAN! YOU CAN! Please visit our website and consider giving online or mailing in your donation today.
Mail your gift to: Guyana Project Chosen 300 Ministries PO Box 95 Ardmore, PA 19003