What’s it like to work in the El Campo territory?
Just like all of you, we have been greatly looking forward to attending the ‘Be Courageous’ Regional Convention. Don’t worry I won’t spoil anything from the convention itself, but just share briefly our experience. There is one English Convention in Ecuador, maybe all of South America. It is located at the Bethel branch in a huge city near the West coast called Guayaquil. It’s about a 10-12 hour bus ride, a 6-8 hour car drive at night (longer during the day due to traffic), or a short 40 min flight by plane. We decided to fly. Here’s a map of where we live and where the Convention and branch are located.
Traveling to and back from Guayaquil was fairly smooth, “fairly.” Can you really ever travel somewhere without some little bumps along the way? Well, we apparently can’t. To begin our trip, our close friend, Felipe, picked us up and drove us to the airport in Quito 2 hours from our apartment. Once we got to our gate to wait, we found several other witnesses traveling to the convention too.
Our flight got delayed 4 times and we began to worry a little. It was Thursday evening and we wanted to get to our hotel and get well-rested for the convention, especially cause Mel and I were just recovering from bad colds. We were told by other friends that it was common for the airline we were flying to cancel flights so that they could get more passengers on one plane, and sometimes they just cancel at the last minute, you know, for fun. So we began to worry that we wouldn’t be able to fly out that night, but we did.
We arrived in Guayaquil Thursday night around 8pm or so and made our way to the hotel. The hotel we stayed at had dozens of witnesses staying there too, including several families with kids. After an excellent breakfast buffet Friday morning (yes it needed to be mentioned) provided by the hotel, we got on a bus a group of us witnesses chartered to take us to the convention. After a 30 min ride, we arrived at the Bethel branch.
Like all other Bethel Branches, the grounds were beautifully maintained. There are even large iguanas there, about 2ft long or so. They usually were climbing or resting in the trees. Don’t sit under one for too long, you might get an unwelcomed gift from above.
TheVenue for the convention was open air with a cover. Attending this English convention were mostly need greaters serving in the country and Bethelites working at the branch. It was so encouraging meeting and visiting with so many need greaters and full-time servants. During the convention, one speaker said this convention was like attending a large pioneer meeting. There was between 1,100 - 1,200 in attendance, including a special quest from Warwick NY.
The convention itself was so encouraging! Afterward you feel so courageous, like you could take on the world because Jehovah is with you. We were also greatly encouraged by spending 3 days with so many need greaters. To hear their experiences and the confidence they have about this form of service really built us up. We also got to meet a few couples and families that happened to be visiting Ecuador to “spy out the land.” Some were from Australia, United States, and Canada. Hearing their goals and the sacrifices they have already made to reach their goal of serving where the need is great was a great boost to us, it invigorated us.
Our visiting speaker from World Headquarters was Robert Luccioni and his wife Faith. No surprise here, but they were so loving and friendly. We spoke with them a couple times and loved getting to know them a little. Events like this get you so excited for the New World where you can spend more time with our brothers and sisters getting to know each other and enjoying each other’s company.
The Convention is jammed packed with special treats for all of us. Wesley’s favorite part, in addition to the Jonah movie, was the symposium about the animals. Here are his notes.
It was an amazing weekend, filled with so much encouragement. We met new friends that we hope to stay in contact with and enjoyed associating with some brothers and sisters we already knew. We all had a wonderful time, it’s sad it came and went so fast, but now- it was time to head home.
There are many different types of needs when serving where the need is greater. Some congregations need elders or ministerial servants, others need families or pioneers, some congregations need publishers to learn a new language. The primary need in our congregation is for teachers to conduct bible studies. While our territory is covered frequently, many new interested are consistently found. This makes for a very exciting and rewarding ministry. We are able to have a conversation and read a scripture with many people almost every time we go in the ministry. Then with a little watering, a study is often started. Each day in the ministry is so exciting.
One brother in our congregation has studied to the point of baptism with 36 people, 36! He is an amazing teacher and the boys have learned a lot working with him in the ministry. Ecuadorian people respect the Bible and even if they have their own religion, many are still willing to talk with us. The most common religion here is Catholicism, and at times we do get completely shut down with, “I’m Catholic” or “Occupado”, which means busy.
Often though we find a few people to speak with. Not only do we get to go through our presentation, but the conversation can continue, sharing several scriptures and getting to explain a bible truth. It’s so enjoyable to not always have to rush through our presentation, but to actually explain a bible truth. A very rewarding ministry!
After our first couple months we started to get some bible studies. The first study I got, mentioned in the previous blog post is still going well. Logan’s Spanish is way better than mine, so he comes with me and helps me conduct. We have watched a few different videos and movies and are nearing the end of the good news brochure. At the last study he admitted JWs are the true religion and he is greatly looking forward to the new world. He even attended a meeting.
I have a few other studies that study for a short period of time each week. I hope they will increase their study time period soon. Logan has begun conducting a study with a young guy, 20 years old, that works in a store near our apartment. The study is tough to schedule cause he works from 9am to 9pm almost everyday, so Logan conducts at the store, but there are many interruptions.
Melanie is studying with the Mom of Logan’s study. The study got started by a couple visiting from France a little while ago. When they went back home, Melanie took over the study. The Bible student, Liliana, is an amazing bible study. She as been studying for about 4 months, but she knows this is the truth. She has even asked us about becoming a publisher and in fact has already started informal preaching at work, placing books and magazines. Liliana comes to meetings whenever she can, when her health allows her to. It is clear that Jehovah is drawing her near to Him.
Melanie has a few more studies, 2 studies that a sister that moved away gave her, one study Logan started doing door to door and a study Melanie started with a women that owns her own small store. We also have a family that we all study with. Logan and Connor study with the kids while Mel and I study with the husband and wife. We got this study from a sister in the Quichua (a native language) Congregation. The parents have a hard time reading but are making good progress. The husband has been receiving some pressure from workmates to stop studying, but he courageously continues to study. The mother and some of the kids attend the meetings.
With all these studies we have a busy schedule. It also takes a lot of energy and time to prepare in advance, walk to where the studies are, and conduct them, but it is so worth it! We leave each study so invigorated and so thankful that Jehovah allows us to conduct these studies. At last count, our family has 15 bible students.
Pic of Melanie studying with Liliana in our apartment.
Other Rewarding Activities
Logan is doing amazing with the new language, all the boys are doing great getting settled in the new congregation. Logan has the privilege of assisting in the territory department, has given a 6 min student talk and read for the congregation bible study. Videos are below, of course it’s all in Spanish. 😜
We recently had the privilege of serving refreshments at a new Kingdom Hall build in a nearby town. We went with another family from our hall and Melanie’s bible study, Liliana, went with us. She loved the experience, to see so many brothers and sisters volunteer their time and energy to build a Kingdom Hall.
Our congregation was asked to take care of the snacks every Saturday till the build was completed, in about 6 more weeks. The friends in our congregation have donated generously to provide the food and drinks. The Saturday that we were able to go and pass the food out, a brother and his wife made and donated sandwiches. They provided 90 sandwiches!
This was amazingly generous, especially considering the value they represented. The pay is not very good here. It is very common for someone to work 12 hours a day and to only make $5 a day! A good paying job is around $10 a day. So the sandwiches represented between 9 to 18 days of some Ecuadorian’s pay.
We had a wonderful morning passing out the snacks. The work on the Kingdom Hall is very labor intensive, as they don’t have many power tools, so it was very encouraging to see the many brothers and sisters working so hard for Jehovah.
That’s just a few of the highlights from the last couple months. I plan on posting more regularly with shorter posts in the future. If you have any topics you would like me to cover or particular questions, please leave in the comments and I’ll be sure to include in the next post.
The experiences mentioned above are truly gifts from Jehovah. Certainly not the result of our skills or efforts but only the blessings of Jehovah.