THE JOYS THAT CAME FROM:
- A six hour walk--crossing rivers up to the thighs
- Iridescent blue butterflies & snoring monkeys
- A town where every person studies--in the heart of the tropics!
This experience is from a brother from the Detroit area who married a Ecuadorian Sister and they now serve as missionaries in Ecuador, South America. .
We went to visit an isolated group that is attended to by one of the congregations in our circuit. The group is in a place called Tabiasa, it isn't really a town, there are only a few houses there.
To get there we first traveled to Pedernales, about 2 hours from our base. Pedernales is the only congregation we serve that is on the ocean, and it's the one that is in charge of Tabiasa. At 7:30 Monday morning we met with the brothers from Pedernales who were going to accompany us on the trip.
In the center of town we piled in the back of a small truck going in the direction of Tabiasa. After a 15 minute ride we made it to our starting point. For the long walk we wore shorts, T-shirts and tennis shoes. We went as light as possible with one backpack per person. The brothers were very thoughtful and carried mine for me, I was so grateful because even though I tried to pack light, I would never have made it if it weren't for their help!
We walked along a little footpath that followed the river.
The path wound on for a SIX HOUR WALK at what was for me--the only woman in the group--a fairly quick pace. We stopped to share tracts and booklets with people who were coming out on horseback.
It was a first for us to preach in shorts, but they were needed since WE HAD TO CROSS THE RIVER WHICH HIT US AT MID THIGH!
Along the way we saw BEAUTIFUL IRIDESCENT BLUE BUTTERFLIES about the size of a man's extended hand. There were bougainvillea, breadfruit trees, and coffee plants. The vegetation grew very lush and we realized WE WERE IN THE HEART OF THE TROPICS when we heard what the brothers explain were monos ronkadores (SNORING MONKEYS)!!!
Along the way we saw BEAUTIFUL IRIDESCENT BLUE BUTTERFLIES about the size of a man's extended hand.
There were breadfruit trees... coffee plants and bougainvillea.
We would never have known that they were monkeys- they sounded like a cross between a lion and a monster! The noise started off as a low roar that got wider and wider and ended in what one sister described as the sound of a pig under water. This strange sound came from all directions.
The last hour of the trip was spent climbing a steep mountain with the noon sun blazing. The prize when we got to the top was finally seeing Tabiasa! The tin roofs of the cane houses were shinning in the sun a good distance below us.
We were so happy to reach the house of a family that studies (EVERYONE IN TABIASA STUDIES!!) After collapsing on their wood floor, we had just had enough time to GO TO THE RIVER TO COOL OFF and get cleaned up for the meeting.
People came from all around. Most ON HORSEBACK, some coming from a DISTANCE OF TWO HOURS! We had the Bookstudy and Roger gave a talk. There were 67 at that meeting, we were impressed by their attentiveness, even the small children were quiet. Everyone stayed for a long time afterward.
To get to the house of the family where we were going to stay, (about a 10 minute walk) WE HAD TO CROSS THE RIVER FIVE TIMES! Once there, we fixed supper by candle light (THERE IS NO ELECTRICITY OR RUNNING WATER in Tabiasa). It gave us the opportunity to learn how so many people in that area became interested in the Truth.
The unbaptized publishers we were staying with (Robert and Gina Rivadinera) moved there in 1994 when she was given a job as teacher in a one room schoolhouse. She had studied with the Witnesses in her home town and wanted to share what she had learned with others. She started inviting the parents of her students to "Bible classes" in the schoolhouse in the evenings.
(The meetings are now held in a structure made of bamboo walls and thatched roof made for that purpose). They had about 15 in the beginning and the group kept growing until at one point there were 62 ! AND SHE WASN'T EVEN A PUBLISHER YET!
Her husband had never studied, but agreed to help her by reading the paragraphs while she conducted the studies. She used selected study articles from the Watchtower, and chapters from a variety of books. On their day off they visited individual families to maintain their interest strong. Her husband learned the Truth this way and is now a very zealous publisher.
About a year ago they went to Pedernales to ask the brothers for help. group arranged to make the trip and was overwhelmed by what they found. Among those impressed was Diana Laifer, a young German "NEEDGREATER" serving in Pedernales. She said that her conscience wouldn't allow her to stay in Pedernales knowing there was such a need in Tabiasa.
She arranged her affairs and went to Tabiasa to stay. It has meant A LOT OF SACRIFICE for her. She hasn't been able to find a partner, so this past year she was on her own, CONDUCTING ALL OF THE MEETINGS & SERVING AS THE ONLY EXAMPLE OF HOW A BAPTIZED WITNESS SHOULD ACT.
She lives in a small room in a house of a family that studies. Because of the difficulty of bringing things in, she has no furniture other than a bed. SHE WALKS REGULARLY TWO HOURS TO GET TO HER STUDIES and you never hear her complain!
SHE IS SO HAPPY TO BE WHERE SHE KNOWS SHE IS SO NEEDED and appreciated. The humble and shy people of the area have come to really love her.
Our second day was spent going on studies. In the afternoon we had another meeting to show three of the Societies videos. To do that took a lot of cooperation, one family provided the TV another a small generator and one brother who has recently moved there to help Diana out with the meetings brought the VHS on his back all the way from Pedernales! We had 70 there, so the effort was well worth it.
The third day we had to leave for Pedernales to start their visit. We wished that we had had a few more days to get to know all of the interested ones better. As we started our climb up the mountain we carried with us lessons learned about sacrifice and unselfish interest in other's spiritual well-being.
Not to mention the memories of candle light conversations, the smoky taste of water boiled over burning wood, the eerie sound of the SNORING MONKEYS--things we would never forget!