Happy New Service Year! 

Next month will mark 4 years that we have been serving here in Bartica. From 2013 until December 2016 we were here because we wanted to be here. Several times we went back to Milwaukee to find jobs and save money so we could come back….because we wanted to be here. After graduating from SKE in March this year, Bartica was now our assignment. But guess what? We still  want to be here 🙂

So what has changed?  Well, believe it or not, we have found MORE people who want to study the Bible. Since the new service year has started, Bj has acquired 3 new students, and I have 4 new students! More students have begun attending meetings regularly and two of Bj’s students have even participated in the Watchtower meeting. Many have inquired about my student Marlyn. She is doing amazing. If you recall, this time last year she could not read, and was learning to identify letters. Well now she attends all meetings and she is currently in chapter 2 of the Teach Us book. She studies twice a week. Each study we consider one of the Truths in the summary. To prepare for her study, she finds and reads the scriptures for that lesson. She has even recently asked for help to prepare a comment for the Watchtower meeting.

Bj was doing public witnessing one day using the cart in front of the market. An older gentleman named James came up and took a Teach Us book. Bj let him know that he could have a free bible study and he accepted it. He also asked for a Bible. James now studies at least 3 times a week and he came to the midweek meeting this week. He enjoyed it very much and has plans to attend Sunday. 

Our precious sister Shoba has been battling brain cancer for almost a year now. But it is so encouraging to see her make the meetings when she can. This is no easy thing. Shoba is unable to walk on her own and her vision is failing. So coming to the meetings involve either hiring a private car for $10 or paying $1 for the bus. But the bus can be a bit uncomfortable and crowded. Despite all of that… She mustered up the strength to be present for the C.O. visit last week and she even read a scripture at our last meeting. 

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Back to Bartica

So much has happened in the 3 weeks that we have been back here in Bartica. Our first meeting back,  we surprised many of the friends who had no idea we were back in the country. It was great to hug up eeveryone and to just be home again. Of course we were quickly reminded how “fat” we had gotten…lol.

The following week was our regional convention which meant we needed to travel back to Georgetown.  Our convention was superb and we reached a peak attendance of 4817 on Sunday afternoon. Some highlights were 2 from our congregation were baptized, Wonita, a single mother of three girls. And Natasha, also a mother of three whose unbelieving husband came too and was very excited over her baptism.


Also, Saturday afternoon Bj gave the final part of a symposium. He did great!

Convention weekend would not be complete without meeting up with all our friends who are scattered all over the country of Guyana. 

After the convention, we learned that our barrels and other boxes we shipped ahead of us had arrived. We had a total of 4 barrels and 4 boxes, including a futon and a tv that had been donated to our congregation. Now came the task of getting all of this to Bartica. The day following the regional, we went to the shipping yard to claim our items. This includes seeing it go through customs and waiting in a warehouse to finally get your items. To get all of this to Bartica we would need to hire a truck to pick us up at 2am and get us to the big boat called the steamer by 3am. The steamer leaves at 5am and arrives in Bartica between 9-10am. The steamer usually has cars and other cargo on it. The truck driver we hired was so kind and honest. He even spoke in our behalf at the Steamer so that we weren’t overcharged for our items. But he gave us some important advice. He said we should stay downstairs in the cargo compartment for the entire ride to ensure noone steals our things. 😨 Stand in the dark cargo compartment for 4 hours???? 

Well, because Jehovah was with us through this entire process, Bj noticed a man he used to study with was also on the Steamer. Junior had a canter which is like a small uhaul truck. Junior offered to put our boxes and suitcases into his canter and lock them up so that we could sit upstairs on the benches for the entire ride…and even catch a lil nap. This also worked out because when it was time to disembark,  the harbor can be teeming with people. Some who are there to retrieve items and others who are just nosy and up to no good. So because our most precious item (the donated tv for the congregation) and other things were locked away, noone was able to see what we brought in except for our 4 barrels which is not uncommon. Also when we arrived, David, a brother in our hall met us with a bus and carried us home. Then started the task of unpacking and sorting. As of today, we are all unpacked and sorted out. And!

Our tv is mounted and in place! What a surprise it will be for our congregation on Thursday at the meeting! Stay tuned!

From Home to Home

Well after 13 days of travel…we are home again…June 28-July 11th has been so emotionally charged…but well needed.

It’s never easy to leave our Milwaukee family…

But we know we have an assignment that we need to get to…but before we do…

We took a train ride to Indiana to visit my baby sis Tonya and her husband Ramiro…and their dog Tati…

We also reconnected with Jamal and Tina who were my my 2012 PSS classmates! Jamal even hooked Bj up with a fresh cut.

After that fun visit, we embarked on a 2 day train ride all the way to Miami. We arrived very tired and wanting nothing more than pizza and our hotel bed.

The following day we took a flight to Trinidad. That night, Thursday,  we were picked up by fellow classmates Davon and Geryl and we spent the next 5 days hopping all over the island of Trinidad. ..from South to Central to Northeast to West….we were able to connect with a total of 7 classmates and even got to spend 2 days with our host family and visit our host congregation. 


But then the time finally came for us to leave Trinidad. ..and so finally on the 11th we flew to Guyana. We are so excited to be here amongst our friends. Stay tuned for more as we travel to Bartica and attend our first meeting in 7 months with our congregation! 

An Unforgettable Education…Part 2

Everyone knows that one condition to attending the School for Kingdom Evangelizers is that you are willing to be assigned anywhere to live. Since we had been living (by choice) for the past 3 years in Bartica, Guyana, we were feeling willing to go wherever we were asked to go. If it were back to Bartica or anywhere else, we were willing to do just that. Prior to the school starting we had all been told that we would receive our assignments one week before graduation. Anticipation was high. Friday, February 24th began like any other day. We ate breakfast as a class, and then we went upstairs to begin Morning Worship. As usual, two students were selected to give a 1 minute comment about the day’s scripture text. One student found a way to tie it into our receiving our assignments “the next day”. This was funny because no one had been told the precise day or time we would receive our assignments, but it was an unspoken assumption between all of us students that it would be on Saturday the 25th. Well after Morning Worship was concluded, one instructor remarked “Do you all know something that we don’t know?” As it would turn out, it was in fact later that very day that we received our assignments.

After class ended we would each be called into the instructors office and given an envelope. We had the option to open it right there or wait till we got home. 98% of the class opted to open it right there. Now let’s pause for a moment so you can have a visual. Imagine all of us students crowded into a hot hallway. Then one by one, or couple by couple, being called into the room. Brief silence. Then about 2-3 minutes later, the door would open and the student would yell out their assignment and you would then hear loud screams and laughter. It reminded me very much of auditions on American Idol where the contestant would emerge with or without a yellow ticket to Hollywood…lol.

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Our Assignment? Regular Pioneers in Bartica Congregation. Our Reaction? Happiness. While some in our class were assigned to new congregations, and a few to a new country all together, we were happy and somewhat relieved to be returning to Bartica. The real joy was knowing that for the past 3 years this was where we chose to live and serve, but now, we were being ASSIGNED there…till further notice. What a joy!

But! We were all cautioned to keep our assignments between us as a class and Jehovah until graduation day, March 5th.

Even though the graduation was being held in a huge assembly hall, attendance was limited. Each student was given 6 tickets and one of them was for themselves and another one for their host. So really, we each only could invite 4 people. Well we were so thrilled to know that our family was willing to encounter the expense to travel all the way to Trinidad to see us. This meant their purchasing passports, airline tickets and flying on at least 3 planes each way to see us. Both of our moms, two aunts, and Bj’s brother and sister in-law, made the sacrifice.

DSCN0067.JPGIt meant so much to us. Our graduation included a special treat for them, we were interviewed during the program about how the course affected us and how we benefited from attending.

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As a class, we gave comments during the Watchtower summary program, and then the moment everyone was waiting for : Certificates and the Announcement of our Assignments.

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Many people wanted to know what did our assignment mean? Would we be living in Guyana now forever? Did we receive financial assistance to live there? Are we special fulltime servants?

To put it simply, we have been assigned to live in Guyana at our own expense. We are responsible for spending a minimum of 70 hours each month in our ministry of teaching others about the Bible. We do not receive any income for doing so. Therefore, it was necessary for us to return to the States immediately after graduation to find work so that we could save money to begin our assignment. We are pleased with this assignment and look forward to seeing what lies ahead for us in the future.

An Unforgettable Education – Part 1

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In October 2016, we were going about our regular routine of being in the ministry when our lives suddenly changed! We had been invited to attend the School for Kingdom Evangelizers in Trinidad from January-March 2017! To understand how exciting this news was you have to know that we had been applying to attend this school since 2011 when it was known as the Bible School for Christian Couples. And now we were receiving this grand privilege! I had promised that if we were invited this time I would do a cartwheel…apparently my gymnastics days have long gone away.

Since attending and graduating from the school we have been bombarded with many questions regarding our experience. The most asked question is : “SO HOW WAS IT?”

Of course, our answer to that question has been: “Wonderful!”, “Intense!”, “Amazing!”, “Life Changing!” “Humbling”, “Exhausting!”, “Worth the Wait!”, and the list of similar adjectives could go on and on and on. So we decided to share some of our experience with you.

SKE 101

So the school itself is 2 months or 8 weeks long. Classes are Monday-Saturday. We would arrive each day around 7:30am and our last class for the day ended at 5pm. We had two instructors who are in the traveling work in Trinidad. All students were assigned to a host family and a host congregation. We lived with the Singh Family. Trevor, his wife Videya and their 10 year old daughter Phoebe. IMG-20170212-WA0030

Our host congregation was Carapaichaima. We would attend the Public Meeting and Watchtower on Sunday mornings with the Singh’s at Carapaichaima. Our midweek meeting was part of our school curriculum on Saturday Mornings. Also included on Saturday’s was our test, written and oral….every Saturday. We eventually got used to it.

Friday, January 6th was our orientation. It was so exciting to arrive at the assembly hall and meet the other 26 students who were pioneers from Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Guyana, Monserrat, Trinidad, and Tobago! Among our classmates were those who spoke German, Greek, Haitian Creole, French, and ASL. What a beautiful variety we had! Bj and I were the only Americans in the class. It was fun to hear all the different accents…and then to be reminded that to them…we too had an accent!

In addition to being in class all day, you would also have a minimum of 3 hours worth of reading each night as well as preassigned presentations for class. It left little time for unimportant time wasters.

MONTH ONE

In all honesty, the first month of class was very difficult for a variety of reasons. Two weeks before school, I learned that my father had suffered a heart attack and stroke and would likely not survive. A painful decision was made to go on to Trinidad. With the support of family and friends, the first week of school was spent in class by day and in the evenings – video messaging with family. Our host family was so supportive and loving. Videya did our laundry and spent many times silently by my side as I cried. My father died Wednesday, January 18th during the 2nd week of school. When it was time for the funeral, I was tied in via video messaging and again, Videya was there for me.

But my story was not unique. During the first week of school, we learned that a fellow classmate, Chariklia, was enduring a similar experience. Her mom, a dear faithful sister in Germany, was also terminally ill. And Chariklia and her husband Alex also made the difficult decision to attend school.

Also, our host family were enduring a trial. Trevor’s dad, Bro. Singh was a long time faithful brother had suffered a stroke in October 2016 and was completely dependent on them for care. What is special is that all of us received individual support from Jehovah who helped us all to face each day. Because of our faith and assurance from Jehovah, I look forward to seeing Bro. Singh again in Paradise without his wheelchair and feeding tubes. I also cannot wait to meet Chariklia’s mom and tell her what a special friend her daughter was to me during my time of need.

MONTH TWO

February was a special month for our class! It would mark our final 4.5 weeks of school, but we also were invited to attend the Headquarters Representative Meeting! How exciting!

 

As school was winding down to a end, we were building a permanent bond with our classmates. Before school, we had never met any of them…and now we could never forget any of them. Being among so many spiritual minded persons day in and day out has a powerful effect on you. We learned so much from their beautiful comments in class, and from our shared mealtimes of breakfast and lunch each day. Plus we now can go island hopping with secured accommodations! As February was drawing to a close we were all anxiously wondering what would be our assignments! Also plans were being made for our graduation day!

Stay tuned for Part Two of this post…Assignments and Graduation!

TWO

After two years of retirement, Michael Jordan made a two word announcement… “I’m back”. It wasn’t 2 years but after a 6 month hiatus, we are back. Why? Well, too many amazing things have happened to us and we wanted to share with all of you. First of all, this blog is responsible for many new friends we have met. And secondly, we feel a responsibility to you to share some of our good experiences with you.

So that being said, 2017 is the beginning of a new chapter for us.

Tell your friends and family…

We have some new stories to share and will divide them up over a few posts.

Coming soon:

…An Unforgettable Education, Part 1 and 2

…The journey from Home to Home

 

The End of an Era…

Tuesday, October 8, 2013 will always be the day our lives changed forever. That was the day, or night rather, that we landed in Guyana South America. We knew very little about where we were headed. Our plan was to come serve for at least a year. Well, as it goes with most need greaters…here we are, now three years later and we are STILL here.

If you have followed our blog then you are quite familiar with all our adventures. We could not have known three years ago that this place would become our home. But here we are, October 2016 and we are still here. 

Over the years we have enjoyed sharing pictures and experiences with you all. However, as indicated by the title of this post, this must now come to an end. 

Our ministry in Bartica as of late has drastically increased. Bj and I have both taken on many new students. Our congregation also have become our true family meaning more time has been devoted to helping individual friends with various trials and situations. A week ago, we received an invitation to a special school which will commence in January. Prior to the start of school, some additional studying needs to be completed. After graduation from this school in March, it is expected that our load will increase even more. 

All of these reasons make keeping up with a blog very challenging. Through this blog we have kept in touch with many friends and family back home. But we have also met new friends!  We are so grateful for this as we have started many enduring friendships. So here is what we plan to do:

We will utilize our emails more and use the mobile apps that have proven very effective in staying in close contact with our friends. 

This will be our final post. The blog itself will stay available and online for current and future readers to enjoy. However, no new posts will be added after this one. Going forward, please feel free to email us at our joint email account: 

bjfescott@gmail.com

Also, if you have access to download the following app “whatsapp”, then we can text, send pics and/video to stay in touch.

We also use the app “voxer”, however it tends to use up more of our data.

If you download whatsapp, you can locate us, by adding our phone numbers to your mobile address book:

Please enter the numbers as:

(Fe) +592-680-2790

(Bj) +592-675-9686