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.
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.
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.
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.
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!