Tuesday, November 27, 2012

November Report to President Mehr

Elder and Sister Beecher’s November 2012 Monthly Report
It has been a month of settling in and gaining focus.  We have enjoyed training regarding employment and self-reliance from Angel Negron from Puerto Rico and a visit from President and Sister Anderson - President of the Caribbean Area, President and Sister Mehr, and the assistants.  We have traveled much throughout Georgetown and are becoming more familiar with the roads and customs. It is difficult to travel on these narrow roads with few stop signs and clutter piled on and next to the roads.  The walkers and bicyclists are forced into the roads. They watch and dart, stroll, and lumber some with incredible adeptness. We have indeed had “angels on our fenders.”  One dark night coming from Berbice with Brother Negron and President Goodluck we were fortunate to swerve around a big semi-truck trailer parked in the middle of the lane - with no lights or reflectors on the back. Luckily no oncoming cars were extremely close.
We have met with many of our PEF students and succeeded in meeting the two sisters in Linden that we had not met previously. We have been able to resolve some of the dangling items we discovered. We know that there are many hard things that we cannot do to rescue and must allow the participants to work out.  Sister Beecher has been working on ideas of how to help the students do temporary jobs to add to their income. She has been searching for “buck beads” and was telling Elder and Sister Beutler and me about the latest information regarding the closest known location of where they grew, which was in Linden (two hours away) and then 60 miles further on dirt roads. She then turned her head and said, “Hey, are those buckbeads?” The buckbeads are growing along a road that we walk along to get to the sea wall where we walk once or twice a week. It was indeed manna from heaven. We took the buckbeads and other supplies to a couple of girls who are delinquent on their loans. We are trying to teach the concept of fishing and not just giving a fish.
We have helped some with Humanitarian Projects and met some influential people.  Since the Cooks are in Suriname and they have on-going projects they need “favors” and we try to oblige.  One project involved helping with the graduation ceremonies from an art therapy course for women who are affected by HIV or Aids and suffer from depression.  It was inspiring to hear how they have become more self-reliant from learning a skill of tie-dyeing and fabric painting. One woman said, “I came with nothing and I am leaving with something.” They were acting dignified, hopeful, grateful, and rewarded for what they had learned.  President Pooran gave an inspiring and motivating talk. 
President Sobers approached us last Sunday and said that he felt inspired that we should conduct a fireside for employers.  I seemed to be flooded with ideas, thoughts, and questions for the next hour. This is exactly what needs to happen so that we can convince employers to look at our people who have integrity, know how to give an honest day’s work, and are skilled. We are planning on presenting this to the PEF Country Committee of which President Sobers is the Committee Chairman.
President Benn and President Goodluck have agreed to a monthly planning meeting which we need desperately. President Benn at our last meeting assigned us to two wards over the river, LaGrange and Vreed-en-Hoop.  They meet in the same building.  They have no one to play the piano.  Branch President Bharat wants us to give piano lessons to the Young Single Adults. A father of four came up and asked if he could take lessons.  He is a construction worker with hands that have seen a lot of manual labor.  I taught him a simple three-note melody and he was thrilled. We are most likely going to teach group piano lessons on Sundays and Wednesday evenings.  We are getting a calendar more and more firmed up.  We have two groups of employment specialists ready to be trained and figuring out 12 hours of training with the Christmas Holidays is a bit tricky. The Demerara River Bridge (and the Berbice Bridge) closes for a couple of hours and it is at irregular times. This means we or members might get stuck on the wrong side of the river. We bought a little cooler today so we can be somewhat better prepared.
We are walking early in the mornings for about an hour.  My body complains loudly when we don’t exercise.  Staying hydrated is still a challenge. We drink a lot of water and some days it is not enough.  We are trying to eat right and need more protein.  Today we found a huge bottle of Bragg’s Amino Acids just like what we use at home.  Little by little we are making progress in most areas. We listen to conference talks as we do our stretching and strengthening exercises.  We are reading our scriptures and praying. Helping with the baptismal service of those three siblings in Linden was a highlight of the month. We helped cook a Thanksgiving feast for the Elders and then a couple of days later for the Senior Couples.  Every week except one (and the first couple of weeks) a Job Listing is prepared, sent out to the branches, and in some cases delivered. This project takes about 7 hours minimum.  A job web-site for Guyana will be forthcoming according to Brother Negron. It is being set up at present. This is a country with limited internet access, but even that is increasing. We went in to find some boxes for a Humanitarian project and the owner offered the boxes and then a donation. We told him a donation was possible, but we did not know how that was done. I complimented him on his generous offer and he replied, “What do we live for if we do not help others.” We love the Lord and are striving to be like him.  Every day is an adventure and never the same.

PEF girls, and Baptisms on the River

November 27, 2012
     Last Saturday we drove to Linden which is about two hours away.  The Summers live there and he is the Branch President.  The traffic was moving slowly and so we decided to stop for gas.  The young lady working there told us that she is a member of the church, but she hadn't been for the last six months.  We told her that the Lord loves her and wants her back.  Out of all the service stations we stopped there.  He is mindful of each and every one:)
     We went to Linden so that we could visit with two of our PEF students who are behind on their payments.  The older sister, Venezia, is married and her husband is out of work because his truck is broken down.  The younger sister, Valicia, lives at home.  A couple months ago their home blew down in a storm.  The branch helped them rebuild their home.  It is on stilts above the ground, and is maybe 20' X 30" Elder Beecher says.  I don't think it is that big and I don't think it has electricity or running water.  The dad and mom make very little and it costs the girls $1,000 or $5.00 U.S. a day to get to school.  I think that they have no concept of their responsibility to paying back their loan.  Their monthly payment is $1,000 Guyanese a month.
     Liz gave me some paper necklaces that sisters in Africa made and they send them to Utah to sell them for $5.00 a piece.  They have an organization called, "Circle of Friends".  I thought that if I could teach them how to make the necklaces, they could pay back their loan.  Then President Mckenzie told me about "buck beads.  They grow on a bush and a stem grows through the middle of the seed.  If you remove the stem, the bead has a hole through the middle of it.  We tried to find out where the bushes grow. We have been talking to people about them and trying to find them for a month.  The Summers found a friend who said that you could find them on the Berbice River, a 60 mile dirt road drive from Linden.  We said, "No Thanks".  I was telling the Beutlers about that when I saw a patch of bushes on the side of the road, and I said, "Hey, are those buck beads?"  They were!  We pass them once or twice a week when we walk to the sea wall.  They are growing in front of an abandoned house.  Another miracle in our lives.  We picked a bunch and took them to Linden on Saturday.  I showed the girls how to make the paper beads, and left them a bunch of supplies.  I hope they will make some necklaces.  The buck bead ones should be easy.  This morning we went to the sea wall to walk and picked some more on our way home.  Then we saw a couple more patches of buck bead bushes on the way home.  Crazy!
     They were having a baptism in Linden for three siblings who live down on the Demarara River.  They have no running water or electricity, but they are so industrious and clean.  The father started bringing his family to church a year ago and they have been attending faithfully.  The parents can't get baptized because they cannot afford to get married.  There are three families who live there close together and have members in their families.  The baptism was sweet.  I got to give the Holy Ghost talk because that speaker came late and wasn't prepared.  Elder Beecher prayed.

The mom scrubbing her clothes on the river.  She scrubs them
with lots of soap and hits them with her paddle.  They would
be spotless if the river water was clean.

Oh, the life on the river!

Sarah's kitchen is spotless and everything is put away.

The house is on stilts, so we met under the house. The
 three young people getting baptized are the Narine children.
Troy, Romona, and Ravina.  Sheldon, on the end just
returned from a mini mission a couple months ago.
He baptized his neighbors.

The young people getting baptized have faithfully attended
Young Men's and Young Women.  They are beautiful and
have gorgeous hair.  Troy Narine, on the right, became one of our closest friends.

Here we are with the kids and the Summers.

They were happy after the baptism.

Sarah's tidy yard, home, and garden.

Some of the cute kids who were there.

Sheldon's dad getting his garden ready to plant. He's building a new chicken pen in the back.
Grandpa Leonard would like the straight furrows.

The Church is true.  Heavenly Father loves all of his children.  We are so blessed to be here in Guyana.  It was a great experience to be at the baptisms.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving and Red Cross Graduation

November 26, 2012
     Thanksgiving was great.  On Tuesday Sister Beutler and I fed our 12 Georgetown Elders a Thanksgiving dinner.  We had turkey, potatoes and gravy, bora, and carrot sticks, rolls, and lots of pies.  The Elders were excited!  We went around the table and took turns talking about the things we were grateful for.  It was a sweet time.  We had our dinner at the church after the Elders had their District meeting.  Then on Thursday, we had a dinner with the other missionary couples.  We had the Beutlers, who live downstairs.  They are from Southern Idaho.  The Treseders who are from Queen Creek, Arizona, and the Summers who are from the Seattle area.  The Treseders serve in Berbice, and the Summers serve in Linden.  It was fun to get together and talk about why Thanksgiving is important to Mormons.
This banner hung at the front.

They decorated the room with their tie dye and painted fabric.

Nicole, the director.

They sang, "Lean on Me"

President Pooran, who gave a great talk.
     On Friday, Elder Beecher and I were invited to help pass out certificates at the Red Cross graduation for women with AIDS or HIV, or those associated with someone with those diseases.  The woman in charge, Nicole, had this dream to have this Art Therapy class to cheer up those women who felt so hopeless and discouraged.  She couldn't find funding, but Marlyn Waterman who is associated with the group, and a member of the church, talked to the Cooks who are humanitarian missionaries and they were able to get funding.  The Cooks have moved to Suriname, and so we were invited along with President Pooran to help.  It was very inspiring.  What a great opportunity to be able to represent the church.  The women were so grateful.  One said, "I came with nothing and I am leaving with something"  They were grateful for their patient teacher who taught them tie dye and fabric painting.  They gave us lunch, which we took with us.  It was a very inspiring event.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dawali, Wakenaam Island to visit Adolphus, Self Reliance Centers

Elder Beecher on Wakenaam Island in the Essequibo River
Wakenaam means "Island waiting for a name"
On November 13th the East Indian people have a holiday called Dawali or Day of the Lights. They fill small ceramic containers with oil and a wick and light them to decorate their houses. The home across the street from us was decorated with tons of beautiful Christmas lights and the Dawali lights. The people invite their friends and family in to enjoy seven curry which you eat on a big waterlily leaf with your fingers. They had a big parade here with floats and a program with entertainment up by the sea wall. It was a big deal. We drove around with the Cooks and looked at some of the lights. We got stuck on a street where cars were parked on both sides and lots of on-coming traffic and not enough room to get down the street. Elder Beecher had to back up in the dark and so many people and obstacles. Ack.
 Because it was a holiday, our friend Adolphus took us to visit his family on an island in the Essequibo River. Adolphus has only been a member about eight months. He wants to be a doctor. He would also like to go on a mission, but he has to work on Sundays. Hopefully he can get things worked out. We went with our friends the Cooks, the humanitarian missionary couple. First we went on a back cracking speed boat ride. The boat would hit the waves so hard we thought it would crack. The boat survived, but it took our backs a couple days to recover.

When we left the water was at this level.
When we returned the water was up to the
top board. The river flows both north and south. 

The Essequibo is about 23 miles across.

Elder Cook scratching the back of Adolphus's pet macaw, Sparky.

Adolphus's back yard.

We went for a walk along the sea wall.

Adolphus's brother Clifton (also called Blackboy by his mother) climbed the coconut palm to get us some coconuts.

Then he whacked the top off with a cutlass (machete) and gave us a straw so we could drink the coconut milk.  

This is the inside of their home - pretty nice.

They have a farm and they raise pigs which they
feed shredded coconut meat.  They also process the coconut oil.
I bet that is good bacon!

Adolphus's mother, Eleen, has this shop at the front of their home where she sells stuff from the garden.  We were glad we went to visit.  Adolphus is the only member in his family and his dad was giving us grief about the word of wisdom.  The dad sang a little song and he had a nice voice, so we sang,"I am a Child of God" to him.  We hope his heart softened a little.  We went on a bus ride around the island.  It was a fun day.
This past week Brother Angel Negron, who is over employment in the Caribbean came to visit.  He taught us a lot and we had three training sessions to train our PEF Country Committee, our Georgetown branch presidents and Employment Specialists, and the Branch Presidents and Employment Specialists out in Berbice.  Outside of the US, they are combining PEF and the Employment Resource Centers to create Self Reliance Centers.  Guyana will have it own Guyana LDS Employment web site.   Everything went well.  On Saturday we drove two hours out and two hours back from the training.   Driving back it got dark.  There are people and animals on the road.  We are so thankful for the angels on our fenders.  Then Bro. Negron took us to his fancy hotel for dinner.  The First counselor in the mission presidency came with us.  His name is Colin Goodluck.  Elder Beecher calls him Our Goodluck.  He is an amazing guy, and so much fun.  You can almost hear him laugh when you look at his picture.  We really enjoy working with him.
President Goodluck

Now we need to train all the Employment Specialists how to teach the Career Workshop.  We have never taught it before, but we are excited.  It is a powerful program.  We are so grateful for all our opportunities and for Heavenly Father's help enabling us to do the things He wants us to do.  We see miracles every day.
Today Sister Beutler and I fixed Thanksgiving dinner for 12 Elders and President Goodluck.  It turned out great.   It's hard to believe it's Thanksgiving.  It's still hot.

Back yard adventure

November 2012

This is a souree tree

Banana Tree

A mango tree

A golden apple tree
The sour-ee fruit is SOUR.  The outside is soft, but it is like a citrus fruit.  We made a juice by putting the fruit in the blender and adding water and sugar.  It was something like lemonade.  Our friend, Steve Lall, a YSA would not drink it because he said that it is so acidic that it is not good for your teeth.  The Guyanese use it to make pepper sauce which they really like.
The bananas on our banana tree are almost ready.  They are getting bigger and we are just waiting for one to turn yellow.  We are excited because another bunch is starting to grow.  First comes a purple upside down tear drop shaped pod.  As the purple leaves come back the bananas appear.  Then they grow bigger and bigger.  I think there are 40 or 50 bananas in a bunch.  They have small bananas about as long as your finger, and they are apple bananas which are smaller than our regular bananas.  Their skin is thinner and a little blotchy-but tasty.
Someone told us that our mangos are called long mangos.  We are learning how to eat them.  The first time we squished it so bad it was a mess and so stringy it got caught in your teeth.  We learned to cut off the sides and just peel back the peeling as you eat it.  Elder Beutler makes a nice drink with the mango juice and milk and ice.
The golden apples are a citrus fruit.  When we first tried one we were surprised that the peeling was so hard to get off and the white part was so tough. The fruit was pretty sour.  I ate a ripe one today that was pretty gold.  It tasted good, but still sour.  A lady we met down the street gave us some.  She is a cook for a fellow who is a race car driver.  We wanted to go see him race, but the races were on Sunday.  The tree in our yard is a dwarf and maybe the fruit doesn't get very big.  The fruit is only half as big as the ones she gave us.  It is fun to experiment with the new fruits.  They have watermelon here that is about the size of cantalope at home.  They are tasty.

We wanted to take you on a walk around our back yard.  We have been trying out the fruits that are growing here.

Friday, November 2, 2012

First trip to Berbice, and visiting the Institute Classes

A shrimp farm in the Berbice area.  
November 2, 2012
It's November and still summer in Guyana.  We are still rookies.  We have had many many tender mercies.  Elder Beecher has had at least two deja` vu moments.  One time when we were leaving the mission office which is about a half mile from our place.  As he was driving past some missionaries pulling their suitcases he had the distinct feeling that this was a familiar scene that he had previously experienced.  It was an over powering feeling. It was like he knew he had this experience before perhaps in a dream.  It was verification that this was where we should be.
We are amazed at the knowledge and sacrifices that members have in their lives.  We have worked with the Young Single Adults for over 10 years.  These Guyanese YSA's know just as much about the scriptures and the Gospel of Jesus Christ as their counterparts in Utah.  They do not have the experiences that those in Utah  have.  They don't know some of the how-to's, but they know their scriptures. There are many very bright people in Guyana.  They sometimes race each other to see how fast they can talk back and forth amongst themselves.  They also change their talk so that others cannot understand them sort of like pig latin. One couple had extra "b's" in their words. For example for the command, "Come here." They something like: "Combe herbe" making single syllable words into two syllable words.  They have many interesting ways.
President Cardon and Sister Marcia McKenzie
We also met President McKenzie and his wife Marcia.  He is the Branch President in the Presaud Nagar Branch.  He met his future wife when he was about 35, but he waited for her while she served a mission.  The day that there was a little civil unrest and the road was closed, his wife was stuck on the other side of the situation.  He reminded us about the story of the Savior when the storm was raging he was sleeping.  He was at peace.  He said that it doesn't do any good to be upset and worry.  We should have faith and be at peace.
We met a young member whose name is Adolphus Rogers.  He is working at the hospital as a lab technician.  His parents and siblings live on an island in the Essequibo River which is 23 miles wide at its' mouth.  They have a farm there.  Adolphus really wants to work in the medical field.  He heard about a course to learn how to take blood.  He worked and saved and his mom helped him and he took the course and did well.  He got a job at the hospital.  He is a great example of determination.
A sugar cane field

The rice paddies.

The sugar factory.  The boats are filled with sugar cane,  the tractor pulls them and then they dump the
  sugar cane out on a conveyor belt.
We went out to Berbice last weekend.  It is a couple hour drive.  Last weekend we had some PEF students to help.  We are going out again tomorrow for the Stake Leadership Training.  It is a more rural area.  We saw the sugar cane fields, rice paddies, shrimp farm and the sugar factory.
A funeral procession
A fun hand made picket fence.

We also just happened to see a funeral procession.  We thought it was a parade, but they were carrying the casket.  This just is a very interesting place.  We went for a ride out along a river.  The Treseders, another missionary couple took us.  Crowds of people were out having bar-b-ques along the river.  Cars were parked on both sides of the narrow road.  Plus cars were coming down the road.  I know we have angels on our fenders, like Marilyn Oxborrow said about their mission in Guatemala.  I love the houses on stilts.
We went to church in the Rosignol Branch.  We were so impressed with the large crowd that was there.    The branch president there is really trying to follow the handbook.  I think I heard that there were 88 people there.  They were so happy to see a missionary couple.  The people just love us because we are missionaries.  A boy named Tyrone who is 12 just came and stood by me.  I talked to him for a minute and then he just stayed there.  So I put my arm around his shoulders and gave him a hug.  He put his arms around me and just squeezed me.  It was a tender moment for me.
We went back to Georgetown.  I finally got a picture of one of the horsecarts.  They haul many things; building supplies, car parts, a refrigerator, everything.  They will give the missionaries a ride, too.
We helped with the Primary Sacrament Meeting Program in the Diamond Branch.  We were blessed that day, because the power was on and Elder Beecher could play the electric piano.
The children are so beautiful and lively.  Fifteen boys in this primary and only four girls.
The Diamond Branch Primary

One of the first things we did in Guyana was visit the Institute Classes.  We knew that because our assignment was with the Perpetual Education Fund we would be working with the Young Single Adults.  We were so impressed with the young people.  They knew their scriptures well and had strong testimonies.  The teachers were usually Young Single Adults as well, and they were very knowledgeable and impressive.  
Simeon Lovell, Naomi, Selwyn Lovell, Cameta Williams, Sophie Henry, and Roger Ramnarain       (Institute Group from Prashad Nagar/ Georgetown)
The Diamond Institute Class, Yvonne Beharry, Melissa Gaspar, Marissa, ? , Kurtis Charles, David Singh, Milton Steven, and Sister Beecher
An Investigator, Vanessa, who was the teacher, and Sister Ruby.  Sister Ruby is Vanessa's aunt and guardian.  She was amazing.  She took it upon herself to keep the Church clean.  She said that it was because she had been to the Temple and learned about service.  The LaGrange Church sparkled when she and her friend, Brother Jacobs, were cleaning the Church.  She was also the Relief Society President.

Sophie Singh, Nadie Bash, Christine Jones, Endash Endardeo, Anneza Cuehlo, SherryAnn, and Mandi Harkissoon
Vreed en Hoop Institute Group

We also visited the Demerara Branch where Brother Barrow was the Institute teacher, and Garden Park where Ronetta Mentore was the teacher.

We know that we are watched over every day.  We feel Heavenly Father's love and his guidance and direction.  We thank you all for your prayers.  We feel your love as well.  The Church is true!