July 15, 2015.  Today is my son Matthew’s birthday, and I also discovered it is the birthday of one of the sweet little girls here named Mandy (she has a younger sister named Sandy).  It was another busy and fruitful day in serving the Lord.  I have been bothered a bit by a sore throat and an inflamed eye, but it hasn’t been bad enough to keep me from any scheduled functions as yet.

I spoke to my group at Vacation Bible School from Proverbs 1:8-19, addressing particularly the young men on the danger of becoming involved in gangs.  In truth this is a clear and present danger in Guyana, where gangs of bandits frequently prey on people who work with large sums of cash.  Afterward the classes, we had peas with a spicy gravy over them, kool-aid, and a sweet and chewy Guyanese candy whose name I did not learn.  One of the kind ladies here, Sister Fanisa Narain, promised to make me a batch to take home for my children.

We again spent the afternoon with Pastor Terry, visiting some of the church folks as well as other people in the neighborhoods around Roadside Baptist Church, inviting them to the meetings and giving them Christian literature.  At one home we were served Sprite and curried fish, which was quite good.  The hospitality here is delightful, but at times it can be a challenge to the stomach.

After a nap in the hammock at the Rohit home, we took a ride over to the beach with Pastor Terry’s family, and enjoyed the scenery and fresh air there.  After a quick supper, we headed back to Roadside Baptist, where I preached the evening service, addressing the duties of Christian women from Titus 2:3-5.  The fruit of such a message God only can tell, but I was told that it is good for the folks to hear such truth occasionally from someone other than their own pastor, because sometimes people tend to tune out a voice that they hear week after week.  It is very evident even by casual observation that such messages are as badly needed here as in America, for feminism and worldly culture are internationally exerting a poisoning effect in the churches.

July 14, 2015.  The Katryans are both still suffering considerably in their bodies, but bearing up with Christian fortitude, and even performing extra tasks such as washing our clothes.  This morning after breakfast they dropped Dad off at the Roadside centre for the senior’s program, and took me down to Living Stone Baptist at Village #57 for the Vacation Bible class.  I spoke to the 13 and up class on the fear of the Lord from Proverbs 1:7, as being the foundational principle of the book of Proverbs, and also the basis of all true religion.  Meanwhile Dad spoke to the group of seniors who the church brings in once a month to provide food, a gift, and a sermon.  I got back to Roadside Baptist in time to enjoy a wonderful meal of noodles and chicken with the seniors.

We spent the afternoon with Pastor Terry Rohit, accompanying him on visitation, and fellowshipping with him and his wife and mother.  We were, as always, very generously treated, and kept well-fed.  The evening service was at Roadside Baptist, where Dad spoke on the subject of true liberty to a full building.  The congregation listened very attentively to a strongly preached message.  We can but hope and pray that the faithful preaching of God’s truth will bear fruit in the lives of many.

July 13, 2015.  Today, Monday, had its difficulties, but concluded with a good evening meeting at Corriverton Baptist.  Pastor Katryan’s church bus was reluctant to start when we headed for the Vacation Bible School class at Living Stone Baptist Church, but we made it there safely, with probably twenty passengers.  The classes were very well attended, mostly by young people, but a few older believers as well.  I spoke to those 13 and up from Proverbs 1, and hope to continue in the Proverbs throughout the week.

After the classes, cookies and kool-aid were served.  I had to take a couple of pictures of myself and the children drinking kool-aid in Guyana; thankfully not the Jim Jones variety!  We enjoyed good fellowship there, particularly with an elderly brother named Crandon, who spoke with us of his experiences, tests, God’s faithfulness, and the authority of God’s word even in our present age.  He is a very soft-spoken man, hard to hear, but one of those brethren with whom it is a privilege to spend time.

After returning home for lunch, Pastor Katryan took the church van to a mechanic, who discovered the starter had gone bad.  He managed to replace it for $90,000 Guyana, or $450 American.  The Katryans’ pressure pump at the house also burned out, making it a very difficult afternoon for them, but one which they bore with commendable Christian patience.

The evening revival service at Corriverton Baptist went well, I thought.  The congregation was very attentive as I spoke on the responsibilities of husbands and fathers.  The same bat from yesterday morning appeared midway through the service, and distracted folks as he flew around in crazy patterns, before finally hitting a fan blade and falling to the floor (I suppose his radar must be defective).  Sister Diane did what I should’ve done yesterday, picked him up by a wing and tossed him outside.  The service went on from that point forward without any more distractions or interruptions.

July 12, 2015.  This morning we were up before dawn to study, and prepare for the early morning service at Corriverton Baptist Church.  Because the church van needs to be used to transport people back to their homes or to the other churches, the services at Corriverton Baptist begin early, at 8:15.  I spoke for about 25 minutes to the Bible class from Proverbs 28:26 on the folly of trusting our hearts.  Like last year, only a handful were there when we began, but many more arrived as I was speaking.  By the time Dad commenced preaching the morning service, the building was filled in quite nicely.  He spoke on Christ as the only sacrifice for sin from Hebrews 9:26, a message very well received by the people.

After the services at Corriverton Baptist, Sister Nalin and I were dropped off at Roadside Baptist Church, while Dad was carried over to preach at Living Stone Baptist.  Sister Nalin played the organ for the service at Roadside, and I spoke from Ephesians 5:2 on loving as Christ loved us.  It is one of my favorite messages to preach, and involves a subject the Lord has laid very heavily on my heart in the last year or so.  It is very gratifying to preach to such an attentive congregation, and to see so many familiar faces there at Roadside.

After the service, the bus returning from Living Stone picked us up.  Dad had preached there on the subject of Christian joy.  After dropping off several who had come along in the bus, we returned to the Katryans’ home, where we enjoyed a wonderful meal of beef soup (their normal Sunday afternoon fare), and then rested and prepared for the afternoon service.

I neglected to mention the one rather strange and amusing incident at the start of the morning service at Corriverton Baptist.  Somehow a bat got loose in the church house, and during prayer hit Dad in the head and fell down by the organ.  When Brother Katryan ended his prayer the bat was flying about again, and it landed on my shoulder.  Perhaps I should have grabbed him and pitched him out the window, but instead I swatted him away with my hymnbook.  Next thing I knew a lady two rows back was shrieking and trying to get away from the terrible creature!  Somebody else shooed it away, and he must have went into hiding, as we did not see him any more that morning.

The evening revival service was well attended with brethren from all three churches.  Dad preached first, once more on Christ putting away sin, and I spoke from Colossians 1:3, 4 on thanksgiving for God’s people.  During my message the bat made another appearance, but this time when he collided with the ceiling fan and fell to the floor, one of the ladies picked him up and threw him outside.  That was a good thing, because I could tell that the congregation was becoming distracted by the bat as he flew in erratic patterns about the room.

At the conclusion of the evening revival service, we took several of the Corriverton Baptist members to their homes, and then enjoyed a good supper of fish sandwiches before retiring for the night.

July 11, 2015.  This morning after breakfast we accompanied Brother Katryan to the market, which is extremely busy on Saturday.  We even had to park in a man’s yard and pay $200 Guyana (or $1 U.S.) for the privilege.  There was scarcely room to maneuver through the crowds, as Brother Katryan shopped for fresh beef and various other items.  But I did manage to get a number of good pictures of the Guyana market, and we were able to hand out some tracts and invitations to the revival meetings beginning tomorrow.

As we snacked back at the house, the Katryans told us some humorous stories about dealing with the traffic police in Guyana.  Here, instead of driving patrol cars, they stand in the middle of the road and wait to flag down the speeders.  It is common for an officer to say to a driver he has stopped, “Right hand or left?”  If you choose right hand, they will write you a ticket which you must pay at the police station.  If you choose left, then you slip them a couple hundred dollars to go in their pocket, and proceed on your way.

Some of the officers evidently to not know how to read.  Both the Katryans tell of being stopped by officers who looked long and hard at their licenses, then asked them how old they were.  Of course their birth date is on the license.  Sister Nalin said she told one officer she was 96.  His eyes got very big as he looked at this lady with a full head of black hair, and he handed her back her license, and told her to go on her way, and drive carefully.

Pastor Katryan also gave a story, or perhaps a parable, of a man who complained about the justice of God.  As he sat under a mango tree, he saw a pumpkin on the ground nearby.  “If God is just,” he demanded, “why must this large pumpkin be supported by a little vine, while this great tree only holds up these little mangoes?”  No sooner had he done speaking than a mango fell and hit him on the head.  Convinced now not only of God’s justice but also His goodness, the man cried out, “Thank God that wasn’t a pumpkin!”

In the afternoon I spoke to a group of young people, perhaps fifteen, from Daniel 3.  Using Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, I sought to urge upon them the reality of opposition in God’s service, and the necessity of maintaining a holy fidelity to God and His commandments no matter what the cost.

Right as supper was ending this evening, we had a very pleasant surprise when a car pulled up at the gate and began honking.  It was an airport employee, bringing in our two missing bags that we had counted lost.  So now we have 50 pounds of Gospel literature to distribute, and the Katryans received their medical, food, and other supplies.  We stopped to give thanks to God for this surprising mercy, and hope for His further blessing in the days ahead.

July 10, 2015. Our trip down to Guyana was an adventurous one, marked by problems every step of the way.  We rented a car from Enterprise to drive down to Texas, where we were to fly out of the DFW.  On the way we stepped in McAlester to visit with Brother Ron Dinnocenzo, one of the members of our church.  He feasted us with a supper of grilled T-bone steaks, boudin, and bacon-wrapped shrimp, with watermelon for dessert.  After a few hours of fellowship and prayer, we proceeded on to Dallas, arriving at the DFW shortly before midnight.  The first thing that struck us was how huge the airport is (27 square miles).  A bus carried us and our luggage about 5 miles from the car drop-off to the United Airways terminal.  That was where our trouble began.  Although our flight was with United Airways, it was operated by American Airlines.  Our flight was scheduled to depart at 5 a.m., but none of the kiosks or ticket counters opened till 3:45.  We asked around to make certain, and were told that we were in the correct terminal.

But after printing our tickets at the kiosk, and making it to the ticket counter, we were told that we had to go to the American Airlines terminal, since they were operating our flight.  By the time we rode the shuttle to Terminal C, and hauled our luggage up to the ticket counter, it was 4:30.  We were told it was too late to check our luggage in on the flight.  At that point, confused and exasperated from lack of sleep, I was beginning to wonder if we would make it to Guyana.  But the very helpful lady at the ticket counter named Elisa rescheduled us for a 9:05 flight, with connections that would still land us in Guyana at 9:45 p.m. local time, our originally scheduled time of arrival.

Our flight was half an hour late departing Dallas, but we made it safely to Miami, where we had to haul our luggage probably a good mile across the airport to the Caribbean Airlines ticket counter.  There we had to hand over another $50 for luggage (I had already been forced to carry my garment bag with me to avoid a $200 charge from American for checking 5 bags).  But we made it through with just enough time to use the restroom, and board our next flight.  We were quite hungry by this time, but had not had time to buy any lunch.  Thankfully however, after dividing the last of Dad’s jerky and peanut butter crackers, the airline actually served us a very good meal of chicken and rice with a biscuit and cookies.

We landed in Trinidad on schedule, and were supposed to remain on board for the final leg of our flight to Guyana.  However, for some reason we had to disembark and switch planes.  Still, we left on schedule, and landed in Georgetown right on time.  Dad and I made it through customs with no difficulty at all, but when we went to claim our baggage we found two of our bags were missing, one of them containing 50 pounds of books and tracts, the other various medical and personal supplies the Katryans had requested us to bring from the States.  We put in a claim for them, and are still waiting to hear if they have been located.  Brother Katryan tells us that the Trinidad airport is bad about stealing luggage.

Brother Katryan was waiting for us when we arrived, in spite of the late hour and his own health struggles.  Because of a crime wave in Guyana following the recent election, there had been some thought of staying the night in Georgetown, but instead it was decided to take us back to Corriverton that night, a 3-hour drive.  Jewan, our driver, knows every curve and bump on the Georgetown-Corriverton route, as he drives it 6 days a week.  He is a very pleasant and engaging man, and like many Guyanese has a message on his windshield.  His says ‘Jesus Never Fails,’ which is one of the best I have seen.  It was an adventuresome ride, as Jewan drives very fast, and we encountered several donkeys in the road, as well as a herd of cows and several dogs and cats.  But we made it safely to the Katryans’ home in Corriverton around 1 a.m.  Dad and I went to bed immediately, and slept till breakfast around 8:30.  We enjoyed pancakes, scrambled eggs, and mangerine, a fruit that is a cross between an orange and a tangerine.  Afterwards the Katryans sent us back to further catch up on our rest, and that is what we are doing now as we wait to go out for the first time this afternoon.

Our first day in Guyana was largely uneventful, as we used it primarily to rest from our exhausting journey.  Brother Katryan is slowed by a flu bug that has sapped his strength, and Sister Nalin is suffering a good deal from a mosquito-borne illness.  We did go out in the afternoon to see the project at Roadside Baptist Church, where they have the school and training centre as well.  Several months ago a violent wind storm did great damage to the facility, but the work being done now will make it stronger than ever.  Instead of a tarp roof on the left side, a stable structure of metal and tin is being built.  A man newly attending Corriverton Baptist Church, Tony, is overseeing the work, and a metal fabricator named Dave is involved as well.  Both are good, industrious Christian men, by Brother Katryan’s account.

We went by the building at Corriverton Baptist to clean up some work done earlier in the week, then after supper returned to take a couple of girls who were helping clean the church to their homes.  We then stopped by a little store to call home and visit with our wives, and then returned home to retire for the night and prepare for a busier day tomorrow.

Yesterday ended our preaching here in Guyana, and this is our last full day before leaving for home early tomorrow morning.  It has been a very busy but profitable time here, and Brother Katryan is persuaded that the preaching has, and will, do much good to the many who attended.  It was certainly the busiest period of my ministerial career, as I spoke 15 times over the course of 9 days, 6 of those messages being to groups of young people.  Dad preached 9 times over 8 days, once to a Tuesday morning gathering of senior citizens, and the other 8 times in the three churches here in the Corriverton area.

My plan is to reproduce my journal that I have kept here on my blog, just as I did last time.  I hope to get that started later in the week, perhaps Thursday or Friday.  We will be flying into Tulsa on Wednesday without much sleep, and I will have to try to get rested up to preach that evening in our home assembly.

It has been a good time of serving the Lord, and the people here in Guyana could not have been more kind or hospitable to us.  Nonetheless it will certainly be good to get home to our wives and families, and back into our routine of service to Christ there in Muskogee.  We plan to leave Corriverton at 4:45 a.m., and our flight is scheduled to depart from Georgetown at 10:20.  Once again, we would appreciate the prayers of any who may read this for our safe return to the United States.

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