Monday, January 17, 2011
This month we are keeping busy with religious events. I've mentioned before that we attend a local congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. This has helped us immensely with making new friends here in Uruguay and bonding with this country. Uruguay is a place where family and friendship take precedence over the material, commercial side of life. Wally and I have no family here except for each other so friendship is important to us. It keeps us from feeling isolated and removes the "foreigner" stigma from us as we have been fully accepted into our local group.
This last Sunday, everyone made sure that we understood (we are still language challenged) that the meeting schedule had changed. We all went instead to our Assembly Hall in the town of Colon to attend a 2 hour gathering. We would be listening to 2 visiting speakers passing through on a tour of South American countries (Paraguay was next on the tour). Next weekend we will be returning to this same site for a regularly scheduled 1 day Special Assembly Day. I told you this is a busy month for us.
This weekend, one of the speakers was Brother Thomas (that's what we call each other, Brother or sister depending) He is living in the Dominican Republic serving at the branch office of Jehovah's Witnesses represented there. He is a fluent Spanish speaker so to be honest, I didn't understand everything he said.
I did enjoy however being outside with the overflow crowd sitting under the shade of the trees with my new core group of friends!
I was happy when our friends saw us trying to find them and sent Luisa running after us to show us where (what tree) our group was sitting under. There was a crowd out there on the lawn.
5,000 plus people were in attendance that morning. We were assigned to the morning session. A different group would hear the same talks repeated in the afternoon. There are a little over 11,600 active Witnesses in Uruguay (we don't baptize babies so the attendance would be higher) the second session would accommodate the rest. Some witnesses would have to travel quite a distance to attend as evidenced by the many hired bus lines in the parking lot. Whole congregations will get together and rent a bus and driver for an event or day and the buses stay parked in the lot.
Witnesses know that interfaith relationships are fraught with extra hardships so they try and date "only in the Lord". This way a marriage can be built and strengthened through common grounds. We will try and keep an eye on these two and see what the future holds as to any permanent union. As a side note Jehovah's Witnesses do not have sex before marriage! Yeah, Chastity rules!
The second guest speaker was Brother John Larson. He was visiting from the main headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, USA. He is the Printery Overseer. The printery used to be called the factory but is now called the printery because it is a more accurate statement of what is produced there and doesn't have such commerical connotations (all work is voluntary there).
We were encouraged to follow along in our Bibles. Luisa and hubby Jorge doing just that (notice the mate thermos on the ground, a benefit with sitting outside). We are in Uruguay.
Scriptures included 1 Thessalonians 1:5 and 2 Peter 3:11-13. Each scripture emphasized the sort of person we should be and that talk is not enough but actions and conduct has to be holy too. I was just amazed that I could finally listen with ease to a talk. He of course apologized for talking like a ten year old, While I was grateful. Afterward, I went up and thanked him and met his wife, Tamara (pictured here).
He was married in 1982 and Wally and I were in New York ourselves in the same Branch office as volunteers back then. We worked in the domestic side of the headquarters. I was a house keeper and Wally a carpenter in Bethel (translation, the house of God) Brother Larson, as mentioned, worked in the printery portion so we only knew him by name and sight. Still it was nice to see a familiar face from some 30 years ago.
motor cycles dressed in there Sunday best. This is Uruguay after all!