Andri: Stories from Guyana, South America
Just a quick update I am doing really well, Guyana has been an absolutely wonderful time! My heart is so sore to think that we will be leaving soon. Our time here has just flown past Guyana is just beautiful, the nature is incredible and the people are amazing. I know I always speak about the people being hospitable but Guyana has topped all of my previous countries. The people just embraced us and welcome us in a way I can’t even describe. They have just been blessing us with food and fellowship. They invited us into their homes each family just wanting to teach us how to cook their dishes or blessing us with their traditional dishes. Which was at times a bit of a challenge for me, considering they love chicken feet and skins.
So we have been staying in Timheri which is close to the airport and about 50 minutes away from George Town. It is so different compared to our previous two counties, we in a small town and it’s so close to the jungle, we breathe fresh air and there is no loud music. We have been staying in the full gospel church and the pastor has been looking after us so well. Staying here has been such an adventure it’s filled with bugs and animals. The first two nights we slept without mosquito nets and we suffered, we were covered head to toes with sand and mosquito bites. The pastor luckily got us nets, because I think we looked like we had chicken pox. The mosquitoes are crazy here and love my blood, repellent doesn’t really work and apparently the area we going to next has even more mosquito’s – I can’t even imagine that. We also have a rat that steals our food and runs around to jump out unexpectedly in the church. I also had the opportunity to get a worm in my foot from a sand flea. They call them “jiggas” and I had to use a needle and squeeze/scratch the fat little bugger out. They also have frogs that come up to my knees and lizards the size of my arm just running around everywhere.
We have been blessed out of our socks in Guyana. The community just completely opened up to us and wants to give and share to the full extent that they can. From some cassava to a full meal, or this one little boy gave each of us a few cents, just for the sake of giving us something. The pastor had to put up a schedule for us because all the families wanted to host us for a meal and show us their houses or farms. The families love teaching us how to cook and I have officially been given the go ahead to get married because I can make a yummy roetie :)!! Mainly we have been blessed through food so we all growing but as we like to say we are growing spiritually and it’s just showing physically. It’s been really fun with the families inviting us into their homes and just sharing a bit of their lives with us. As my one team member loves to state swallowship is the new fellowship because in Guyana nothing can be done without eating as well. We were invited to have dinner with a family who just went all out, they made us 7 curries and drove us around to go meet their extended family and through that we were invited to a traditional Indian wedding which was so much fun. We ate curry from the leaves and danced with the family and it was very different compared to our traditional weddings. The family who lives behind the church has been an extra blessing as they have become our family away from home. Every day if we have a bit of time off we pop in and just chill and the lady Niki just opened her house to us. We were allowed to use her washing machine and she loved to bless us with tea and ice cream. It’s been so nice to build a relationship and really get to know the family over a period of three weeks. We even had a girl’s night and just chatted and laughed.
Mainly in Guyana we have been going on evangelizing trips, just meeting people, chatting and praying. Also really just fellowship with people in the area who really want to share their lives and homes with us. Through the evangelising we have also gotten to know the community and walking around people love to come chat to us. It’s been such a blessing and God has been blessing us richly through that. We have also been part of the youth and had to do a few church services. Most of the time we have been invited to join in and then when we arrive get told we have to lead a service or a youth group. So we have become excellent in improvising.
The Young Family
Through our evangelism we met a wonderful family who invited us for dinner one evening. I was with two other team members and we were walking around and saw a little path going into the jungle, we then followed it and came across a house with a wonderful family- the Young family. When I first met them and saw the house it was very bare and dirty with about 10 kids and three women. They told us how the kids are their children’s children and the one ladies brother just dropped of his 3 daughters and they never heard from them again. So they are struggling financially yet all are happy and praying and relying on the Lord for provision. When we went back to the house for dinner they had cleaned the house which was almost empty except for this beautiful table with some delicious food for us. It was such a difference from the previous picture we saw when we had first arrived. They made us chicken curry and roeties and Pori balls with a mango sauce and it was amazing. One of my best meals I’ve had in Guyana. After reassuring us that the kids had eaten we ate the lovely meal only to see as we left the kids eating dry rice. We were all heartbroken and decided to save money and invite the family over for dinner and blessed them with a delicious meal. We also trying to raise some money for clothing for the kids but I will share the video as soon as we have finished it. I really believe that meeting this family was from the Lord and wow it just broke me to think these people have nothing yet they blessed us with an amazing meal and they hardly knew us. The kids are all hungry for love and we had the opportunity to do a few dramas, sing and play with them. It was very evident that they longed for attention especially from the men.
I have also been going on these Sunday adventures that’s been very blessed. Guyana is very safe so we allowed to walk around alone which is the first time since we left. So on Sundays after lunch for a change we have had some off time yet while everybody takes a nap I am wide awake for some strange or not so strange reason. The first Sunday I took my Bible and notebook to go journal and read for a bit. Yet being Guyana everything was moist so I was searching for a dry place to sit. Across the canal I saw a tree with a dry spot, yet crossing the canal wasn’t as easy as it seemed. I stepped into what seemed to be a shallow canal yet ended up being knee deep in mud and in the process lost my shoe. All this in my church dress, so I threw my books and phone across the canal and dug out my shoes- now I was covered in mud elbows down and from my feet to my knees. Trying to rinse myself and not to get stuck again I hung from a tree branch to not fall back into the mud. Thankfully crossed and when I rested under the tree a little boy and his older brothers came to ask me why I was in their garden. The little boy took me to wash my legs and arms and I met the whole family who just wanted to know how I crossed the canal. After a few laughs I sat on their chair and they asked me to share a bit from the Bible and pray for them. They then blessed me with a paw paw and showed me a plank crossing to the other side. The little boy is so cute, he came to visit us at the church quite a few times and even bought his mom to church the last Sunday we were there. The next Sunday the same story everybody takes a nap and there I am wide awake. So this time I though OK no more muddy canals I am going to the river. So I went to this deck by the river to read after a while a man and a women came to me and said I was in their garden (yes you may think I am just trespassing here in Guyana but nothing is enclosed in my defence.) So after I apologized profusely they wanted to know who we were. We had also used the deck to do Bible study every now and then. So I explained who we were and what we were doing and they told me how they had converted from Hindu to Christianity. They also had a lot of questions how to read the Bible and pray. They invited me into their house where I could share with them and pray with them and in the process they gave me a glass of coke, ice cream and some wild cow curry and rice. So it was very special occasion to me, where I could just fellowship and share with the family and they also blessed me.
I read 1 John 4:7-21 and to me it’s beautiful how we are incapable to love yet through our Father we can love. Verse 19 is my favourite: we love because he loved us first. This is what I felt in Guyana, LOVE. Love from the community, love from my team members, love from family and friends back home and love from my heavenly Father. I am challenged by how we love others because we are loved by our Father, He accepts anyone. Guyana has taught me how people love and how God uses people to love and how powerful the word is yet in the world we live we rarely see it and mainly hear it.
Twee girls in die gemeente, Chanelle Saayman & Andri van der Merwe, het hulle werke bedank, hulle lewens vir die volgende agt maande in ‘n rugsak gepak en alle sekuriteit opgegee vir ‘n passie en daardie groot droom: Afrika. Intussen het die droom ‘n bietjie geskuif en begin nou in Indië…Chanelle kleur vir ons die prentjie in van hulle journey tot dusver en waarheen nou.