I met Australians, Romanians, Welsh, English, French, Italians, and Canadians. I even met some fellow Missourians :) On top of that, all of our Nicaraguan brothers from Pearl Lagoon, Bluefields, and Corn Islands were there. The eastern coast of Nicaragua shows, like many other Caribbean countries, a history of the slave trade. Everyone there is black, and they speak Creole English. It was really beautiful to listen to their parts and experiences but hard to keep up; they're fast talkers and have a Jamaican-like accent! The experiences after lunch on Saturday belonged to Pearl Lagoon sisters. Three of them discussed sacrifices they made to pioneer last April during the 30 hour reduction. One sister recounted how she woke up at 5am to work a few hours and cook breakfast and lunch before she readied the kids for school and got them going....all of this before preaching at 8:30! It featured a single Mom, a widow, and a sister with an unbelieving mate. I can only imagine their hard work to pioneer that month, but you could tell they were so proud of themselves and grateful for the reduced hour requirement that gave them the opportunity to experience pioneering.
I also got to meet the new C.O. and D.O. for English. Wow, these brothers are amazing. Not only are they FABULOUS speakers but from the moment you greet them, you feel you're friends. And talk about hard workers...the C.O.'s territory is all of Nicaragua. Just to give you an idea, just to go from Granada to Pearl Lagoon is about a 13 hour journey. And the D.O.! Their territory is every English congregation in Mexico and Central America. Can you imagine?! We really need to keep these self-sacrificing brothers in our prayers.
Let me share with you a beautiful experience a new friend Heather who's serving as a special pioneer in Pearl Lagoon told me. Her husband George studies with a local man in Pearl Lagoon. This student had a desire to go to the circuit assembly but no money. So what did he do? He peeled and grated 200 coconuts then pressed them for the oil to sell locally. Those 200 coconuts only made 2 gallons of oil but with the money from those sales, he was able to attend. How beautiful to see how this student saw the need and value of our Christian meetings :)
And here's my favorite illustration from the assembly....it has to do with the emperor penguin. You know, the one from that movie "March of the Penguins." If you'll remember, it's the male who protects the egg with his fatty paunch during the coldest season on the coldest country on earth. Temperatures can drop to -98F. How do they survive? By grouping themselves in a turtle formation. They constantly alternate their circle to where any one penguin is never either freezing on the outside or toasty on the inside too long. The speaker pointed out that if a penguin were to separate himself, his death is guaranteed--not just his but that of his little chick too. Our congregations are our penguin turtle formation. Sticking close to the congregation is the ONLY way we can survive the hostile climate of Satan's world. And isolating ourselves is certain death not just for us but for our precious babies too.