Come What May

Santiago is the oldest and most populated city on Lake Atitlán, boasting nearly 35,000 inhabitants, the majority of whom speak the Mayan Tz'utujil language. Santiago is noted for its worship of Maximón, an idol formed by the fusion of Mayan deities, Catholic saints and Spanish conquistador legends. In more recent years, Evangelical religions have had a surge, and thus the growth of 'Christian' churches.

In May of 2016, Leiane and I first arrived to set up in our house and get a lay of the land – needless to say, it was a bit of a blur, and far from what we would consider our day-to-day living to be. In contrast, May 2017 was probably the closest we've yet experienced for what would be a 'normal' month living in Panajachel on Lake Atitlán in Sololá, Guatemala. We stayed very busy with ministry and experienced some fruitage with regards to Bible studies and return visits.

Drew (left) and I have both had success preaching in Santiago, so we often travel there together on Mondays. One of my Bible students, Robert (right), is a native Guatemalan who speaks Tz'utujil, Spanish and English.

[If I've already told this story, forgive me. It is worth retelling anyway, as it shows what can happen in a land where you are preaching in a foreign language and do a lot of search work.]

The first time I knocked on the door of Robert's home, his mother answered the door. I greeted her and spoke our standard search work message: Somos Testigos de Jehová y tenemos información de la Biblia en inglés. ¿Alguien de aquí habla inglés? (We are Jehovah's Witnesses and we have information from the Bible in English. Does anyone here speak English?)

Robert's mother, standing a little over 4 ft (125 cm) tall, uttered something indecipherably, likely a mixture of Spanish and Tz'utujil, and I looked at my partner and said, "I think she wants us to wait," since she walked away, but left the door open. After waiting about 3 minutes, a young man comes to the door, and I repeat my introduction. We quickly ascertained that he knew about 20 words in English, one of which was, "Wait." So again we waited about 3 minutes to be pleasantly greeted by Robert, who, after I repeated my greeting a third time, said "Yes, I speak English."  I then told him that we were offering free Bible studies at people's homes. Robert stops me and says, "Please wait here." Again, we wait at the door while we laugh to ourselves and wonder what in the world is going on! About three minutes later Robert returns and asks us to follow him through his family's meager living space and work area upstairs to his bedroom. It turns out that Robert wanted to study right then! He asked us to wait so he could clean up his bedroom and set up chairs for us!

We showed Robert the video Why Study the Bible? and told him that we have found that many people have unanswered questions about the Bible, God and life. He stops me and says, "Yes, I have questions. For instance - when someone sins, how do they repair their relationship with God?" I was floored, but just looked across at my partner and smiled. That day I gave Robert the Teach Us book (simplified English version of the Bible Teach book) and we started to study the next week. Since then, Robert has attended a couple meetings, including the Memorial of Christ's Death this year. Since the Kingdom Hall where the English congregation meets is across the lake from him, it is a bit less than ideal, but I am confident that as his love for Jehovah grows, the inconvenience will fade.

It is one of the most rewarding things to witness true appreciation from someone learning truths about the Bible and watching a love for Jehovah begin to take root.

On a Wednesday in San Pedro, Brett and I were told by someone to go through the red door, that it was where the English speakers were. We were glad our excitement didn't have us bursting through the door!

On a midweek morning, Evie and I got to work together on the public witnessing stand by the lake. Evie points out a couple of options to one of our regular visitors, Emily. She will often come by and ask to watch the Become Jehovah's Friend videos.

Emily brought a friend to watch Become Jehovah's Friend videos. They recite the lines and sing along with the songs!

Izabel looks all business as she exits the market, no doubt having negotiated for better prices! She is quite proud of her ability to navigate the market.

I found some awesome graphic tees for the entire family at a paca (used clothing store). They were only Q5 ($0.68 USD)!

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