So as not to neglect the bible students in Calacoa, an arrangement was made for a pair of pioneers to go up every week in turns to conduct the studies and hold congregation meetings... This past Monday Monica and I went up. We left Moquegua at 4 am.. and arrived much quicker than planned at 6:30.. It’s usually a 4 or 5 hour trip from our house. I guess the driver was in a hurry. I’m so glad I was sleeping while he took turns around the cliffs! But thanks to Jehovah, we made it safely. But arriving, we were surprised to find out that out of the three places that offer lodging, not one of them had a room available! That’s strange in such a small town. There is construction on the roads so the inns were filled with workman, and the other with foreigners from Italy who were there studying one of the nearby volcanoes. So we ended up leaving our bags inside a modest restaurant and wasted no time beginning the work! In Calacoa it’s the earlier the better. That’s because, most start their work early; way off in their distant farms watering, planting, milking cows and such.
We studied first with an 85 year old man, who has bad eyesight, but good listening skills. It seems that on his study in the past he did read the paragraphs and had made some progress with the brothers in the Bible Teach book. So we picked up in chapter 6, and explained what the soul and spirit are. We read the paragraphs while he listened carefully and gave good responses to the questions. It was the first time that he had thought of himself and the chickens also sitting in the room with us as living souls..
Next we went to find Francisco Huacan.. Don Francisco is an excellent study. He really helps to hold the group together. When the witnesses come up he lets all the bible studies know. He helps us organize the meeting, and spends part of the day reminding the others of the time and place. Francisco could be the future secretary of the future congregation in Calacoa! This man also takes care of his mother who was born in the 1920’s all before he spends the afternoon and, well into the evening in his chakra planting trigo(wheat), oca, avas(lima beans), and maiz(corn). I conducted the study with him in chapter 12. We talked about the challenge Satan has placed against Jehovah, and how he tested Job, and what that challenge has to do with us. He captures the main points very well and answers in his own words. Afterwards, I played on my iPod a portion of the Dramatic Bible reading about Integrity. He commented that it made the story more real.
Francisco listening to the dramatic bible reading of Job.
Then, we attempted to visit a few other bible students but we didn’t find them home. We walked around the entire city, by now everyone knew the witnesses were in town. It’s really small. We stopped briefly to eat some tuna fruits, and invite people to the meeting we were planning to have at 7:00pm.
This Senora sits in the street selling her mangoes, and tuna… This is typically the way the women dress from Calacoa.
The woman on the far right is making string from lamb’s wool. The first time I saw it I thought it was some sort of game, a spinning top. Ha ha. But really, it’s an huso (spindle, drum). A neat tool they use to spin wool on the go.
Here are one of the few spots you can buy fruits and vegetables. The fruits they bring up from Moquegua are a little bit more expensive. There’s some tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, peas, carrots, sweet potatoes and she’s got her hand on zapayo, it’s yellow pumpkin. Mmm mm good.
Future coats, socks,blankets and entrees. Haha..
What would they do without their asnos? A few are fortunate to have these animals that help them carry their loads to and fro.
Later, we went to visit Senor Pedro. He studies with his son, Francisco Santiago, his wife, Justa, and daughter, Nery. Francisco, his son of 27+/- years, is the only one who reads. We also studied with them about the condition of the dead. Both Francisco and Pedro are recovering from work injuries.. Pedro had to stand up every few minutes to stretch. Justa didn’t say much at all. Franciso gets really excited about the study. Monica did her best to include everyone in the study. But Francisco insisted on whispering all the answers to his parents. We are going to have to work more on encouraging everyone to participate. Although they don’t participate in the reading, we observed that they are both quite capable of understanding well, if it wasn’t for Francisco. Ha ha. We studied with them on their patio surrounded by a small green garden that Francisco obviously spent a lot of time on. It was very neat and up kept. They told us that in their chakra they raise alpaca, llama, cows and sheep. Lots of work, but they seem very happy to have all that they need.
Francisco, Pedro, and Justa with Monica
Afterwards, we stopped for a half hour to have lunch in the modest restaurant. We had a soup they were serving , which we ate with the hummus I made with Ritz crackers. While eating, we also got a peak at all the workers in town and the foreigners who were hogging all the rooms. Ha ha.
Now, it was time to find Senora Irma. Not knowing exactly where she lived, and depending only halfway on the black and white map printed out from Google with hand written red dots and names, we asked around. Good thing we were in a town “Where everybody knows your name” (remember “Cheers” ? haha) We found Irma’s house on a corner close to a tributary of the river. Her son let us know she wasn’t home, but just below at her mother’s house. We saw her and greeted her as she told us, “Otro dia, otro dia!” (Come another day!) The notes about the last return visit with her, though, made us eager to speak. It said that she was touched to the point of tears when she learned of Jehovah’s promise to make the “lame climb up as the stag does.” The notes also mentioned that although handicapped, she makes an effort to attend the meetings. I guess she wanted us to return because she was busy making a manta, (blanket used to carry things on your back. Like… babies, vegetables, wood, etc.), on the dirt floor of her mother’s dwelling. But we explained that we were only here for the day, and reminded her how important it was that she doesn’t miss not even a week of her study. So, we passed down the stone steps to sit with her for a while. In these small living quarters we were surrounded by a few cages of guinea pigs and chickens and swarms of flies. We sat with Irma, who is a little paralyzed on the right side of her face as well, which she said makes it difficult to speak. She had a hard time saying, “Lazaro” as we considered Lesson 6, but had a pretty good sense of humor about it. It was the first time I studied with someone using our new Good News Brochure. It is definitely effective, and the illustrations are tremendous.
Monica with Irma
After Irma, we tried to find Manuel and Filemon, who were at this time still surely working in their chakras. So, we stopped into a store and started a study with Beatriz. She told us she couldn’t read; well we know that’s not an excuse! It’s nice to know that Jehovah provides us with the tools to teach everyone and anyone. We sat down on sacks of corn and empty egg holders and started with her in the Brochure ‘Listen to God.’
As evening approached, we returned to Manuel’s house, and his wife Lindaura told us she was outside waiting for him to arrive from the chakra at 5pm. We chatted a little with Linda, who was in the typical dress of Calacoa. We both tried on her hat and took snapshots. She took her teeth out of the pouch of her pollera (skirt) and was excited to take pictures with us. Ha ha. She told us about her 5 kids, and how she and Manuel have been married for 60 years! We also began to study with her in the Listen to God brochure, while we waited on Manuel who arrived at exactly 5:00pm like she said. We enter into their home, and I noticed the chamomile plants growing wildly and lining there pathway while, Lindaura covered the bench with a blanket and we sat down. Manuel, despite his years, is a very good reader. He was able to explain well what God’s Kingdom is and what the 144,000 will do with Jesus in heaven, and what will happen to Satan’s wicked world.. I was surprised at the way he retained the things he had learned. After the study they shared with us toasted corn kernels with fresh cheese. Aka, “Cancha con queso”. This is one of the household staples here, and also, something I’ve learned to like.
Me in Lindaura's hat.
Monica in Lindaura's hat.
Lindaura and Manuel and their 60 years together.
How Jehovah painted the sky for the sunset.
Now it’s after 6
and getting dark and we learn that the electricity has gone out in all of Calacoa. O no, the meeting! Well, we went to find Francisco to see if he had the key to the Club de Madres, where we were holding the meeting that evening. The old location is no longer available, because of the incident with the lady breaking in. The brothers are communicating a lot about our need to have our own meeting place, and maybe even a place for the brothers to stay when they come up. Well if it’s Jehovah’s will, we may have one soon.
After seeing the location, Monica and I ran a few blocks away to the corner store to buy some candles and matches. We saw that a lot of others were doing the same. The candlesticks did the trick! The lack of light in the homes had a lot to do with the attendance for the Congregation Bible Study we conducted. We started well after 7 when 5 of the family heads arrived. Francisco and his son Henry, Filemon, Manuel, and Leonardo attended. Monica conducted the study like a group bible study, and I read the paragraphs. A few participated with their comments. It was nice to see them all learn that Jeremiah was a man with feelings like ours, and how he put his trust in Jehovah despite feelings of worthlessness and hardships. We opened and closed the meeting with song and prayer. The first song we sang acapella. When the light returned almost at the end of the study, we were able to sing with music from my iPod and portable speakers. It was so nice to hear everyone attempt to sing the songs.
Club de Madres
Singing to Jehova at the meeting.
The ones who study seem that they are already our brothers. We can imagine most of them progressing, and doing much in Jehovah’s service. After the meeting they all returned home really quick, but not before expressing their sincere desires that we return soon.
At the end of the night, we looked for a car heading out to Moquegua; one of the drivers told us there is nothing until 3am. So that was our ticket home, although it was tempting to stay until the next afternoon and finish the studies we hadn’t gotten to yet. But thinking of our activity in San Antonio we knew we had to leave the earliest as possible. So, remember that modest restaurant we ate at? That’s also where we slept that night. On the second floor of the restaurant, the owner rents rooms but since they were all occupied, he offered us a mattress to sleep on. Sooo, with no other option we slept there, together with 3 others, and the fleas, until 3am.
Although Calacoa isn’t one of the most comfortable places to be, and requires sacrifice to get there, and visit everyone; we thoroughly enjoyed this day. We went to stimulate and encourage the students there but in reality, Monica and I were the ones that felt encouraged. It’s a privilege to see the effort and enthusiasm that these humble ones put into learning about Jehovah. They really try to do what is pleasing to him. We hope to see more progress and Jehovah’s continued blessing as the days go on.