5. San Lucas and Antigua Guatemala

About six weeks out from the Regional Assembly, an invite came to work in the A/V Department; instruction was given to recruit five ministerial servants to help. This was not an easy task as typically elders and servants already have jobs by this point, and we had only been in the country about a month so we didn’t yet know anyone outside of our own congregation. We got to work and started the recruiting process in the nearest congregations first, including from congregations where we had recently given the public talk. The only remaining problem was that everyone involved was 100% unfamiliar with the sound system and we were unfamiliar with the coliseum where the assembly was to be held as well.

To summarize:

  1. No one has been trained on the equipment
  2. The brother in charge is not familiar with the building where the assembly is to be held
  3. The team is made up of brothers from three different countries each speaking a different language (Spanish, Japanese, and English)
  4. A little over a month’s notice before the assembly

This was all actually good news since the more we have to rely on Jehovah in any given situation, the better the results. We were going to be busy, however, as there were a series meetings to be held in a short amount of time: one for our department, the pre-assembly meeting with all department heads and assistants, and a training session in the capital so we could get familiar with the equipment. However, the training session was cancelled at the last minute two weeks in a row, so we never knew what was going to happen. Although frustrating, we just put it behind us and when the opportunity came up the third time, we said yes (again). So at 4:30 in the morning on October 8, we headed for San Lucas Assembly Hall, just outside of Guatemala City

 

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Outside view of the San Lucas Assembly Hall. Quite a contrast from the scenery of nearby Guatemala City

 

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Note to self: anytime you see an older brother or sister who lives on Branch property, always make sure to meet them. Always. Little did I know when I asked for this picture to be taken how much meeting this brother would mean to me.

 

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From the speaker’s perspective, the San Lucas Assembly Hall auditorium is shaped like a “V” with two sections of seats and a wall in between. At the back of each side is a mural with a scene of Paradise

 

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Closeup of the mural on one side. You might see the national bird of Guatemala, the quetzal, on the upper-right corner

 

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There she is

 

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The other section of seats…

 

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…and a closeup of its mural. Again, there is a queztal in the upper-right corner

 

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Boy, to have skills like this. However, now that we put that thought in writing, who has more skills, the artist who can paint a scene with a puppy, kitty, and bunny, or the artist who actually made them alive?

 

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Amazing detail even on the small house in the lower-left; note the reflection in the windows

 

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Training got underway just fine, but I was nowhere to be seen. What could be more important than what we came here for?

 

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Why, talking with this brother, of course! I spent about 45 minutes listening to him. It was hard to get him to talk about himself; he kept bragging about others’ accomplishments and not his own.

 

Please allow us to speak about the brother’s career since he was too humble to do it himself. His name is David Hibshman. He will be 100 years old in a couple of months. Charles Taze Russell gave his parents’ baptism talk. He started pioneering 83 years ago. He went to the fifth class of Gilead, came to Guatemala in 1946, and has been here ever since. In short: he has been a pioneer, missionary, circuit overseer, district overseer, zone overseer, Branch overseer, you name it. One sees absolutely no regrets in his eyes. He suggested to us that we look up the life story of some other individual, but never mentioned to us that his own life story had been published in the Watchtower. I really felt like the time listening to him was my reward from Jehovah for being willing to accept the assignment to work at the assembly.

 

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When they finally pulled me away from him to listen to the training, Brother Hibshman left to go back to his apartment. On my way out we saw this.  One thing we read in his life story afterwards really took on some meaning since we had seen it with our own eyes: “I have served Jehovah from my youth, and now in my advanced years, I thank Jehovah for my good health that permits me to handle my assigned duties. As I do regular Bible reading, I often come across scriptures that I think my beloved Helen would have underlined in her Bible.” One wonders how many times he has read the Bible all the way through.

 

Ok, so up to this point the five of us had been pretty spiritual. We had left at 4:30 in the morning, driven more than three hours to get to the assembly hall on time, and (mostly) paid attention to the training. We could have hurried back and made it on time for our 6:00 Weekend Meeting, but the fact that we were only fifteen minutes away from a pretty special place kept hanging out in the back of our minds. It seemed like the brothers were waiting for something to be said, so this is more or less what came out: “Brothers, we have already fulfilled our sacred service for the day. Even if we were to hurry back for the meeting, would we really be able to concentrate well after such a long day? Let us rejoice in what we have accomplished today.” So with a few calls to our wives, we were on our way to Antigua (“Honey, don’t tell the friends at the meeting that we’re in Antigua; just let them know we went to San Lucas for some training today and won’t be back in time”).

For those who don’t know (like I was), Antigua was the capital of Guatemala for more than 200 years starting in 1541. It was called something different back then (‘antigua’ means ‘ancient’ in Spanish). An earthquake destroyed much of the city and buried many buildings which were later excavated. No old buildings are allowed to be torn down and all new construction must match the old architecture. The stone roads are original. Following are a few scenes:

 

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Can’t remember why this was interesting, but at the time it seemed important enough to take a picture. If you have any ideas, please leave a comment below

 

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A rare two-story house. Very narrow

 

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Amanda and I had gone more than two months without any real coffee, so I was super-stoked to get some espresso-roasted whole beans which were locally sourced from Guatemala (duh). They even gave me a free cup with the purchase! Life was good here in the coffee shop.

 

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Sounds like the start of a bad joke: “An American, a Japanese, and a Guatemalan walk into a Chinese restaurant….” In what world other than Jehovah’s organization could something like this happen?

 

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We climbed a (very) tall hill to get a view of the city from above. Although breathtaking, one wonders if it is ever a good idea to build a city at the foot of a volcano

 

 

Allow us to conclude this post with a brief video of driving through some of the streets on the way out of Antigua..

 

6 thoughts on “5. San Lucas and Antigua Guatemala

  1. Loved it. Please keep updates coming. What a wonderful experience..
    Maybe you took the picture to capture the two shades of yellow on the houses.

  2. Thanks for sharing. Love it. Thank you for the experience of the brother.So proud of you and your family. We are fine. Weather getting cooler. Our life a little boring compared to yours. Love you guys.

  3. Hi Steven, I am glad your years in AV will continue to be useful. Reaching out like you and Mandy have has so many unexpected rewards!!! We continue to be happy for your family and proud of your choices.

  4. What an amazing adventure and privilege. Just beautiful!! Also, the old style windows with the flower boxes in them are just beautiful on the picture you mentioned 🙂 Enjoy! Hugs to all of you!!

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