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A blessed New Year. Thanks for all your prayers last year!
Money up in smoke: Fireworks are a big deal in Suriname. By the middle of December, you see signs on many stores: “Vuurwerk” (fireworks), or “Bombel Paradijs” (bombel = fireworks too). A couple years ago, they brought in 40 forty-foot containers filled with fireworks. Six hundred stores were licensed to sell fireworks. They started shooting on December 23rd, but the real time starts at 12 noon on “owroe jari”, December 31st. They especially love pagaras, which are long strings of firecrackers which shoot off a great amount of sound and smoke, and leave red paper scattered behind.
As we drove back from Moengo on December 31st, we were stopped by a policeman in Meerzorg, close to the bridge. He redirected us off the main road. They had a big pagara on the highway with lots of people around. We were also stopped twice more as people shot them off in front of their businesses. Downtown, they have some huge chain of pagaras on the main street, which is closed off to traffic. Thousands of people jam into the area, and they have a number of live bands playing for a giant street party. People sell drinks and food and dance in the street. Some even come from Holland specially to celebrate.
At night, it is virtually impossible to sleep before 1 A.M. because of the smoke and noise. One of our neighbors had two cardboard boxes filled with fireworks containers that they had shot off. Some think that it brings good luck. A few apparently think that it scares away evil spirits. Most think that it is great fun. And I think that it is a waste of money. But no problem - I will sit and watch you burn your money while I can see the fireworks too. So this is a little bit of Suriname culture.
To back up, we had an excellent Christmas evening service, with probably about 350 in attendance. In addition to congregational singing, there were a number of specials and a toneel (play) which one of our families put together and did a good job. Michiel Raafenberg preached for the first time since his return to Suriname. Winti Wai had a service in the morning, as they have been essentially in mourning for a few weeks following the death of one of their members, as I mentioned previously. I had the opportunity to preach that morning, and we had another excellent service.
Wednesday night, we had a thanksgiving service. Many people gave testimonies of how the Lord had blessed them over the preceding year. Several young people and a newly married couple testified to our young people, warning them not to fall into the ways of the world, especially in boy-girl relationships.
On New Year morning, we also went to Winti Wai expecting to listen to preaching and testimonies. However, after we arrived there, Winston Zeeman asked me to preach for him. His daughter had been admitted to the hospital with pneumonia the preceding day, and he wanted to run to see her, and then return to the service. Fortunately I had brought a sermon which I had planned for New Year evening service at the main church, and so I was prepared. The attendance was a bit down because New Year’s day is traditional to visit family. I preached again on the financial challenges facing the church this year.
Our prayer for you is a blessed and spiritually profitable New Year.
Our spiritual growth
Wisdom turning over our ministries
Health and strength for the tasks at hand
Safety driving. A 15 year old girl who attended Winti Wai was killed just this last weekend when a minibus overturned after a tire blew out at high speed.
TV broadcasts - we will resume work this week.
A number of meetings are necessary over the next few weeks to regulate a number of items.
Arrival of Bibles and New Testament commentaries
In Him and Content: Bob & Liz Patton Missionaries to Suriname since 1986