Here in Guyana, the postal system has taken the joke about how many people it takes to change a light bulb to a whole new level. We have now gone to the post office to receive (the proper term is collect here in Guyana) packages for missionaries from their friends and family. This is the steps that are taken for every package.
1-The post office sends a notice to our office that there is a package for us to collect.
2-We go to the post office and give them the notice.
3-The clerk goes to the back and checks a file that has a paper with our names on it and permission to collect packages for the Elders that are on the list.
4-We wait in a waiting area for at least 15 minutes for someone else to bring the package to a table.
5-We then go back to the window and watch as that person opens the package and looks at all the contents.
6-Then another person is notified in another office who comes out and writes down the contents on a piece of paper.
7-He then goes back into another office and decides how much the contents are worth and determines the customs charges, (which I might add are usually about the value of the items in the package.)
8-Then the person who opened the package tapes it shut and takes it to the delivery window.
9-The person who determines the customs charges gives the paper to a cashier, who charges you customs tax.
10-Finally you go to the delivery area with your receipt for the package and can leave.
The whole process takes at least 45 minutes. I am not exaggerating. The couple who used to do this said that one time they were there for 4 hours waiting because someone had sent the elder some Pepperidge Farm cookies that had been crushed to powder and the security people had to come and test the powder to see if it was lethal.
Other than that experience, the week has been a really good one. We had all the office work done by Wednesday afternoon and were able to participate in a zone conference with our new mission president, President Mehr. It was good to meet with the 30 or so Elders and couples in the Guyana area and enjoy their great spirits. We were able to have personal interviews with the President and his wife and they ate dinner with us at our home yesterday, between meetings. We also had a visit from the mission patriarch and his wife. They were available for three days giving many members their patriarchal blessings. Many of the members were in their 30's and 40's and had never been able to have those blessings. As a sidelight, President Mehr's wife is the daughter of the patriarch and she is also a member of the Tabernacle Choir. Today she sang a rendition of the hymn, "Come Thou Font of Every Blessing" It was beautiful!
I continue to play the piano for all the meetings I go to. Today was district conference and there was no one except the visiting authorities who could play the hymns so I did it. I am getting better about doing it without making so many mistakes and more confidence. Blessings from heaven.
There has been some political trouble in the area of Linden, about 1 1/2 hour drive from here and the couple serving there had to leave three weeks ago and is staying in the mission home right now. We thought that things were getting better, but on Friday night, the branch meeting house was looted and burned to the ground. The building was owned by a man who was an enemy to the people who are causing all the trouble. They were not lashing out at the church, but at the owner of the rented meeting house.
So now the members of the branch are without a meeting house and their branch president, who is the missionary living in the mission office cannot safely return to Linden yet to help them. We prayed for them in all our meetings this weekend and hope that things will cool down soon.
We will close for now. Love to all of you!
Elder and Sister Beutler