‘Stepping Over’ to the Falkland Islands
THREE hundred miles* east of the southern tip of South America our plane dipped through the cloud covering, and there below us were countless islands, large and small, green, studded with lakes, their coastlines broken by bays and coves. These were the Falkland Islands—our destination.
The airport was just a narrow strip on a barren, windswept peninsula. Almost immediately we were aware of the strong, prevailing westerlies and the relentless pounding of the tempestuous seas of the South Atlantic. But the bleakness vanished when we were greeted by two warm, smiling faces—Arthur Nutter and young Dorcas Reid, constituting half of the total number of baptized witnesses of Jehovah on these remote islands. Arthur’s wife, Josie, and Dorcas’ mother made up the balance.
In Port Stanley, the Capital
A short ride in a Land Rover taxi operated by the police chief’s wife brought us to Port Stanley, the capital and only city of the islands. En route we were shown the site of a former landing strip built with metal runways. They had been blown away by a storm. We also saw remains of shipwrecks in the harbor, testifying to the hardship experienced by the early settlers, many of whom simply stayed on after being stranded here.
That evening we met Dorcas’ family—eight younger brothers and sisters and her mother, who, almost single-handedly, raised her youngsters “in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah” in this isolated place. (Ephesians 6:4) To see all the young ones neatly dressed and sitting quietly at the gathering left a deep impression on us.
The next day Arthur introduced us to his wife, Josie. Then, along with their two young children and Dorcas, we set out to preach the good news of God’s kingdom to the people in Port Stanley. The strong, cold winds and rain did not deter the local Witnesses. “If we were to wait for good weather, we would never get any work done,” said one of them. Our umbrellas were turned inside out by the strong gusts. Soon we got wet and cold even though it was a summer day. But our hearts were warmed by the willing listeners we found. In any case, back home a hot meal of mutton, the staple diet of the Falklands, took care of things for us.
The islands’ only radio station cooperated in advertising the special “Bible Lands” slide program that we brought along. We were delighted when 23 came to the recreation room at the Town Hall Saturday afternoon for the presentation. A rather good attendance, we thought, for a city of 900 people.
A Side Trip to a Settlement
The Nutters invited us to visit their home at a camp settlement in Walker Creek. Arthur went ahead on his motorcycle for an eight-hour ride over roadless terrain. The rest of us were to go Monday morning by “Beaver,” a seven-seat seaplane. But gale-force winds and rain kept delaying our departure. Tuesday night we heard our names called over the radio for the next day’s flight. By midmorning the winds abated and the phone rang. We were off in a half hour.
It was a 30-minute flight westward over most interesting terrain. To our right we could see the highest peak on East Falkland—Mount Usborne, 2,312 feet (705 m) high. Below us was an expanse of treeless, bushless grassland, with patches of dark-green bogs. This is sheep-raising country.
Settlements are very small groups of houses owned by the Falkland Islands Company, where life centers around sheep. There are five houses and 35,000 sheep in Walker Creek.
A highlight of our visit with the Nutters was a Bible study meeting using The Watchtower. Though only six of us gathered in the family kitchen, everyone was properly dressed up, thus showing due respect for the occasion and in keeping with Jesus’ words: “Where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst.” (Matthew 18:20) This spirit has helped the isolated family to keep the feeling of oneness with the rest of their worldwide spiritual family.
Sunday we took a drive into the country. And we certainly enjoyed seeing some of the wildlife, especially the penguins.
Time to Go Home
“Beaver” was our only way to get back to Port Stanley. There were the usual uncertainties due to the weather. As we finally took off from Choiseul Sound, the pilot called our attention to a storm brewing to the west. A letter received later told us that we had narrowly escaped a mid-summer snowstorm!
Back in Port Stanley we had time for just a farewell visit to the Reids. By this time Dorcas and her 11-year-old brother Alex had gone to the mainland for school, leaving their mother as the only Witness in Port Stanley. It was hard for us to leave this fine family all by itself.
As our plane took off for the mainland, we realized that this visit had made a deep impression on us. It was most faith-strengthening to see the love, zeal and devotion displayed by these few Witnesses on the islands. They have responded to the ‘Macedonian call’ to ‘step over and help us’ in the Falkland Islands.—Acts 16:9.
1 mile = 1.6 kilometers.
[Maps on page 11]
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