“We Now Have Our Own Kingdom Hall”
MUCH has been published about quickly built Kingdom Halls in countries such as Great Britain, Canada, and the United States. Less known, however, is the fact that quickly built places of worship for Jehovah’s Witnesses have been constructed for decades in the so-called developing countries.
In African lands the local Witnesses often construct temporary facilities for district conventions in a matter of weeks. These have served not only as places for meetings and shelter from the torrid tropical sun but also as lodgings for the delegates. Similar experiences can be told about Central America.
For example, in Guatemala City, Guatemala, a $200 contribution was sent to the Vivibien Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. When a local Witness offered a plot of land in a rural area, the Witnesses decided to use the contribution to build a modest structure that could be used for their meetings.
Bamboo was to be used for the enclosure to a height of five feet [1.5 m]; above that was open ventilation space. It was determined that the structure should be 13 feet [4 m] by 20 feet [6 m] in size. When the congregation elders visited the site, to their surprise they found in front of the plot of land several groves of bamboo, 20 feet [6 m] to 30 feet [9 m] high and from 3 inches [8 cm] to 5 inches [13 cm] in diameter. ‘Why not build it next Saturday?’ they said.
On the following Wednesday night, construction plans were formulated. Thursday saw one brother buying the galvanized iron roofing, another the lumber, and another the nails. By Thursday afternoon the lumber was precut to size, and they began making the A-frame-type trusses with contributed iron plates. By Friday night the trusses were ready.
Early on Saturday morning, a truck hauled the trusses and other lumber, the roofing, and nails to the village. Four vehicles transported about 50 men, women, and children to the village. By 8:00 a.m. all had arrived.
Holes chiseled in hard volcanic rock received the main uprights. Previously, the Witnesses bought from the owner of the bamboo grove 50 bamboo stalks for 12 cents each—a total investment of $6. Quickly, machetes cut down the bamboo. These were hand-sawed into five-foot [1.5 m] lengths and split down the center.
While the trusses were being put in place, other hands were nailing the split bamboo vertically onto horizontal cross strips, one half on the outside and one half on the inside, so that the attractive rounded bamboo would adorn both the inside walls as well as the exterior. Next, the roofing was put on while others began to bring stone and dirt to level off the dirt floor. Before dark the 12-hour structure was completed, and the brothers returned to their home in the city with joyful hearts.
Later, pine needles were strewed over the dirt floor, and some folding chairs and a few bamboo benches made from the unused bamboo stalks were set up. Now the Kingdom Hall was ready for the first meeting.
In many lands of the tropics—Africa, Pacific and Caribbean islands, Asia, Mexico, Central and South America—where perhaps a million of Jehovah’s Witnesses live, such simple structures have brought joy to the local Witnesses because they could say: “We now have our own Kingdom Hall.”