In 2017, a dozen Witnesses set off by boat from the Mosquito (Miskito) Coast region of Nicaragua. Their boat was named Sturi Yamni. A crew member named Stephen recalls, “Our goals were to encourage a small group of Witnesses who lived in a remote area and to help them preach the good news in their vast territory.”
The 12 Witnesses departed from Pearl Lagoon on their 200-kilometer (125 mi) journey up the Río Grande de Matagalpa. Little did they know that the name of their boat, which means “Good News” in the Miskito language, would come to have special meaning for the people living along the river. After some 12 hours of travel, not counting an overnight stop, the Witnesses reached their destination—the community of La Cruz de Río Grande. The six local Witnesses warmly welcomed their spiritual brothers and sisters.
That night disaster struck. A powerful storm brought heavy rain to the headwaters of the Río Grande de Matagalpa. Within a few hours, the river overflowed its banks and continued to rise for two days. The Kingdom Hall and many houses in La Cruz were flooded. The visiting brothers helped the local people to evacuate their houses. Most spent the next two nights in a two-story house belonging to a Witness.
On the third night, the mayor of La Cruz went to the visiting Witnesses to request their help. Since the Sturi Yamni was the only boat sturdy enough to navigate the flooded river, the mayor wanted the crew to transport a team of relief workers downriver to assist other affected communities. The Witnesses were happy to cooperate.
The next morning, three Witnesses set off with the relief team. “By now the river was raging,” recalls Stephen. “Huge uprooted trees were floating downstream, large whirlpools had formed, and the river was flowing at a speed of more than 18 kilometers per hour [11 mph].” Despite the difficult conditions, the boat was able to get to three communities.
The three Witnesses used the opportunity to give much-needed comfort to the villagers. The Witnesses also distributed copies of a 2017 issue of Awake! fittingly entitled “When Disaster Strikes—Steps That Can Save Lives.”
The residents of the river communities deeply appreciated the practical and spiritual help that the Witnesses provided. “They are willing to help in difficult times,” some villagers said. Others observed, “They have true love of neighbor.” After seeing the effort that the Witnesses made to help their fellow worshippers and others, many villagers have been more willing to listen to the Bible’s comforting message.
Marco, a member of the boat crew, leaving the Sturi Yamni to share the good news with villagers
The Sturi Yamni docked in a flooded village