Jonestown was blanketed in rave reviews, only a small portion of which appear below. Note that the first are from the Congressmanís party! Whatever indoctrination the visitors had received from Timothy Stoen and Deborah Layton before they went, Stoen knew that the "concentration camp" charges could never stick. It raises questions anew about whether the Congressman was led into Jonestown for a fair review, or to die, and especially, at whose hands.
Layton, whatever her illusions as a "media heroine," was a pawn for more high-powered forces. It was lawyer Stoen, the real mastermind, who was coldly orchestrating the destruction of Jonestown for political reasons. Affidavits filled with lies, signed by Yolanda Crawford and Deborah Layton, were paraded as "evidence" of "concentration camp" conditions at Jonestown. What the public never learned was that it was the claims of ONLY THESE TWO that were used to smear Jonestown prior to the Congressional visit. Every rave was barred from the press.
The materials below are but a small portion of the rave reviews, from a wide range of sources Ė including the Congressional delegation! Here, finally, is what Jonestown was really like!
THE CONGRESSMANíS PARTY
Congressman Leo Ryan: I hear many of you saying that this is the best thing thatís ever happened to you. All that is being done here is significant, valuable, worthwhile, even of great significance on a worldwide basis" (as shown on ABCís "20/20," October, 1998.)
Jackie Speier, aide to Congressman Ryan: "I couldnít help but be impressed." (as shown on ABCís "20/20.")
Charles Krause, Washington Post, from his book "Guyana Massacre": "I rather admired Jim Jonesís goalsÖ The Peoples Temple hadnít stuck me as a crazy fringe cultÖ It seemed to me that the Peoples Temple had a legitimate purpose, a noble purpose, and was more or less succeedingÖ No one had offered any proof that the 900 or so people at Jonestown were being starved, mistreated, or held against their willÖ The hundreds of people still at Jonestown, who had chosen not to defect, seemed ample proof that they were relatively content."
JONESTOWN GUEST BOOK
"IMPRESSIVE WORK" Officer in Charge of Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad And Tobago, U.S. State Department
"I AM IMPRESSED." Charge Díaffairs to U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young
"IMPRESSIVE" Chief Medical Officer of The Ministry of Health, Guyana
"PEACE AND LOVE IN ACTION" Minister of Foreign Affairs, Guyana
"VERY IMPRESSIVE" Minister of Education, Guyana
"VERY PROGRESSIVE" Regional Development Officer, North West Region, Guyana
"VERY IMPRESSIVE, KEEP IT UP" Representative, Ministry of Agriculture, Guyana
"A VERY PLEASANT DAY IN A VERY PLEASANT ATMOSPHERE" Chief Official in the Ministry of Education, Guyana
"A MOST IMPRESSIVE START AND I WISH YOU ALL SUCCESS" British High Commissioner in Guyana
"IMPRESSIVE" Chancellor of The University of Guyana
"A WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE, A MODEL VILLAGE TO BE EMULATED" Permanent Secretary to The Ministry of Works and Transportation
"EXCELLENT" Assistant Director-General of National Service, Guyana
"ITíS VERY VERY IMPRESSIVE. THANK YOU FOR THE OPPORTUNITY AND BEST WISHES." Delegate from one of the worldís largest new agencies
"KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK" Regional Minister, North West Region, Guyana
"FANTASTIC, BEYOND ONEíS IMAGINATION, MIRACULOUS, BEAUTIFUL, A TRUE EXAMPLE OF SOCIALIST LIVING" Thirty-five teachers from the Mackenzie School District, Guyana
"ITíS MIND-BOGGLING TO SEE HOW YOU HAVE CARVED OUT OF THE JUNGLE A COMMUNITY THAT LOOKS JUST LIKE A TOWN IN THE UNITED STATES Ė AND WITH ALL THE PUBLIC UTILITIES.. THE TRAINING PROGRAM OF THE YOUNG ADULTS AT THE PROJECT IS HIGHLY SUCCESFUL. I HAVE MET MANYÖ[WHO] HAVE TOLD ME THAT THEY ARE SO HAPPY TO BE HERE." Head of nearly a thousand physicians of a medical network of amateur radio operators
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS FROM VISITORS
Don Freed, Educator and Author "If you look at Jonestown. . . and then you read some of the [peopleís] oral histories. . . youíre driven to the conclusion that the most extraordinary material and social experiment is being carried out. . . by a population. . . which in the United States were not considered useful, in fact. . . Ďnon-entities.í Either too old, too young, too unskilled, uneducated, with burdensome personal records, either of addiction or health problems, or incarceration. . . And to see these statistics translated into people singing, as I saw last night, taking part in a very full cultural activity. . . . The heavy collective past of suffering . . .and then, this existential present, as the jungle gives way to schools, dispensaries, and agriculture, and culture, and with its future orientation, its planning and its expansion for the future. . . . Iím at pains to find the words to describe whatís essentially an unspeakable experience, but I have no doubt it will be spoken about and written about widely, and there will be steady traffic through Jonestown in the years to come.
"These people feel. . . I think youíd have to use the word Ďloveí as a catalyst. . . . .a chance to express through work . . . . negative, aggessive and hostile feelings towards conditions of oppression, which were expressed in the past in self-destructive acts in the United States. . . . So that individual resentments and frustrations are [transmuted] and the guilt is removed, and translated into the community and nation-building that lies before them. . . institutions which support the children, support the seniors, support those whoíve been culturally deprived. . . . I was absolutely stunned at the sophistication and professionalism of the cultural activities at Jonestown."
Charles Garry, Attorney
Rev. John Moore: "The two words that come to my mind immediately, as I tried to reflect upon my experience were Ďimpressiveí and Ďamazing.í It almost boggles my mind to see that great clearing and to understand how much could have been done in a relatively short period of time.
"ÖWe wore ourselves out, walking around the facilitiesÖ We went to the piggery, the chickery, to the dairy, to the mill, where the refining of flour from the tubers of the cassava is done.
"we were impressed with seeing older peopleÖ engaged in calisthenics with an instructorÖ then we went to the nursery, the child care center. They have about 35 preschoolers. They have have newborn babiesÖand there are those who are caring for themÖ Thatís really a part of the beauty of it.
We talked aboutÖwhat they were interested in, and all of them were engaged in some ork that was particularly important for themÖ
"I had a feeling of freedom. The food is provided for everyone, thereís medical care for everyone, educational opportunities for everyone, there are work needs and opportunities for the members of the communityÖ people with certain skills and experiences move into those fields. If itís a tool and die maker a machine ship, or a man in agronomyÖ the opportunity for some of the younger people, particularly, to be learning skills when that opportunity is not present here."
Barbara Moore: "My impressions are, having just experienced our visit, that this is a beautiful, heroic, creative project! It is absolutely miraculous. There are excellent medical services, excellent educational services, andÖitís a community of caring and sharing with an added dimension, and this dimension I would say, is LoveÖ It reminds me of a New Testament community, in the purest sense of the word, in the love and concern for allÖ And with complete freedom for creativity!
"ÖIt was most impressive to see the elderly people, the older folks, who had their neat little yards, their little white picket-type fences, and their opportunity to take classes if they wished to, or to garden, or to just sit.
"Itís a complete city, and one thing they do encourage is the nuclear family."
"THE HEALTH CARE IN THE COMMUNITY IS FANTASTIC. JONESTOWN IS A LITTLE BIT OF HEAVEN." AFTER EXAMINING THE TEETH OF 67 CHILDREN, HE FOUND ONLY TWO CAVITIES. "THIS," he said, "IS UNHEARD OF." A dentist from India and founder of a dental school in Georgetown, Guyana.
ĎI WISH TO GIVE PRAISE AND CREDIT TO THE PEOPLES TEMPLE CHRISTIAN CHURCH FOR THE MAGNIFICENT AND HUMANTARIAN EFFORTS THAT YOU ARE MAKING. I FEEL CERTAIN THAT IF THERE WERE MORE SUCH ORGANIZATIONSÖ THROUGHOUT THE WORLD, THAT THIS PLANET WOULD INDEED BE A BETTER PLACE UPON WHICH TO SPEND ONEíS LIFEÖ I WAS TRULY IMPRESSED WITHÖ ACTIVITIES IN THE MISSION VILLAGE REGARDING THE COMPREHENSIVE MEDICAL PROGRAM." Albert Greenfield, M.D.
ĎIT WAS A VERY REWARDING EXPERIENCE. I HAVE NEVER BEFORE SEEN SO MANY PEOPLE OF VARYING RACES WORKING HAPPILY SIDE-BY-SIDE WITHOUT A SINGLE SPARK OF FRICTION. WITH ITS OWN SCHOOL, SAWMILL, ELECTRICITY, ROADS, HOUSES, AND SO ON, ALL BEING SCRUPULOUSLY CLEAN, I COULD NOT HELP BUT BE IMPRESSED." Dr. Ng-A-Fook, dental surgeon.
COMMENTS FROM RESIDENTS
I personally extracted the following comments about food at Jonestown from enthusiastic handwritten letters sent to San Francisco:
The Food at Jonestown -- Plentiful and Delicious!
"The food here is great -- everyone eats lots. . . Think of the one person who used to pile their plate with food then double it and you have the amount most adults eat here. The children eat the amount of the size of the plate before doubling it. Iím not joking either. Iíve never seen anything like it."
"Our strong forte is agricultural. . . we have an endless supply of greens, black-eyed peas and other delicious wonders. . . . Jim just ate an exceptional cookie that someone invented. . . "
"Greg and I live in our own cottage. We fixed it up really nice. Iíve planted eggplant along the sides. . . . some beans growing up the house. On the right side of the porch are cucumbers. Iím thinking of planting a papaya tree in the back of the house. . . ."
"Talk about delicious food. . . . you canít beat the menu at Jonestown!"
"Maybe youíve never heard of the Ice Cream Tree -- well, we really have it! Itís called a sour-sop tree and it produces a fruit which weighs up to 4 kilograms. it is green outside with soft spines and a slightly fibrous green pulp inside. When ripe -- split open and eat it with a spoon. Itís like eating sherbet ice cream! . . . I am also learning how to graft and bud citrus trees, all of our citrus scions are budded onto rough lemon or bitter orange root stocks which are very vigorous stocks.
"The food here is so good that you wouldnít want to taste the food in the States no more."
"All of our foods are natural. What a relief to get real food. The fruit is so good."
"We eat very well! Tomorrow morning I think weíre having biscuits with syrup, eggs, cracklinís and coffee or tea."
To Jakela Wetzel
"This is a land of plenty. . . the food which we are growing, it is so good. Sweet potatoes, mustard greens, squash, all kinds of beans, bananas, watermelon, pineapple, cassava and oh, so many other. . .[and] cereals which we grow."
"Joan is fine, stuffing herself daily. . . ."
"The food here is great! The bread tastes like a donut that melts in your mouth. Remember the saying that Ďman cannot live on bread alone.í Well, that is a lie Ďcause here you can. The chicken, pancakes, greens and everything else you can and canít think of, you name it we got it or can get it. . . ."
"Every dad [i.e. Jim Jones] said is truth about this place -- the food is very good!
Betty Jean Gill
"Iím now working in the Jonestown Bakery. We are making all sorts of different kinds of cookies, breads, and many other good things."
"Iím back on the farm again -- my favorite place to be. In these last two weeks, we have planted (our crew alone) 25 acres of pasture grass for our newly-arrived cows and 2 horses: 15 acres sweet and starleaf potatoes: 2 acres pineapple, not to mention the harvesting and crop maintenance work done in-between. Jim has really been pushing (and accomplishing) our production level in the effort to unite all of our family (you guys!) here with us.
"The food here is so good and you can have as much as you want."
"You have never tasted food until you eat here."
"We plant and grow and pick all the food we eat instead of eating a bunch of food that is not good for us like in the states."
"Today we have been spreading grass over a 25 acre field we are cultivating for our new milk cows that are coming. We have also planted over 300 pineapple plants the other day, 6 acres of rice, 3 acres of eddoes, 2 acres of cassava. We do a variety of jobs harvesting papaya, greens, cutlass beans, everything -- itís great!"
"Now let me tell you about the food! We have for breakfast pancakes, they are bigger than four hands put together, we all canít even handle one and if you donít believe it when you get here you will."
"I work on the banana crew and now I know all about growing and taking care of bananas. We pick about 1,650 pounds of bananas every two weeks. The banana bread and puddings that the kitchen make are fantastic."
"Wait until you taste our homemade fudge!! Yum! Yum! Itís just delicious. Everything is amazingly fantastic."
"One of my favorite jobs is climbing in and our of the windrows in search of eddoes. The windrows are the most excellent spot for our banana trees. (We have a couple of thousand by the way.) They are the long curving area where the thees and bush were pushed when the land was originally cleared.. . . .Wait Ďtil you taste our Jonestown -- casava cookies, casava cornbread, donuts, bread, biscuits, all made in expertly-made wood burning ovens and stoves. They are the best you have ever eaten -- and you know how I love donuts!"
Mary Lou Clancey
"The food is so good that you can eat, eat and eat and never get fat. . ."
"We eat like kings. I mean we really eat our asses off.
"I tasted my first piece of sugar cane, it is very sweet here. And I tasted milo drink. It is a drink that tastes like chocolate and marshmallow. Then last night we had cassava and some very good chicken. Down here bananas grow so big you could eat them for a year."
"My advise to you is that when you come and they serve pancakes, donít eat any more than 2, because they fill you up quickly."
"The longer I am here, the more I marvel at the fields of vegetables, bananas, pineapples and many plantings I donít know. Philip was telling me that we are going to plant peanuts. . . . "
"He spoke of the many agricultural projects, including an improved method of developing feed from protein food grown in Jonestown. The area of Jonestown devoted to raising animals [for food] also drew praise. ĎThose pigpens, as we call them, looked like palaces.í . . . .The chickens raised and butchered at the project he called Ďlusciousí and the food generally is Ďdelicate, nourishing, and itís the type of food that will make your blood pressure go down; your diabetes will disappear. Itís substantial, nourishing food -- the kind that will take away the fat you accumulate by the type of food we eat here."
About Charles Garryís (Temple attorney) visit to Jonestown. ("I Have Been to Paradise," Sun Reporter, November 10, 19977.)
LETTERS FROM JONESTOWN
"Greetings from the Land of Pineapples, Trade Winds and Dadís Love!
"When I think about all of you, it is with the deepest desire to see you and to have you here in this beautiful tropical nation where people are housed, fed and clothed equally. The weather is that described in the most lovely of travel magazines, only a reality. . . . Jonestown is really a large, lovely resort-like home and it gets more exciting to live in every day. . . . . Our meetings are outdoors in that trade winds that blow almost continually. And our Dad [Jim Jones, who was called "Dad" in Jonestown] pines for all of you and never fails to plan or mention when the rest of his precious children will be here. . . . .
"I have lost a lot of fat. [She had been overweight. It was typical for obese people to normalize their weight in Jonestown -- note, not from lack of food, but from lack of tension!] About 35 pounds now. . . . Ho, ho! I can wear shorts now and look o.k. . . . . Also, I havenít been on any medication for almost 5 months. Isnít that wonderful? Those horrible depressions just went away! . . . . Never, never, not for one moment, do I miss the U.S., except for all of you -- for our home here isnít complete without you. . . . . The miracles here are forever taking place. The protection we have from injuries, etc., is the wonder of the history of the world. It might perhaps be written about, but no one but us, will ever really know. . .
"Hello from me to our dear sisters [various names mentioned]. . . . Phyllis Houston [whose in-laws were amongst those pushing Congressman Ryan to come], your children are so darling. You will be so proud! And hi to you loyal ones in publications. I miss you! I miss your positive creativity, your royal sense of humor. You gave me some good belly laughs when I was so low. I think about Tim C. and his puppets. I think about how sweet a person Maxine is to work for and be around. Dad sure picked a bunch of sweet-sweet people as his children. One of the magic things about Jonestown is to see the people. . . and to know that you are literally surrounded by sweet-sweet spirits. And I think often of the song Curtis Winters sings. . . ["Thereís a sweet sweet spirit in this place. . ."] Apostolic sharing and being with the people just uplifts me. The beauty of it all and the happiness that I feel absolutely elates me and brings tears to my eyes. . . .We are truly a modern pioneer town. . . .
". . . .We were in the midst of the jungle, by a clear and pure stream where the little ones love to swim in their birthday suits and swing on the long vines that hang from the giant trees. The sound effects are a variety of birds of every bright color, worth hundreds each in the U.S. Someday, you too will take this beautiful walk -- and this walk alone, this single experience, will make all of your sacrifice so worthwhile, not to mention to salvation of the children! The seniors are so happy!. . .
"Dad is working, as usual, night and day to get you all here. Our strong forte is agricultural. . . . we have an endless supply of greens, black-eyed peas and other delicious wonders. . . . Our cattle ranch has started. The beginning of our herd came in yesterday. . . .
"Dad loves you so much. You are truly his children.
Love from Penny
"Hi. Father loves you and needs you both very much. Iíve lost 24-1/4 pounds so there now, you can smile. . . . I sure do miss you, I know you are working hard. . . Itís so worth any amount of work you have to do there to get to come here. Itís so beautiful and peaceful, no racists, no nasty names. Itís really a home for comrades. I took an all day tour of the Freedom Land and it does take all day! This is really a town. You canít imagine how big it is here. I work in the laundry at night which I really like, and I am house supervisor to some 6 to 10 year old girls which I also really enjoy. . .
"Fatherís love to all of you. He needs and loves you very much. .
"The longer I am here the more I marvel at the fields of vegetables, bananas, pineapples and many plantings I donít know. It is a tremendous accomplishment. Philip was telling me that we are going to plant peanuts and that he was going to try out a [herbal] medicine the government here provided us with to plan and black-eyed peas. Send anything you can find on the medicinal use of plants or herbs that grow in this area. . . . . Iím working with the medical staff doing medical protocols. That is whenever someone has a medical problem they see me or one of the other health workers and we write down their complaint, following outlines for all the various maladies, choosing the one fitting their specific complaints. Those sheets are then evaluated by a group of nurses and nurse practitioners and it is decided whether to have people see Dr. Schacht or if it can be taken care of in the nursesí office. I am doing this in the pavilion right now. At another table they are treating childrenís sores, infected bites and such. Everyone is really busy. Agricultural production is becoming more and more urgent.
"I am in a cottage with Cheryl and Rose and "Snooks," who is incredibly spoiled. He is lucky not to be a human being in our group, because he wouldnít get away with it! We are careful in the morning not to wake him up, and at night hope that he wonít jump out of Cherylís bed because he raises hell until he gets back in. I think of you folks often and how strong and loyal you are. We are so fortunate to have Jim with us here. I feel so much stronger here because and him, and also the warm climate is a big help.
"I am reading back issues of the New York Times several times a day before wiping myself. I think very highly of the New York Times because of its superior toilet paper quality. I sure hope all of you will be with us soon!
Peace and Love,
"Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to write. Your letters are very interesting, newsy, and most encouraging. . . .This place is growing by leaps and bounds. New and wider sidewalks are going up all the time; more cottages being built to accommodate more arrivals; electric wiring, fencing, planting, painting, gardening, everything you can think of. There is plenty to do and everyone enjoys working here. Itís not like that rat race, hell-hole there. Here we can see the results of our efforts and are encouraged because it is our future. Iím so glad we donít have to worry about a thing or think about going back. Thereís no turning back now. Come too far to turn back now! We can only go forward.
"I still work nights in the nursery with all the babies. Sometimes I work in the garden too. Itís according to how much rest I get. Terri Jones is my partner in the nursery. She and Lew (Jim Jonesí son) supervise 4 toddlers also in a cottage. They have a beautiful baby. Chae-ok is really getting big -- and smart too! Gloria Griffith is the next one due pretty soon. Write when you can. I miss all of you and looking forward to seeing you."
"I want to tell you about a paradise in South America called Jonestown. Hereís just one example of the beautiful scenery. I sit in the pavilion, an open building where a nice cool breeze caresses your face, never too cold never too hot. I see bananas trees, big tall green trees, and fields where food is planted as far as the eye can see. Itís so beautiful at nighttime if you look up at the sky. You can see how bright the stars twinkle and as I look around, it brings a smile to my face. The reason I look it so much is it makes me think about how different my life was in the U.S. I used to stay in my room all day long with no lights on. All I did was watch t.v., listen to the radio and talk on the telephone and smoke dope.
"I did this because I was so depressed because I couldnít walk. I had been shot in the neck with a Colt 45. I was never expected to walk again. I felt that no one cared until one day I went to Peoples Temple. When I saw what was happening there, it made me happier than I had ever been. So I joined Peoples Temple and later on I decided to come to Guyana. Iím glad that I did because since Iíve been here in this environment which is the best, I am now walking with the assistance of one crutch, and Iím also a health care worker. I tell you itís much better than smoking dope!
"Hi everyone. Howís thing going there? Tell Cathy, Tim, Kathy, Patti, Gene, Bryan, Laurie, and everyone else there I said hi. Iím going to school here in Jonestown with our own teachers. My 1st period class is Carolyn Layton and Harriet Tropp in Socialism class. My 2nd period class is Tom Grubbs and Pat Grunnet, Language Arts. My 3rd period class Shawntiki Johnson, Algebra and Geometry. My 4th period class is Agricultural Biology, the full course, Don Bowers and Marie Lawrence are the teachers. [NOTE: Marie Lawrence was a hardened heroin addict before she came to Peoples Temple.] I never thought I would see the day that I would like school, but now that I am in Jonestown where the teacher want the students to write down the criticisms about the comrade teachers." . . (handwritten fragment ends)
"Hello my sister. Ha! Ha! . . . . Here I am in the land that Iíve been waiting to be in for so long. Itís so beautiful, Patty. Our friend [Jim Jones] has given us so much. Thereís so much to talk about. The land is producing more every day. It looks better every time I look at it. The grass is so green and it blends in the blue sky and it just is beautiful! Our flowers are so pretty that they look plastic. You will be so happy here. Everyone will. Our friend is so good to us. Wait til you taste our homemade fudge. Yum! Yum! Itís just delicious. Everything is amazingly fantastic. We are making our houses so beautiful. Decorating them with plants and trimmings. Many are painted pastel colors. They look really cute. We have the best of lifeís wants! We have a future we must build for all third world people. No more racism!!! Thank J.J. I canít wait til weíre all together. We will surely make a loud noise of freedom.
"Keep that strong faith, Patty. Our friend appreciates it deeply. He loves us day by day. Iím so grateful Peppermint Patty, make sure you make sun dresses, etc.
"See you soon. Please be smiling. JJ loves you so much that he will die for you. Hope you had good luck with parents at Thanksgiving. Miss ya comrade,Rose"
Hi! How is everything going on over there? I know it is really rough. I hope you and Odesta, Frances and Chris [the Buckley children] and everyone else gets to come soon. Danny just got your letter from July about 2 weeks ago. I have been here almost a week now.
It is very lovely, beautiful, warm, happy and everything else you can think is good. There are not even mosquitoes here! Today I was plowing a field and worked in the tool shop. yesterday I plowed the field. The day before I hoed out eddoes and worked with casava.
Soon Judy [Judy Houston, Phyllisí daughter] will be going to school here with comrade teacher Tom (thatís what we call him here because he said that teacher is a bossy word so he put comrade before it to help the children feel closer to him.)
When I came I hardly knew anyone. Everyone is so dark and beautiful and skinny. I had to look at Becky Beikman [who had been obese in the States] and Mary Griffith twice, and Phyllis, Judy has got darker than even me, a little! My advice to you is that when you come and they serve pancakes donít eat any more than 2, because they fill you up quickly. I am thankful to Father because he prepared us this wonderful place! I wish you could be here right now and really see how beautiful it is.
(end of handwritten fragment)
Hi, How is everything? Itís lovely over here. . . . Saturday we left from Jonestown to Matthews Ridge. Lee Ingram, Johnny Jones, Sharon A., Terry B., Lew J., Bruce O., Rochelle J., Evette M., Linda S., Luna B., Jim Bogue, Shabika B. and the Jonestown Drill Team (Brenda, Karen, Eileen, Dee Dee, Dawn, Ava, Linda Mitchell and me.)
We performed and the Guyanese liked it. They also liked Shabakerís song. He sang very well. Odesta is here and she is telling me to make sure to tell you hi. Judy just told me to tell you hi! She says she loves you and misses you. . . . Father thinks about you always and everybody else over here also. Father loves you and I am trying my hardest. Write back.
With the best of my love,
I got two letters from you and decided to write. I work on the banana crew and now I know all about growing and taking care of bananas. We pick about 1650 lbs. of bananas every 2 weeks. The banana bread and puddings that the kitchen makes are fantastic. They make chips out of plantain bananas that taste like potato chips. . . . . We see movies almost every night. Video movies as well as reel-to-reel films. . . Donít you dare tell me not to get fat again when Iíve lost 40 pounds. The sawmill here makes really professional looking furniture and toys out of wood to sell in Georgetown. . . .
"I really like it here and Fatherís love abounds all over this place, which can truly be called a paradise. Everybody is working to build up our city. We even have guests like we did in San Francisco but itís nice to have officials visit you that are mostly black. We donít have honkys coming in and breaking our necks to impress them and have to hide things from them.
"We have schools here. We have elementary, junior high and high school. In the future we plan to have a college. Everything here is green as far as the eye can see. . . . Classical music is played to the whole community every day for hours. The government has commended us for it because it helps plants grow. . . . We have a basketball team now and weíre forming a soccer team. An official saw Cordell Neal and told dad that he looked like he could be the next lightweight champion. . . . Tell everybody I said hi. . . Until next time, your comrade,
I am doing just fine over here in this beautiful promised land. I have changed my last name. I am now Tobi Mtendaji. My middle name is Chekevu. Put together these to mean Happy Worker in Swahili.
I am glad you are doing so well but Iíll be ever so glad to see you. I really miss you very much. You donít know what hearing from you has done for me. . . .
I am no longer painting. I have moved up. I am now on the construction crew with the fellow comrades building these beautiful cottages the family lives in. . .The days are so fantastically beautiful, the clouds really put on a show. . . . The school for the kids is fabulous. . . . I guess I am just now bringing out my talents over here. . . . Dad has brought me to become very responsible. . . . I am thrilled to write you, and itís no effort to write. Some of the seniors are playing dominoes here at the table. . . This is all for now. I miss you all so much.
Tobi Chekevu Mlendaji"
How are you? I sure canít wait til you get here (and the rest of the family too). I get your letter -- good to hear from you. Well, it sure is beautiful here, words canít describe it. It is ours, Gina -- all ours. And we all are working together to build a place to live one and for all, proud and free. And you will never never know the beauty of it until you get here to see! Hurry if you can. We appreciate the work you are doing to help build this land of promise and a dream come true. This is a whole new world, clean, pure, fresh. Ours. Hope to see you soon,
Hello Timothy -- many thanks for your informative letter, appreciate you taking time to write it, as I know how busy you guys are at this time. (Jim has told us.)
There is so much to tell about Jonestown, it is incredible from one end to the other through and through! Jim has accomplished the otherwise impossible here -- a socialist community carved in and nestled amongst a tropical paradise -- National Geographic has never depicted in all its issues the beauty found here.
Iím back on the farm again -- my favorite place to be. In the last 2 weeks, we have planted (our crew alone) 25 acres of pasture grass for our newly arrived cows and two horses: 15 acres sweet and starleaf potatoes: 2 acres pineapple, not to mention the harvesting and crop maintenance work done in between. Jim has really been pushing (and accomplishing) our production level in the effort to unite all of our family (you guys!) here with us.
You should see our horses -- especially the stallion "Forbes," he is fine. I would never in the capitalist society have been able to own a horse -- now I do -- it is really a fulfilling feeling to see this whole huge farm complex in its entirety and now it is a part of you. The piggery-livestock-cassava mill complex is my most favorite place. it is a beautiful 2 mile hike (or fun tractor ride) down Jonestown Road and as you approach it you see the surrounding hills of knee-high pasture grass with wooden pole fences. The piggery is also done in Guyanese pole construction. They are just now completing the new cow-cattle barn (to go with the 25 acres pasture grass) for our new arrivals.
I live in our newly built "loft" now and I really love it. I will soon have a window in it to look at the starts and the sunrise. We have 4 pineapple plants, 2 banana trees, 2 citrus trees, and 2 cherry trees in our yard. . . .
This is my first letter to you and I donít know why I havenít written sooner. So I will bring you up to date on whatís happening down here.
Everything is being readied for the family when they get here. Large houses are being built. The garden is being expanded. The orchard is being expanded and there is more equipment on its way here. The boat is now in Georgetown getting more materials. We have had three litters of pigs and there is another litter due next month. More pigs are on order from town as soon as they are available. Also we have chickens and more of them are on order. Our cows are coming shortly also.
This is a truly beautiful place. Aside from the many beautiful wild flowers that adorn the countryside and change from other times of the year. We have some beautiful sunrises and sunsets at times. With plenty of rainbows. There are more different colored birds than you can imagine. For instance there is a toucan here that has ten different colors on it. A bird called a blue Saki is blue all over, and its wings are darker blue than the rest of the body. . . .
Let me know what you have been doing since I left, because a lot of changes have been going on.
With Fatherís Love,
What a pleasant surprise to get your nice letter. You are going to love it here! The air is so clean and fresh and the rain is very nice too.
I am in charge of the pre-school program. A couple of weeks ago we took the pre-school on a walk through the bush. This is such a beautiful walk. The plants are every kind you have seen in flower and plant nurseries, only better. Many are 10 times bigger and are growing up and down trees, vines everywhere. We saw a trail of medium-sized ants carrying large leaves. It is very fascinating.
We are slowly building up a menagerie of pets. We have an opossum, a sloth, a parrot and a toucan. Dov and Jamal [her children] are growing as all our children are.
The food here is so good you can have as much as you want. Iíve trimmed myself down and I feel so much better.
There is so much to tell about this place that you never know where to start or stop. We have all been given breast exams and pap smears. Jim wants to make sure we are all well.
When we left the States, everything was so dry and brown. But the contrast here is so great. Everything is so green and lush. Iím so grateful to be here. See you soon!
Yes! Weíve made it to this beautiful Freedom Land, and it is indeed a Land of the Free! The reason it took so long for me to write is because I had to "check the place out first." You know how doubtful we are of Father, somehow we just canít take his word for it, instead we have to investigate for ourselves.
"Well, let me assure you that it is all Dad said it was and much more! Actually I donít know where to begin. October 24 made 3 weeks weíve been in Jonestown and I donít have anything to bitch about. Can you picture me not being hostile? Well, that is the new Coni that could never have developed in the States.
"When we first arrived on the 3rd of October it was about 6:30 p.m. and everyone was eating dinner. Then they all came running towards the vehicle to greet 3 people, all 800 of them. It was really neat, all the people you never thought you could stand or get along with, running to embrace us, saying, "Welcome to your new home, Jonestown!" it made me want to cry, because for such a long time Jonestown was only a word in my mind, not actually a new world where everyone is equal. Where everyone does their share of the work and itís an honor to be a "fieldworker."
"Can you imagine being greeted by people who are truly happy that youíve finally made it home. It was just breathtaking and unbelievable. Everyone has changed tremendously. . . . It is amazing what a new environment and Fatherís love does for a person. All of our children have mellowed out. And they love it here and even made up a song about it, call "Jonestown, We Love It." (Itís really cute.)
"Oh, Dawnyelle and Jakari [children] are just fine. Dawn has grown a small bit, is more talkative, and gets into trouble sometimes, but smiles a lot and speaks to everyone. The toddlers have their own nursery and playground. I just canít tell it all in this letter. Youíll have to see it to believe it. Jakari is talking quite well and has grown some also.
"The weather is so fine! Iíll bet youíre freezing up there in the Valley. The weather is nice all the time. It usually rains at least once a day. Soon after the rain, thereís a beautiful fragrance that comes from the jungle and the sky is beautiful in the evening. By the way, I donít have any problems with my nose, they are all cleared up.
"Iím trying to think of everything I can tell you about this wonderful place. Well, we now have two new litters of piglets, so cute, all of our children are happy and free from racism. The only thing wrong is that all the rest of the family isnít here yet.
"Iím running out of time because the next people leave for the post office. So Iíll check you later. All I can say is that itís more than I ever dreamed and all the thanks goes to Father. Tell everyone up there hello.
"Father loves you and we canít wait til you are here.
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