Cart Witnessing in Giethoorn, Netherlands (My recent experience)
So I visited the Netherlands last week and decided to stop by Giethoorn. This is a town whereby many (if not most) of the homes are accessed by small boats via narrow water canals. During the summer months, the residents of this isolated picturesque town welcome visitors with their seasonal tourist attractions such as canal cruises on eco-friendly boats, restaurants and a small museum which highlights the history of the town.
There are a few narrow walking paths within this village, such as the one pictured below, allowing tourists to enjoy the beautiful gardens that the residents of this town take great pride in. But I was really surprised when I turned a corner along the walking path and ran into this literature cart. Like me, you’ll probably notice 2 interesting things right away:
1) The flow of pedestrians (relative to where the JWs are standing) practically causes the JWs to be out of the tourists’ direct view since their attention is focused mainly on the beautiful gardens across the canal as they walk past the literature cart. Very clever cart positioning by these two since this generally results in much less interaction.
2) The literature cart had mostly Asian (Manadarin, I think) literature on it. There may have been a few Dutch “Bible Teach” books on the cart facing in the opposite direction, but most of the books in both carts were of an Asian language. No English at all, even though I could tell that most of the tourists spoke English and I didn’t see any Asian tourists at all in the entire day I spent there.
Not pictured here is when I purposely lingered in front of the cart for a few seconds to see if I could get any sort of reaction from these 2 dubs who were clearly passing the time to pad their Field Circus hours. They never approached me, said hello or reacted in any way as I perused the contents of the cart for a good 10 to 15 seconds. Nothing. Nada.
So I decided to continue on my way, turn around and snap this picture which says it all. You can just imagine what they’re thinking as I snapped the picture. Also, the “Sense Of Urgency™” J-Dubs used to have has completely died in the mid-90s. Now it’s just a social club whereby your social standing is apparently dependent upon how long you can stand away from cleverly positioned literature carts while ignoring passers-by all day.
I like how they blended the cart into the tree. Even they kind of blend into the bushes. Hahaha how funny it would be if they actually hid in the bushes and only popped out when someone looked at the cart.
It reminds me of this (probably made up) story from the WT. About how someone visited a religious cave and was caught by their arm by a person hiding inside a small niche in the wall. They wouldn't let go until you paid for a small cross. Gives me the same pathetic feeling.
thanks for the interesting and informative post
1) The flow of pedestrians practically causes the JWs to be out of the tourists’ direct view
The advantage here is that individual members of the public can discreetly take a leaflet or publication without being noticed by other tourists, including perhaps from their own tour group - some times a small group goes by and disappears, and then five minutes later one of the group sneaks back, unseen by friends (perhaps saying they're gonna go back and take a photo) - then they pick up a leaflet and slip it into their pocket.....
2) The literature cart had mostly Asian (Manadarin, I think) literature on it.
It is relatively easy to contact Dutch and English speakers - but in China the WT is under ban, so not so easy to contact Manadarin speakers - hence this type of 'cart-search' ministry - focusing on Chinese tourists
But it was interesting that apparently you saw no Asian tourists while you where there - that does seem unusual.....
Did you check your Lonely Planet Tour Guide: The Netherlands (2016) beforehand:
Giethoorn - When the tourist hordes get too thick (the site has become a must-see for Asian tour groups) head to the northern part of the village which is quieter and quainterhttps://books.google.co.uk/books?id=K-_8CwAAQBAJ&pg=PT575&lpg=PT575&dq=Giethoorn+asians&source=bl&ots=7mF19ualaW&sig=xaEEiq8bnGunlKEydwXXUgCP1yU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwihos2L7_nVAhUJCcAKHWwgDf0Q6AEIajAN#v=onepage&q=%22Asian%20tour%20groups%22&f=false
Giethoorn: The Chinese Venice of the Netherlands (May 2017)
And the documentary film: Ni Hao Holland
Cherry has long dreamt of swapping her home city Beijing for the Dutch village Giethoorn. She has heard and read a lot about this mythical place. The day arrives that she and her friend hop on the plane in search of adventure.
In the meantime, entrepreneurs from Giethoorn work hard behind the scenes to cater to this ‘Holland experience’. They want to make the most of the fast growing flow of Chinese tourists in their village. How is this authenticity created by some and experienced by others?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCA_-VUKwEs
And this (typical?) news item:
Xinhua News (2015 article)
In Giethoorn, an idyllic village of just 2,600 inhabitants in the northeast of the Netherlands, two thirds of its hotel visitors are Chinese.
"We have a growing number of Chinese visitors every year," said local hotelier Gabriella Esselbrugge in an interview with Xinhua. "The Chinese think of Giethoorn as a unique place, a peaceful environment surrounded by a national park."
Giethoorn is a village with around five kilometers of canals, wooden arch bridges and picturesque thatched farmhouses dating back to the 18th century. It receives thousands of international tourists per year. Most are from China and nearby Germany.
"We have a large number of daily Chinese visitors, but also many decide to stay for a few days," said Esselbrugge, who is estimating that the average stay of Chinese people in Giethoorn is between two and three days.
"On some days, the Chinese tourists dominate the streetscape of Giethoorn," said Therese Ariaans, spokesperson at the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions (NBTC), in an interview with Xinhua. "Giethoorn is a stone's throw from Amsterdam and they love the canals as well as the traditional Dutch atmosphere in the village."http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2015-09/10/c_134607839.htm
From aggressively working their way into homes (US) yrs. ago to hiding in the trees. Maybe they'll have an invisible presence soon -- if only!
What would old-timer JWs think about this new camouflaged approach?
Don't hide your light under a bushel (Matthew 5:15).
It's amazing that they don't engage you in conversation. Especially if you are lingering around the cart acting semi interested. Weird!
Interesting Chinese connection with the town. I guess the motive of having Mandarin language is explained -- they get a pass at that.
Nevertheless in practically every instance of cart witnessing, there is an obvious effort to not engage in conversation. This is truly odd, considering that JWs have spent the last decades knocking on people's doors, crowbarring face-to-face interaction. How do you shift from that, to a complete absence of interaction?
Also, I'm starting to be curious about what the guidelines are for cart witnessing in regards to people interaction. The Org likes to micromanage everything, so i'm fairly certain they have had some pronouncements on that. Are they saying that Jdubs should stand away from the cart? That they should engage people only if needed?
As the OP said, none of this nonsense is compatible with the idea that this work is urgent.
As i have shared before, I have heard that some have had interactions like this:
Person walks up to the cart, and takes literature and asks the witness: "Can you tell me more about your beliefs?"
Witness says "Sure, if you would like to go to JW.ORG, you can learn more, and request a home visit"
Person says "Thanks, but I'm here now, can you just talk to me now?"
Witness says "Certainly. If you would like to go to JW.ORG, you can fill in a request form, and we can visit you"
Person says (Frustrated) "Don't bother. I was here NOW. You could just talk to me NOW. Forget about it"