Mission Panama: Day 7, September 2, 2016
by Mike Freeman
On the 7th day, they rested…… Or not.
Friday was a travel day from Torino back to Panama City. After having a good breakfast and saying our goodbyes to all of our new friends at the hotel, we loaded up the bus and headed out. We stopped in Santiago to see David and Cindy Ceballos, our sponsoring missionaries at their new church. After showing us the progress that had been made in the past year, they took us for a little tour of Las Colinas. This is an extremely poor area of Santiago near the church where people are living in what could basically be described as boxes. They are small little shacks thrown up with pieces of sheet metal and wood where beds are sitting inside on the ground and hammocks, in which the babies lay, are hung from the ceilings . The restrooms are basically a couple of 5-gallon buckets with some water that washes the waste down small little ditches toward the river. The most enlightening thing for me was to see how much these people love David and Cindy and the support that they have given this community. Little ones were running up and grabbing him around the neck and saying “Buenos Dias pastor” which means good morning Pastor. The adults and kids would come up and give Cindy and David huge hugs showing how much love they have for them. This was an example of the incredible work that David and Cindy are doing here in Panama.
After that, we hit the road again and made a stop at a little tourist attraction to do some shopping. Then we headed up for the long drive to Panama City. After settling into the hotel the group went out for dinner and some Ballet Folklorico and then came home and settled in for the evening.
It is a beautiful and incredible experience and an amazing blessing to be given the opportunity to help the people of Panama and to support our missionaries. The work they do down here is amazing and everywhere you look you see God at work.
God has called us to be In this place.
Matthew 25:40 – Truly I will tell you, as you have done for the least of these, you have also done to me.
Mission Panama: Day 6, September 1, 2016
An Unexpected Journey
While we have been blessed by many people this week, two that have become very special to us are our translators who have written the following blog about their experience with us. Without them, we could have not have even begun to accomplish the thigs we did this week. We visited with over 280 patients in 4 days and every single one of them met with a doctor and one of our translators. Please pray for them and enjoy their Blog.
By Victor Navarro & Florencio Mendoza
God has different ways to teach us lessons of life and wisdom, lessons that have been put everywhere; they’re just waiting to be discovered. We tried to reinforce the bridge between two languages but more importantly to communicate feelings, emotions, and reactions.
To understand the capability that a group of volunteers has to impact people with positive vibes is try to understand how the Lord transmits love to his sons and daughters. Many of them cannot understand, how does a church work? And most of them do not understand that the church is inside themselves. This group of volunteers we are helping this week are here without worrying about any religious belief, because what is really important is to share with them the Glory of Christ.
We have seen many kinds of church work, however, we consider a powerful tool is one that is outside the building, when you really get inside the field. That feeling that comes to you when you see a child smiling. Most in this group have never tried an adventure like this, tried a new language, new culture, or new food. That is what really matters and every single day they spent helping these people was amazing. Even without words they communicated this lesson, there are no walls to prevent the giving of LOVE.
Through the whole week, they gave their dedication, their patience and their time to all these people. It was not just medicine for the body, but for the soul. The work they have done here will be remembered for a long time. The “gringos” were here, they gave us medicine, why are they helping us? This is the message they will remember. This is the message the group has given them, love. God does not know borders or nationalities.
Trying to say thank you is hard because a thank you will not describe what we feel. However, we need to say to you thank you very much for all your hard work. We don’t like to say Goodbye, instead we say see you soon.
Mission Panama: Day 5, August 31, 2016
by Amy Friggle and Paul Berg
Romans 12:10: Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Wednesday took us to Mariato for a new clinic experience. The new venue is an existing clinic. Our group did our best to blend in amongst a government sponsored dental and general medical clinic open from 8 AM to 2:30 PM daily for local residents. By 8 AM there were 100 folks lined up waiting for us to see. Luckily we are now experienced in setting up a mobile clinic. From scabies to diabetes and everything in between we were able to care for 80 Panamanian locals today. We were carried by the core values of David and Cindy Ceballos (Panama missionaries). Their acronym for mission is P-R-A-Y:
P=PRESENCE. Be fully present with who is in front of you. Lose the corporate America mentality. Productivity and efficiency have no value here. Only moments count.
R=RELATIONSHIP. We all share relationship. With God, it is good or bad. With neighbors, it is good or bad. We are always striving to improve our relationship with God and to be ambassadors of Christ with our neighbors.
A=ADAPT. Part of missions includes adapting to the culture to meet their needs vs going in with ideas of how to ‘make things better.’
Y=YES LORD! Respond to the will of the Lord with yes…or in Panama ‘Si, Se Puede!’
Romans 12:10 captures the essence of our group. With our PRAY mentality, we are devoted, selfless, zealous, joyful, patient and faithful throughout the day. We are so thankful to serve here with David and Cindy. Ciao!
Mission Panama: Day 4, August 30, 2016
by Mike Freeman
The past 2 days we have been working in a small town named Quebro about a 30 minute drive from Torio where we are staying. The drive is over a 2 lane, half paved road full of potholes, dodging dogs, cats, cows, chickens, pretty much all God’s critters in order to get there. People have been lined up each day when we arrived. After about a half hour of setting up we started to see people. We checked them in, got their medical information, weight, height, and any other information the doctors needed. Over the 2 days we have seen over 100 people from newborns to 95 year olds with all kinds of ailments. We did a couple of emergency laceration repairs. One on a man that cut his thumb badly cleaning a fish and another that cut his shin with a machete while clearing brush. We played with kids, we ran races, we sang songs, we sweated and… we hugged. Many hugs were exchanged which made me think of an experience we had on Sunday the day after we arrived. I will share it with you and I have entitled it HUGS.
It was crowded, It was noisy, it was warm, we didn’t speak the language but…. It was one of the most spiritual church services I had ever attended. It was the Iglesia Evangelica Metodista – Templo EL SALVADOR in Panama City.
We arrived and sat in on the last few minutes of their Sunday school Class. A very “participatory” bible study lead by the pastor of the church. As Sunday school ended, they passed the offering plate around, and yes, it was passed to us also.
There was a break of a few minutes as the Bible Study class wished each other well and greeted us, many with hugs. A few minutes later the service started to come together as the praise band started some background music and worshippers entered and then it took off. Two and a half hours of worship that did not seem that long. It was filled with great music, interactive scripture reading, more music and before the sermon, a 20 minute greeting period and….more hugs. Many more hugs. Before the sermon, the pastor called all the children up and blessed them before they left to go to children’s church. We listened to the sermon and even though most of the group did not understand the sermon, we could not help but know that God was in that building. The pastor was spirit-filled, animated, and emotional and even though I only understood about a fourth of it, I felt like I understood every word. The sermon ended and the pastor closed with about a 10 minute prayer that again felt spirit-filled and God inspired….even though we did not understand most of it. Service ended and guess what…… More hugs, and more hugs, and……… even more hugs.
Being the group photographer, I am supposed to document our trip. So what was I doing… Taking pictures of what? Hugs. After about 20 minutes of taking pictures of hugs, I started feeling sorry for myself because I am a “hugger” and I was not getting to “hug”. Oh Well. After this, most of us headed for the building where the bathroom was and as I walked in, the cutest little boy walked up and grabbed me around the legs and gave me the biggest hug. My day was complete. It was worth a thousand hugs.
This got me to thinking, what is a hug. I looked it up. Hug-“To squeeze someone tightly in on one’s arms to express affection. Cling to, Hold tight. Wow. If complete strangers who have never seen each other and will likely never see each other again can hug as though they have known each other for years, how tightly does god hug us each and every day of our lives? Like the Footprints story, do we only ask for God to hug us during troubled times in our lives or to we thank him for hugging us during the wonderful times of our lives when we are blessed? Do we know God is hugging us, clinging to us and holding us tight? Do we hug back?
Go on…. Be a hugger.
Mission Panama: Day 3, August 29, 2016
by Terri Bowden
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23
Today we provided medical care at Quebro about 30 minutes from Torio, where we are staying this week.
LOVE – We all felt and saw love through the loving care given by Paul and Amy, assisted by our translators Florencio and Victor. Our nurses Cindy, Diane, Mendy, and Nancy provided excellent intake with a touch of humor that kept the patients smiling throughout a long day. Ralph is now an official pharmacy tech and helped keep the medicine distribution on target.
JOY – So much joy was carried into the clinic today by those seen for medical care. The joyful flow was amazing as David, Katie and Mike bridged the language barrier for all.
PEACE – Peace was a gift given to each of us as we walked through day one of four knowing that God was there with us through the process of being present in his name. We were able to build relationships, even if we never cross paths again in person. A tiny spark of peace left the clinic with all who were present today.
PATIENCE – When arriving at the medical mission location this morning many patients were already in line. Extreme patience was shown as they waited to see a nurse and/or doctor. Some waited for hours in the hot/humid area. Jennifer, Mary, and Rachel were instrumental in keeping the children entertained with games, activities, races, and ending with duck, duck, goose.
KINDNESS – As the patients left the clinic, many came by to offer hugs and blessings. I am not sure if we were able to express just how much we were blessed with their presence today too, but hugs and blessings were exchanged in return.
GENEROSITY – This came in many forms today. The time taken by intake of the patients, to playing with the children, to helping each feel welcome and as comfortable as they could. The generous hearts of all were a true gift.
FAITHFULNESS – The act of keeping faithful to our mission of being present with our Panama neighbors and sharing God with them through our time, gifts and services.
GENTLENESS – Shown by all today. The gentle manner in which all were greeted and handled to the gentle time spent with the children in games and activities.
SELF-CONTROL – From our arrival at Quebro to our departure this afternoon self-control was shown by all doing what could be done in the time period offered and with the supplies and equipment available.
We recognize and see the fruit of the spirit in others and hope they see it in us. By the grace of God we are growing.
Mission Panama: Day 2, August 28, 2016
by Dr. Paul Berg
Captains Log: Star Date 28 August 2016, 1800 hours (that doesn’t have anything to do with our trip, I just always wanted to write that).
Today is another moving day. After a team meeting for breakfast at our Panama City hotel, we loaded up and made our way to a Panama City Methodist Church. We arrived in time for the end of Sunday School and stayed for the worship service. The 2 hour service included a 15 minute greeting time! Most of us having limited Spanish communicated the old fashion ways, with smiles, handshakes and hugs—LOTS of hugs! Their congregation was so welcoming to us! Worship was filled with powerful music from their praise band, personal testimony from congregation members, and a spirit filled sermon. Thanks to some quick translation from Pastor Katie and Mike, we were able to follow along with much of the message. However, we really bonded with their group over the music, love and passion that we could see and feel—even if we didn’t understand every word.
As I write this we are on the last leg of our journey, a bus ride to Torio where the clinic will be based. Lifted up by the many hugs and “God Bless You’s” by our new friends in Panama, we are anxious and excited to start our efforts here. We have loaded heavy suitcases stuffed with supplies, we have counted pills, and squeezed into small bus seats and we are so excited to answer God’s call to serve and pass out some vitamin J (the love of Jesus Christ) to our community here this week. Thanks for your support and prayers!
Mission Panama: Day 1, August 27, 2016
by Rachel Blust
I needed a suitcase for Panama. I mentioned it to a friend and she came back to me with this suitcase. Her son took this suitcase on the youth mission trip to Honduras in the spring. It meets the requirement of a mission trip suitcase: It has seen many an airport. This suitcase has been downstairs in our home, waiting for me to pack. For two weeks my family and I have been walking past it to go to work, to school, or to get a drink of water from the kitchen. I have felt oddly happy that this suitcase has been to Honduras. I found myself passing it and wondering where else has it
been. If it had a passport, what would the stamps reveal? This suitcase is my traveling companion, holding the things I have deemed the most important on my journey to Panama. I am trusting this suitcase to take care of these things for me. I noticed a small tear in the fabric so I decided to sew it up. My husband suggested that I use duct tape inside to reinforce the weak spots I am repairing, I borrow from my daughter’s duct tape collection. So now, sewn inside this unimposing suitcase, is a strip of shiny gold duct tape. As I sew, I feel a connection to the suitcase. I have flaws. Some, like my sewing job are visible on the outside. If my friend had hesitated, worrying that this suitcase wasn’t good enough, I wouldn’t have been reminded of this truth. Like the duct tape, don’t we all have a sparkle inside each of us that sometimes others do not see? Instead of hesitating, she offered me this suitcase, selflessly and with unbridled joy.
Isn’t that what we are charged to do? Give willingly to others, abandon our hesitations while sometimes showing our flawed areas and our vulnerabilities. That is what others need to see in order to have that validation that we all have flaws- just like this suitcase. This suitcase, this unobtrusive, inanimate object, has become the catalyst to center me, to prepare me for my time in Panama. So like this suitcase, with its brilliant strip of gold hidden away, I will trust that my inner “duct tape” will shine through and become a reinforcement for someone who may have a small tear that could use repairing. So the journey begins…me and this suitcase.