Hello First Church family! As many of you know our Mission Panama team has been traveling this weekend en route to serve our village. We’ll keep you up to date with our adventures here as our week unfolds. Hope you enjoy our stories!
Sunday, August 26, 2018
Written by team Chaplain Van Dickens
After arriving in 🇵🇦 Panama yesterday, we celebrated Ted Keller’s seventieth birthday! What a blessing to enjoy the day of one’s birth with friends doing the Lord’s work!
Today’s joy: hummingbirds in the morning and a delicious breakfast.
Today’s challenge: reloading the van. 🚐 But after two hours of pushing, pulling, and hoisting, UM missionary David Ceballos finished the job, with help, and we headed out.
Our first stop was at property that will eventually be used as an orphanage for at risk girls. 🙏🏻
Then on to the village of El Tigre, where we dropped off medical supplies. Interesting, the farther we traveled from Panama City, the simpler and more basic living is. And then, on to Santa Catalina where we checked into Mama Ines Hotel for the week.
The team is all very well and eager to begin our work tomorrow. God is so good!
Monday, August 27, 2018
written for us by Bill Venema
Sunday evening, after preparing the temporary medical clinic and having dinner at our hotel, we enjoyed a rooftop worship service led by Rev. Van Dickens, complete with a sermon and communion. What a great way to begin the work we came here to do!
Monday began early with breakfast at the hotel and then loading the truck with more supplies for the pharmacy. But as the local missionary, Rev. David Ceballos, has reminded us, the medical aspects our our trip are secondary. Our primary mission is to be Ambassadors for Christ—to be present here in Panama and to let the Panamanians we meet know that Jesus loves them and we love them.
We do that not only individually with each person we encounter, but also collectively. Some of the women in our group are conducting a mini Vacation Bible School for the children waiting to be seen by one of the medical professionals on the team.
We won’t be able to help all those in need, but all those we do help will know that God loves them.
Tuesday, August 28, 2018
written by Van Dickens
The day began with another absolutely delicious breakfast at Mamá Ines, and then off to the village of El Tigre to continue the good work.
It was a busy day, beginning with group prayer, together with the host of early patients. All who come to us walk. One elderly couple, in their eighties, arrived exhausted from their foot journey, but received prompt care. We drove them back home, much to their relief.
Apparently, word had spread about our presence. In all, we rendered medical care to over seventy patients today!!
VBS was extremely rewarding, for the children and for us! How gentle, joyful, and grateful they are.
Mid-day lunch was followed by a vigorous game of football (soccer), and yes, 😂 they easily won.
By the end of the day, all the bibles had been given away. There were more asking for them than there were available. There is a hunger here, not only for needs of the body, but of the spirit. 🙏🏼🙏🏼
Wednesday, August 29, 2018
written by Van Dickens
Santa Catalina’s elementary school hosts our work for the rest of our time in Panama.
Today was very busy with over eighty patients, and on the whole, presenting more significant cases. The good news is that the team was up to the day’s challenges and all who came were seen.
As before, children were in abundance and played games most of the day and, yes, soccer of course! The people here are naturally beautiful, while few attain more than a eighth grade education. Class was being held upon our arrival, but the teacher quickly dismissed school so the children could attend Vacation Bible School.
Obviously, things are different here, with more tolerance for varieties of education, even when our brand is unashamedly religious. 🙏🏻 God is good.
Thursday, August 30, 2018
Written by Bill Venema
We had no idea what was in store for us when we began our work today with a bilingual prayer, offered by Rev. Van Dickens and translated into Spanish by Rev. David Ceballos. Because it was a melding of English and Spanish, the prayer was a poignant symbol of our work here. Some of the local folks, in the Latin American tradition, offered responsive prayers as David spoke the words in Spanish.
As soon as we got organized for the tasks at hand, we were surrounded once again by sweet, beautiful children, who enthusiastically participated in the Vacation Bible School activities, including making cross necklaces and other crafts, playing improvised games with a colorful parachute, and competing with jump-rope games.
And, of course, we provided medical care to patients. Today, there were several with more serious medical conditions than we’ve seen so far on this trip. Not wanting to turn anyone away, we extended the hours to ensure we saw every one of them, some of whom patiently waited several hours to be seen.
In all, we saw nearly 130 patients today—by far our busiest day. And yet we know there are many in need help who were unable to come to our temporary clinic. Jesus said the poor will always be with us. As we’ve learned on this trip, that means there will always be opportunities to receive the kind of blessing that can only come from helping those who are less fortunate. ❤️
Mission Panama Last Update
Saturday, September 1, 2018
written by Van Dickens and Bill Venema
Thanks to generous donors to the Chicken Bucket, we were privileged to give them a check in excess of $10,000, to go toward the construction of an orphanage for disadvantaged girls in Santiago as well as a tuberculosis medical clinic and albergue respite center in Santa Fe.
Time has raced by. It is hard to believe the trip is nearly over. Did we really do this?
The many photos we took are evidence we did indeed. More so is the evidence of ❤️ love we are taking back with us, love for these beautiful Panamanians, love for our labor of compassion in Christ’s name, and the love for the great commission our Lord gives to us all, to go to the ends of the world for his sake. It is the love we received many times over that is proof of our days here.
Now we return, full of stories to share, in the hope that you, too, will hear God’s calling on your life, however it takes root in your life:
“Here am I. Send me!” 🙋🏼♀️🙋🏽♀️🙋🏻♂️🙋🏻♀️🙋🏼♂️
Blessings to all who have been praying for us and for this mission. Your prayers have been richly answered.