The Weather in Our Neck of the Woods

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Meet Carlos


Carlos Jimenez is our neighbor, our friend, and our dear brother in Christ. He is 19 years old now. He works full time, lives with and provides for his mom, has gone to college at night, and never stops to relax or do for himself. He was raised that way. His dad, Antonio, worked every day we knew him. He worked hard, and in his spare time he befriended us, teaching us how to grow different vegetables and fruit, bringing us food, plants and seeds, taking us to his harvests to get what we wanted, and more. He never quit working until the day he died last Summer. He left his wife, and Carlos, the youngest of his children to take care of each other, and they have done just that. Carlos did not return to school the semester after his father passed away. He said he was just taking a break, and we assumed he was still grieving, along with his mom, but the fact was they did not have the money for him to continue. He needed to work more hours, so he did.
Carlos is now building a new house for his mom. He is building it himself after he gets off work in the evenings, and on the weekends. He stops to worship with us on Sunday mornings, and then heads back to work. He is truly an amazing young man, and we love and admire him greatly. He has never asked us to do a thing for him or his family, but has always given of himself freely when we had a need (just like his dad). We finally have found a way that we can help him in his struggles.
He hopes to go back to college this semester, and we, thanks to Sarah and Brody Blagg, have sufficient funds to offer him a scholarship to help with the expenses. He has agreed that it would be a big help if we could assist in this way. We are grateful and honored to be able to help this young man continue with his dreams of a college diploma. We are grateful that God allows us the opportunity to serve His people here, in the ways that He has blessed us to do so. We are grateful for friends, prayer warriors, and those who support us being here.
Blessings,
Joy & Lynn

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Little stuff can be so big!

I found canning jars!!!!!!
I am so happy! Now I can 'can' some green beans, and squash, and ...whatever I want! Nobody cans here because the climate is good all year long to plant and harvest, but we are gone so much that we can not keep beans and I do hate frozen beans!!!(there are Panamanian green beans available, but they aren't exactly the same)
So, this little blessing makes me VERY HAPPY!

Another little, but big blessing - we found a crock pot too! We are getting down-right Americanized down here! So now I can can my beans and cook them too!!! ;)

We are working hard here on the place right now, and preparing for upcoming missions as well.

Things went well with Fidelia's appointment. They are all home and as happy as they can be with the loss of their little one.

Please remember people you love who are suffering today. Roy and Mary, our hearts ache for you. There are others as well who need a call or a hug.

As Brother Ron says,"Life is hard but God is good!"

Peace to you,joy

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Farm Stuff

Just thought I would let you know how the garden is growing - and the pigs and sheep and chickens...


At present we have corn ,beans, peas, guandu, otoi, bihau, alcachofa, green beans, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, cabbage, strawberries, potatoes, squash and watermelon up in the garden, and bananas, plantain, narajilla, lemons, ajis, lemon grass, coffee and lots of flowers growing in the yard.
This is Ajis - a mild kind of pepper that all the localsuse to spice everything. We love it, and are thrilled to have a good crop grwoing right outside the back door!

Out back we have 2 pigs at about 200 pounds, 17 chickens, 13 sheep, and 5 dalmatians. And of course, TasselB is in the house, reigning over it all.

We no longer have any helpers on the place. Dani has a new job cooking at the school, and we have never really found a good farm helper since Magdiel went home. All that to say, we are working our hinies off! But it is all coming along and looking good.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Update on Julio and Fidelia

Update on the family who lost their baby two weeks ago:
We have been out to check on them and take them food twice since the mom got home. We have met all the children now, and put shoes on each of them, as well as their neighbors, who live under the same conditions. The two fathers work 6 days a week in exchange for a roof and $60 twice a month. they do all they can, work very hard, to provide for their families, and they do survive, sometimes. Quite often the children do not. Do not misunderstand - these children are dearly loved, and for the most part they are happy, though they are most often hungry.
We will pick up the mother for her post-op checkup in David tomorrow, so will know better how she is feeling now. Last Wednesday she still could not walk well, and was only out of bed when necessary. She was still in a lot of pain. Hopefully she has begun to make marked improvement. The husband was doing the cooking and the kids said they were ready for mom to get better. He just laughed and said he was too.
The photos I am including were taken with my cell phone (thanks to Chad Chapman's generosity). The quality is not the best, but you get the idea.
Please keep us and this work in your prayers. We also ask you to consider helping us to help these folks with a donation. We do not want to give them the world, but we do want to help them be able to care for themselves and their children. Any help you can give will be used with great appreciation. We rarely, if ever, give money directly, but food and clothing, or medicine and transportation are offered as we can afford it.
Hope the Easter Holiday was renewing for you - spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically.
You are dearly loved - so much so that Jesus died and suffered for you to have life eternal. Now that is LOVE!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tough Lessons

Today, in the teenage girls class, we finished up our class on how to overcome temptations. Their honesty and frank questions were very inspiring and humbling for me. At times I am not sure who is teaching whom, but am very grateful for the opportunity to share in their lives. Our next topic (at their request) will be on being obedient and respectful to our parents and elders. Please pray that I will understand and represent God’s will clearly in this most difficult of topics.

This afternoon was also my turn to lead the ladies’ monthly study. Using Colossians 1:10-14 as our theme Scripture, we discussed how we can be strengthened, what that strength looks like in our lives, and to what purpose we are strengthened in this life. It was a difficult class to teach for me, as I was using examples from my life that were both very personal and very painful, but all to the glory of God who gives me strength every day! Lynn made cookies for the ladies, and they loved them. I am not sure if they wanted his cookies or my lesson more! I enjoyed a couple of the cookies myself, and they were delicious! I was telling Lynn that when I cannot remember much about my class that is when I know that it was a good lesson, because God was in control of my mind and my mouth, and He always gets it right! I don’t remember much of the lesson, so I think it must have been good.

Then the lesson for the day really started!

On the way home I stopped to give a sister, Erica, who could not attend the study, a copy of our Scripture outline. As I was leaving an Indian couple passed by the car – the man in front about 20 paces (as is normal), followed by the woman. The man was carrying a baby and said good afternoon to me, so I returned the greeting with a smile. Then the woman came up almost even with me and began yelling at me to not speak to her husband; that he was taken and I had no business trying to take her man! I was flabbergasted, and she was drunk as a skunk. I was saying good bye to a friend visiting Erica and he said “ Wow! She was really drunk!” I agreed and went on to the truck and toward the house thinking how sad that was.

As I approached our house I saw another Indian couple, and they saw me and started toward me. I had the intention of hurrying into the gate and getting away before they could reach me. I was still thinking about the drunk lady I had encountered and did not even look at them as I almost ran for the gate. The man called out and I resigned myself to speak to him for only a moment. I was tired and ready to change clothes and relax.
I recognized the man as the father of three of the students at Caña Blanca, so felt more at ease as he approached me. I noticed that his wife stayed where she was. I shook his hand and asked how he was. He said ‘bad’. I aked why and he told me in choking sobs that his wife had just had a C-section, and they had lost the baby. Now they were about 5 kilometers from home, walking only hours after the surgery and with the weight of having lost their child. He could find no-one to help them and asked if we could take them to their home. I said of course, and went to get Lynn.

In case you do not remember previous comments about the road to Caña Blanca, it is a terribly rough and rocky road. Lynn and I both feared the pain the ride would cause the woman, but that physical pain was nothing compared to the heart anguish both parents felt. It was heart- breaking to hear them cry and him try to console her. As he could, he shared with us that they had to leave the baby at the morgue because they did not have the money or a vehicle to take him to be buried, that no-one would help them in their suffering until they saw us and they knew that we would help. (remember I was doing my best to avoid them earlier – I asked God’s forgiveness more than once, and pray that I never get so into my own desires that I allow an opportunity to show God’s love to pass unnoticed)

So, take a moment and place yourself (if you can) in this woman’s shoes; you have carried this child in your body for 9 months. You leave your children to go hours away to the ‘good’ hospital with every expectation to return with babe in arms the next day. But something goes wrong and you are told you need a cesarean then when you wake up a few hours later you are told that your child is dead and your husband is waiting to take you home. You know that you live in the mountains miles from any bus, so you take the bus as far as you can then begin the walk to your home and family still several hours away and a few hours after major surgery and losing your child.

Can you imagine this? It is life here for the Indians.
Does it cause you pain? Does it make you wonder if you are doing all you can to help God’s people? Does it move you? It should. It does me. It hurts me deeply. I am so ashamed of who I can be at times. There is so much more to do. Pray that we can do it, and then help us do it. Come down or support our benevolent work. But first pray. God is our only hope in helping. We (all of us) can only be His hands - and then only if we see and follow His direction.

A day of lessons – one that I will not quickly forget, and one I pray that you will not quickly forget either.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Kingdom Kids News

CAÑA BLANCA
Tuesday we went to Caña Blanca. Joy visited with Señora Elvia, the pre-kinder and kindergarten teacher at the Catholic church. She had only three students that day, but normally has five. She conducts classes three days a week this year. We plan to take food once a month for the student’s lunches every day. One of the mothers will prepare the meals.
We then stopped at the elementary school to see Daysi, the teacher there. She has 17 students this year, considerably more than last year. Of the 17, only two are Latino, the other 15 are indigenous (most of which, in the past, have not gone to school at all in this area). They will meet four days per week. Again we plan to provide food once a month once a month for their daily lunches. Different parents will be assigned to prepare the meals each week.
On the day that we deliver the monthly food we will also teach a class with activities resembling a 3 hour VBS for the children. It will include a bit of English, but mostly center on God’s love.
Joy will not be teaching English once a week as she did last year because of the increase in diesel prices and the decrease in our revenues.
These 20 or so very poor children will be fed lunch every day because of the Riverside ‘Kingdom Kids’ contributions. As usual when we left for home we had additional riders – three this time, one of which was Adelaide’s father. Adelaide is the 12 year old young Indian girl that Kelly Martin provided with her first pair of shoes last year. She was also chosen as the student with best marks for the year and received a scholarship from the government for her hard work!
EL VALLE SCHOOL
Monday Joy talked with the El Valle Elementary Director, Damaris. The director was very upset that Riverside would not be coming to teach about God this year in the school. She asked me to convey her sadness and ask them to please come again next year.
Finally this little school is being noticed by the government! The Ministry of Education is supplying enough money to feed 40% of the student’s lunches, and will eventually provide precooked foods for that same percentage of students. This is based on the percentage of the children below the poverty level in Panama, and specifically in El Valle School. So we the Riverside Kiddos are giving them $320 per month with $100 earmarked for a cook. Our own Dani will be that cook, thus helping a sister in the church as well. We believe this will work out well. We’ll see. The idea is to provide for 100% of the children 100% of the time. In the past there has been a problem finding someone to prepare the food for the children. The food would be there, but no-one would show up to cook it. With the government helping, our same monies will hopefully take care of that problem.
We went to see Joy’s doctor today. He is putting her on a regimen for one month. If her knee does not improve she will have to have an MRI. Without insurance, this will cost about $600, so we are praying that the month of meds and rest will take care of the problem. Good news from the doctor also! Her osteoporosis has improved in the last year – a full point and a half. We know that for some the medication does not help at all, so are very grateful that she is gaining back bone mass with this therapy.
Other thoughts:
 We are hurting with our dear family at Riverside over the loss of loved ones – April and Dirk, we are so sorry to hear about Faith and are praying for you all to have strength and comfort from our Heavenly Father, the Giver of strength as you begin living without her. Roger and Kathy, we hurt for the loss of your Dad, and trust that God will give you all that you need to remember every good thing about him and comfort you as you miss him in your daily lives.
 We really appreciate Ron Morgan keeping us up on the news of our far-away family. What a blessing! Thank you so much for remembering us!
 Things are well underway for the medical group to come to Santa Marta in June! Translators and missionaries standing by!
 Holly Smith plans to come see us in June as well to help out with preparations and house-sitting. We can’t wait to see her.
 Ben may get to come down this summer as well – we are hopeful!
 Yari just finished her next-to last trimester in High School. She has 4 classes before finishing up in June. She walks, and even runs a bit, like normal now, but she still hurts some.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sometimes all you can do is laugh!

Okay, so this is the story:
Friday a week ago Brother Quintin called and asked if we could meet and talk. We did and he shared, in a long, drawn out story, that he had lost the keys to the church building, the church van, Frank and Vicky’s house and truck keys, along with about 10 other church-related keys. He had been looking for the whole week and could not find them, and did not know what to do.
Frank and Vicky are in the States for three weeks (this is their final week away) and had left the keys with Quintin to open up the building on Sundays, and pick up the folks for classes. The first Sunday Quintin’s car broke down, so he was flustered as he walked about two miles to get to the van, then he picked everyone up and after services we took him to his car, and helped him get it to a mechanic. The car could not be fixed until Monday, which meant that Quintin had to go down to his house (over an hour away) by bus and return by bus the next day. He did. He picked up his car and went by to drop some things off at the church building then went back to work. That was Monday. That was the last time the keys were seen. He spent the rest of the week looking for the keys. In the mean-time he got sick – a stomach thing, and he had to haul hundreds of gallons of water to his house because the water lines are down and they have about 20 pigs they are raising who need water along with the household needing water to drink and bathe. Then his wife got sick and the car broke again. No wonder he didn’t have his mind on the keys!
So, back to Friday. He told us the story, smiling the whole time. He did not have a clue how it would all work out, but knew that it would, so he smiled. Constantly. Lynn and I were amazed and impressed with his demeanor.
Well, to ‘fix’ the situation, we offered our home for the church meetings, and we used three different vehicles to pick up the folks for classes. It was like old times. We had classes in the front and back porches, in the living room and in the ‘big room’ where the bunkbeds are for mission teams. We had to share songbooks and Bibles, but it was a great service and time of fellowship. There are about 15 members of the church who travel over an hour to come to worship, and normally Vicky (a great cook) fixes them lunch before they head back home, so I thought I should as well. We had 10 can soup – a recipe my Dad sent me (but we used 20 cans for the large group). All went well.
Now, I am preparing for a second week with classes and worship here at our house because the keys still have not been found, and Frank and Vicky are still not home. Yari and Lynn helped get the house ready, and then Yari and I began preparing the food. Okay, I know you are bored, so I will try to get to the point. I wanted to really show off my Panamanian culinary skills, so I am making Arroz con Pollo, a traditional (and time consuming) food along with 3 Color Salad and Tuti Fruti punch. It doesn’t get more Panamanian than that!
So, the problem is I have never made the salad before. I have eaten it and know everything that goes into it; Potatoes, carrots, beets, eggs, mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Yari peeled away for a couple of hours today, and then I diced and cooked the veggies. All together. I asked Yari if it was okay to do so and she said she did not know but thought so. Well, the name of the salad is THREE COLOR Salad. That’s because it has three colors – white potatoes, orange carrots and red beets, right? Nope! Not my salad! Not when you cook them all together. It is RED SALAD. I am so embarrassed! So much for being a Panamanian culinary wiz! When I add the boiled eggs tomorrow it might be a two color salad, but that is the best I can hope for! I also opted to leave out the food coloring in the Arroz con Pollo, so it doesn’t look quite right either. I haven’t fixed the Tuti Fruti punch yet – wonder how I can mess that up?

So I am sitting here thinking of Quintin, and how he just kept on smiling even though he was embarrassed and frustrated- even though he did not know how things could or would work out. He just smiled- and it was a true smile. The smile that says I know that God is in control, and it will all be good, somehow. I am working on my smile as I write. Maybe I will have it down by tomorrow morning. If not, I think I will just fake it!

How ‘bout you? Things not going too good? Have you messed up yet again? Try smiling! If you can’t muster it, just fake it for awhile and it will come to you! God has it all under control!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Growing...Learning

GROWING....
The pups are now 3 weeks old and beginning to explore, growl, bark, howl, and be puppies in the full sense. They are great fun to watch!


LEARNING....


This is Fernando. He has been a recipient of Riverside scholarships in years past but we did not offer help this year as he had missed 50 days of school last year without being sick at all. He just did not want to go. he is 14 years old and in 6th grade, and that presents him with all kinds of social problems along with responsibilities to his family. This year, however, he has been in attendance all but one day thus far, and that because they lost their calf and had to search for 10 hours before finding it. The entire family looked all day long as the calf will bring a trememndous amount of income for the family in a few more months. The project beside Fernando (above) was for 4 grades in 4 different classes - Science, Agriculture, Art and Social Studies. He got an A for his work, and was extremely proud. That, in itself is new for him. He has never found reward or reason for pride in his work before! We are hopeful that he will continue past graduation this year.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Beautiful big babies!!!!



Saly is now skinny, and the puppies are getting fatter and fatter! The smallest pup is a ty baby. it was ythe same size as the others when they were born. Now he looks like a runt!

Mini Vacation with my Man!

Lynn got home safe and sound. When I met him at the airport we took off to Gamboa Rainforest Resort for two days – a little anniversary trip that turned into a great experience!
We visited a zoo that specializes in animals of the rainforest, with all kinds of tropical birds, monkeys, and the national bird, the Harpie Eagle, among other animals. It was very interesting and most enjoyable with my wonderful husband at my side!


HARPIE EAGLE
We also took a boat ride on the Panama Canal. I did not think we could afford that, but it was not near as expensive as I had thought. We played in the wake of the huge ships headed down to the locks, and felt very tiny when we got close to them! We visited an island that was home to a family of white-faced capuchin monkeys. They were quite accustomed to the boats coming to see them, so jumped right on board at the sight of an apple or grape. We also saw parts of the enlargement project where we learned that the several hundred pvc pipes we saw planted in the ground held dynamite ready to blow away a huge chunk of dirt to widen the lake. A little frightening to me!


We also saw lots of wildlife closer to the hotel - two bats were sleeping above our balcony door, and on a nature walk we actually saw (pictures to prove it) wild toucan in the jungle!
We enjoyed the hotel for two nights, and then as our last activity we visited an Embera village. The Embera generally live in the Darien province, but there are 7 tribes living along the canal. They came there over a hundred years ago to work on the canal as laborers, and brought their families, then stayed. Now these villages are sharing with the world their culture and way of life in an effort to conserve both. Their numbers are small, but they are very diligently trying to keep their ways alive. We spent 3 hours touring the village, with a guided tour of the plant life, a typical meal, traditional dancing, and I even got a tattoo like the women there have. Mine, like theirs, will only last two weeks before it needs to be redone. The ladies tattoo most of their body, but I just went with an armband. Lynn was happy about that!
What a nice way to get reacquainted with my hubby! We enjoyed it thoroughly, and are now back in the house enjoying the last days of summer.
Other notes:
 School is well underway
 Yari is walking normally and will be free to do biking and running in another month!
 Saly had 7 BIG beautiful babies – actually she had to have a C-section because they were so big. All are doing well.
 A young friend of ours lost his girlfriend, and took his life. We are all still reeling from this.
 We have heard that the government will begin bringing food to el Valle School, but we are still awaiting final word before addressing what our role will be if it happens. Like so many things, talk is cheap, but we will wait for action!
 Dear Sister Holly plans to come down in June to help us out, Lord willing and airfare doesn’t skyrocket even higher!
 Another sister, Meredith Woodell, plans to come spend a month or two with us as well.
 We almost have a new kitchen!!!!! We have been in the process of changing the laundry room to an outbuilding and enlarging the kitchen to use that space. It is just about done! I even have a kitchen window!!!!!!

God is so good to us – and to you, just pay attention and don’t take His gifts for granted!!!

posted by Joy in the wrong account!

Monday, March 7, 2011

There is planning, and there is doing, and never the twain shall meet...?

The weekend campaign, while not going as I expected, went very well. There church in Chorerra - just outside of Panama City - brought a group of about 35 folks to canvas the area for two days, and have nightly meetings as well. We are in the midst of the dry season here, which means, of course, it rained, twice. The group was staying in tents, and it was pretty cool with the rains, but they were troopers!
I am still learning that nothing is ever concrete when it comes to planned activities here. The plan was for 4 days of classes in the afternoons, with nightly meetings and visiting in the mornings. The group was providing all the food, materials, everything necessary for the work, and we would hold nightly meetings at 7:00 for the adults and another class for the children. A group from our church that lives in Dolega was to stay at our house for the four nights as it is a full hours travel for them to get here. Yari, Dani and I spent the entire week preparing the house.

So, this is what actually happened: The group arrived from Chorerra at 5 am Saturday instead of Friday night - bus troubles. On Saturday part of the group from Dolega came up, but decided to stay with the campers, then at 5 in the afternoon the other part of that group (4 in all) called to say that they would like to stay here. I said that was fine, we were ready. There were no classes or activities on Saturday, as they spent the day visiting and handing out flyers. Saturday evening no-one had shown up at our house, but our neighbor told us that there would not be an evening service. I called Frank, the preacher, to verify and he said, yes there would be evening service at 6:30. About an our later another member of the church called to say that the service would be at 6:40. I called the neighbor back to tell her, but by then all of our church family in our neighborhood had made other plans. Yari and I went to the building at 6:30 and the service actually started at 7:15. After the service we guided those staying with us to our house and got them settled in. Then it rained.
Sunday morning we got up and visited for awhile before heading off for morning worship. I got there to find they had cancelled my class in order to keep the whole group together. Then about 30 minutes into the class I got sick and had to leave. I was in bed the rest of the day.

The group had lunch together then all went out visitng and handing out flyers through the afternoon. (noteworthy - the food was all provided by our church as the group had not brought food or cooking utensils.)
At 9:30 last night those staying here returned to sleep, then this morning they left at about 9:00 to see the Chorerra group off before heading back to their home in Dolega. The campaign had been cut two days short, not exatly sure why. Though I did not get to participate much, I hear that the campaign was a success, with the building overflowing last night.

Fellowship is always good, and I am certain that the community is more aware of where we are located, and our beliefs due to the visitations. The singing was great! We learned some new songs and the speaker was very charismatic. I think most everyone was uplifted along with the name of the Lord. So, it was different that I expected, but it was good.


Saly is about to pop! Our dalmatian is due. NOW. She spent the night in so much pain that she chewed up part of the wall. Today she is very restless, and absolutely HUGE! As you can see, she just can't wait much longer. I expect tonight I will be a grandma!

Yari continues to recuperate and has been given a clean bill of health! She is almost walking normally, but the doc has cautioned her not to run, bike, or lift heavy thing s for another 6 weeks. No more cane, or crutches!

Lynn comes home next week! I am missing the cute lil' guy! I think he is missing me a little too! I can not help but stop and say "Thank you God!" that we will celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary next week. Many of you know just how close we came to not ever celebrating together again. Praise God for his love, mercy and guidance!

Richest Blessings!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Full and Empty Days...

Well, the last two weeks have been full…and empty. I have been very sick, but very busy, and then on top of it all, missing my dear friend and husband’s company and support. Okay, I miss his back-rubs too!

Sick: I finally got them! The stinking amoebas that all of my neighbors seem to always have. And when I got them, I got them good! (or bad) Cramping, diarrhea, vomiting, the works, and it lasted a whole two weeks! It was awful, and I whined a lot! (Obviously, I am still whining) I finally broke down and went to the doc last week, and he gave me parasite medicine, told me to give some to Dani, who cooks for us at times, and to Yari, who eats and drinks what I do. Today, 15 days after it began, I am well. Tired, and a bit skittish of eating, but better, thanks to God!

Busy: School Time! We been shoppin’ till we been droppin’ – literally! Thanks you all so much for your help for these young ones! We have purchased uniforms, shoes, socks, books, notebooks, backpacks, pens, pencils, and all kinds of other school supplies for 14 very grateful children. If only you could see their faces as they look into the bags and see what you have given them, many of you would cry, I know. I hope to get a few pictures this week, as many of the children pass the house on their way to classes.
Yari and I traveled the road to and from Frontera so many times we know it by heart. ‘Frontera’ means ‘border’ and so most call the town there by that name. Just before the border is a check station manned by armed guards who check the documentation of each person that passes. The poor guards just wave us through now, not checking our bags, papers, or anything else. A good thing, in some ways. They know me, and trust me. But I have spent way too much time shopping! Why do we go to Frontera to shop? It is about 1 ½ hours from our house, a little further than David, but there are two very good reasons to make the trip – 1) Their prices are about 12% cheaper than in David, and 2) They now have a McDonalds. Now before you think that I am a glutton – the kids only have the chance to go to McDonalds when they go shopping with me once a year, and they LOVE it! It is a treat they remember all year long.
Yari was talking with the last group about the first time she went to McDonalds with us and that was 5 years ago! I had not realized what an impact it had until the others began sharing when they first went to McDonalds, and each time it was with Lynn and me in years past. Silly to us, but very important to them. Each one had a story of their trip, and the new ones eyes were bugging out with excitement. I had to keep secretly wiping the tears from my eyes as I drove.
Again, I need to say thank you to those of you who support this work. I am so grateful that I can spend part of my life helping, and making a difference in these children’s lives, and I know that it is in part because of you. You give the money, I get the hugs. Doesn’t seem fair, but I would not trade places for anything! I know God will repay you in time, but I am all about instant gratification in this case! I pray each of you is blessed richly now and later!

Empty: Lynn has been gone 2 weeks now, but it seems like 2 years! While I am thrilled that he can spend the time with family there, and I am talking with him daily, I still miss holding his hand and snuggling up with him at night. Okay, enough already, I miss the guy, but am glad that he is with his mom right now. He will be back in just two more weeks, Lord willing.

Other News:
• We are very grateful that Roy Thompson is at home and recovering from his surgery.
• We are also grateful that Yari is walking better all the time.
• We are excited that we have a campaign starting this weekend, and honored that our brothers and sisters (about 15 in all) from Dolega (about 1 ½ hours from here) will be spending the weekend with us here at the house. It will be full of fun and fellowship!
• Yari and I are taking a day to go to the beach and relax tomorrow!
• God is Good All the Time!


joy

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Trip to the Dentist

Lynn has arrived safely for a visit with his mother, the family, and the church in Arkansas. I am left here with Yari holding down the fort for the month. I am glad that he can go, and glad that we do not need to leave the house in other hands again. I also miss the old man!
Yesterday I went to the dentist. I have a kind-of regular dentist here. His name is Ben Hur. Yep, really! He speaks a little English, and does a good job, but in the past he has gotten a bit more expensive each time I went, or sent a child to him. He has always been good, if the child appeared to be indigenous, to lower his price, but the prices for others I brought in seemed to get ‘Americanized’ and would run about 50% more than the indigenous. And about 30% more than he charged others, most of the time. So I haven’t seen him much recently. I should note that this dentist is in private practice, and most others are less expensive ($2-$5), but you must wait hours, and as I mentioned, no anesthetic. I am a wimp when it comes to dentists, so…

I broke a tooth, and had to get it fixed. It was cutting my tongue, so I went to Ben Hur. He gave me an appointment for yesterday afternoon, and so it was.. that I got the ‘Ben Hur show’! As soon as he had seen the problem, he said ‘I can fix it!”, and promptly turned to his computer and started the music. Opera – French opera began to play, pretty loudly. I thought, okay, I like a little opera - that might relax me. No happy gas here, so music would probably be as close as I could come to help relaxing in the dentist’s chair.
As he prepared the injection to take away the pain (yes, that is why I come back to him – he gives pain killers and most others here do not!!!!) he began belting out the tenor’s solo – I mean BELTING out! I jumped in the chair, but he had his back to me and did not see. He seemed to have the filling process timed to exactly 6 songs, and he knew the words to all six, and actually stayed with Pavarotti, but an octave lower. He was really quite good, but still, when I am laid out with my mouth stuck open and a tube sucking the drool from one side… and you know how close the dentist’s face is when he works… well, let’s just say when he came to a …profound part (i.e. loud part) I was about blasted out of the chair, and somewhat out of sorts!
And I must add, he sang with plenty of emotion and body movement. It was an experience I will not soon forget! I am not sure how much I paid for the filling, and how much for the show, but I felt I got a bargain at $20.00!
When the last song ended, he turned and gave me a rinse, and said “Ya!” which means finished. The room was silent, he made a receipt, noted on my chart what he had done, and said thanks. No mention, ever, of the music, the tooth, nothing, the experience had ended. I went home with a good filling and a song in my heart! I can’t be sure, but I think he did too! Ah the life!
Okay, because I know when Lynn reads this he will want to mention it, Ben Hur is also quite nice to look at. Yea, but that has nothing to do with why I go to him. Well, not much! It was really his English that hooked me to begin with.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Lynn's Musings

Yesterday we came home from a couple of nights at the beach (Las Lajas). We had intended to stay three nights, but we had some noisy neighbors and were not getting much sleep. The days were very relaxing – temps in the low 90’s – just right for taking a dip occasionally to cool off. We thought about the 0 degrees and snow in northern Arkansas, but did not dwell on it.
At the beach Joy spends most of her time reading and I sleep. We spend a lot of time talking. This trip, although not on the agenda, we concentrated on cultural differences. One day for young kids rode up the beach on a four wheeler and struck up a conversation. Come to find out two of the kids were from a small town close to where we live. They were vacationing with their families at another resort nearby. One of their questions was if we had any food that we wanted to share with them. We said no, but later regretted it. Their question was the spark that ignited our discussion about cultural differences. ….and you thought I had forgotten about the subject.


Another thing that happened that afternoon was that a large extended family group moved into the cabana next to us (about 25 feet away). We were quietly sleeping on our little porch, and they were being very loud and boisterous. It seemed very rude to us, but they turned out to be very nice folks, and I’m sure never considered their behavior inconsiderate. I know we have written about cultural differences before, but (after 5 years) the longer we are here the more we understand how little we understand.
I was brought up a traditional church of Christer. It is very difficult for me to separate tradition from scripture, but it is extremely important to do so when trying to persuade a soul to become a disciple of Christ. We are finding it incredibly difficult to be an example to folks we don’t understand. After a couple of days at the beach we think we have our heads on straight but fully realize we do not.
Joy and I and our marriage are good – probably better than ever. I will see some of you next week when I will be in Yellville for a month with my Mom. Joy and Yari will be holding down the place while I’m gone.
Thank you for your prayers for us and the young Christians here.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

On Socialized Medicine

Here in Panama there are three options for health care: Private, Insured, and Public. I thought in light of the current ideas in the U.S. I would share a bit of our world here, with socialized medicine.
Private Hospitals cater to those who have accessible cash. The hospital has a contract with an insurance company that offers a hospital/ clinic only policy that is affordable to approximately 3% of the people in Chiriqui. However, should I ,one of the fortunate who have this insurance, need to enter the hospital on an emergency basis, have tests, X-rays, or bloodwork, I will need to pay cash, and then be reimbursed. The service is better than other options, because, of course, it costs a lot more.
Insured workers, that is, people who work for larger companies - store chains, or big building companies, have a different clinic where they can go and be seen as an outpatient for a small co-pay. There are approximately 10% of the people here in Chiriqui who are insured. But at these clinics they can get prescriptions, X-rays, and other exams. The quality of the care will be lower than that in the private hospital or clinic, and the wait time can be upward of 3 days for an appointment. The ‘insurance’ is taken from their check by the government, and used to sponsor the government run clinics. Regarding wait time, you can get an appointment earlier in the week, but will be seen in the order that you arrive at the clinic. So, with an appointment at 9:00, you arrive at 8:30 and can expect to be seen around 2:00 in the afternoon because every fool knows to arrive at 3:30 in the morning if you want to be seen by 9:00 am.
Then there is public health care – the other 87% of the people. It generally costs from $.50 to $5.00, and is available to the entire public. In the hospital you will sleep 12 to a room, one duty nurse and one aid per 4 rooms. They will provide you with absolutely no essentials, including toilet paper, washcloths, and towels. They will expect a family member to take care of your every non-medical need- food, clothing, help to the bathroom, change bedding – everything. Besides the conditions in the public hospital, you will be put on a waiting list for any non-life-threatening surgery or treatment. Should we have opted for the public hospital Yari would have waited an average of 12 days to have her foot put back together. They would have sent her home with the compound fracture to wait for her appointed time. We have a friend now who is waiting to have a DNC. She is bleeding profusely – to the point that her hemoglobin is at 7 - and her surgery is scheduled for late May – 3 months from now. Should you need to go in for a test, or just see a doc for a small problem, the most time-sensitive approach is to arrive at the clinic before 4:00 am to get a ticket to be seen, then wait for 6 or 7 hours for your turn to see the doc or technician.
Of course the public health system also provides folks with (mostly) free medications, that are very limited in supply, so more often than not you are turned away because they do not have what you need, and will not substitute without you going back to the doc and asking for a different drug, which, of course, will take you another day of getting up at 3:00 am to get another appointment. And there are only certain types of prescription papers that the pharmacy will honor. Wrong paper = no meds. If you get your prescription from a doc who treats insured patients, and he forgets to give you the right paper, you are out of luck. It isn’t that you have to pay; they just won’t give it to you. Loads of red tape and hoops to jump in order to get this, less than average quality medical care. We had a friend who went to David for an appointment last year at the public hospital (Regional). Two weeks later she finally returned. When we asked what happened, this was the story. She needed a surgery, but to have the surgery she needed to donate a pint of blood beforehand. She was left alone, the IV came loose and she poured out too much blood onto the floor while the nurse had gone to another room. She passed out, they put her in the hospital. She only had money to go to David and return, with nothing leftover to buy food, but she had to stay the night, so she had to buy food. She then had no money to return home, so was stuck sleeping in a chair in the hospital for 4 days before she could get money to come home. I know these people are poor, but for a system that is supposed to take care of the poor, somehow there has got to be a better way.
So, I guess, when it is all said and done, I question whether the U.S. really needs to be going in this direction. On the bright side, there are little if any mal-practice suits.
We continue to live and learn with Yari’s medical problems. Thanks to God, she is doing well. Her mom has insurance that would not help her have the surgery unless we were willing to wait the 12 days, but it will cover x-rays and therapy, we think. It did cover the x-ray in the Insured Clinic. We arrived there at 9:00 am for an appointment that actually took place at 1:45 that afternoon. There were (and this is not an exaggeration) over 350 people waiting for X-rays or tests when we arrived. I counted, and that was only one half of the building. The staff was nice, but overworked.
At any rate her X-ray looks good and we return to her surgeon on Tuesday to see if she is ready to begin therapy. Another adventure, just around the corner!
God is very good.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Can we be 'humbly proud'?

I remember when we had a guest speaker at Riverside a few years ago who seemed to brag and brag about his ‘children in Christ’. I remember that I thought it …unbecoming and perhaps even un-Christian to act like it was of his doing that those souls came to Christ.
I remembered it clearly as it ran through my mind today as three of my students accepted Christ in baptism. I honestly did not think it was my doing, but I did think how awesome that I had a small part in their understanding God’s call, His love, and His desire for our lives. Was I a little proud? I cannot lie, I was. Do I feel a sense of responsibility for their Christian training for the future, absolutely. Do I think that the glory of this day was my doing? No way! Their parents planted, I watered, and GOD gave the increase. God convicted their hearts. The blood of Jesus saved them and brought them into a relationship with God. But it sure feels good to have gotten to water a bit!


In truth I am honored and humbled that not one, but three, encouraged by the class, decided to follow Christ. As I began this new class with the teenage girls (which began January 2) I wanted to make sure they understood the call to follow Christ as I understood it:
It has little to do with fear of hell, or duty or responsibility, but everything to do with God wanting to have a personal relationship with us, but being unable to in our filthy, sin-stained condition.
I wanted them to understand that Jesus came to earth as the solution to this problem, and His solution is a permanent one, offering continued, permanent forgiveness to those who believe He is who He says He is.
I wanted them to understand that God loves us so much that He gave His Son so that He could be with us daily in the form of the Holy Spirit.
I wanted them to love Him the way I love Him.
Praise the Lord, there are some who do understand! They understand and want that relationship with the Creator of the universe! And God let me help! I know, some of you are saying, “yea, so what! We have done that before”, but isn’t it just as amazing and renewing each time? I am still deeply in love with our awesome God, and still in awe that He could use this filthy, sin-stained sinner to help bring light to His beloved. I’m just sayin’, it don’t get any better than this!

Friday, January 28, 2011

One step forward, two steps back

Last week our neighbors and friends, Jose and Marlenis, asked if we could drive them to Caña Blanca so they could pick up some supplies from their little rented farm place. Today was the day. We left at 8 this morning for the rough but beautiful drive. They rented a farm there last Spring from our rich neighbor. It has a small house, next to a creek for water, and they were raising a few head of cattle and corn and beans on the property.
Last November the land was sold and they were told they must get the cattle off immediately, but could wait until the bean crop was harvested before moving themselves. The contract they had signed was not honored, but they were satisfied with being able to at least harvest the beans before leaving. We are talking truck patch – size plot of land full of beans – all of their money went into planting and fertilizing the crop. The cows had to go because the new owners plan to plant coffee, and poisoned that part of the land with herbicides that would kill the cows.
Unfortunately with the cows moved, Jose could not milk them daily, and had to travel every day to take care of them in town. This became impractical, as it is a 3 hour walk to the farm from here, and some may remember it was Jose who broke his ankle last year, and he still has problems with it. Necessities forced them to move back to town.
So, there we were today, in this perfectly remote, jungled area with wild birds, and many other animals scampering about. It was so peaceful and calm, yet they were tearing down outbuildings, and collecting their meager belongings (which all fit into a 5 gallon bucket and a large cook pan) to move back to town.
Fortunately Marlenis has a small house just up the road from us that was built for her by the government about 20 years ago, so they are not left with no place to go at all. However the lot is very small, and they have worked hard to purchase two horses, 2 pigs, and a few chickens and turkeys, with no place to safely keep them now. It seems a common occurrence here, to finally think they are getting a bit ahead then be thrust back down. Such is the resignation of the folks here. It is sad, but we understand better why they are so accepting of whatever fate comes along.
Jose has found a temporary job building fences just north of town, and so they will not starve, but they are heart-sick to leave behind the months of work, the tranquility and peace of the farm and knowing it was their own hands that produced their food. Me too. It was good to be with them for a time today. That is, after all, what ministry is all about – helping those who are down when they need it most - reminding them that they are loved, by us and by God.
I know how blessed we all are, and I ask you today to just take a moment to think of Jose and Marlenis, say a prayer for their tomorrows, and remember a prayer of gratitude that you have a home, food, transportation, all the things we take for granted daily, knowing that others, like these dear folks, have nothing but faith in God to help them survive.
All because of Jesus!
joy

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lynn's Random Thoughts

I’m a little embarrassed to write my mundane post since Joy was so spiritually minded with her last couple of posts. I have read the book she recommends if that counts for anything. The first success story from Joy’s Bible class for teen girls – Ingrid, a 16 year old wants to be baptized on her birthday February 6. Ingrid is a great girl with a good Catholic background.
The pigs survived our castration (mutilation) of them.
We have had some good reports about our lamb meat.
This summer (summer is the dry season, Dec. 15th to March 15th) is very cool. We have not seen lows at night of 51 degrees. We’ve had to add a second blanket to the bed. Day temps are still in the high 70’s to low 80’s. Of course if you take note of the weather strip on the blog, you already know this. It hardly rains at all during this 3-month period, making our summer very dry. Even though our average annual rainfall is 4000mm (157 inches) it mostly comes in the 9-month rainy season. We have to water every day during the summer because to ground is sandy, and it absorbs water like a sponge. We have lost several shrubs and trees in the past because of being gone in the summer.
Here is one little quote to help you understand our culture. We have told you before that there is very little violent crime here, but thievery is common. We were in the truck sometime ago conversing with a Panamanian lady. She was talking about a neighbor of ours and she said “He’s not a bad person, he just likes to steal.” ‘nough said.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Who's in charge of your heart?

It is so deeply imbedded in the human character to think of oneself above and before all else. How can we change that? And further, we see everything through the glasses that we are wearing today, in this moment. When I talk with my neighbor just after I have been fuming about my child’s behavior, and she is struggling to accept that her father is getting old - forgetful – all that comes from my mouth is ‘relationships are so difficult’. Really? How pitiful is that? My ‘sour apple glasses’ just affect all that I see and do, and ruin significant God-moments.
If only I could…put God’s heart first, wow! What a difference that would make! So, as I am committed to doing just that, why do I so constantly fail? I know that I am not alone in this. I have both witnessed it and felt the sting of someone not hearing my heart because they are caught up in their own. I see that both sides need understanding, forgiveness and a closer walk with the Maker of the universe. So here is the kicker…I cannot hope to be more like Jesus when I don’t constantly study Him, who is God, to know Him better.
May God grant us all better vision as we seek to serve Him and as we cultivate relationships with His people!

Sunday Afternoon Road Trip

Sunday afternoon we took a drive out to a small…spot called Quebrayana. Not really a town, or even a pueblo. Really it is just a few houses on the side of the road by a creek. We were looking for Bijao – a large leaved plant that the locals use to wrap up tamales before cooking them. We wanted to get a start of it going in the garden to help out the neighbors, who are always looking for it just before birthdays or special occasions. I have not personally made tamales by myself (too much corn is not good for my diabetes, and the tamales here are almost pure corn mush) but I hope to at least learn to make them for others. Tamales are ‘fiesta’ food. Special occasions warrant tamales, Arroz con pollo (a rice, chicken and vegetable dish), potato salad and chicha (a drink made of the available fruit at the time). Now, that, friends is party food!
Lynn and I got kind of turned off of tamales a couple of years ago when the neighbor, selling tamales for a school function, brought us tamales made with fish, bones and all, and also some made with pork. The pork tamale had a bone, some uncooked fat, and blood. I was sick just looking at them. However, we have learned that if we know the person cooking, we can make an informed decision about whether they are edible (the tamales, not the people). Generally we just buy them for whatever cause and let Saly, the Dalmatian decide whether they are any good. When we go to parties, it is a different story. That becomes a more delicate issue. Lynn’s normal way of dealing with that is to slide it onto my plate at the first available moment. Not fair, but what can I do without drawing more attention to us not eating them. I end up being the guinea pig, but searching for a friendly, out of the way dog to share with!
Okay, back to the trip – we came across a large Indian family standing on the side of the road about two miles out of town (dirt road, mind you, middle of nowhere) waiting for a ride to come by.

We stopped and asked where they were headed, and they told us Quebrayana, so we said hop in. As they were getting in I noticed that one of the girls was Florencia, a student of ours from the school at Caña Blanca. Most of the family climbed into the back of the truck, but Florencia and one of the boys asked if they could ride in the cab. We said of course, and they talked our ears off until we reached where they said they would get out to go to their home. We could not see a house at first, but stopped to let them out. The father thanked us for the ride and asked if some time we might come out and pick them all up to go to church with us. Unusual request, and it tickled us. The oldest boy, who had been riding in the cab, asked me if he could ask a favor. I said he could ask. He then asked if we could get him a pair of shoes. I told him we would try, asked what size did he need, and what kind of shoes he preferred. His name was Carlos, he was 13 years old, and I knew I had not seen him at the school (thanks to Kelly Martin and others, we took shoes to all the students in Caña Blanca last summer). I asked if he went to school, he said no, he worked cutting grass and weeds whenever he could. We took a picture of the younger children and mom, who said not a word the whole time. Then we headed out. After we crossed the creek and made the bend in the road we could see a house or two, so felt they were not far from home. We hope to get some black tennis shoes for Carlos today, and when we deliver them, see what sizes the other younger children need. The Caña Blanca children are not part of our scholarship program at this time, but the generous help we have received from Riverside folks will provide shoes and a bit of food for this family. A great ministry opportunity God placed in our laps!

The trip was also successful in spotting a couple of new birds to add to our bird-watching list. We have started trying to identify the thousands of birds we see normally, and are enjoying it. The only drawback is that my camara refuses to get the photos in time, so I end up with blurry pictures of wings flying away from me! (Okay, might be the photographer instead of the camara – maybe. Lynn says the camera cost too much to be at fault, so it must be me!) At any rate, we spotted a pair of Collared Aracari Toucans and a Crested Oropendola - All beautiful, colorful birds, and yes, I did take these photos, so there is hope that someday I will get some good ones! That alone would have been worth the trip without having met the family. Bonuses left and right!
The trip was also successful in finding Bijao. It is now planted in the garden and looking healthy and grateful for the water! Fred, the truck, performed magnificently with the very awful road conditions, and we had a lovely afternoon!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Journey Thoughts

On good days I am convinced that I don't have room in my mind or heart to consider whether, by helping someone, I am enabling the one asking for help - just making their problem worse. There is no room for me to wonder whether the one asking is deserving or not.
I honestly don't believe that God calls us to judge people,, but to serve them.
Then there are other days when I fail to see with God's eyes, and look instead, with my own. My sin-stained, faulty human eyes that see laziness or squandered opportunities; selfishness and desire for instant gratification more clearly than need.
When I can think clearly, that is, when I allow God to speak to me, I understand that I see those things more plainly because I have witnessed them in myself. I have known each of those motivations. I am guilty, guilty, guilty! But then I remember that I am also forgiven, forgiven, forgiven! And never have I been deserving. Praise God!
So, if I want to be like Jesus....


I am reading Invitation to a Journey by M. Robert Mulholland Jr.. If you are ready and willing to move closer to the likeness of Christ, I highly recommend this book. Simply by defining 'spiritual formation' he opens the whole can of worms; "Spiritual formation is a process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others."
I have always thought it was all about me and Jesus, how about you? Mulholland makes a pretty compelling arguement for it actually being about others more than ourselves. I am now convinced that my spiritual growth is directly affected by how I interact with others as much as how I interact with others is directly affected by my spiritual growth.
Something to think about.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Pigs are Here!

and I had forgotten how much I LOVE PIGS!
We went to the neighbors to pick up the pigs, expecting 35-40 pound pigs, but found instead these adorable little guys! We are super pleased because we knew we needed to castrate them this week, and were dreading the bigger size.
As we got out of the truck, Sidilio (our neighbor who is about 75 years old) had the two piglets in feed sacks ready for us to take, and one, we shall call him 'Runner' broke out and the chase had begun. We spent 20 fun-filled, out-of-breath minutes trying to get him back in the sack. It took two of his grandchildren, his wife, his grown daughter and Lynn and I to get it done. The other neighbors were hiding in the bushes watching and laughing. It was too funny!
The feeder you see was Lynn's work. AS I mentioned, we expected bigger pigs, so it looks a little intimidating right now - I think they may sleep in it! But they will grow fast. We have always made our feeders of wood, but felt we should try with concrete, still using the same design to make them use their butt muscles and thus grow that ham to its biggest size!
As you can see, the little buggers are just gorgeous! I can't wait to get them used to me so I can pet them and play with them. I can't help it, I just love pigs!

Tomorrow is a new day, with many new opportunities. We are preparing to paint the house, plant the garden again, I am teaching English, Lynn is moving plants from one place to another... okay, that is a kind-of joke. I just kid him about it because he changes his mind alot on where to put the flowers and plants. Lots to do in the community as well, getting ready for the school year. For those who have pledged support of the children and have not yet deposited the money, the time is upon us, and thank you again! The kiddos are 'matriculating' this week!

Thank you Lord for all your blessings, though some may be more difficult, we are grateful for the growth that results from them all!

Blessings!
joy

Sheep, Pigs and Cocks

Yesterday we killed and dressed two of our sheep. Actually our neighbor, Junior did most of the work. We gave him half of the meat, and we gave 5 or 6 of our neighbors part of ours. George was the older of the two. We had some of his ribs today for lunch. Very good! We spent yesterday morning building a concrete feeder in one of our hog pens. We are supposed to get two pigs today.
We loaned out chairs to our neighbors across the road for a fiesta they were having last night. For those of you who haven’t visited us, the house across the road sets back about 100 meters. Fiesta means very loud music and beer, in this case, only until 2 am. We could hear the music and feel content that they were sitting in good chairs. After 4 hours without sleep, Joy was not so charitable in her thoughts.
The chairs have been a good ministry. We lend them out quite often for birthdays and the like.
Last weekend we loaned them out to another neighbor for a fiesta which we later learned was a cock fight, an accepted money making form of entertainment here. We have since decided to refuse the use of the chairs for cock fights, not on Scriptural grounds but because we believe them to be cruelty to animals. Last Sunday after the Saturday night cock fight, the church van narrowly avoided hitting a drunken patron of the fight staggering down the road, rooster in hand (an apparent winner as the rooster was still alive).
This Saturday night’s cock fight was in Caña Blanca, which made our road busy from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am.
Joy had her teen girl’s class today. I believe she is doing a really good thing. We had a good fellowship at church today. There are more bilinguals attending now, but of course it is still a Spanish service, as it should be.
Yari is doing good with her crutches, and seems very happy. She gets frustrated when she can’t go and do like normal, but accepts it and finds other ways to occupy her time. We have extended her facebook time, which helps.
TasselB is almost well, feeling fine and playing again like a puppy. She is still eating the strawberries before we have a chance to pick them, and we are, for the moment, okay with that.

A lovely Sunday evening - Thanks be to God!
Lynn

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Farm Hellos and Goodbyes

Well, TasselB, who was bitten by Patch, our male dalmatian last week, is recovering well. She is up playing today. However, we decided that if Patch would bite her, he might be a danger to children who come by, or to Tas again in the future, so we have found what we hope will be a good home for him with friends on a farm in Caña Blanca. He left on Sunday. I am sad, but believe it was the best decision for everyone.

Sunday also brought new life to the farm in the form of a new baby sheep. He is a male, and already jumps and plays, entertaining all but his mom, who worries too much! She tries to keep him close to the house, but he is quite independent!


Trusting that those we love are safe in their homes, warm and fed. I am jealous of the snow! Just really shows that no matter what we have, the 'other man's grass is always greener'! how silly and ungrateful we humans are!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

In David again...

Saturday – spent the day in David again. We had several errands to run. We took TasselB to a big city vet for a second opinion. She is fine. Yari stayed here with her sister and mother. It is very hot in David, and we do not like to go except there is a McDonalds there and we always seem to be there at lunchtime.

I was reminded today, not for the first time, that immodest dress is quite prevalent here. Females dress very sensual here. Modesty is extremely difficult to teach our young girls. They have been taught, almost from birth, that sensuous is good. It is part of the culture. Mothers pass it on. Of course many girls have had their first baby by the time they are 16. Joy is starting to teach the teenage girls class at church tomorrow. I pray, and ask that you do also, for her success.
Lynn

Friday, January 7, 2011

Busy but Blessed Day in the Life

Today is Friday. It seems every day is an adventure, and very busy right now. Yari is learning to cope with the cast, but is spiking a bit of temperature off and on. I am worried, but not over-worried yet.

TasselB is recovering, still needing various injections daily. Tomorrow I will give them to her here at home. This afternoon some friends came by and were telling me horror stories about the vet we are using. The 'gringos' call her 'doctor death for dogs'. apparently several pets have been taken to her for neutering and died within days of the surgery. I do worry that she is overmedicating, and she did have a baby goat die two nights ago when I had Tas there. The goat seemed strong, bawling loudly and clearly when I arrived, then 5 minutes later it was dead. Have not decided what to do about further treatment.

Patch, the male who bit Tas now has a new home several miles from here. I hope he does well. He isa good dog, other than biting my baby. I think it had to do with the female dalmatian being in heat, but am unwilling to take a chance on a repeat.

Lynn is working away on the yard, and it is looking really good. I always kid him that he is forever changing the design, digging up plants and trees to move to a better spot. he had done it again, but it really does look good. We will see how long he leaves it this way! He enjoys the tinkering, so I am happy!

We are praying for Leon Davenport's family, and trusting that God will give them peace for each moment. A good man, gone home!

Have a blessed weekend!
joy

Tuesday, January 4, 2011



Today is Tuesday. At least I think it is Tuesday. Tomorrow we go to hopefully get the cast put on Yari's foot. She has been in pain most of the time since we got home. She tries to be brave, but at times she just yells out, "Oh, Man!", one of her favorite sayings that has now become her mantra. We have had a steady stream of visitors since she got home. Good for her morale but not so good for the foot. It is still swollen, so I am doubtful that the doc will put the cast on tomorrow. Today she has been less active, with a stern lecture from me that she must stay in bed, in bed she has stayed.
Yesterday I was not here to supervise, and the family kept her hopping here and there entertaining. why, you might ask, was I not here? Well, let me tell you phase two of the New year for Lynn and I!

We finally got home for the hospital around 3 pm on Sunday. right at 4 pm I heard yelping and Lynn running out the back door. For some reason,our dalmatians, or one of them had Tas (my baby, who is an 8 year old french poodle)down, and in just a couple of seconds had ripped her stomach open. When I got her cleaned up enough to see the damage, we knew she would have to have stitches, but it was Sunday afternoon, so we just watched her closely until Monday morning.


Monday morning I took her to the vet - a new one, but the only one I could find in the office. After Tas bit her a couple of times, she sedated her and looked more closely at the wound. She saw that the tooth had done damage inside as well as on the surface, so we had to do surgery. I was the assistant. the surgery was done on the top of a old children's wooden desk with an IV hanging from an old TV stand, and, well, lets just say, I was not impressed with the quality of the sanitary conditions. the surgery, along with IV antibiotics and all took about 4 hours. Her surgery time had rivaled Yari's!

Prognosis at this point is guarded - she must go in daily for IV antibiotics and pain meds. She ran fever through the night, but has none at this time. By the way, Tas's doctor is giving her stronger pain medicine than Yari's doctor is giving her. the latter just sent her home with a prescription for extra strength Tylenol!

Today was also my first day of English classes. They went well enough, considering how tired, stressed and overwhelmed I am feeling. Oh! A very neat thing happened during Tas's surgery. The vet, who spoke only a little English, counseled me saying," You know that God uses these times to remind us of His power and our need for him in our lives. He draws us closer by lending us his strength and power in difficult times." With teary eyes, I just smiled and said, "asi es"(that is absolutely right). In my distress and worry I forgot to be salt and light, so she was for me! It put things back in perspective for me!

Rocky start to the new year, and if it keeps up like this, just imagine how much growing we can do! Before you know it I will be sitting in God's lap! That will be alright with me!!!
Blessings & lessons to you all!
joy

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Exciting Start to the New Year

Well it’s Sunday the 2nd and I’m sitting in the Hospital Chiriquí waiting room. Yesterday Yari broke her leg – compound fracture just above the ankle and dislocated the ankle. She was spending the afternoon with her mother and family. She went down a slide at the park and landed awkwardly on her right leg. It is a bad break requiring plates and screws. We could have taken her to the regional hospital, but she would have been put on a list and might have had to wait up to two weeks. Here the surgery was done last night and she may get to go home today. Joy was able to stay with her during the surgery. The cost of hospital and surgery is going to be about $2500, plus the various trips and meals here. Yesterday was the 1st day of the year and this accident busted our new budget wide open. If anyone wants to help, we could surely use it. Yari is a ministry for us, but we’re sure you have your own personal ministries as well.

We are missing church right now. Joy was supposed to start her teen girls’ class today. We also planned to feed lunch to about 20 people from the church, but our plans were changed. Joy spent the night with Yari while I went home to take care of the animals.

Joy just came out of Yari’s room. The orthopedic surgeon has decided to wait till Wednesday to cast, so we are going home about 12:30.

There were 3 doctors involved in the 4-hour surgery. The head doctor was so proud of his work that he told Joy he took pictures to show his colleagues.

Yari’s biological mother spent the night but took the bus home early this morning. She is back now and will ride up the hill with us to take Yari home.
We just went to Do It Center and bought two pillows for the trip home. By the way, the trip down yesterday afternoon took about 45 minutes – usually takes over an hour. I never went over 110 km/hr.

It’s 5:00 and we’re finally home. The bill was a little more - $2950 – because it was worse than expected. There were three breaks with one piece of bone about the size of a 50 cent piece floating just beneath the surface of the skin. We still have to go back Wednesday to have the cast put on, and then there will be 4 months of physical therapy. But we are all alive and relatively well, gracias a Dios (thanks be to God).

Monday, December 27, 2010

Farm & Garden Chores

We are slowly but surely fixing up the farm and garden. We knew that Dani would not have time with her other job to take care of the farm. That is why we had asked Magdiel’s parents to come live here while we were gone. But when Keyvin, their son, fell from a tree and broke his wrist, that plan fell through. They had planned to leave him with his grandparents, but they are older, and could not get him to the various appointments he was to have in the following months. So, Dani agreed to stay on, but as I said, she had a full time job, so had little time nor energy to work with the sheep or keep the garden.

So, as you can see from the pictures, the garden is coming along. David is working two days a week cleaning out the weeds and flowers, and Lynn and I have been working on the fences for the sheep. Yari just finished out her school year, so now she is helping out too.

The picture below is of the two of them planting sugar cane – a gift from our neighbor. We have wanted to start growing sugar cane since we got here, so are excited about finally getting some planted! It will also help take up some of the space that we had prepared for the community garden that fell through shortly after beginning. Less weeds to pull in the future!

I am dreading it, but we need to butcher our first sheep. It is long overdue. I much prefer taking them to the butcher, but alas, we are in Panama! The meat is wonderful, so we must adapt or do without. We really prefer to adapt in this case. George is the man (that is the name of the sheep set for slaughter). We have only done this once before with a goat, so are…skeptical of our butchering abilities. Truly, I think I can do all of it but the kill. So, one night not long ago, I asked Lynn, “what is the worst part ot you about butchering George?”. While he thought I prayed that he would say cleaning the hide, or trying to get the chops just right, or some such thing. His reply was. “I think I can handle it all except killing him”. Great! We are two weenies! We do not have a gun so we will slit his throat. Maybe we can get a neighbor to come do that part!!!!

The wind liked to have blown the house away last night. First night of true ‘summer breezes’ – wind bursts up to 80 mph, all the moss, branches and leaves from the trees fly every which a way – under the doorways, onto the roof with loud crashes, and into any crevice available, including eyes and nostrils. But it is sunny! 70 degrees! No rain! It is GREAT!

Trusting that you all had a wonderful Christmas, and that God will renew your strength and resolve for the coming year! We could all do well to resolve to know Him better, to serve Him more humbly, and to love Him more deeply!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Giving Season


Wednesday
We made the 7 hour trip to Santa Marta to deliver the two Dalmatian pups to Magdiel and Keyvin. Our trip was multi-purposed. We also brought in Christmas gifts for the children of the church, attended Keyvin’s graduation, visited with the church, and delivered the pups. I had made a makeshift cage for them in the back of the truck. They made it just fine. We did worry a bit that we might have trouble getting them through the agricultural checkpoint, but just smiled our way through, and had no trouble. The pups were nearly scared to death by all the kids when we got there. After delivering the ‘goodies’ from Santa, and a short visit we headed for Penonome. There we picked up some groceries, a box of apples, and a case of grapes to take in to Marta on Thursday. We spent the night in Hotel Guacamaya (or Guacamole as I generally call it). We were up at 5:30 to go back to Santa Marta.
Thursday
The 9th grade graduation was one of the reasons we went to Santa Marta on that specific day. Keyvin, Magdiel’s younger brother was graduating. Joy is Keyvin’s godmother, which is something special at the graduation. She had to present a special gift to him. The graduation was very nice. We were told that Joy should be there by 8:00 am, and we were there. We were all but alone, though. Only the cooks arrived before us. When we arrived at Las Tibias, the turn off from the pavement, we found Magdiel and his dad, an uncle and one of the teachers from the school waiting. Magdiel and his dad were supposed to have picked up the cupcakes from a nearby town at 6 that morning. They had not been able to get a bus into town, so they were still waiting when we arrived at 7:15. We took them to town to pick up the cupcakes then took all 4 into Santa Marta to the school.
Graduation was supposed to start at 9:00 am, but alas at 9:00 even Keyvin was not there. In fact only about 3 students had arrived by that time. It was 10:45 when we actually began. Alicia later told us that this was ‘typical Panamanian time’ in a resignated kind of way, but she herself did not arrive until about 10:15. I had special seating next to Joy, I think mainly because they thought I needed help, which is true. Yari was with us, but she did not get a seat inside the room, as it was full of parents, graduates and the god-parents. A very good lunch was served after the ceremony. We left all the stuff for the children of the church, and for the Gonzales family, and harvested fruit from our fruit trees on our little half-acre of property before heading home. We only had two extra riders on the way out. Normally the back of the truck is full of folks needing a ride out to the highway.
It was a long, difficult, but beautiful drive, and we arrived safely home around 9:00pm Thursday night.
We did not get to see the children open the gifts this year. As has been our custom, we like to let the church give them out on Sundays as if they were from the church, and because of Keyvin’s graduation, we could not be there on a Sunday. Sorry, no pictures this year!
Friday
Christmas Eve was Yari’s birthday. We were still wrapping presents in the morning. In the afternoon we delivered presents to our church family and neighbors. In the evening we had a little party and birthday dinner for Yari. Later she went to her grandparents that live near us, to enjoy her other family. The tradition here is to stay up until midnight on Christmas Eve and then open gifts. Also the fireworks go off at midnight. The parrots, apparently scared by all the noise, started flying and talking. It wasn’t easy, but we waited up for Yari to come home.


It is now Saturday, Christmas morning. We, like North Americans, have waited to open our gifts and presents. Yari was not too thrilled about this Gringo tradition, but managed to wait patiently. Pictured is Yari in her new 'Santa' clothes and hat with Santa himself!
We wish you all a joyous Christmas season.
Because of Him,
Lynn & joy

A final note about Keyvin; he will be staying in a dorm room next year so that he can attend high school in the nearest big town. Thanks to your generous support, he will be able to continue his education.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's almost Christmas!

Whew! I almost got hot today! I think it may have hit 82 in the sunshine! But it wasn’t too bad since we had a little breeze while we worked. Oh, wait, I forgot for a moment that it is only going to get to 40 in Gassville this week. Hmmm. Do I feel bad for flaunting it? Nah! You guys get to see each other and laugh and sing Christmas carols and drink hot cocoa, and…. We just got good weather. I don’t feel too bad!
Actually we have a lot more than good weather to be thankful for. God is so good to us. We are healthy, enjoying Yari’s company full time now, and it is a blast to watch her excitement over Christmas. We ask her to make our ‘Nacimiento’ (nativity scene) – our first ever. It is a tradition here to create the manger scene, with all the animals, the shepherd, Mary, Joseph, and the wise men. Using moss from the trees to make the ground, the manger and animals are placed first, then each day someone or something new is added, or moved closer until the 24th when Jesus is placed in his crib. Then throughout the next week the wise men make their way to the baby until finally arriving on January 6th (King’s Day here in Panama). On that day all Christmas trees are set out in the ditches and burned. Not sure of the significance of the tree burning part. Then everything is put away until next year. I love that everyone is focused on the story of Jesus’ birth for at least this few weeks. The family always moves the characters together so that everyone is involved. We three sit each night to enjoy the scene after Joseph and Mary move a little closer to the stable for a few minutes before going to bed. Good time together.

Yari has gotten to go shopping for gifts, plan what we will do on Christmas, and of course put up lights. Last night while watching the lights on the Nacimiento, she asked Lynn just like she was a seven year old, “Can’t we put up a few lights along the roof of the house out front?” He had already told me no emphatically, but when she asked, he thought a moment and said, “I guess we could if you want”. A very sweet, neat moment for this old girl, I’ll tell you!
Not sure why but I am missing my mom a lot right now. It has been 16 years since she left this world for a better one. You would think I would be accustomed to losing her by now, but alas, here I am, crying yet again because I cannot share little things with her, or see her smile. I expect there are many like me out there, missing someone special. I pray that God will give us both comfort, and a satisfaction in knowing that they have completed this journey, with nothing but blue skies (and golden streets) ahead!

This photo is of most of the gifts we have bought for the children of Santa Marta. We will be going in to see them tomorrow. We want to say a special thank you to DeDe Stephens for making the beautiful stockings. All the kids here have raved about them, and as you can see, they are absolutely wonderful! Thanks to all of you for giving to make Christmas a brighter occasion for the children in this remote community!
Have a blessed Christmas!

There's Monte, then there's monte


As Joy told you last time, we are still cleaning up. In the garden we have lots of weeds, one of which is Ageratum. I was reminded of my younger days working my way through four years of high school in Rogers at Larry Eoff’s flower shop. In the spring we sold bedding plants among which was Ageratum, a cute little blue border flower that grew 6 to 12 inches tall. Here Ageratum is a weed (monte), growing up to 5 feet tall. A quick side-note – when I think of weeds I get to think of Monte Manchester. Unlike ageratum which is a weed and never cultivated here, Impatiens which also abound wild here, especially along shady roadways, are cultivated by most everyone. We have some in our flower beds. Side-note to the previous side-note – if you look up monte in a Spanish dictionary, it will define monte as woodland, forest, or wild country, but here in Chiriqui the common meaning is weed or not a good plant. Any of these might be applicable to Monte. By the way I highly recommend your reading of Monte’s book.