The Weather in Our Neck of the Woods

Monday, October 22, 2007

My Computer's name is 'Two Homes Now"

We are sitting in the airport waiting to return to Riverside and home. We have been asked many times,”Where is home now?”. The answer is that we have two homes and we love them both. I can not say that the little orange house in Volcan isn’t home. Truly, home is where your heart is, and our hearts are torn daily. There are so many that we love in Arkansas, and we miss them terribly when we are here in Panama, but it was surely difficult to leave home yesterday; saying goodbye for a long 6 months. I remember crying when we left Lynn’s mom 6 months ago, thinking I could not bear the time away from her so recently after losing her husband, James. Now, here we sit waiting for our flight to Houston, and I can not wait to see her again, but I wonder that I can bear being away from Kathy, Anna Valery, Yaritz, and Ezequias for even a month.

I realize the answer, of course, lies completely in God’s hands. He placed in our hearts a love for the people of Panama years ago, and long before that, love for our family in the States, both our blood family and our Riverside family. He has it all figured out. I will tell you that now, in this moment, but don’t think I haven’t fussed at Him about it. Why would He do this to me? Knowing how I love so completely, and lose my heart so fully, why would He purposely tear my heart in two? Truth be told, Lynn is just like me, he just puts on a braver, he-man face for the public. So, yes, we have wondered, but really we know. Jesus told us that he would require sacrifice, that we would suffer for his name. He didn’t lie. (Of course, He never lies)

I think sometimes that I paint too rosy of a picture for you. I want you to see the progress, and the good things that God is doing here. That is very important, but then I think you need to understand that it is not all wonderful, picture perfect. I am not talking about the worms in the water. That is an inconvenience. I wonder if you need to know that sometimes Lynn and I fight. That sometimes I do stupid stuff that causes significant problems. That at times, I unintentionally offend with my ignorance of culture. Beyond my mistakes, my sins, other things go wrong. We place faith in someone who turns out to be very untrustworthy. We are disappointed in Ez’s immaturity at times, stuff like that. Some things are more important than others, but all are problems, all opportunities for us to fail, in God’s eyes, and in yours. I really don’t want you thinking we are perfect. Those of you who know us well don’t have any doubts about that! (Please Ben and Josh, do not respond to this part of the blog!) We strive to paint a picture that shows you the successes of this work, and there are many. I just wonder if you can see the whole picture. God is definitely VERY GOOD! He is doing marvelous things in the hearts of these people, and in our hearts. We are very grateful for His love and guidance. We know that He has complete control, if we just stay out of His way!

Calling our flight, will write more later.

Batteries died, so now we are home, safe and sound.

When the team left last June, they left money with us and asked us to buy something special for Dany, who had taken care of the team all week. We bought her a pressure cooker, but had money left to spend. We could not come up with a good idea, so asked her daughter, Yesenia to try to think of something. Two weeks before we were scheduled to come home she finally did. She said her mom had wanted a floor for her house for over a year. The house has dirt floors, and mud is a big problem. So, we looked into prices of cement and sand, but realized we could not just surprise her with a new floor. She would need to get moved out while it was being laid, and so we invited her over and told her what we wanted to do. She was shocked, and then she cried. She said that would be wonderful. Yemi, the youngest had been having constant colds and she believed that the floor would help her with that a lot. Well, the floor went in the Sunday before we left. They had to stay off it until the day after we left, but were staying in a lean-to at the neighbors. Dany is thrilled. She is such a good woman. Thanks Riverside in Panama 07 team!!! Once again we get the hugs and thanks for your gifts!

Our first meeting without the David congregation went very well. We had 21 people present, a good lesson, a 30-minute class, just discussing one Bible passage, and we shared a meal together. We had no idea what to expect, but were very pleased with the turnout, and the participation. Ez did a great job of including everyone in the lesson and the class. We are really happy with his heart and attitude toward the church and Christ. He is a fine teacher, with a great love of the Lord. We are grateful that God sent him to Riverside.

2000 more things to share, but my emotions are tumultuous at best right now. I will close by asking God’s richest blessings on you, our dear friends.

All because of Jesus!


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Friendship Evangelism

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Lynn's Thoughts...

My first encounter with “Friendship Evangelism” was with Brother Bill Jordan at Riverside. Joy and I believed that this was the course we wanted to pursue in Panama.

I’m reading a book that Joy had purchased for one of her “Masters of Ministries” courses – “Christ Plays In Ten Thousand Places” by Eugene H. Peterson, a Presbyterian minister. The following are some quotes from Mr. Peterson’s book. I believe these principles are just as valid in Yellville, Mountain Home and Gassville as Volcan.

It is striking how much of Jesus’ life is told in settings defined by meals. Early on people noticed how frequently Jesus was seen at meals with people who were outsiders, men and women not considered acceptable in religious circles. Our term would probably be “the unsaved.” He got a reputation for eating and drinking outside conventional settings and for not being very particular with whom he ate: “Look a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” (Luke 7:34)

The frequency of hospitality references in the Epistles – Acts 4:32-35; Romans 16:23; Hebrews 13:1-3; 1 Peter 4:9; 1 John 3: 16-18; 3 John 5-8 –shows how thoroughly the meal became a focal practice in the early church for participating in Jesus’ work of salvation. The final citation 3 John 5-8, is particularly instructive as it contrasts two church leaders, Gaius and Diotrephes, on the grounds of their practice of hospitality. Gaius was a hospitable man, sacrificial and generous in his hospitality to strangers, welcoming those who showed up as “fellow workers in the truth” (RSV). Diotrephes, by contrast, was full of himself, arrogantly refusing hospitality.

The most frequent North American way of giving witness to the salvation that Christ accomplished on the cross (which is to say, evangelism) is verbal.

It is the devil’s own work to detach the language of salvation from the setting of salvation, to separate words from personal relationships, to make salvation a “cause” or a “project” that can be conducted as efficiently and impersonally as possible. But the gospel will not permit it. In the story of our salvation, we find the Architect of our salvation going about his salvation work in the thick textures of place and person, and to a surprising extent, in the settings of a meal.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

First Day

Sunday October 7, 2007

Lynn's thoughts...

When I write about the people and their ways, I’m not ‘making fun’ but merely to show you differences in culture, specifically Panama. I really admire some of the simplistic ways and count them as superior. For example, we were walking down the main drag this last week and spotted a water department maintenance crew. It consisted of two men on a motorcycle carrying a shovel and a 2 gallon bucket filled with multiple sizes of PVC pipe.

Joy failed to pay our water bill on time last month so we were assessed a late fee of 43 cents. The bill was still less than five dollars, but we do still have the grubworm problem.

Our neighbor on one side got a haircut Friday night. The barber was a young fellow on a bicycle carrying a small bag. He came to the neighbors’ house and did the job on the front porch. I didn’t know you could do it that way. I went to a shop downtown and paid $2.

Killed a snake this week in our front yard, about 20 feet from our front door. Sally, our Dalmatian dog, had it cornered in the flowerbed. Got several opinions from neighbors. All agreed that it was highly poisonous, one of the 10 poisonous kinds in Panama. This is the second one of these we have killed in the yard. The upside is that these little snakes are about 16-18 inches long with tiny mouths that make it difficult for them to bite.

Still no car. It’s been over 2 weeks now. Walking to town tends to make one thoughtfully consider one’s legitimate needs. Taxis are a way of life here since the vast majority of people do not own vehicles. We had to take a taxi to Concepcion, about 40 minutes away, last week to buy and haul a pressure tank and jet valve for our water system plus a baptistery for the church. The baptistery is a 500 liter plastic water tank that we set on top of the septic tank in the back yard and fill with a hose. Back to the taxi. That trip cost $22.50 and took over 2 hours. Friday we had another 2 hour taxi trip to haul 65 chairs, pick up veggies at the co-op and then go grocery shopping. That trip cost $17. Joy probably won’t tell you about the chairs, so I will. We had previously bought 40 chairs for the church, but since we expected over a hundred at our first service we started to try to find rental chairs. The only place here in Volcan that we found was a funeral home. We paid $19.70 to rent 65 fiberglass stackables. We have to take them back tomorrow. There’s another taxi trip. In case you wondered what kind of taxi hauled all this stuff, a lot are 4 door pickups. That’s what we use. We are on a first name basis with Javier now.

These are my thoughts for now, knowing Joy will tell you all about today.

Joy's thoughts...

Wow! What a day! What a weekend! We want to tell you all about it, but first we want to express our sincere love and condolences to Sister Kim and all the family of Rick Bell. He was a good man while on this earth, and we are certain he is at peace, pain free, and totally content at the feet of our Savior now. Praise God! The tough part now begins for Kim. We are praying daily, several times a day for you, Sister. Hang tough, and cry when you need to. Remember that your Riverside family is just a phone call away. That isn’t just an empty, feel-good thing with us at Riverside. It is a reality. Use us!

I woke up praying for our first meeting day, and was worrying (yes, I know that is not a good thing) about all the little things that needed to be done when I read the news from Kim. Reality check! Let’s put things in perspective here. It really did not matter if the tang had enough water added, or whether we had to borrow pailas from the neighbors to cook the meal, what matters most is the people who get to understand God just a little better before their opportunity passes. So, even in death, Rick impacted my thinking, and thus my attitude with the precious folks who came to worship God today. Thanks Rick!

Our day actually began yesterday at about 9 AM. That is when 4 sisters from the David congregation and 1 brother arrived to begin preparing for the noon meal for today. The ladies, along with Yaritza and me peeled, sliced and cooked 50 pounds of potatoes, 15 pounds of carrots, 22 onions (Yaritza and I counted and cried over every stinking one!), 8 heads of celery, 12 heads of cabbage, and several other veggies, but I think you get the picture. We had all the prep work done at 10 pm last night. Lynn constructed a 50 x 26’ lean-to on the side of the house to protect from rain or sun. After he finished that little job (in the rain) he deboned 35 pounds of chicken breasts before collapsing into his bed at 10:30. (That’s my man!) Okay, so all but two of these helpers spent the night in bunks. The younger ones stayed up till who knows how late watching a movie on the computer. At 10:45 I was snoring I am sure.

Today began at 6 am. Coffee and crema and we were on our way again. Cooking began at 7 when 2 carloads of ladies from David showed up to prepare the meal. Everything is kind of a blur between then and when the bus arrived. We had sufficient food for 125 people and sufficient pans to cook for about 50. It was interesting, but because of the note from Kim, it was all just little stuff to take care of and forget. I did.

The bus – a school bus that one of our dear brothers, Javier, drives through David picking up any who need a ride to church on Sundays. It is a 66 passenger that came up the mountain this morning with more than full capacity. The entirety of our sister congregation was here to offer support and congratulations for our first day. It was a sight to behold as they piled out of the bus! Just after they arrived our first visitors arrived. I should say that we had several from Volcan already here. About 7 youth have helped all week door knocking and whatever needed done. They are not considered visitors, but the first regulars for our little church.

When the singing first began I was a little disappointed, I must admit. There were a few, maybe 10 or so from the community. I had expected, hoped for more. But it was as if the singing was the first bell, and before the lesson began in earnest there were over 40 of our Volcan neighbors here. If many more would have come we would not have had food for them all.

We sang and sang. I bet there were more than 15 songs. Is that ok? I mean, are we good with breaking the 2 songs/ prayer/ 1 song/ Lord’s Supper/ Sermon… thing? Must be - I learned that at Riverside!!! It was great! I will be the first to tell you that most of our youth can not hold a tune in a HUGE bucket! But they do sing with gusto! And they certainly make a joyful noise. (I have had reason to stop and ponder that verse – must it be joyful to others who hear it as well?) Just kidding! They sound like angels to me!

Brother Ponce, who has been here every day this past week evangelizing and inviting folks to come today, spoke first about the first church, the purpose of the church, and whose church it was. He was not exactly brief : ) but we did not expect him to be. After that we sang a bit more, then Ez got up to preach/ teach. That was my cue to leave with all the kiddos.

Ez mentioned to me a few days ago that he thought the children needed to have a class of some kind because they would get tired of sitting for the lesson. I told him to make the lesson brief. He just laughed, so I got together an introduction to Jesus to go along with why we had a church here. I had over 40 kids in the class. We colored and discussed some of the amazing things that Jesus did. I was amazed at how little they knew of his life, so was even more excited to share. I spoke in Spanish for a good part of the time, and used Urian to translate the rest. I enjoyed it immensely and was glad that Ez insisted on it. The kids from Volcan each left a picture here for me to bring home next week to the kids who have been paying for their lunches.

Afterward Ez introduced Lynn and I before we broke for lunch. Lynn talked up a blue streak and I just smiled and said welcome. If you believe that, you really don’t know us very well! Actually I just said that we were grateful to God for the opportunity to serve them, and that we appreciated the David folks coming up. Lynn just smiled. Ez told them that he would ask Lynn to speak but Lynn did not like to speak – in Spanish or English. Those who knew Lynn all laughed. He just smiled bigger.

The lunch went well. We had great food, and plenty of it. I really would like to incorporate a meal every Sunday here. It is quite normal here to share a meal at noontime, so it will not be a big hurtle. The thing I did not get across today was that everyone should bring something. Pot luck is different here. At David everyone brings the same thing ( Arroz con Pollo for example) So, we will work on that! At any rate the food was delicious, and most folks came back for seconds and thirds.

The really big news of the day is that we had 2 baptisms. I mentioned earlier that Yaritza wanted to be baptized, and she was. I am eager to help her begin this new stage in her life. Can you remember how awesome it was when you first began to walk with God? She is ready! The other was Dania, a 14 year old from David. She went with us to the waterfall before, and has been attending in David for some time. Her mother and aunts were on hand for the big day, and both were submersed and brought up into a new life, new creatures in Christ!

Salinda and most of her family came. It was the first time I had met her husband. He seems like an ok guy. The oldest daughter with the baby did not come. It was rainy and neither needed to be out in the weather. The daughter is very weak. WE believe she is quite undernourished, and are looking at ways to help with that on a more long term basis. Today when plates of food were passed out Salinda took one plate for herself and one for her husband. She felt her family was too large to each get a plate, so they were sharing. When Ez realized this he sent her in to get a plate for each child. Everyone else had already had seconds and sometimes thirds. I filled their plates extra high, and gave her two extra plates for her and her husband. I feel so strongly that I want to just take them in and give them all that we have, but I know that is not best for them, for us, or for others. Please pray for us that we do the right thing with this humble family. Ez took the beds over to her house yesterday, and then later returned again with sheets and blankets. She cried when she saw the beds. Ez said she made him cry too. We mustn’t forget how fortunate we are; how much we have, and how little others have.

Back to today – neighbors stayed to help us clean up. Dani was here for over an hour. Ok, a little tangent again; we are putting a concrete floor in her house tomorrow. The money many of you left for a gift for her is being used, ultimately, to get her feet off the dirt floor! This was Yessenia’s idea. I had asked her for some time what her mom might like as a gift. WE gave her a pressure cooker, and have been taking veggies every week, but wanted to do something bigger. Now we are doing it. She is elated! She was just here again to confirm that the workers would start in the morning if there is not rain. You should see her face! She is like a child with a favorite toy. You guys did good!

Well, the house finally emptied around 4:30 totally. Ez went to bed for awhile, Lynn dozed in his chair, and I began writing to you! Now it is after 7 and I am ready for my bed! Other neighbors have come and gone – you remember the neighbor who took us to get pineapples a few months ago? He came by with a fresh batch, apologizing because he missed church. He had to work on his farm down below. He said he will be here next week, Lord willing!

Can you hear it? My bed is calling out to me! Thank you for your prayers. Please continue to pray for this work in progress. We believe that God has big plans for this church, but we constantly need His guidance to get it done!

More news later, and see you all soon!

All because of Jesus!

Lynn y Joy

Friday, October 5, 2007

Meet Salinda and Family

We would like to introduce you to Salinda. She lives with her 8 children, about a mile from us in a small room that she rents for $35.00 per month. I haven’t been there, but Ez has several times. Let me share a little of her story, at least a little of it that I know.

We met Salinda about 2 months ago after Ez had gone to her house to offer her a Bible study. She agreed, and they began to study twice a week together. She came visiting one day after several invitations from Ez. She had several of her children with her. We sat on the porch and visited for an hour or so. Because her dialect is different that most of the Panamanians that I have talked with here, we had a tough time communicating. Lynn, of course, just smiled and winked at the kids, offering them cookies, which made him an instant hit. Before they left I discovered that there were several older children at the house, three of which attend El Valle School. There is a 14 year old boy, Roberto, who is in 4th grade and a 12 year old who is also in 4th grade. Then there is a 9 year old girl in 2nd grade. I asked the Director about them later, and found that they are often sick, and miss a lot of school.

The next time she visited she brought a purse she was trying to sell. The older boys were in need of notebooks for school so she was selling the purse to buy notebooks. The purse was handmade; G’nobe Bugle tribe artwork. I had school supplies here so offered them to her as a gift. We had notebooks, pencils, pens, colors and a few other things, thanks to Riverside (in Arkansas). She was hesitant to take the gifts at first, but when I explained that it was just for such purposes that you had sent the supplies, she smiled and gratefully took them. We also gave the younger children coloring books and crayons. Before she left she gave me the purse. It is hanging on the wall in the living room as I write this.

The next week Ez mentioned that one of the boys was sent home from school because of his shoes. Uniforms must be worn by all students. I went to the school the next day and asked one of the teachers what happened when a child did not have their uniform. She said that the Director would try to find them what they needed, but if he could not they would be allowed a ‘few weeks’ to purchase what they needed. As I asked more questions, I found that the children had been making fun of Roberto for his torn up shoes. He was not sent home for being out of uniform, but because he was upset and did not want to be embarrassed more, so the Director sent him home for the day.

We bought 2 pairs of shoes the next weekend. Both boys were wearing shoes without soles. Now they have sturdy new shoes.

Salinda visited for the third time this past Tuesday. She was not smiling as brightly as in times past. She almost immediately told me that her oldest daughter went to David last Saturday because she was in labor, ready to have a baby. She had not heard from her since and was very concerned. Her daughter is 16, lives with her, along with her boyfriend, who works, but drinks heavily so has no money. She did not have the money to go to David to check on her, and the boyfriend had not been around in days. She feared that her daughter did not have the fare to ride the bus home with the new baby. Our car is still dead, so I could not drive her down, but we offered her money for fare to David and back for herself and enough to get her daughter back as well. She was very grateful, and offered to repay us when she returned. We knew she did not have the money for that, but asked her to make some purses for us instead. She was happy with the idea.

Ex went for his study on Wednesday with her and found out that in fact her daughter did not have fare to get home, and the doctor said she was too weak to be released, knowing she could not go home, so she stayed in the hospital until Salinda went down on Tuesday night. Now both mom and baby are in the apartment with Salinda and her 7 other kids.

Salinda shared with me her story on her second visit. She was ‘sold’ to a much older man when she was 12 years old. This man fathered her first 6 children. Actually she had 8 with him but 2 died in childhood. After his death 4 years ago she moved into town and began to support her family alone. She is 100% Indian, uneducated, and speaks a slightly different Spanish than non-indian Panamanians. ( This is typical because they have their own language and Spanish is a second language for them) For all these reasons, and more she has had difficulty finding permanent work. She did find a new man. She married a 26 year old man last year. He works full time at a local bakery for $6 / day. That does keep some food in the house, and pays the rent, but not much more.

Ez returned to share the news of the daughter’s return, and also voiced his concern for the baby’s welfare. The entire family sleeps on mattresses on the floor, including the new mom and baby. The room is about 20 x 12 with an attached bathroom. It has lights but nothing more. They have no beds, but do have a dining table and some old chairs. Salinda is grateful for what she has and says she looked for something more but could not find anything they could afford. As I hold my tiny Anna Valery, I cannot imagine that new baby sleeping on the cold floor, with all the crawly things we have here. It breaks my heart.

Tomorrow Ez will be taking two of our bunkbeds to Salinda. We are not sure how she will react to this. It isn’t that she is very proud. She is way past that, I think. She does not want to impose on us or anyone else. She is of a different culture, and so we walk carefully. We do not want to offend her. We will ask her to make more purses as well. Of course we will pay her for the purses, but she will give us a really good deal on them, so she can feel she is doing her part. This lady is why we are here, right? I mean, isn’t this what Jesus was all about? Helping each other out? While we are saddened by her conditions, we are thrilled that we can help her. It’s a cup of water in Jesus’ name, and we get to offer it to her.

Again, thanks to you all, we get the perks of your gifts to others. You give; we get the thanks, and the face to face contact. So we offer our thanks to you all. Feel free to come down and get the face to face yourself whenever you like!

All because of Jesus! Lynn & joy

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Unless we become as children...

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Today was our last day to worship at the David church. We are happy and sad at the same time. This church, these people have been such an encouragement to us. They have been our only family for most of the year that we have lived here. At every turn, they have been our support, our help with any problems, our dear friends, and our co-workers for the Lord. I can not imagine our time here without them.

Today as I sat thinking this would be the last time to hug each one, to hear Brother Ponce’s lively, lovely sermons, to sing with this group who understand the importance of singing praises almost as well as Riverside. Yea, I was feeling sorry for myself. Still am alittle to tell the truth. But, as I sat considering these things I heard Brother Ponce say my name and it brought me back to here and now. He was saying how much a part of David church we had become, how we had worked hand in hand on many great projects, and that there was no way they could let us begin our new congregation without them; Without each of them. The whole church will be with us next Sunday to worship here, at Riverside. We had expected a few to come up for our first meeting, but he was very clear that the doors would be closed there and there would be a bus for part of the congregation to ride up early Sunday morning, and the rest would pay the fare and ride the public bus. He explained that anyone who did not have the money for the fare ($5) would ride the bus, or another brother or sister would pay their fare, but every member was expected to come, and the congregation shouted “Amen!”

Furthermore, there will be 10 or 12 here everyday this week to evangelize the community and invite them to the meeting. Then more will come on Saturday to follow up on invitations. Saturday night and Sunday morning there will be 6 women from the church here to help me prepare almorzo (lunch) for the entire assembly. We are fixing Arroz con pollo(a party dish with rice, chicken and vegetables), ensalada de colores (potato salad with carrots and beets besides) and platano de tentación ( I can’t really explain that one, other than DELICIOUS!)

So all that to say I won’t be missing them quite yet! There are about 80 members at David, and Brother Ponce said to expect 80 members to be here next Sunday! I am thrilled! ….and a little concerned about space! It will all be good! Just in case, please pray that it does not rain until after the meeting!

Ez is in Panama City this weekend having a sign made, getting flyers for invitations, copying films for classes, and singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to his mom. I know it is crazy, but we miss him! He comes back on the midnight express tonight - well, at 6 in the morning.

We wanted to share a little about the young people who have been faithfully coming to Bible classes for the past couple of months. Ez has other studies in people’s houses, but this group comes here twice a week. There are 5 of them: Alex is 16, Yaritza is 13, Tatiana, 15, Jairo, 12 and Alvin, 10. The last three are siblings. These are the first leaders of the church here, and they are willing, even eager workers. They have classes twice a week, but they are normally here at least 5 days a week. Today we went to David on the bus with this group of amazing youth. Normally Ez is with us and he leads them more or less. Today it fell to us. We feel privileged and honored to do so. When I say we ride the bus, let me be clear – we walk about a mile to get to the bus stop, then we ride the bus.

Today, on the way down (the ride is about 1 ½ hours) the bus picked up a boy, about 12 years old who went up and sat by Jairo and Alvin. When he got on the bus he placed his shoe shine kit on the floor by the door before sitting down. He was headed to work in the big city - probably on a street corner. Before we had gone more than a block, Jairo was chatting away with the boy – in sign language. Obviously the boy could not speak or hear. How Jairo figured that out so quickly, I don’t know, but it did not stop him from striking up a conversation. Soon Alvin had jumped in as well and the boys laughed and chatted for the next half hour. We watched in amazement. At one point Jairo turned to me and said, “He can’t speak or hear”. I nodded that I understood. He then said, “And he can’t come with us to church because he needs to work all day today”. Jairo had already been at work to bring this boy to church. How often have you seen that? It was a first for us.

Later when we were waiting for the next bus to take us to the church building I asked how he knew sign language. He said he had some cousins who were mute so he had learned quite a bit. Alvin said he too had learned but not as much as Jairo. Jairo said that he could not stand to see someone who could not join in conversation, so he needed to know how to converse with them. All that I could say was “That’s great!” Alvin then chimed in “Don’t think he is too great, he really really likes one of our cousins who is mute”. He said this as he moved his eyebrows up and down comically. Alex then said that the girl was pretty. Jairo jumped in red faced and said “No, she is beautiful, with very pretty red hair and beautiful green eyes and…” I jumped in and said, “Ok, ok I get the picture, but she is your cousin!” Well I was informed by all that they were distant cousins and that led to a long funny conversation about what age they should begin to have boyfriends/ girlfriends.

A little funny, but a lot of serious learning from the actions of children. I would not have known how to begin to understand that the boy was mute, nor would I have been able to communicate once I knew. You should have seen the boys laughing and carrying on. Had it not been for Jairo and Alvin, I am sure the boy would have sat alone and lonely in his own little world. I believe those boys made a difference in a life today! I know they did. They made a difference in ours. I am going to try harder not to be outdone by a 12 year old who is just learning who Jesus is! I will stick my neck out to speak to folks who may have no-one or nothing to brighten their world. Why not? What can it hurt? But if you could have seen the boy smiling and laughing, you would know what it could help.

Yaritza calls me her best friend in the world. Can you imagine? I am an old woman, who barely speaks her language, yet she sees me as faithful, and so, I am her best friend. She has been bounced from home to home between parents and grandparents. Yesterday she told me that her mom pulled her out of school. She is in her first year of Colegio (7th grade). The year is almost over, but she got caught skipping a class. Not the whole day, mind you, but a class. Her mom says she will not pay for more schooling. Yaritza must pay for her own education. I said that there had to be more to it than that. She said it had been brewing for some time. She admitted that she had been hanging with a bad crowd at school before we returned. I asked her why and she said that none of her classmates from El Valle were in the same rotation with her. (That happened because her mom made her leave her grandparents house last Fall because she needed a babysitter for her two younger children during summer break – and so she was placed with her new neighborhood’s group.) We discussed options – how she could spend time with her old friends away from school. She said she had not been hanging with the new ‘friends’ since we returned. At any rate, her mom had told her that if she messed up again she would have to quit school. She did, so her mom pulled her. I am….heartbroken and frustrated. I am praying God will show me how to help without causing more problems. I fully realize that Yaritza is a budding teenager with all kinds of rebellion issues waiting to burst forth. I know that there are cultural differences and all that, but my heart wants to just take her in, bring her back to the States with us, and ‘fix everything’ for her. Ah well, God is teaching me, and I often try to get in the way of His plans with my own. ( I heard that Amen all the way from here!)

Yaritza also shared with me this weekend that she wants to be baptized next Sunday. As I said – God has a perfect plan. I just need to get out of the way, listen when he calls for my help, but let him do the thinking, not me! Please pray for Yaritza. She is a beautiful, sweet, young lady who hurts and needs to experience the faithfulness of our Savior. She is one of the reasons that I DON’T want to leave here just now!

That is just a little about a couple of our young people here. Sometimes in the midst of what we are doing, what we have done, adventures and whatnot, I forget to share with you the really important stuff – God at work with His people. These kiddos are his people.

Now for a quick update on the less important stuff. Our car is still broken. In fact, it would be considered dead in the States, but here in Panama, repair is always an option!!!!! Best we understand, the head gasket blew when the timing chain came off. Everything inside is fried, but they are boring it out, cleaning it up, replacing what must be replaced, and we may get it back…someday. We could not continue to rent a car, so we are afoot. Like many of our neighbors. We better understand their daily plight. We are also getting in better shape! We walk to town almost every day for something.

We went to Costa Rica to renew our visas one last time. The trip was uneventful until we tried to re-enter Panama. There at the border the guard told us that we must stay in Costa Rica for at least 72 hours. Yet another change in the law. I put on my bewildered, confused and pitiful poor gringa look and explained that we did not know, that we lived in Volcan, that we worked with the church, and something in there softened the guy up. He wrote up a little ticket allowing us to get our Visa renewed for 30 more days and sent us on our way. When I spoke of this with other ex-pats at the veggie market we realized how fortunate we were. Many had been sent back to Costa Rica for 2 more days. We have realized that many times we have been very…fortunate in our dealings with the authorities here. We have heard lots of stories. We believe that God is watching out for us, primarily, but also, we have seen the demeanor of many of the North Americans, and feel strongly that our attitude with the Panamanians, both local folks and authorities ( that of being servants, and guests – that of being a Christian first) have served us well in all situations. God is good. His ways are good. When we seek to follow His footsteps, we will do just fine!

Most of you are the reason why we are eager to come back to the States. We miss you! I won’t lie, I miss my puppy too, but we are coming home for awhile because we love you. We just have two short weeks more! I know the time will fly because we have so much to get done here. The cow is being inseminated, the house is being repainted, the bunkhouse is being turned into a worship hall, Ez is being educated on how to take care of the house and bills, and all that.

We still have not come up with a solution to the water problem at the school. We now have a 5 gallon dispenser here at the house for the church and our private use. I have been unable to reach David Goulsby, our Developmental Ministries instructor, for advice. I suspect he is in Honduras, as I heard they have had another bad hurricane. We would really like to solve this issue before heading home. Still looking for input from our family!

I am hesitant to ask, but we are also in the process of buying Christmas gifts for the children at Santa Marta. There are 24 children, and we are spending $20 on each child. If you could help, we would really appreciate it. These kiddos had their first Christmas gifts last year, thanks to many of you. They each got new shoes, a pair of pants and two shirts, or one dress and one shirt, along with a small toy each. We also gave the men and women each a small gift of less that $2. I failed to mention it to the team when they visited, but one of the sisters pointed out to me several of the gifts being used (shoes and shirts,etc.) when we were there in June. If you would like to help, just send your donation to Riverside Church of Christ, 190 Whitaker Lane, Gassville, AR 72635.

That’s it for now. We can’t wait to see your beautiful faces soon. We love you!

All because of Jesus!

Lynn & joy

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Are we Listening?

The picture on the right is Felicito, one of the brothers at the David church. He was our speaker Sunday. He had a really great message. One I have had on my mind alot, and one that Riverside is acting out as we speak.
He began by asking us what came with the gospel. What did it mean in our lives? What does it mean in our lives? How should we look now, as redeemed believers? What was different? What should be different? The lesson was powerful, and centered around our love for the Father, and for His people. I listened, contemplating his words, and impressed with his presentation as well. This was my second time to hear him preach.
As he progressed with the lesson, he reminded us of the definition of 'pure religion' - James 1:27 - look after widows and orphans in their distress... He explained that this was not solely for widows and orphans, but for anyone in distress or in need - the sick, the poor, the downtrodden. He spoke with fervor and conviction. He vowed to do more himself for those in need. He begged us to do the same. We were all moved. Lynn was moved, though he did not understand the entirety of the lesson. The body of believers shouted a unanimous "AMEN!" when we were encouraged to serve others. He spoke of opportunities he had seen and taken advantage of in the past week. He spoke of keeping our eyes and ears in tune with our community - a message Tim posted just this week. He spoke of simple acts making a big difference in someone's life.

Ok, many of you have heard this lesson, and many of you have been moved to action. The thing you did not see, and cannot from the picture is that Brother Felicito ( which means happiness, by the way) is blind and deaf. He can not walk without someone to guide him. He cannot take the Lord's supper without someone holding the cup for him. He could not stand at the pulpit were it not for another brother there just out of the picture, helping him return when he wanders away from the stand. He's out there showing Christ's compassion in his community every day. He, with many needs of his own is placing others above himself. What an example!
I went in to the building that morning groaning because I was tired and sore from the activities of Saturday. How selfish. How silly. How un-Christlike! The really sad thing is that I will need this lesson again, and again. I am ever so grateful for Brother Felicito, and his message. I wish I could say that I didn't need it, but I really did. How about you?

Thanks, Brother!

I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live but Christ lives in me....may it ever be so in my life, and yours!


Saturday, September 22, 2007

More Blessings and Adventures

Saturday Night, September 22, 2007

We just got back from our waterfall adventure, and all I can say is ….WOW!

We ended up being a group of 17. Well, kind of, we didn't exactly stay as a group. I will try to explain, but I will start by saying that I am exhausted! So forgive me if I don’t make sense!

We thought we would be able to drive the 4 wheel drive SUV quite near the chorro (waterfall), but the gate was locked, so we left it on the Pan Am. We thought we were going to the base of the chorro, but we were going to the top. Look at the photos to see why that might have been a problem for this chubby OLD gal! All that said, I did not make it very far before I realized if the group waited on me they would never reach the fall. I turned back determined to find a key and drive up the road to the top. It took 3 hours for me to do it, but I made it to the top in the Suzuki Jimny. The type of vehicle is important, because it is very narrow. I could not find the man with the key, so took the car through the horse/ walk gate. It was about 4 feet wide, and I had less than 6 inches to spare when I passed through.

I need to digress and say that Lynn, being the macho guy he is, went ahead with the group. I was worried sick about him climbing to the top. I could have just waited below, but felt strongly that he needed the car (and me because he speaks little Spanish and no-one in the group speaks English.) So I got to the top, and saw none of our group on the way, or once I got there. I needed to walk the last ¼ mile to the chorro. (I would not have been able to do so had two men not come by and given me directions, and helped me pass the car under an electric fence first –(this bears remembering for later). So, at the last fence, I began to walk along a small winding path. As I walked I thought I heard puppies yipping ahead of me. I continued forward trying to see them, only to realize they were in a tree about 10 yards from the path, and they weren’t puppies, they were baby monkeys. Just as I got them sighted I heard a deep howl from just ahead of me. It was their dad, I am sure. He was 10 feet in front of me in a tree bare of leaves. I could see him perfectly; eyes, tail, all his 2000 body parts (he wasn’t wearing clothes, even a g-string). He was hollering at me loud and clear. He wasn’t angry, but I am convinced he was trying to distract me from the babies. He was amazing, but I seem drawn to babies these days, so I continued trying to get glimpses of the little guys who were having a ball. They came in and out of view as they scampered, rolled and chattered. Several times I heard another big monkey very near them, but never saw her. (I believe that was mom trying to shush them) I did not have a camera. Ez took it with him when I stopped climbing. I stood enthralled for at least 10 minutes but was reminded of my purpose when thunder rolled across the sky. I traveled on. I reached the chorro and found… no-one. Oh, it was breathtaking, and amazing, but my people were not there. I knew the plan was to walk back up from the falls to a swimming hole, take a dip and eat our packed lunch, so I hiked into the forest further to find them. I did not go far before I became concerned that they had gone all the way through to another road, and would miss me completely, so I turned back. I knew they had to pass the first gate to get back down the mountain, so decided I should just wait there. I headed back to the car. Lynn must have been doing ok, because I did not find him on the side of the road on the way up, nor on the trail on top. The family of monkeys was gone from their play-tree by the time I passed back. When I returned to the car, I headed right back to the gates when I was suddenly stopped by the electric fence (the one the men had lifted for me to pass under). They had done so with the understanding that I would have the group with me when I returned. I did not have the group. A storm was upon me. I knew the group was somewhere, but had no idea where. They would not see me if they traveled another way back, and as far as I knew they had already headed down the mountain, and would be worried sick about me.

Now I want to tell you that I had already been praying, a lot! I kept praying as I tried to find a way to lift the wire and pass under at the same time. I tried finding tall limbs to hold up each side, but when I released one end it leaned and the other fell. I heard some commotion in the nearby trees as that happened, and looked up but saw nothing. I walked down the fence to the corner to see if I could separate the circuit and pass over it, but using only sticks, I could not budge it. When I realized this, I threw my hands up and slapped my thighs in frustration. Then I heard the noise in the trees again. It was a group of monkeys – they were laughing at me. Seriously. They laughed and laughed. I could not help but laugh too. It was pouring, I was good and stuck, and I was in the middle of true jungle land with monkeys laughing at my folly. I had been praying all along, and God sent monkeys to help me see more clearly the beauty around me in the midst of my frustration (and yes, a little fear). I went back to the car and tried different ways to lift the wire. At one point I had raised the wire on a slat of wood and was trying to balance the slat on top of the fence post. The wire slipped and fell onto my right hand. It was the strongest electric fence I have ever felt – and I have felt plenty. It knocked me on my rear 5 or 6 feet away. And yes, as I sat there on the ground my audience began to laugh again. They howledImage:PNM MantledHowler Christine.jpg with laughter for a full minute. I thanked God that I could still hear them and decided to be more careful with the powerful fence.

I got the fence up to about 4 feet and decided to try to get under it. It was raining heavily by now and very dark for 3 in the afternoon. I had the nose under the fence, but just did not have the fortitude to go on. I knew it would touch the car at about mid-windshield, and just did not know what to expect with such a strong current. I backed out, got out and as I approached one of the crates I had used to hold the fence up, it fell over. I jumped back not wanting to feel the fence again. The monkeys roared with laughter. I was quite a show for them. I laughed back, and then they laughed again, and I, then they, for several rounds. Then they just quit quite suddenly. I though it odd, but went back to the problem at hand. I actually had the thought, ‘what would MacGyver do?’ as I tried to think of how to get out of the mess I was in. I was soaked, so decided to get inside the car for a few minutes. I had also just noticed huge ant hills all around the car, so needed no further motivation. I sat for a minute, and decided to try again to disconnect the line at the other corner. I had heard nothing more from my audience, and was thinking how strange when I heard another noise. It almost sounded human. I suspected that this was why the monkeys had stopped playing with me. I began to look behind me, and finally I saw them coming toward me – MY GROUP!!!! Was I happy? I can’t begin to tell you! Lynn was at the end of the line, and I believe he was quite happy to see me too! Two of the guys lifted the fence and Lynn drove us under it to the other side.

With the youth group in front of us we slowly descended the mountain, thrilled with the day’s adventures, soaked to the bone and deeper, worn out beyond words (especially the old man who conquered the whole mountain, the chorro, and the walk up stream to the swimming hole, and all of that in Spanish!) They saw many monkeys, the biggest hornets nest Lynn has ever seen, a huge scorpion, views of the Pacific Ocean, and much more. Most importantly, the two youth groups (David and Riverside) got well acquainted and went down the mountain arm in arm, helping one another, sharing their food and drink, as good friends! Without all the excitement, the monkeys, the breathtaking scenery, it was well worth the trip just to see them begin the journey as practically strangers and end it as dear friends and comrades. Thank you Lord for your mercy, and your love that can bring us together in your name!

OK, I am now very ready for my bed. The hot water is not working anymore, so the hot shower is out. The bed sounds just fine!

We love you all, and are counting the days to see you again!

All because of Jesus!


Thursday, September 20, 2007

She's Here and Beautiful!

Greetings family!

Our time here is quickly wrapping up, and there is so much I have yet to share. The internet is with us, in this moment, and I am grateful. We have heard from many of you, and it fills us with a desire to see you all. I believe that God is offering this gift of missing you all so that I can bear to leave when the time comes. Not that we don’t always miss you, but feel very close to our family here, and that the ‘harvest is plenty and the workers few’.

The biggest news that I need to share is that Kathy has a beautiful baby girl. Her name is Anna Valery, and she was born Sunday, September 16th at 6:20 in the evening. She weighs a whopping 5 pounds 14 oz. While it was quite an experience (for me, and I am sure for Kathy) everything has turned out perfectly. She looks like her mom, and seems quite healthy.

Journal Entry:

I had just finished cooking breakfast, and we were discussing the logistics of getting 10 people to David for church when Carmen came to the gate. Carmen is Kathy’s mom. She said at first that Kathy was not feeling well, and would not be going to church with us. The doctor on the last visit told us to expect the baby by this coming Wednesday, so I was not surprised that she did not feel like the long hot trip to David. Carmen seemed hesitant to say more, but finally said that her mother thought Kathy should go to the hospital. I asked why, growing concerned. I asked if it was time, and she said, “Well, she does not feel good.” I asked if she was in pain, she said not too much, I asked why she did not feel good, and she said, “Well, she says that she is passing a lot of water and blood”. That got my attention! I said, “Ok, I will be there in just a few minutes.” We changed our arrangements with the kids going to David. Lynn and Ez would get them all on the bus, feed them lunch, and get them back here in the afternoon. I would stay with Kathy, and keep the car.

I got everyone to the bus and returned to check on Kathy. She was in the bed crying, and doubled over with pain. I checked her tummy, and sure enough, she was contracted. I asked how long she had been hurting. She said since 6:30 this morning! She was breathing quick light breaths, and I was sure she would hyperventilate, so I told her the baby needed deep breaths, and that every thing was going to be fine. She had been very concerned, even scared every since she had been told that the baby was ready to come. (She is, after all, sixteen years old). I asked when her water broke, “At 6:30 this morning.” I looked at her grandmother, and she nodded, as if to say she needed to go to the hospital. I asked how far apart the pains were, and she said she did not know. I gave her a watch, told her how to time the contractions and said I would be right back, but I needed to go get my driver’s license before we left. She said, “No hurry, Mom is not ready to go.” I looked puzzled, I am sure, and she explained that her mom needed to iron some pants before we could go. I wanted to scream, but just said, “Ok, I will be right back. Time your contractions while I am gone.” I sensed that she calmed down a lot, just because I gave her a job.

I hurried to the house, trying, once again to understand the cultural differences, and trying to decide what was cultural and what was…personally different. I could not understand why Carmen was not more anxious to get her to medical help. Ironing her pants, for goodness sake! The grandmother was quite eager for her to go. Ah well! I grabbed my (yes, prepacked) bag, and headed right back to the house (2 doors down). Kathy had timed the contractions and they were THREE MINUTES APART! Carmen was still ironing her pants, and then went to clean the kitchen, and prepare something for her husband to eat while she was gone. Grandmother said she would take care of that, and that she should go. I agreed, and Carmen said, “Oh, ok”. Kathy sensed my slight panic, and began to cry more, so I said, “Don’t worry about this; I have medical training, if we need it. I can deliver my namesake whenever she is ready”. To which she laughed, and we waddled to the car. All the while I am praying, “Lord, please don’t make me deliver this baby”.

I have not driven the road to David at this speed, ever. I do not plan to ever drive it at this speed again. Our brakes are bad. They work, but they jerk to high heaven when you use them very much. They were jerking like never before. We drop over 3000 feet from Volcan to David. As we travelled I was constantly reminding Kathy to breath. She was hurting and scared and kept trying to push, or hold her breath. I again asked her to tell me each time a contraction began, as much for my information as for her to be busy. They sped up to 2 ½ minutes apart. I sped up even more on the road. We were making pretty good time until we got to the Pan Am, and there was an accident that had the road blocked. A bicyclist had been hit, and apparently killed on the highway. I offered a quick prayer for his eternal life, for his family, and then prayed “God, get them out of my way!!!) I had my emergency flashers on the whole trip, but they do not mean the same thing here as they do in the States. They simply mean ‘ I am being careful, for some reason, maybe a cow in the road, maybe a heavy rain, maybe a police car behind me. So, they were not helping me much. My horn, however, was a great help! Of course, I did not honk at the accident site, but before and after, I blew like crazy.

We finally got to the hospital, got her into emergency, and …..Waited for FORTY MINUTES. I could not believe it. She sat in that waiting room in labor, 2 minutes apart, and no one bothered to hurry on her behalf. I was beside myself. The whole waiting room was watching her, expecting to see the baby drop at any moment. I couldn’t stand it, so I went to the desk, and said, “How much longer? This baby will be in the floor soon”. I am guessing because of my blonde hair and white face, they actually sent someone to look at her, and took her back. That was at 10:15.

At noon another lady, waiting on her own grandchild to be born, came out from the back and said the ‘little girl’ that came with us was sitting in the hallway crying. Carmen went around to the side to sneak in to see what was happening. She came back a few minutes later and motioned for me to come with her. Sure enough, Kathy was sitting in a wheelchair in the hallway, in great pain and crying. She said that she was not dilated enough, so they told her to go back to the waiting room, but she could not walk well enough to get all the way back by herself. As we sat with her, trying to decide what to do, a nurse came and said that she was not dilated enough for delivery, and that she should wait with us in the lobby, or maybe go get some soup. Other ladies nearby said she should drink cinnamon tea to help her dilate more. We half carried her to the cafeteria, where she continued having severe pains every 2 minutes or so. She drank a tea, and could not stand sitting there any longer so we headed back to the waiting room. The cafeteria is outside, so we had to walk out in the heat for a few minutes. We stopped every two minutes for her contractions to come and go. At one point a security guard came up and asked what was going on. I tried to say she was not quite ready to have a baby. He started screaming to get her inside, that it was dangerous for her to be here, etc. Carmen just started rushing Kathy to stand straight and get moving. I just tred to help her, not understanding the problem. The problem: If he wears a uniform, his word is gospel, or even if it isn’t you do not show resistance, you just do what he says. The ‘gringo’ in me was furious. More with Carmen than the officer.

The guard walked away, and came back 2 minutes later screaming more about how stupid we were to have Kathy outside. I wished for better language skills, but probably would have gotten us in trouble if I had had them! Finally as we continued our slow progress toward the entrance he ran ahead and got a wheelchair for her, and then whisked her away. The nurses paid attention when he brought her in, so it was all for the good as far as I was concerned. Carmen and I went back to the waiting room and ….waited and waited. AT 2:45 Carmen again snuck back and could not find her. Finally, at 3:00 the little clipboard in the waiting room said that she was in the labor room. I had counted earlier and there were 36 women having babies at the same time as Kathy, in the same hospital. This emergency room was in fact, only for pregnant women. The only word the staff willingly shared was written on the clipboard. Names did not show up until they had entered the ‘labor room’, which was a dorm-style room with 10 – 12 delivery beds. Family was not allowed to view the moms to be until 2 hours after delivery, and that for less than one minute.

We waited with many others for news. Kathy’s case seemed to be a hot topic for all. Partly because she was so young, and partly because she had a gringo waiting anxiously for news. Believing that I had no Spanish skills, several groups were discussing whether I was the grandmother, or an adoptive parent. I just listened and laughed silently. At 4:00 pm the receptionist came out and said that Kathy would not deliver for 6 more hours. Poor Kathy! Her mom had prepared her for none of this. I had tried, but only with the physical aspects of the delivery. I had no idea of the customs, and the fact that she would have to be all alone for so much time. I prayed for her to remain calm (not exactly her strongest suit at this point. She had shown tendencies to hyperventilate all day, and the previous week she had vomited after hearing that the baby would be here soon.) At any rate, it was after this revelation that Carmen said, “Ok, let’s go shopping”. I laughed. I thought she was joking. She wasn’t. She informed me that Kathy need toilet paper, brush, toothbrush and tooth paste, soap, a towel, diapers, baby soap, and kotex. The hospital provides nothing. A bed and a sheet. That’s it. This was news to me, but not to Carmen. She said it was normal. I could not believe that she knew she would need these things but had not already purchased them and brought them with us. Silly of me, really. We went shopping. When we came back, we waited some more. At 6:30 we went to the cafeteria to eat, and it was closed. We drove a half a block to the other hospital’s cafeteria and ate quickly then returned. When I checked the clipboard, Kathy’s name was no longer on it. Carmen was not concerned. “They probably just forgot about her” she said. Well I wouldn’t put that past them by this point, but I wanted to know. I asked the receptionist. She went back to check, and returned to tell me that she was still in labor. Less than 3 minutes later a nurse came out asking for the family of Kathy. We went forward and heard that the baby was born, and they were both ok. If we chose to wait for 2 more hours we could see her for one minute before she was taken to her ward. We made calls, and ….waited so more. This might seem like whining to you, but maybe I should describe the waiting room a little before you judge me too harshly. 1 room, maybe 20’ x 20’, 46 metal chairs, as many as 72 people, 1 television showing….trash, in Spanish. 40 cell phones being used constantly, at least 20 children playing loudly, running circles around the chairs, NO AIR CONDITIONING, but it is only 96 degrees today, and I have been here for 10 hours. Ah well, I told Kathy a few days ago that yes, she would hurt some, but in the end, it would be all joy. Too true!

At 8:15, as Kathy’s mother in law, I was able to see both Kathy and beautiful Anna Valery. Kathy had to strain so hard during labor that hundreds of capillaries had burst in her face, but she was smiling from ear to ear. All is well!

We left them after taking two photos, and headed joyfully to the car, headed for Volcan and our beds! We were on the road less than 20 minutes when the car died in the middle of the Pan Am. It would not restart. With cars passing at 70 mph, we got out and pushed the car off the road. A family stopped to help, thank the good Lord, or we would have been there for the night. The man tried to fix the car, but could not. He took us to Concepcion for oil, but that did not help. I finally called Javier, a brother from the church at David, and he came out, moved the car further off the road, and took us to Concepcion a second time. He wanted to take us all the way home, but I would not hear of it. He drives a school bus, and begins his day at 4:00 am. It was now after 10 pm. We found a taxi to take us on to Volcan. (The buses stop running at 7:00 pm.) Can you believe I left out lots of this story, but figure there are only one or two hanging on this far!

Ok, that may not be the biggest news, but you may have noticed that I am a little pumped about it. I am also pumped that we will begin meeting here at the house in two short weeks. The entire David congregation will be up over the weekend, inviting the community again. We will have singing, a short class, the Lord’s Supper will be offered, we will have ‘dinner on the ground’ afterward, and it will all be right here at Riverside!!!! Please begin praying for this now. We have been planting seeds, through the school, through visits, through many of you coming down showing Jesus to these good folks. Now is the time to switch modes, and allow God to bring in his people. We are so excited! We are cleaning out all the beds from the bunkroom, so that we can use this space for the meetings. We thought it would be best for now.

We are regularly taking about 6 teenagers with us to David every Sunday. It has gotten pretty expensive, with taking the bus, and then needing to feed them before heading back in the afternoons. This however, will change in two weeks! I think it has been really good for them to see how things are done at David, kind of preparing them for our meetings here. Those same teens come here twice a week to study with Ez. They are good kids, and eager to be a part of the church here.

This Saturday we are headed for a youth activity in conjunction with the David congregation. We are going to the waterfall (those who have been here may remember the huge waterfall on the way from David to Panama) It is several hundred feet high, and we are going to the top of it! There will be about 25 of us total. We will picnic and have a devotional time there. We have several joint activities planned with the church at David. They are wonderful support for us as we work together to bring people to Christ.

Ez says ”Saludos, Como estan? Bien. Estamos trabajando muy duro, gracias a Dios, y gracias por todos”. (Greetings, how are you all? We are working very hard, thanks to God and thank you for everything.)

We still have worms. We are set that we will need to buy drinking water from now through the foreseeable future. We are trying to find a dispenser for the church.

Closing the book for now. We love you all, and are eager to see you again!

All because of Jesus!!!