The Weather in Our Neck of the Woods

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Time is Flying....

We are so far behind in our updates, and I am sorry! We have been without internet for over three weeks, expecting it to be fixed every other day, and never getting anything ready. We kept hoping that tomorrow would be the day, and it did happen, but very late!

We have not been idle in other matters I assure you! While many things have come and gone since our last blog, I will try to recap the most significant. First, we hosted a very small, but wonderful mission team at the end of July / first of August. Our beloved Hannah was able to come down and spend another week with us before school started. My English students were elated, as were we. She was a wonderful help to me with cleaning and meal preparation, but more importantly, she is such a beautiful example of Christ for my students and neighbors. She loves and serves whole-heartedly, and we feel like she is our own. Thank you John and LaJeana for sharing her with us!

Dear brother David B. also returned for a second time this year. I know that it was tough on him to be away from work – and his lovely wife for another week this summer, but we were encouraged and by him, and were glad to have him around. The only newcomer was Jamie, a college buddy of David’s, and a terrific addition to the family and work here. Jamie is a sincere seeker of Christ’s will in our lives, and was a great spiritual boost to me personally – thanks Jamie! Come back anytime!

The week began with an overnight visit to Santa Marta in Cocle. Because of a late arrival we ended up walking in the last 2 miles in the dark. It was … difficult, but amazing. The church there continues to teach me who I should be by being themselves, Christ’s disciples. Our time was brief there, but we were both encouraged and were able to encourage.

The week flew by with farm work, and an opportunity to serve the school here by painting the bathrooms while the kids were on break. I am not sure whether the walls or the people got more paint on them, but the walls look good, and the Director of the school was very appreciative. Ezequias had the opportunity to get to know more of the Riverside family, and them, him. All around it was a good thing, and a great week.

We returned from putting them on a plane in Panama City just in time to pack and go back for Melissa’s wedding. Melissa is my adopted daughter – spiritually speaking. We graduated from Harding together in 2005, but before that were traveling companions throughout Panama the previous year. She is an amazing young woman of Panama, and doing great things for the church here on a National level. Her new husband, Isaac is also actively working with the youth of the country. They both serve in a group that organizes all the activities for the youth on a National level. This is pretty much full time work, but both hold down good jobs that pay as well. Melissa graduated with a degree in International Business, and is now working for HSBC, the largest bank in Panama. Isaac is a Physical Therapist at the children’s hospital in Panama City. I am very proud of them both, and wish them the very best in their new life as man and wife. God has big plans for them, I know!

The wedding was beautiful. Ezequias happens to be the best friend of Isaac, and was Best Man at the wedding, so we traveled together, and we had the opportunity to see Ez in his home environment. We continue to be impressed with his entire philosophy, and his manner of living his life for Christ.

We have begun to realize a bit of why our wise brother Tim, and others on the first team in June voiced concerns for our travel time. We returned on the Midnight Express, which reached David at 6:00 AM, then picked up our car and drove home, only to sleep the rest of the day, with no energy to move or visit or even eat. Well, you know we did find the ‘umph’ to eat, of course! We have decided that perhaps we are not as young as we once were!

We returned home on a Sunday, and packed again to go to Panama City for the National Ladies Convention on Thursday. I had been invited to speak last November, and had been working on my lesson for almost that long. The opportunity was huge, and I did not want to mess it up. I think I spent more time preparing this 1 hour lesson that I did all my papers and presentations in my college career. But in the end, I spoke to the Father, who already knew just what he wanted me to say, and He gave me peace. My Spanish is not to a point where I am comfortable to speak when the message is so important, so dear Melissa, still on her honeymoon, came with me and translated for me. She is so good at understanding the heart behind the message. Partly because of her own deep beliefs, and I believe partly because she knows me so well, I could not have asked for a better translator.

The main emphasis of the message was to encourage the women to tap into the power God gives us through His Holy Spirit. If you can, make an opportunity to read Colossians and Paul’s desires for the church. He speaks freely of the power that is available to us all. In many cases the church here in Panama, like some in the States, is so afraid of mentioning the Holy Spirit for fear we will become ‘charismatic’ in a bad way, that we fail to depend on, and use that free gift given at baptism; God’s power through His Spirit!

I felt led (by that same Spirit, whom I no longer fear) to remind us all of our greatest and first responsibility to God – to love Him. Jesus said in John 15 “if you love me, you will obey me.” He did not say to obey him or go to hell. He said love him, and you will obey him. We get that out of order some times, and it causes great stress ultimately. I am not certain what God will say when He judges the one who followed all the rules, attended services regularly, fed his neighbor, was baptized, but did all that he did to reserve his seat in the mansion. I fear what may happen to that soul. We can easily do what we do, forgetting the reason we do it- which is because we love him. So here’s a question for you, my dear friends; Do you do what you do out of love for your Heavenly Father, or do you do what you do so that you can go to heaven? It’s worth thinking about!

The message was well received, I believe, and I made so many new friends, our sisters in Christ. Our pledge to them was that we, the Riverside family, were ready to serve them in any way we can. Once again, I get to feel the hugs and the fellowship that is sent to you, our dear family. Thanks!

We arrived home this morning at 2:30. It’s another one of those times when we are just wiped out, but on an emotional / spiritual high. God is faithful, we are weak. Isn’t He awesome!

On another note, last week I took Kathy, our neighbor and dear friend, to the doctor. Kathy is a 16 year old girl, living with her mom in a tiny rent house a few doors down. She became pregnant by the seduction of an older married man, and is due to have her baby in just over a month. She is a sweet child, quite naïve with people, but very smart in other ways. She has been part of our family for some time now. She is now studying the Bible with Ezequias, as well as working part time for us doing housework. (LaJeana, I can hear your ‘hallelujah! from here!) We really asked her to work because she is in need of money to buy baby things, and wants to earn her way – help her mom. Thanks to a few of you dear family at Riverside, we bought her a baby bed/ playpen/ changing table, and her one and only maternity outfit. She was elated!

At any rate, we went to the doctor, and I got to see the most precious little girl-child growing and wiggling in her mother’s womb. I couldn’t have been more proud or thrilled if it were my own grandchild. What an awesome gift is life! If I wasn’t already punch drunk at the sight of this tiny new life, Kathy told the doctor, after learning it was a girl, that she would be named Anna, after her 2nd grandmother. That’s me!!! Well, just wanted you to know that Kathy and the precious little girl in her belly are both doing very well. In March she hopes to return to school. We hope to find scholarship money to help her with that expense. In the mean time, I am trying to plan a surprise baby shower for her in the next few weeks. Another new experience here for me!

We have only 2 more months here before returning to ‘refuel’. I am torn in my desires, but God will be faithful in this as well, I am sure. Between now and then, we have a baby to see delivered, a school to support, as well as 3 students to provide scholarship funds for, classes to prepare for the churches to use in our absence, farm work to do, and many things to prepare for Ez to live here on his own once we are gone.

We are still looking for support for Ez, and needing help to provide the meals for the school. We have found a less expensive source of vegetables, so were able to purchase 10 chickens last week as well. We can not do that weekly, but will try to once a month. The students, teachers and families remain very grateful to you. I am even seeing some meat on the bones of the children who walk 3 hours daily for classes! What a blessing to see! Again, we are receiving the benefits of your gifts!

I will close this book by telling you that we love you all, and miss you. We will try to be more faithful in blogging, Lord willing.

May God bless you richly as we serve Him together.