The Weather in Our Neck of the Woods

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

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