The Weather in Our Neck of the Woods

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

1 comment:

Gozz said...

You stay in our prayers.