The house seems very empty now. On Monday Ben went with Holly to
I would like to do a little recap of the past month. Lisa, Gywnna, Holly, April, Monte, Penny, Taz, Darby, and Preston got to Panama on June 7 and then took the midnight express to David, where we met them, and guided them up the mountain to Volcan. For our work in El Valle school we were joined by Kirvyn and Marta, two local students who happen to attend
On June 15 the second team, consisting of LaJeana,
There is a song in Spanish that we sing every week here that says ‘The Spirit of God is here and moving in this place. He is here to counsel; He is here to give freedom. He is here to guide’. It was quite evident that He was here during these two weeks. There is no doubt that he remains here with us now.
The following week, we took advantage of Holly’s, LaJeana’s and Hannah’s presence to go out to the tiny school at Caña Blanca and do three of the four lessons, crafts and all, with the children there. Kirvyn and Marta also came with us, to make a perfect group of 8. We had a blast! The children warmed to us quickly, and the teacher was very grateful that we would come all the way out there and spend time with these almost forgotten children. Because of the distance, and the number of students (8) we did all the classes in one day. We used some of the children for the dramas, and brought sandwiches, chips and boxed juices, in a cooler (no electricity there). We also took out some beans and rice and oil and crackers so that they could have lunches before heading home in the future. There is a lady who said she would cook for them if she had something to cook. Some of the children walk 2 hours to get to this school, so go a long time between meals. In return for our time and energy, the children did a small drama of their own for us. It was a dramatization of the book, ‘The Fancy Little Rat’, and it was wonderful. The teacher and another woman had also made little baskets of foam with homemade candy inside for each of us. We had hoped to do the same with the school in Gariche, but the teacher had a meeting in Volcan, and, as is the custom here, if the teacher does not come to class, there is no class. So we drove out there just in case we could, left a few toothbrushes and toothpaste, then moseyed back, eating a picnic lunch on the way.
While we were in Caña Blanca, we noticed that the children had torn, dilapidated shoes, each one of them. Well, that is not entirely true – two boys had rubber boots that were in fine condition, but about 5 sizes too big for them. We improvised and made a game of checking their shoe sizes – comparing their feet to our Goliath’s (Kirvyn) feet. The following week Holly and Ben went shopping with money the first team had left over, and bought every child a new pair of school shoes. Some of the children’s shoes were flip flops. One girl’s toes curled around the end of her shoes a good 2 inches. We tried to take those situations into account when sizing them.
One last thing about this school and I will move on. I asked the teacher if these kids were learning English as well, and she said no, that her English was not good, so she did very little with English. Those of you who know me, know what happened next – yes, I volunteered to go out once a week and teach English to these little angels. I know gas is expensive, and the wear and tear on the truck is substantial, and I have too many irons in the fire as it is, but if you could just see these precious smiling faces, well you would not be able to say no either. So, Lord willing, tomorrow I go for our first class! We planned to start two weeks ago, but I was bed-bound, so tomorrow it is! Please pray for this open door to remain open and God to be glorified through this work. I have not dealt with beginners from the very beginning before, and am excited and nervous at the same time.
Before the first group came, I had begun to have some discomfort in my left hip and leg. It steadily got worse as the days passed. By the time LaJeana and Hannah were leaving, I was in constant pain, and ready for help. Since then, I have been to 3 medical doctors and one homeopathic doctor looking for relief. Each time I have been told that it is my sciatic nerve and a pulled hamstring. While this has been constant, the treatments have not. The first said stay in bed for 48 hours, and gave me 3 different meds. The second said stay in be for at least a week, and gave me yet again 3 different meds. The pain has grown more unmanageable with each treatment. The third massaged and then popped my lower back in the most excruciating way I have ever experienced, then told me to walk through the pain, telling myself it was nothing. She actually made me walk in the exam room until I could do it without limping. I cried most of the way home. I was a little better the next day, so decided that I would return, though it was very painful. In the meantime, Marta’s mother suggested that I should check my triglyceride and uric acid levels. I did and they were both high. So I went to yet another doctor, and he is the first to ask for an X-ray. I have wanted one from the start. While the electrifying nerve pain has subsided some, the muscles cramping and the super sensitivity of the whole leg still bothers me. So, we made an appointment for the X-ray – June 25th was the soonest they could do it. I could go to another hospital, but the doctor prefers this radiologist. So, I have decided to wait. This doctor also changed my meds, and told me to rest the leg as much as possible. He did give me something to relax the muscles that knock me out. I am trying to decrease the dose so that I can function. This is a result of that decrease, so sorry if I ramble. I know that God will work this all out for the good. I am, for the most part, patiently waiting. Lynn and Ben are probably tired of waiting on me, though!
Finally I want to share with you a concern that has developed here, and ask you to pray that God will grant us understanding, and wisdom to handle this in His way and not ours. Our dear sister Celinda came to worship three Sundays ago without Yamileth, her oldest daughter at home. I asked about her and she said she was gone. I asked what she meant by ‘gone’ and she said that she had given her to a lady in Bugaba. The lady was alone and needed help and company in the house, so she gave her Yamileth. My shock and pain must have shown because the following Thursday Yamileth came to visit and said her mom had changed her mind and given Emilia away instead, to a different lady. Emilia is 9, Yamileth is 10. This lady lives close to their house here in Volcan. Celinda came to visit on the following Saturday and said that she had decided she needed Yamileth to help her take care of the new baby, so told the woman in Bugaba that she could not keep her. She had already given Emilia to the neighbor, so Emilia could not help with the baby anymore.
I talked with Dani about this, to try to understand. She said this was normal for the indigenous people. They often had more children than they could feed, so they would give them away as they got old enough to be helpful. I am searching for books that can help me understand the mentality of this and other behaviors I have witnessed in the Indians. There culture is unique and survives within this other foreign culture known as Panamanian. We are trying to understand both. My gut reaction is to grab those precious children and take them home with me, but I know that they cannot go to the States with us, so what would happen come November? This is the same family that we have provided food and clothing for the past 3 months. These children are part of our Beka scholarship program, so we also provide their school needs. They visit with us during the week and worship with us every Sunday. We are very concerned for their future, but do not know how to proceed in their best interest, or if we should do anything differently. Yamileth and Emilia are the oldest girls in the house, with 3 younger siblings and one older brother. The others have gone to live with relatives who are just as poor or worse. Please pray for this family, and for us to handle them with love and patience.
We pray God’s richest blessings on you all,