I know, I know, but it is difficult to find time.
Today we spent the morning painting at the school. We were just to paint the blue part today - the lower part on every school building in Panama is the same color. the paint can even declares the color to be "school blue"! We were part of about 30 folks who came to help get the school looking better. Every parent received a note saying that they must help with this activity, but fully 90% chose not to follow orders. Such is the way, here. Those of us who came had fun. Riverside brought 5 people - none of which were parents of students; The Nelsons, including Yari, and the Hilkers, the interns who arrived this week. the work was not done at noon, so we will have another work day in the near future. It was a good experience for us all, and a great opportunity to get to know more of the local families.
Eric and Rachel are off to a good start, with several clients already. They will be reading the Bible with folks who want to practice their English. the program they are using is called 'Lets Start Talking' and we are excited about how this will, not only teach about Jesus, but also familiarize people with the church. The sessions are held here at the church house. They last an hour, and the clients can have classes several times a week if they choose.
We are busily preparing for the upcoming mission trips here in Volcan, and the Medical mission trip to Santa Marta coming in June. this is what the schedule looks like at present: Riverside (Gassville) will come and bring bible classes to the children in the El Valle school the first week in June. they leave on Saturday for Panama City on Saturday as the Riverside Medical team arrives. Both teams will stay in Riande Hotel that night (June 6), then the medical team heads to Santa Marta for the week. That team leaves on June 14th. We rest for a few days, then head to the U.S. ourselves for Lynn's mom's birthday. We will return on the 4th of July, with the youth group from Oxford, Mississippi for a week working with the children in Las Perlas school (also here in Volcan). That group will leave on July 12th and we will have a couple of weeks to rest and prepare for Riverside Team 3, who will arrive August 1 to work in a few of the smaller, outlying schools for a week. We are really excited about how busy the next few months will be! Lots to prepare for, and lots to look forward to!
We are awaiting the winter rains, that are actually a little behind schedule - not that i am complaining! The days are beautiful - temperature hovering around 75-80, a slight breeze, sunny and....perfect. Lynn is busy working on the farm, preparing the ground for our community garden to be planted when the rains begin. A man is coing next week to build the 'vivero', which is a greenhouse, sort of. This will keep the rain from beating all the dirt away from the roots of the plants. When Magdiel was here, we got all the fences prepared for the sheep, but Lynn says I must sell the cow before the sheep arrive. I am thinking of giving it away just so I can get the sheep on the property! We have new baby chicks - some from the incubator, and a few that we bought. They are growing and very entertaining to watch. We have beans, cilantro, otoi, bananas, cantaloupe, and a few strawberries growing now. This is, comparatively speaking, the end of summer here. It is very dry, many places have no grass for their cattle. We are in good shape because only one the one cow summered on our pasture. She has grown while others have suffered.
Yesterday we went on one of our, now traditional, trips with our neighbor, Don Antonio. We harvested Yuca, and, of course, visited with friends and family on the way. Eric came with us, and was a huge help with the 100+ pound bags of yuca! We found huge calabasas, but they were way up in the treetops, so Eric climbed up to get them for me! We were given mangoes, cashew fruit, calabasas, and yuca by a variety of folks. We never cease to be amazed by the generosity of the country folks! We were also invited to go fishing on the ocean, and will try to do that next week. I am excited about this, not because I like to fish, but we are told we can harvest sea salt at the same location. never done that, but am looking forward to trying!
We are still looking for a place to rent for the church to meet. Our house is too small now, and we feel the church will not gain maturity as long as we are providing the building, cleaning the building, preparing for the meetings, etc. Neither Lynn nor I are the type to leave something undone, so when someone has the responsibility to, for example, set up the classroom, and they do not show up to do it, we feel obligated to get it done. Realizing that if it were left undone, the lesson might be better learned, we try, but usually fail miserably at it (and then I often harbor bad feelings about it). So... we still have not found a building that meets our needs. We thought we had found something for sale that would have been perfect, but alas, the price was too high. Please pray for this, as with the rains, we will be hard-pressed to have the children's classes outside, as we do now.
Life is hard, but life is good! We appreciate your prayers and support as we seek to be Christ's hands, with Christ's heart to the people of El Valle, Volcan, Chiriqui, Panama.