After flying a short ways around the world I’m here in Panama. I really love this place, its hot and its humid. Really humid… all the time. Yesterday for some reason was just really really hot! It was 34º (93º) and 80% humidity so everyone was walking around in a pool of sweat! Normally though its a few degrees cooler. It cools down to about 26º (79º) overnight so there’s some respite. The atmosphere is fascinating and the driving is insane!! The road rules are more of a suggestion as I’ve seen drivers overtake and cut off a police car doing 30-40km/h over the posted speed limit. The cops do have submachine guns though so I’m guessing if they really wanted to do some damage they could.
Since getting here we’ve really taken our time to start to get to know the base and the ministries we’ll be working in. We’re here for three months and I really want to be as effective as possible. I’m also learning Spanish…. I know Spanish isn’t a particularly hard language to learn, but starting from scratch is hard. I’m starting to get a few basic phrases and things but I’m definitely looking forward to being able to speak more fluently! Its so funny, whenever I can’t think of the word in Spanish I think of what it is in Indonesian for some reason and then I’m completely lost haha! Since only about half the base here speaks English its really important that I learn as soon as possible.
I’m really excited about the ministries we’re doing here, in the first two weeks we’ve been to a few different tribal villages and just hung out with them and played with the kids, we’ve met with the Panamanian government to talk about how we can help them promote a new foster care program they’re looking at starting and we’ve gone into the red-light areas and seen some of what goes on there. Really quite an eye opener. I’ve never had a girl walk up to me and say “anything you want $25” and when I politely declined she got mad and went and jumped in the car with her pimp who followed me and the other guys around for the next half an hour. The whole neighbourhood was sewn up beautifully by a network of pimps and cab drivers and it was actually fascinating to see how everything was organised. One such instance of this is whenever a cop car shows up, one cab driver goes past and tells the girls, then a second cab picks them all up and drives them around the block and the pimp makes sure the cop is gone before the cab drops the girls back off at the corner.
I’ve been playing a lot of guitar too and I’m actually getting a bit better. My fingers are getting to the stage where I can play for an hour or so which is a remarkable improvement over 10 mins about three weeks ago. Panama is very different to everywhere I’ve been before. I’ve never actually lived in a latin country and just getting used to the way things happen and what time really means in a latin context has been a learning experience and I’m sure it will continue to be for the three months I get to be here. What’s crazy though is I don’t have this sense that I’m in some weird far off country at all. I really feel God’s blessing me with a gift of being able to make wherever I am home so that I can continue to do this with more teams over the years and not get homesick.
Speaking of God, its been really good leading this team by myself because it means that I don’t have anyone to just bounce a logical idea off I’m actually almost forced to pray when I need to make a decision and the result is that I’m always shooting God little prayers of ‘what should we do now’ or ‘what word do you want me to bring to the team Lord?’ whenever I pray those seemingly unnecessary things, I always get an answer straight away and from what I can tell it’s a blessing to my team.
We’re going to be doing some great work here and I’m so thankful I’m here. Thankful to God for bringing me back to Him and reigniting the call to missions he’s placed on my life, thankful that I can rely on him for anything and thankful for the hilarious bunch of people He’s sent me to Panama with who are very quickly becoming family.
The new few weeks are going to be great as we really get stuck into the various ministries and I’ll let you know as much as I can about what we’re doing but I’d ask that you be understanding if I can’t share much and talk instead about other experiences and ministries due to the nature of some of the work we’re doing. God is calling me to bring light to the dark places of this world through worship. To make a place for Him to come and move powerfully wherever I go. So generally, if there’s some opposition to what I’m doing its almost comforting in a way to know that I’m in the right place.
To see more photos of what I’m doing either go to my media page or my Facebook album (Facebook link will work if you have Facebook or not)
PRAYER – for if you’re the praying type…
- God is really helping me lead the team. I’m learning a lot but they all seem happy!
- Protection for us and our gear as we travel. – Everything went smoothly and we didn’t lose anything or anyone!
- Continuing wisdom and guidance for me as I lead the team by myself.
- Monthly supporters that want to join in with the work God is doing through my life and ministry.
- That God would continue to work on me so that I continue to grow in my knowledge of Him and so that I can pour into these students how much He indescribably loves them.
- Our team Allie, Rachel-Joy, Sammi, JoJo, Sarah, Wes and Dan.
- Pray God would continue to give us a heart for Panama and its people.
- Pray for protection and guidance as we carry out the work we are doing here.
God bless you!