Hola from El Valle

Hola!  This is Kim here…live from El Valle, Panama…finally!  After many hours of mission trip training with Galon ( which I believe was really some kind of psychological experiment gone awry), learning Spanish songs with Mark (you think English songs get stuck in your head…), and getting vaccinated for every disease whose name has been uttered by human tongue, we finally touched down on Panamanian soil Saturday evening in Panama City, Panama.  We were greeted by immigration agents, customs agents, and our gracious host, Aarron Chowning, who claims to be a secret agent (but that’s another story), and then we set off to our hotel.

After some much needed sleep last night, we all woke up this morning ready to take on Panama.. but first things first, breakfast!   Hmmm, interesting, it was a typical continental breakfast muffins, toast, cereal, fruit, etc., but then I went to the juice area…. The choices there were anything but typical:  fresh watermelon juice, fresh cantaloupe juice, fresh papaya juice, fresh orange juice, and even a fruit punch…yum!  Jack LaLane would be proud, ‘cuz someone was definitely making the most of their juicer!  Soon after breakfast,  we saw the Farallon team off to start  their adventure, and we headed into the city to worship with the church there. 

The body in Panama City worships in a room in the high school.  You may be picturing in your head Allen H.S. or Frisco H.S. or McKinney, but the only thing that this high school and those have  in common is that students meet there.   The building is a very run down two-story, like may of the buildings here, it is old and needs a lot of work.   The bathrooms are outside and are in awful shape, because the community uses them.  Our kids would not know what to do in the type of environment that these kids must endure, but many of them travel for many miles to get there each day, so that they can get some kind of education.   

Though the building they meet in is run down and in miserable shape, the body that meets there is incredible.  They greeted us with such warmth and love.  Nearly everyone introduced themselves to each one of us and greeted us with a hug or a kiss on the cheek or both…it reminded me of the scripture that we should “Greet each other a holy kiss” (Rm. 16:16).  The worship service was awesome—we sang songs in English and Spanish.  Most of the songs were songs that we sing during worship in the States.  We had several songs were we would blend our two languages, by singing the verse in Spanish and doing the echo in English and then the other way around, and also songs were everyone would sing the words in their own language at the same time.  It was so beautiful!  There were several times that it gave me chills.  There are not many who are in the congregation in Panama City, maybe 60 or 70, but with our group of twenty-five’s voices added to theirs you, would have thought there were hundreds of people singing!!  Teresa and I were talking about how awesome it is to think about what GOD must have been hearing as we sang.  HE heard and understood each of us.  What joy he must have felt hearing and seeing His children who had never met and were from such different places, come together to worship his Holy name…wow1  We were definitely making a joyful noise unto our LORD

After church, we headed for El Valle. It takes a few hours to get to El Valle.  It is quite mountainous and windy on the last part of the trek, and let me tell you, Dallas drivers are quite calm and passive when compared to Panamanian drivers.  I think that “horn honking” must be a national pastime right along with soccer, because honking is non-stop when you’re on the road;  interestingly enough, you can tell what is meant by the way they honk;  there are “Hi there” honks, and “get outta my way” honks, and “look out” honks, even “Hey, there goes a whole bus full of gringos” honks.  Panamanian travel is definitely different. 

Sunday night, we met with the church here in El Valle At the Chowning’s house and had dinner and worship together.  What a wonderful group of people.  Everyone was so sweet to us and we enjoyed, so much getting to fellowship with them.  Everyone that meets here has such a beautiful spirit.  It is just so refreshing to be with a group of people who wants to learn all they can about our Father.  I know it is difficult for them to be among the few who are Christians in this area, so my heart is so full of pride for them, that they are willing to stand firm in the faith as such new Christians.   There is so much that I’m learning from my brothers and sisters here:  joy, humility, gentleness, faithfulness, sacrifice, and familial love.    

I can’t wait to see what lessons and experiences God has in store for us over the next week…as the happen, I will share them with you.  “Talk” to you soon!

In Him,

Kim