Reflections from Panama

Today is our last full day in ElValle, Panama. Each day has been filled with new experiences.

Seeing the beauty of God’s creation in this tropical land. The foliage is breathtaking. Plants grow in abundance everywhere. The colors are vibrant. Yesterday the clouds were below the tops of the mountains--God's handiwork right before our eyes.

Meeting the people of ElValle in the marketplace, hotel, schools, restaurants. A principle mode of transportation is the bicycle. It is not unusual to see two or three people riding a single bicycle and carrying groceries, shopping bags, or even a weed eater as they pedal on their journey.

Worshipping with the ElValle church--hearing God praised through songs, prayers, and scripture in both Spanish and English. I don't speak Spanish so I have to have someone translate, but smiles and hugs are readily shared and accepted. The room vibrates with love for God.

The women of the Kuna tribe wear traditional dresses that they have sewn themselves. They wear a headpiece (similar to a bandana), a blouse that includes a mola (beautiful, intricate needle work that is almost a reverse appliqué process), wrap around skirt, bracelets on both ankles and wrists (these are wrapped from ankle to mid lower leg, or from the wrist to several inches above, sewn as they wrap, and are worn about 6 months before being changed), and a small gold nose ring.

Developing new relationships or deepening relationships with the GO team. We started out 16 people who at least knew most of the others by sight. We are building bonds that will forever tie us together in our love for God and His people.

Meeting the Carters. David and Lisa are living their faith far from home and family. A sacrifice they seem to make without hesitation and with joyful hearts. The El Valle church meets in their home not only for worship, but also for meals and frequent fellowship--worshipping, cooking, laughing, working together.

Sharing this experience with family. Jim and I are blessed to be together on this adventure and to be with Alli and Colin, 2 of our 5 grandchildren. They are totally uninhibited in reaching out to the ElValle youth and adults. They have quickly made friends and captured hearts--and have grown to love the people of Panama.

This week has been a blessing in far too many ways to count. I am grateful for this opportunity to meet, work with, and serve God's family.