Panama Days #2 and #3
26 junio de 2011
First off, I want to thank you for all your prayers because I am telling you… they have been gold –worth MUCH more than gold actually. Truly, God hears our prayers and Dios proveera. I have been having SUCH a blessed time here in Panama. Still difficult? Heck ya. I still don’t know what they’re saying, or even what I’m saying most of the time but it’s been a blessed experience nonetheless. I still miss my home and my family, but the Lopez family has been doing quite a job in being my family and home away from home. Sara has been a HUGE help. Her English is pretty impressive, cuz man, since trying to learn Spanish I’ve gained a whole new respect for those who are multilingual. But without Sara, idk how I’d still be alive here hahaha. She’s my walking dictionary/translator, and most importantly my sister here (disclaimer: Bern will never be replaced haha).
The weather here is just a tropical Seattle. What the heck. Rain for days. It’s sunny one hour, then for the rest of the day it’s rain. It’s still hot as heck. Humid. But I bet it’s still not as bad as the heat in Texas, Vegas, or the Cali valley. I should have packed less t-shirts and more tank tops for my pang-bahay. It’s hotter at night in the house than it is in the daytime, and there’s no air conditioning. But I think my body’s slowly adapting? Ooh, but also pray for my health cuz I have a sore throat and I might be getting sick. Boo.
So, let’s get to the part where I share my experiences, shall we?
6/25/11 – Sabado – Day #2
We all went to this neighborhood area called “Las Colinas” where they were holding a ministry event. I was really nervous on the way there cuz I knew that this would be my first official meeting with the Panama ministry and I was really afraid of disappointing them with the fact that I was a missionary trying to work in their area, but who couldn’t even speak their language haha. But Tia (“Tita” in espanol) MariaIsabela (my sur mom) did her part in introducing me and letting them know what was up. Everybody was so welcoming! Praise God!
And now, the best part… We all did this march/parade through the neighborhood to celebrate Corpus Christi. It was berzonkers. They had the Blessed Eucharist sitting on this well-sized platform that a select handful of the men would carry up on their shoulders. Then the jovenes (youth) music ministry would be following right behind them with their tambourines (& other misc percussion instruments), 6 guitars and 3 microphones all hooked up to these two amps that were literally being carried and dragged along the march. Then the rest of the ministry followed behind them, with everybody singing and clapping, and sometimes people would light fireworks –IT. WAS. CRAZY. ..
Crazy beautiful actually… I think there was a point where I thought “This is really happening. I’m here. Jesus is right up THERE [on that platform], His body… and we’re all literally following Him… and rejoicing. THAT’S EXACTLY THE LIFE I DESIRE. Then I was filled with so much joy, and I had to try so hard not to bust out with tears of joy in front of everybody! But it was so beautiful, to see everybody so loud, vibrant and jamming it out for the Lord while marching through this neighborhood! We probably walked a good 2 miles or so. They just kept going! Then at the end of the march we reached this small tented area where we held mass. After mass I got the chance to “chat” with a few of the jovenes, and luckily there are some of them who know a little English who are willing to help a trying-to-learn-espanol sister out.
At the end of the night when we were sitting around the dinner table back at the house, I was able to have a “discussion” with Tio, Tita, and Sara about some ministry stuff. They had questions about how we did things back home, and shared their concerns about their youth ministry here. Then the discussion led to how prayer is the FIRST way to lead an area, and Tio Vidal emphasized how God must really be the strength. He had no idea that that was our theme for conference this year.
So affirming… On top of the fact that for my first mass here in Panama, the first reading (Isaiah 49:1-6) had THE verse for our conference (… and my God is now my strength!”) We all rejoiced when I revealed that affirmation! Then Tio Vidal is really set on working with me to evaluate and figure out how to help strengthen their youth… God proveera. God provided the work, and it’s like He’s taken my hand and whispered in my ear “Let’s do this. I’m ready to be your strength when you are. This is my work, and I’ve chosen YOU, to be here and to do THIS.”
I can’t help but want to cry tears of joy. God is definitely capturing my heart all over again. For every moment He reveals himself through these affirmations my heart wants to melt and burst all at the same time. My spirit falls to the ground in wonder. GOD IS REAL, and I proclaim that to the world!
6/26/11 – Domingo – Day #3
I definitely regretted not getting enough sleep last night haha. We went to 9am mass, and 5 people sharing one bathroom can make for a pretty hectic morning schedule haha. But mass was blessed, and right after mass we all headed back to Las Colinas where they held a general assembly at the house of one of the Tia’s. There was probably about 25 of us in attendance but it was a pretty even fraction of KFL, CFC, and YFL. Tio Vidal introduced me to the group and had me stand up to say a few words. I said “Soy Elena. No hablo espanol. Solo se algunas frases. Sea patiente conmigo. Estoy aqui para aprender.” Then everybody smiled and clapped and was happy, and I was happy haha. Praise God.
After Las Colinas we went to their “megamall,” called Albrook Mall. It was huge. It smelled and looked like a mall from the Philippines haha, the smell was actually really comforting actually.
Later we went to this their other ministry area/neighborhood called Gorzilillo. Supposedly this is their “trouble area” where they’ve been having issues with fallout/attendance issues, and so many pride issues that they’ve risked being dropped from the ministry. I dropped in their household (hh) meeting today, and honestly, they’re great! There’s still hope for them. Honestly, the issues they’re having are almost the same exact issues that we’ve been dealing with in the NW region. But I believe with them, as I believe for my own region… “Greater things are yet to come.” Their hh consisted of basically a bible study, and they had a discussion, which sounded pretty intense might I add. Ya, I had a very miniscule idea of what they were saying in the discussion, but all their non-verbal cues said it all. These are a youth with a passion for God’s word. It was SUCH a blessing to witness that. THAT’S A SURE SIGN OF HOPE. God is never finished working. I’m excited for the day when I get the chance to verbally interact with these kids… one day… But they’ve really accepted me and taken me in (despite the language barrier) and for that I’m so grateful.
On the way home I was chatting with Sara in the car, and we discussed the Gonzalillo youth and I shared my message of hope with her, then seeing her reaction, it really reaffirmed something…. How much the youth desire affirmation, and need witnesses to both inspire and affirm them. And I’m taking this moment to call out to my brothers… for the future of MANkind, strive to be that true witness and to affirm your younger brothers. It’s something their soul begs for but their pride denies them from asking/reaching for it. But not just speaking to the brothers now, genuine affirmation is like MAGIC (but better). Words/affirmation have the ability to create something where there was once (apparently) nothing. For the sake of the glory of GOD let’s take time to affirm one another!
After that chat I asked Sara how she felt and said she felt…. GREAT. Praise God, because just yesterday she was sharing about she would feel sad and lonely. But yo, PRAYER WORKS. And for all of you who have taken a moment or two to lift up a prayer for Panama… we are forever grateful. And please, don’t stop. Don’t stop praying. With that alone, I am convinced we have the power to change the face of the earth. Ahhh sorry I went into exhortation mode!
So to end this (loooong) entry, I just wanted to express my gratitude one more time. Thank God. Thank God for you. Thank God for taking the time to share in my journey. Thank God for all your prayers. Thank God for being a God who provides.
Already this trip has revealed so much…. God has revealed so much. I ask for your continued prayers. As wonderful as this time has been, I can’t deny all the times I feel lonely/tired/unsure. But God has continually reminded me that this is HIS work, not mine, and that it requires a continual denial of myself. It’s uncomfortable. But it’s God’s way, and I could never ask for another way.
I have lots of time to pray, so if you have any prayer petitions, send ‘em my way!
I miss you, I love you, I’ll see you in a month or so!
Gracias a Dios.
Stokwa ! :)
Kbye ! Ako na stalker. Kung makatanong tungkol sa kanya. Kala mo ! O.A kasi ! Ang lakas makaJustin Bieber ni JOSHUA FILIPPE VELUZ ! Kbye ! Ako na magkacrush ng Firstyear student sige ! :))
Nakakatawa kanina. Tinanong ni Goldi kung tagasaan siya, ang sagot ba naman “Bakit ko sasabihin sainyo? Di ko naman kayo kilala”. Jusko ! Kala mo naman ipaparaid ang bahay at ipapablotter ! Lakas makaVice Ganda aba ! Hahahaha :)))
WALA LANG ! NAG EENJOY LANG AKO MAGSHARE :))