Here are the last two stories I want to share with everyone from Panama. You know, the day before the trip, I was complaining to Amber that I really didn’t want to go. I was pretty stressed out about the trip. It was hard work and I got eaten alive by mosquitos, but it was so worth it.
#1: I was with a ministry group one day helping to cut grass with machetes. It is HARD work! One of the jungle boys, Chombo, came up with his brother. They had each made a bow and arrow that actually worked (jungle kids are incredible!). When I first met Chombo and Alexander his brother, they had made a seesaw with a long piece of pvc pipe in a tree. Chombo climbed up on my shoulders and was telling me to run all around. As we were going he grabbed onto a tree and left my shoulders. I turned back to get him but he let go and fell to the ground. He hit pretty hard and started crying. I scooped him up and took him up the path to his house where his parents were grinding rice. I just sat there with them for a while and we talked about their life and kids. Chombo had hurt his wrist so they checked it out and put some stuff on it and told him he was cured. Then they sent me off with Chombo to buy Coke at the store. This was a glorious moment with the thought of having Coke in the middle of the jungle. It was going to be awesome! At one point on the path you have to go under a barbed wire fence but Chombo wouldn’t let go so I had to figure out how to do that while holding him, quite the challenge. I brought back a big bottle of Coke and sat around talking to the family and drinking Coke. That picture will always be in my head. It was so incredible just to share life with them in such an incredibly beautiful place. His parents were believers already. Chombo’s dad fishes and makes souvenirs out of wood to sell in the city. They gave me one of his creations, a little wooden dolphin to remember them by. They told us that Global Expeditions is the only group that comes to their village. When we’re there we do VBS for the kids. If GE’s the only group that comes, that means only once or twice a year do these kids get all the Bible stories and teaching about God.
#2: On the trip, we had four ministry groups within our team. We had two awesome translators. When the teams went out, I would usually pick a team and go help translate. I was normally able to communicate what the teams wanted to say even if not with proper grammar. On the last afternoon, I went with a team to a hut they had been at all morning. It was the same place we had cut grass at the day before. They said they had a lot of breakthrough that morning and were hoping to follow up with the message of salvation. When we got into the hut, the team was full of great things to say but for whatever reason I couldn’t translate anything! The most simple sentences just would not come out. I was annoyed with myself and sort of embarrassed. I apologized to the team and said, “You guys are saying great things, but I just can’t…” Then after a few minutes something happened. I began to just speak and sum up the things the team had said. I shared my testimony as they asked how they were supposed to know if God was real. I assured them He was because I’ve seen Him work! We shared the Gospel and I asked one of the ladies, Luz Mary, if she would one day want to have that relationship with Jesus. She said she would. I asked, “When?” Her reply was, “Today!” I asked her to explain to me what that really meant. She completely understood. So I explained to her that the Word says if she believes in her heart that she should confess with her mouth Jesus is Lord and surrender completely. We prayed together and she became a believer! I explained to her that all of Heaven was rejoicing because her heart had gone from dead to alive. I talked to them about reading the Bible. They didn’t have one and they couldn’t actually read (but their nephew could read it to them). I found one at camp so the pastor was going to take it to them and make sure they kept reading the Bible.
It was such a cool experience to go from stumbling over saying the most simple things in Spanish to be able to say whatever came to mind and seeing someone give their heart to Jesus. Luz Mary gathered her sister and grandkids around as well to pray. That ministry group dedicated so much time to this family and showing the love of God, then communicating it. I was so proud of their boldness and thankful for their patience as I tried to figure out the Spanish.
In Panama I/we:
1 Travelled by boat over an hour to reach a village
2. Cut grass with a machete, dug a latrine, and did some grinding of rice.
3. Hunted and ate alligator
4. Enjoyed some Coke with great new jungle friends
5. Was blown away by the friendliness of the villagers and got to know some great people.
6. Had the best team on the trip, a great coleader and awesome CA’s!
7. Had a movie night for the village ( a 1st for them I believe)
8. Saw two people surrender their lives to God in our village and many more grow closer to a full understanding.
If you haven’t gone on a trip yet or haven’t been on a mission trip in a long time, you should go! It will completely change your life and there are people on the other side waiting for hope. I have some news coming soon of how you can get involved with things here in Peru!