Bocas Del Toro
The Islands of Bocas Del Toro were beautiful! Clear water, palm trees & white sand, too bad it rained all week! We ran a few school programs but most of the students canoe to school from other islands so when it rains classes are canceled. We visited houses and noticed slight differences in the Ngobe culture of Bocas. We learned to make coconut bread with Lydia a Ngobe woman (sooo yummy, but lots of work to make over a fire!) We also visited Red Frog beach for our day off and enjoyed a little bit of sunshine and a beautiful beach. One of the days we went around inviting people to watch a movie at the base and we had to paddle up river to a far village. It was hard work and once we got there most of the village was away working in the fields but we met a woman who was making coconut bread in the Mamma Tata church. Mamma Tata is a Ngobe religion which is a mix of Catholicism and Voodoo. That night we showed the movie a few people came and they had lots of questions. One of the men who came asked to be baptized so we baptized him and Alison the next day. We had a great week and got to support the awesome ministry that Kim & Dale (base directors) have already been doing.
After Bocas we made our way to the Costa Rican boarder but on the way we stopped at a pastors house to quickly catch up with the other team. We quickly exchanged stories and hugs and then we were off to Costa Rica. Unfortunately they would not let 2 of our members through so we were stuck in between Panama and Costa Rica not sure about where we were going to spend the next week. Since Alison, Bekah and I had gotten permission into Costa Rica we decided to go get ice cream while the team was deciding what was best. Either we split up or we stay as a team and go somewhere else. So we prayed and everyone felt that we should stay together as a team. Someone got the idea to call Cathy who's house we stayed at in Chiriqui and ask if we could stay another week. She gladly said yes, so we made our way back to the city of David.
When we arrived in Chiriqui it felt like home to a lot of us. We were all excited to continue our hospital ministry. When we finally arrived at the hospital for visiting hours my group (Lucas, David and I) made our way to the 4th floor. Jessica had twisted her ankle in Bocas so she stayed home with Kristina and the kids. When we got to the 4th floor and went into the room we had visited many times before it was different. All the kids had left, God had healed them all! Even the kids that had been abandoned, family members had come and picked them up! All our prayers had been answered, it was amazing. God had brought us back to Chiriqui for a reason, to see the work he was doing. Alison, Bekah, Gerardo & John were visiting the 3rd floor and praying for babies and when they got there they only recognized one father with his child and he said "Well everyone else has been healed and left, so I guess I'm next!" It was awesome, we talked to the nurses and they told us all the kids we had been praying for were signed out of the hospital for getting better and that they appreciated what we were doing. Some of those babies & kids had been there for more than 6 months without any progress. God completely exceeded my expectations with the abandoned kids. There had been 5 abandoned kids who the hospital had been taking care of and by the end of our week in Chiriqui all had been taken home by family members. God blessed us a lot that week, and showed us why he wanted us in Chiriqui.
After Chiriqui our leaders surprised us with a 2 night stay in some hostels off the Las Lajas beach! It was beautiful and we were all super excited. Unfortunately David ended up leaving, we were all pretty upset so we had a team meeting. We prayed and felt that it was his choice, and he has to learn consequences of things he does. The Sunday we were leaving for chiriqui John got a phone call from David saying he wanted to come back. So as we made our way to Tugri we met up with David, and openly welcomed him back. Also Kristina, Jessica and the kids returned to Panama City for the last week of outreach.
We all knew the last week in Tugri would be hard. It rained all the time, and is in the middle of no where on a mountain. Our plan was to take an out trip to a town 4 hours away hiking but we ended up going to a different town 3 hours away. The previous time we had met a peace core worker (Khris) who lived there so we decided to visit him. After a long hike, which we were all out of shape for we arrived in Salitre. We stayed in a small church and invited people to our service that night. We found Khris' house and invited him also. That night we shared stories, sung, talked and drank coffee. We told Khris about our plans to do a teaching on health and staying healthy. He was excited and asked if he could join in. So the next morning we left with Khris back to Tugri. When we finally arrived we taught on the importance of washing your hands and latrines. Khris ended up staying the night and we enjoyed spending time talking over great food and coffee. The next day we planned on making the top of the latrine, we had ordered concrete and pipes to make the latrine and have running water. Unfortunately it was raining so we didn't end up making it. Khris took John aside and sincerely thanked him for the time we spent with him. He said he was having a hard week and was feeling down and the fact that we invited him to eat and stay with us was a blessing. We had lots of great memories in Tugri and God used us to work in the lives of Khris and others.
Outreach was an amazing experience and I learned A LOT.