Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Now to Romania

For anyone who is still viewing my old blog, this is for you. Cyndi and I are joining Danny and Kristen Davis and their small children, Sam and Claire, to go on a 6 week Let's Start Talking mission o Constanţa, Romania. We leave on June 17th and will return to the USA on July 31st.

We are in the middle of last minute preparations to leave. The "to do" lists are growing and items are being checked off. We have so uch to do, but I'm so ready for that moment when I'm sitting on the plane flying through the air, knowing that I've done all I can do and rest for the long trans-Atlantic flight. And finally meeting the missionaries who requested for us to come. It will be exhausting and exciting all at the same time.

Here is the blog that our team will be using while we are on the trip:

Please pray for us and our readers. That is the best gift that you can give us. Thanks to everyone who made this trip possible. Praise God that you are faithful to Him and want to do His will.

Buna ziua! (Good day)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Birthday wishes

I want to send out a big ol' "Happy Birthday" to my Dad, Grandma, and niece, Katie. They all have birthdays this week so they are on my mind. It's times like these when I feel a bit isolated from my family and friends. One main reason is that it's unbelievably expensive to send a birthday card from Panama to the U.S. Besides all of the cards we can get here are in the Spanish language.

Last year, I was with my brother, Jeff and his family in Tennessee for Labor Day weekend, and then up to PA for my Dad and Grandmas birthday. That seems like a loooooooong time ago, now. But it was one of the unexpected blessings of our delayed departure for Brazil. Now here we are a year later, looking to come back to the U.S. soon.

If you're interested, here's a quick link to my blog entry that I posted exactly one year ago. Click here.

Friday, August 7, 2009

High School Readers

As many of you may recall, our local church in Panama had been meeting in a house. In mid-May, we were able to move to a more centrally located high school called, Instituto América (IA). We have more room and have made connections with the school administration to use LST with the students from the school. It has been a wonderful exchange and given the church many new opportunities to serve the community. The church meeting at the school is now called the Metropolitan Church of Christ.

In June, a new LST team came to Panama to begin LST work at IA. While Cyndi and I were finishing the semester at the university, they had a three week project which introduced LST to the high school students. At the end of their project, we invited the readers and their families to our worship services on Sunday. I gave a short lesson about why I came to Panama and the importance of LST. Afterward, the readers were awarded certificates of achievement. Cyndi and I were able to meet some of the readers invite them to join us in reading sessions also.

For the last three weeks in July, Cyndi and I have been working at IA. We are really glad to help the church make a connection with the students who are searching for what they believe. All of our readers have been wonderful. They are so eager to learn more about Jesus and our lives. The school has been very accommodating to the LST program. We pray that God will help the relationship between the school and the church to grow.

If you are interested in some photos of our new meeting place and the work at the school — click here to look at them. We took some more photos with our students, but unfortunately our camera was stolen before we could upload them.

Last week, we left Panama to fulfill our visa requirements. Every three months we must leave Panama for 3 days, then we are able to re-enter Panama and are allowed 90 more days. We went to Costa Rica again and enjoyed some much needed down time.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Encouragement Mail

We got a card in the mail yesterday from my childhood church in Pennsylvania. The ladies sent us words of encouragement that are greatly appreciated. Many of you have told us that you are praying for us. That is very comforting to know. Your reminders that you are thinking of us and especially lifting us up to God encourage us a lot. I believe in the power of prayer and have seen results many, many times. Keep it up! :)

Thanks to the ladies of the Church of Christ in Hermitage, PA! And thanks to all of you who have been encouraging us. We appreciate it very much. God bless you all.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

More Photos

I added some new photos of some of our readers so that you can get a better picture of what our lives have been like. I hope you enjoy. Click here to see the photos.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Little Contemplation

I would like to reminisce, a little. Let's look back at a quote from my blog on July 28th, 2008:

"I've been learning that my plan is not important, but God decides when things should happen. When we started the process to go to Natal, we asked God that we would follow His will, not our own. I believe that He is teaching me that even when I think that I am laying out a plan for Him, I may be laying out MY plan and just expecting God to approve my plan and go along with it and bless me."

I wrote this before Cyndi and I ever knew that we were going to be in Panama. We had thought that we would be in Natal, Brazil for one whole year. In ways that we could not control, we were not able to stay in Brazil. Lacy Hefley, our original team mate, has just completed a year in Natal and is headed back home to the US. We thought that we would also follow this plan. But here is another quote from last year:

"We have been praying that God will place roadblocks where He doesn't want us to go... so our plans have kept changing with the roadblocks."

I realize now, that my plans are so limited. God can do anything. Last year we had our final yard sale and we moved out of our house on July 4th weekend. God is continually teaching us to let go of our plans and listen to what He wants to do with us, and for us.

I'm contemplative and reminiscent because we just lost a faithful brother in Panama — Walter Leonard. He was the second person we met when we arrived last December. And from our first meeting, he helped us feel needed and a part of the family. We were honored to sing at his funeral last week and celebrate a full life of service in God's kingdom. I feel really blessed that we had 6 months to witness his example of faith and service. We are so happy for him, but will feel his absence for the rest of our time here.

"How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?" 1 Thessalonians 3:9

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Metropolitan Church

One aspect that I've been wanting to blog about is the church here in Panama City. Ever since we've arrived, we have been welcomed and cared for, by the Metropolitan church. It has been a pleasure to meet Raul, Walter and Elio, three evangelists working with this church. They are zealously evangelistic and want nothing, if they can not reach more people with the gospel of Christ. Immediately, they recognized us as co-workers in the kingdom and have been an encouragement to us. (Especially, when we came down with that horrible virus in January!)

From December to May, the church has met in Walter's house.

Here you can see our group on one Sunday in March. Every service is bilingual. Even prayers are translated into English on most occasions, which Cyndi and I appreciate very much. But as you can see in the photo, there isn't much room for growth in Walter's house and it can get pretty warm in there! (Right Crystal and Lacy?) Here's another view of those sitting behind the house.

One of my favorite things about this church is that they love to sing, especially Elio, pictured beside me. They always ask me to lead the songs they are singing in English. We will sing a verse in Spanish then the same verse in English. I like the way that it flows so well, even though many of us don't speak the same language.

Last week, for the first time, the Metropolitan church has moved out of Walter's house and into a school. There is more space for growth and air conditioning! The greatest benefit of our move is that it is more centrally located in the city. Walter's house was on one end of town which made for a really long commute for many folks. It is very difficult to get around in Panama City because of traffic and construction. I'm going to miss the closeness of meeting in a home, but I can see the benefits of our move.

Well, many of you have been asking about our church situation, here in Panama and I hope this answers a lot of curiosity. We look for great things to continue to happen with our family in Panama.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Reading Time

Now that we've really started to meet with readers for a couple of weeks now. I'll tell you how its going. I currently have a dozen readers who I meet with once a week. People sometimes will fail to come to their reading session without telling us. But this is common in Latin America. I'm getting to know all kinds of people, from professors at the university to janitors. Most are university students that have taken several english classes.

Things started off really well, but about 5 or 6 of my readers have missed their sessions. I'm emailing them now to remind them, but I can't force them to come. The rest, who come, are really doing well and understand everything they read about Jesus. Please pray that the ones who aren't coming will come back.

The really cool thing is that we are still getting new people coming in to sign up for the program. The university has offered to pay for our meals while we are on campus. We are being treated very well. One of my readers last week, thanked me for spending my time with him. It made my day, of course, but more than that, he let me know that God is using the time we are spending reading His word to make a difference in someone's life. I hope that I can always remember to get out of the way and let God do His thing.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Dry and Rainy Seasons

I apologize to all of you who regularly check this blog for updates for my lack of blog time. A couple of weeks ago, Cyndi and I had to leave Panama because our tourist visa expired. Every 90 days, we are required to leave Panama for three days, then we are free to re-enter the country and receive another 90 day visa. We went to the closest country we could travel to... Costa Rica. During this time, Crystal Jones visited us even though she knew that we would be taking Central American transportation! We were so glad to have her experience our latest adventure. We really enjoyed Costa Rica, and Crystal's visit, despite the overnight bus ride through the mountains. Blah!

A week ago, an LST team of five from New York state came to Panama to help us with the opening of UDELAS, the local university where we are finding new readers. Cyndi and Lisa Carter (our missionary contact in Panama) spent the first couple of days going to classes telling university students about the LST program. The word spread and we spent last week signing up lots of readers. And starting reading sessions!!!! We are so glad that people are ready to read with us now! Summer vacation is over and they are ready to get to work.

God has brought to us many college students, and some faculty as well. All five of the folks from New York have lots of readers. They plan to be here for two more weeks. Once they leave, Cyndi, Lisa and I will take all of these readers and continue to have reading sessions with them. We are so excited with the response that we have received. So many souls drinking in the Word of God. Praise God for His work in their lives. Please pray that we will be His instruments as we read the gospel with them.

In Panama, the are two seasons... the Dry Season and the Rainy Season. Their equivalent of summer vacation started the day we arrived in Panama and last week it ended. Also, the rainy season will begin very soon. The same has been true with our work here. We tried and tried to read with people, but had very little response. But now, the response to our work is almost overwhelming. In Panama, when it rains, it pours and I'm not just talking about water. Let it rain.

Let my teaching fall on you like rain; let my speech settle like dew. Let my words fall like rain on tender grass, like gentle showers on young plants. I will proclaim the name of the Lord; how glorious is our God! Deuteronomy 32:2-3

Sunday, February 22, 2009

"Summer Vacation"

This time of year in Panama (and much of Latin America) is vacation time. It is very similar to our summer vacations where the kids are out of school and folks take time off from work. For the next four days, Carnival (a nation-wide Mardi Gras) will commence. Things are really quiet all around and many people are traveling. School starts in March and will last through to December. We plan to start a full load of reading sessions in the next couple weeks at the local University - UDELAS (an acronym for Universidad Especializada de las Americas). The University incorporates LST into the curriculum even though our services are free and we don't work for the University. It's an amazing opportunity to teach college students about the Bible while they take their regular classes. The University provides space for our reading sessions and we live only about a mile away from the campus. God has really set everything up perfectly and we are ready to start.

But we have been taking advantage of the down time though to settle into our new apartment and I am working for the Bible Study Guide for 40 hours a week to make up for time lost during our travel from Brazil and the Christmas holidays. We have been getting used to our new home and surroundings. Plus we are studying Spanish with a tutor 3 nights a week. It is really difficult to learn the language, but we are giving it our best.

Please pray for our upcoming work. We plan to have a very full schedule soon and will be reading through the book of Luke with as many people as we can handle. I have downloaded pictures to our Picasa web page of our recent work in Chepo and of our new apartment. Click here to visit the photo page.