Family

This was a trip of “leaders to leaders”, but we more aptly described it as a “family reunion”. Thanks for following the journey and praying for our team and this short time in Panama. We praise God that our goals for this trip were exceeded in many ways. We wanted to celebrate together what God has done in this partnership, we wanted to plan together for the future of this partnership, and we wanted to encourage one another in our faith in Jesus (Romans 1:12).  As the partnership expands and becomes more complex and beautiful, we wanted to have common understandings and commitments to each other, which we have come away with. Obdulio (the primary indigenous leader) said it well, how from their perspective, this relationship has evolved from us ‘adopting’ them, to a ‘partnership’, to now where they simply see it as being ‘family’ together. God is answering our hopes and prayers, and doing great things through this relationship from “the river to the ends of the earth”. Hopefully, (as Jim Davidson described it) you’ve been introduced to some of your distant uncles, aunts, cousins, brothers and sisters, who you have not yet met. Who knows, maybe one day soon you will…

 

Juan Diaz Center

This is the Juan Diaz Center that has been a central hub of MB mission work in Panama for decades. It’s been in disrepair for years, but now they have a big vision for this center and it’s future role for their people. It is strategically located within minutes of downtown and also close to the airport. It now sits on property that has become very valuable for it’s strategic location. They gave us a tour and told us their plans of how they want to continue to use this for discipleship of the Wounaan people with a new vision.

 

Canadian Thanksgiving

Had a great Canadian Thanksgiving meal together with the Tony and Sarah, Allan and Colleen, Einer and Girlesa and their kids!

Holy Ground

No pictures from this evening. We met with the missionary team and a few of the Wounaan leaders discussing what it means to be family across cultures. Equal parties in the room, discerning and collaborating together with a significant time of prayer. Felt like holy ground. You can’t take pictures of holy ground…

Old Panama


Heading to Old Panama

 

View of Downtown from Old Panama

 

Lunch in Old Panama

 

 

Old Panama

 

Special Police Unit in Old Pamana – Joshua 1:9

 

 

Find Einer

Old Panama

 

Celebration Sunday

Today was a church service, celebration and lunch at the Juan Diaz center in Panama City. It was so fun watching Ryan in his element as a Panamanian son – he is greatly loved here and doing a great job of translating. But what is he doing in the picture?! (You can ask team members what that picture was about when they get home).

 

A very cute, young Wounaan dancer in training.

 

 

She helped give out gifts to our team.

 

 

Our team sharing

 

Reconnecting with old friends…

 

Cocobolo Wood

The beautiful cocobolo wood from the jungles of Panama, has a deep meaning, significance, beauty and economic value for the Wounaan people. In some ways, you could says it’s a symbol of conflict, since it represents the illegal logging on their lands because of this valuable wood, leading to ongoing land disputes with governments, and more extreme conflict that even led to the death of one of their village chiefs in 2012.

As we gave the gift of pens today, I shared with them how over the years, cocobolo has not only become my favorite wood for pen-making, but a symbol of unity, not conflict. They have given me many pieces of the wood for making pens and it’s a privilege to give it back in another form that represents so much. The hardware is from Canada, and the wood is from Panama. The wood has many shades of color, as does the hardware. Together, they reflect the beauty and unique aspects of our partnership – a symbol and reminder of unity for everyone who was here.

 

Today is a full days of sharing our stories of faith, challenges in ministry and to encourage one another. Our FGCC team shared this morning and did such a great job of sharing from their hearts, both the highs and lows of life and ministry – but God’s faithfulness throughout. Many laughs and many tears together. This afternoon, we are hearing from the Wounaan leaders and the Panama missions team. God is at work in our midst!

It’s great to be making, eating, and cleaning up meals together – an important part of team building. Ryan led us in some fun games – laughter breaks all cultural and language barriers.

I’m not sure yet, but tonight will be times of worship, pray and maybe some cultural dancing. Looking forward to Jim Davidson’s cultural dance 😊…

 

We are Welcomed

We all had a good flight with a short night in Toronto.  We were welcomed at the airport by Einer and Girlesa and others from the Wounaan leadership. Settled into our place – a missions based called Casa Paraiso just outside of Panama city. We are so close to the canal, that we can hear the ships from where we are. It’s a beautiful spot and we are loving the warm air (29 degrees). Tomorrow our team of 6, plus the missionary team of 6, plus Rudy and Emerson from South America, will be joined by 15 Wounaan leaders for the day. We will be sharing our personal and also church stories, celebrating what God is doing in this partnership and be doing some planning for the years ahead as well.

Tonight we began by a small group of us meeting with some of the missionary team to help work through some challenges that they are working through. Pray for God’s Spirit to work in new and fresh ways. This is such a gifted and diverse team, but life is complicated and the enemy never wants us to work in full unity.

For those wanting a glimpse into where out team is currently staying, you can see some pictures here.

 

We arrived!

 

How many team members can you find in this picture?