Here, There, and Yonder

By Colleen

Howdy folks! We are back in North America for our MINA (Missions in North America), which takes place every three years as long term missionaries with MB mission (check out mbmission.org if you haven’t and see what our other brothers and sisters are doing amongst the least reached!)

Before leaving Panama, we had a visitor. The biggest tree frog we have ever seen!

Before leaving Panama, we had a visitor. The biggest tree frog we have ever seen!

 

 Before leaving Panama, Kalea had her first sleepover party to celebrate her birthday. (The boys didn’t stayover, they just joined in for some playing the next day!)


Before leaving Panama, Kalea had her first sleepover party to celebrate her birthday. (The boys didn’t stayover, they just joined in for some playing the next day!)

 

Our  MINA is a time for;

-Visiting with sending congregations and individuals

– Encouraging local mission

-Raising prayer and financial partners for the next term

We went on a short hike while in Oklahoma.

We went on a short hike while in Oklahoma.

We left Panama August 20th and headed to beautiful British Columbia, Canada. There we connected with other missionary families who have left the field to fulfill their MINA during a retreat hosted by MB Mission. This was also a time to reconnect with the folks in the office who work so hard behind the scenes to make the ministry overseas possible. We feel very thankful to be a part of this family, they take good care of us!

zzzWe visited our supporting church in the BC area and stayed in the homes of the loving families that have partnered with us. After BC, we were in Saskatchewan, then to Kansas, to Oklahoma, back to Kansas (for a retreat in which 22 young people committed themselves to missions), and now South Carolina!

We have cherished our time with each family that has opened their home to us, keeping us rested, fed, and encourged! We feel truly blessed and loved by the team of people who have chosen to walk alongside us for God´s ministry in Panama. Although we have been go, go, go on the road, we feel refreshed by the hospitality and love of His people.

 

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you. – Philippians 1:3

John and Janice Goertz served many, many years with the ministry in Panama! And they continue to give of themselves to the ministry, even well into their 80´s!!!! Spending time with them was an amazing education and alot of fun.

We still have more visits to make in North Carolina, Ohio, and possibly St. Louis…..

We want to visit you, too! Please, please write or call us!!! (faithandfruit@gmail.com)

Alan´s cell: 864-324-2412 Colleen´s cell: 864-557-0682, house: 864-972-3405

 

Praise Him!

-For good health and safe travel!

– For being encouraged and prayed for by so many wonderful people!

Pray with us!

-For ease in getting caught up with homeschool for Kalea

– For obedience and renewed energy to live on mission in North America

– For God to give us courage to invite individuals and for Him prepare their hearts to join or continue to partner with us

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Eat More Mango!

Our time in Yaviza was fun! The guys and gals on the worksite were always wearing smiles.  Laughter, singing, and even dancing was often witnessed on the job site. Even as those that came to the kitchen to serve, there were usually joking around and glad to share their recipes for Chef Panama! The outside visiting groups brought lots of encouragement to our brothers and sisters here on the church camp just with their presence. Of course the close time of fellowship and meal sharing were wonderful as well! Thank you to everyone, including our local Church members that came out to support the cause with their service!

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13333006_10153818832761051_7421068532346694340_nOur time at our home has been fruitful! Literally! Alan and Santiago (Curtis Strauss) have worked on making a fruit dehydrator and drying some mangos! It has been successful and tasty! I now can’t make it through an entire day without eating mango! We are now testing out the market to see if this mango thing could be a way to support some of our ministry work here in the future! Go panamango!

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The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. -Psalm 23;1

 

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Saludos from Panama

By Colleen

After an entire month away from home, we finally leave today to go to our home! Alan’s back is doing much better, but still tires quickly. We will be going home for two days…..repacking….and then we are off to Yaviza to be with a build team that comes in tomorrow evening from Canada. We also have with us Marshall, from our home church in South Carolina who arrived a week ago.

We will be in Yaviza for nine days working alongside some church nationals on house construction for the house we hope to live in for future work!

We ask that you pray for this time together that it would be a time for encouraging and learning from one another. That the work ahead of us will be used for His Glory, and joyful in getting to share time with other brothers in Christ.

 

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm- 19:14

Family picture may 2016

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A List of Firsts

By Colleen

Watch out! Joshua is eating everything in sight! He enjoyed his first time eating some beans!

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Kalea had her first day of school. We are so proud of her!

While in the city shopping, the kids rode together for the first time in the buggy!

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As a  reminder: Our first time taking MINA will happen this Fall.
We are working on scheduling for MINA (Ministry in North America);
This fall we are scheduled to go to Canada and will also be visiting some churches in the mid-western United States. Cross cultural workers with MB Mission are encouraged to take this trip back home after serving in the host country for 3 years. Some of the objectives for this time include:
– Rest & renewal
– Reconnecting with family and friends
– Visiting with sending congregations and individual supporters  
– Encouraging local mission
– Raising prayer and financial support for the next term
We would be glad to connect with you! Here’s a tentative timetable of our plans for the fall.
Late August to early September  in Abbotsford , BC
Mid to late September in Saskatoon
Late September through October  in the Midwest US (still to be determined!)
October to early January  In South Carolina and  flying back to Panamá in January

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A Blog in Pictures

By Colleen

A view from our kitchen window in beautiful Catrigandí. The cows graze in the early morning as the sun begins to heat the day.

We saw yet another new species of bird that we had not seen before at our house. He was in the orange trees. He had a bright yellow beak, vibrant red chest and green body….long tail feathers. I thank God for nature that surrounds me as I dwell in His creation.

Picture courtesy Google pictures

Picture courtesy Google pictures

 

I am enjoying learning new ideas in photography in a book by Me Ra Koh.

Kalea enjoys hearing the story about the fox catching the gingerbread man over and over! Thanks Alan for capturing this moment on camera!

Kalea enjoys hearing the story about the fox catching the gingerbread man over and over! Thanks Alan for capturing this moment on camera!

 

Luris and Kalea playing kitchen.

Luris and Kalea playing kitchen.

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Since our next door neighbors moved away to be closer to their sons school, Luris and Kalea really miss getting to play with each other. While they are still on summer vacation here in Panama, Kalea had her first sleepover here at our house! It lasted three days! We enjoyed having this time to visit with Luris, and the girls had a blast playing! We hope to get one more sleepover in before school starts on the 29th of February.

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Joshua just had his 6 month check up (Although tomorrow 2-21 he will be 7 months!)…Quote of the week….after weighing and measuring Josh at his appointment, the pediatrician drew in the points on the growth chart and said,  “He is not obese, but…..”                     We feel certain that his large size indicates he will be very tall!

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Meet the Browns! We met up with Sarah, Tony, their baby girl Rosie while they came for a vision trip (They have an older daughter Violet who stayed back in Canada with grandparents). They are new missionaries with mb mission and will be moving to Panama sometime in August to work with the Wounaan youth leaders in the city (Chepo area). Please pray for this wonderful family as they prepare to transition to a life here in Panama. Please pray for us as a team as we are growing! (If you would like to learn more about Tony and Sarah or how you could support them, please visit http://www.mbmission.org/people/new-missionaries )

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Since Christmas, Alan has hoped that Kalea would enjoy playing with Legos….we invested in some sets to  bring back to Panama. The other night we had the opportunity to share the Legos with some neighbors. Our neighbor had to go to the hospital far into the city for a surgery, and her girls spent the night with us (three girls). After Mily (Meel-lee) and Kalea went to bed, I stayed up with Anna and Damaris until 11:00 pm helping them find Lego pieces as they followed the construction instructions…..they were hooked! I love how innocence is preserved here deep in the countryside, at thirteen and fifteen these girls are not “too cool” for Legos, or coloring books…and they don´t spend their time lost in smartphones because they don´t have them.

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We finally had some time with another homeschool family that lives about an hour from our home. The girls were practicing throwing and catching with a football “nerf”….captured here with daughters of Jennifer, Abigail and Caroline. We hope to start getting together with this family regulary to do Physical education and art. Please pray for us that we wouldn´t get discouraged by the distance needed to travel in order to have this well needed time together. (Jennifer now has a 2 month old baby Lucy, so it is nice to have time together encouraging one another along in how to homeschool with growing families).

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Peace, Love, Joy

We hope that you are finding peace, love, and joy this holiday season! We left Panama feeling greatly encouraged by some dear brothers and sisters from Arnold Community Church to spend Christmas here in South Carolina.

We have been cherishing time here with family and we feel joyful as we have witnessed Joshua getting to meet aunts, uncles, great-aunts and great-uncles, cousins, and our beloved “Gran,” Joshua´s great grandmother. What bliss to see Joshua content in her lap as she held him and he smiled up at her!

As we get ready for the New Year we would like to reflect back on some highlights and ask that you pray with us!

 

Looking back:

We had a successful school year with Kalea´s homeschooling! She graduated Kindergarten and will begin first grade in March (She is on the Panamanian school schedule). She now is counting past 100, and seems to really enjoy math. She began reading independently! Pray with us that this next year would be filled with fun in learning! …for myself (Colleen) as a primary teacher, to be overflowing with patience!

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Opportunities and the accompanying workload continue to grow in the water and sanitation ministry… along with surprises. Our team felt like failures after one recent visit where there seemed to be limited participation from the community, and we didn´t accomplish what we´d hoped to finish. Later, we learned that there was very serious division in the community, even within families, and that the water project was the only common ground that kept people talking and somewhat unified. What was a failure from our human perspective was (and is, since we haven´t finished) functioning to bring about forgiveness and reconciliation. There are more Wounaan partners becoming involved and a sort of awakening in the communities as stories of hope and success are shared from village to village. The funding for this ministry began as an “urgent relief project” and concludes in May, so we invite you to pray with us about if and how to continue the momentum that has grown around this ministry.

rebar grid for tower platform to hold water tanks

rebar grid for tower platform to hold water tanks

Coming up

The ground has already been prepared for a new house that will be built in Yaviza on the church property in order for us to be closer to many of the river communities that are easily accessed from this location, in addition to being able to live in community with our teammates, the Zuluaga´s. This also means being available to serve in the children´s club, with which Kalea will have the opportunity to participate. Pray with us for peace in transition, patience and trusting that the timing in this house build will be perfectly arranged according to Gods will.

This is the view from Einer and Girlesa´s front door.

This is the view from Einer and Girlesa´s front door.

 

View of house site looking towards Einer and Girlesa´s house.

View of house site looking towards Einer and Girlesa´s house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back of house site with close proximity to the river.

Back of house site with close proximity to the river.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MINA (Missions in North America)

We will be discerning dates with the lead team at MB Mission to determine when we will be taking our 4 month journey for “Missions in North America”, which will occur this 2016! This is taken every three years by full time missionaries. This time will be spent visiting ministry partners as well as the MB headquarters in Canada. Pray with us that we would find peace in all that is prepared for us. Peace in traveling away from our home and those we cherish in Panama for this extended time.

 

Praying that you and your family have a Christ filled New Year!

 

 

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Sweet and Sour

I just returned from a week on the Membrillo River while Colleen, Kalea, and Joshua stayed in the city. We figured it best they not travel as the bugs are typically bad these months out there. They didn´t seem bad to me, so I fell asleep for a few minutes one day in a hammock without a shirt. That was dumb. Kalea was kind enough to pick the hundreds of blood pustules out of my skin last night so the bites would heal faster.

We weren´t quite ready to place the 400 lb. concrete lid on the well in Maach Pobor, so we sealed it with a tarp and rope and left for lunch. Fortunately, the guys we´re able to retrieve the dog and 6 toads that fell in while we ate before any of them died. One more well cleaning. They also managed to mount 2 tanks weighing 900 lbs apiece on an 18 ft platform with only a couple ropes and logs they cut with machetes. It´s amazing how resourceful these folks can be when given a difficult task. Maach Pobor is now pumping water.

Unfortunately, I have received a humbling lesson in water chemistry in the adjacent community. If you dig a well and the water is perfectly clear, and everyone drinks it and says it´s delicious, don´t trust it… Where is the orange sludge in the tank coming from? Fill a bottle half way with the perfectly clear water and agitate vigorously. Excessive natural  iron will oxidize and you´re holding what looks like diluted orange juice. Bad water. This won´t happen again. What will we learn in the bigger picture of things with the community? Perseverance I hope. They are gracious.

Four iguanas for soup…

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Giving Thanks

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We give thanks to God for this precious time in getting to know Joshua! Now it is hard to even imagine what life was like before him, for he  is such a great addition to our family! He is a calm baby, he hardly cries, only occasionally when he is tired. When he is hungry he just squirms! We appreciate your prayers for continued good health.

This time away from our home in the countryside has been restful, we give thanks for missionary Maritza Cumba for opening up her home to us. We give praise to God for using this time also to rest and strengthen Alan´s back!

Please pray for Kalea´s school year which will end in December, there is still much to do before then! We give thanks for her desire and curiosity to learn! We give thanks for all of the wonderful books we are privileged to read!

Please pray for restoration and  healing physically and mentally after giving birth. For patience and peace as a new mother, and all things nice!

After discernment with our team and Church here in Panamá, we have decided that we will be moving to Yaviza (Where our team mates Einer, Girlesa and their son Gabriel live) possibly as soon as February 2016. Alan will be closer to the port that leaves to several river communities, and I will have the opportunity to dedicate time to the children´s club, and Kalea will also get to be a participant! Please pray for us as we make this transition and for us as a team, as this will be a new experience for all of us.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
 My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

-Psalm 121 1-2

 

 

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Telling Stories

film team“I can see another way now… my previous teachers had me thinking of film as only a job or a hobby… now I see how I can serve my people and God´s Kingdom with this ability and these tools!”

I translated this with much joy between two very different people: John Ervin, MB Mission´s media specialist, and Mara, the director of a young indigenous film team. We are working on two films together… tools to promote health and stewardship through potable water and sanitation in the communities. Despite a difference in skin tone, language, worldview, and a foot in height, they have quite a bit in common: a love for Jesus, a desire to serve, the use of film to tell stories, and both have received rejection from peers because film is not always recognized as a tool for serving in God´s Kingdom… John many years ago as a young man, and Mara, …well, now.

This side project has already been a blessing through the bridges built and relationships made. And it appears that the best is yet to come. The red carpet is scheduled for the end of December, and we excited to see how His story will shine through.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24

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July Blessing

By Colleen

Our sweet little guy arrived July 21, 2015 at 9:19 pm!

We are proud to introduce Joshua Michael Foster! He weighed in at 7.5# and 21 inches long. Everyone is healthy and well.

We thank you for all of your prayers, they were certainly answered! There were some anxieties before hand about arriving to the hospital on time with all of the Panamanian traffic, when the time arrived though, my contractions were strong but irregular, and so I wasn’t even sure if we should go to the hospital or not. To be on the safe side, we went on to the hospital. I was very calm for the entire car ride, we even had time to get slightly lost! I told Alan it was okay, we have plenty of time. When we arrived to the hospital they checked me and I was fully dilated! This was a huge surprise! Five hours later we met our little Joshua. We praise God for this time of celebration!

 

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Kalea is a proud, big sister!

The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you. – Psalm 145: 9-10

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