Back to School

by Colleen

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Kevin thrilled to swing on the new playground

I was greeted by many smiling faces as I returned to my English class last week. Prayers have been answered as the parents of the school have worked hard to remove all of the bats and clean and paint. Thanks to their hard work, our school is now cleaner and safer!

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Some students create a historic building in Panama using beans.

Please pray that God would help us discern as we get ready to plan our months ahead visiting communities

Bendiciones!

 

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Membrillo

It was a challenging but rewarding visit to two communities on the Membrillo River in the Emberá-Wounaan comarca, Sinaí and Mach Pöbor. After rebuilding the pump, installing the new controller, and waiting for the sun to shine (on the solar panels) we were able to pump water. Yeah! This is a big first step in getting the system operational. Unfortunately, the well design that worked so good in Villa Caleta will not likely work here because of the geology. So we’ll be back to the design table to see how to deal with this powerful river.

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Mach Pöbor has become quite the community in its two short years of existence. Having relocated to higher ground following the flood of 2010, they have received few of the promises from the government, and have built a tremendous amount of infrastructure with their own sweat and resources. But they still lack a water system, so we’ve taken the first steps in designing a system. Fortunately, they have a nearby stream, so we won’t have to battle with the main river there.

Colleen and Kalea arrive in 2 hours, and I will make a big stride against the nemesis of loneliness after a long month of working without them.

Blessings and Health,
Alan

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By Colleen

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I continue to laugh as I praise God when I think back on the past and where He has taken me…How can I have so much love for a country and its people when I once despised even hearing the name of the place? I am filled with joy when I think how God can use even me….He challenges me, He pushes me, He is always there…

A buddy Rhys Martell challenged me to think about my ideas and beliefs about Jesus and God in a sermon (https://soundcloud.com/accsermons/2014-07-06-rhys-martell ) “…You need some evidence in order to build faith and strengthen it, the only way to get evidence that is really going to mean anything to you is by doing what He asks you to do, and then seeing if He shows up. …If He shows up, Game Changer!”

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I honestly don´t remember expecting God to show up in Panamá. I was controlled by money, and thought once we ran out of money we would have to leave and pack our bags (More or less because that´s what I wanted). Guess what? We did run out of money, but He did show up! Game Changer! It was the best thing that could have ever happened to our family…He showed up with food, and later on a job that provided income for our family, and later on training and eventually becoming official missionaries with MB Mission…It built up my confidence, my faith….He does want me here! And now, every day, when I think about all of the beautiful people that pray for us continually and provide financially it is a reminder of this, and to me, a miracle. Now as I said, I love the country and I love the people…at times I feel life is simpler there, and at other times harder…but it all feels right, and at the end of the day, easy or not, I can praise Jesus for His works. I challenge you to reflect on where and what God is calling you to. Invite God to lead you in your life.  Will you follow?

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Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them. -John 14:21

 

Please pray for a new direction I feel God is calling me to that involves youth and music…I won´t say any more than that at this point…but I feel like God has poured fuel into my body and I am excited to trust Him and see where it leads!

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July 29, 2014 · 5:53 pm

On the Road Again

I’ve made it through 3 long, hot days of meetings in the city with the Wounaan and collaborating organizations. It was encouraging to witness the support and solidarity of these groups: Rainforest Foundation, Native Future, University of Georgia, myself representing MB Mission, and the church, but I won’t miss the heat and confinement of the city. I came home today hoping for a relaxing evening except for packing to leave tomorrow morning for the Membrillo river to visit 2 communities, but my neighbor showed up with his hand half disected from a chainsaw, so I’m at the health center now. Hopefully we’ll get home at a decent hour. Please pray for guidance and fruit for trip tomorrow as well as patience as I wait for Colleen and Kalea to join me in August.

Blessings

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Transformation

“Watch! I’m about to carry out something new!” “I provide water in the desert and streams in the wilderness to give drink to my people, my chosen ones.” Isaiah 43

The church camp in Yaviza has come alive. God is transforming not only people, but this place as well. And the current team from Canada has jumped in wholeheartedly, planting trees, teaching children in Club La Cima, shoveling muck, and getting us one step closer to having water 24/7! Carry on Grovians!

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Who’s Timing?

Two nights ago, we had a program for church. Not a lot of people, but amongst the few and faithful was, of course, Egidio Puchicama, laughing heartily at our puppet show. Afterwards we bid each other goodnight “nan mash oju” “see you tomorrow”. Egidio co-founded this community, Platanares, and was it’s chief for many years. I didn’t make the connection until tonight that I used to stay with the family of one of his 11 children while in Peace Corps. His character shines in his children that I know. So what do Egidio, a group of Canadians on a short-term mission trip, a Wounaan scholar/Bible translator, the national chief, and I have in common tonight ? We’re all in front of a huge gathering of Wounaan. We are singing to the guitar in a mix of languages and harmonies as Egidio lies in his wooden box surrounded by flowers. In an hour or so the morning light will break, and the younger men will dig Egidio’s grave. He will be carried across the river to his final resting place, the recently established cemetery, a forested hill that holds chief Alquilo who was murdered in 2012, and a child who lived just 2 days. Then we’ll get on a boat and head home. Sometimes we question the practicality of short-term missions. Perhaps rightfully so. Nonetheless, it has been heavy yet affirming to see how God has used a few young people from far away to accompany and comfort a grieving community. Thanks for your prayers for our team.

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July 2014: Foster Family Update

By Colleen

Alan left yesterday for Panamá. I am here with Kalea in SC.

I went to the specialist yesterday about my elevated pancreas levels. They repeated labs on my pancreas and liver levels. I had been treated the week previously for a bacterial infection found in the colon: campylobacter. The doctor said if the levels go down, the campylobacter could be responsible. Since the levels are going down, we are prayful and praising God for his healing and that they will continue to go back to normal.

Alan arrived back to our house today…reuniting with neighbors. Alan will be leaving the house in a couple of days to receive a wonderful group from Forest Grove Community Church from Saskatoon, Canada along with Einer and Girlesa Zuluaga. Please pray that God would use and guide each one of the team members, that the love of Jesus would shine out through their actions, that they will stay strong and healthy as they travel to the remote village of Platanares.

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(To our dear friends in Panamá, we love you and miss you and hope to see you soon! ! Bendiciones! Love, Colleen and Kalea)

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Cleaning the toilet

You can cruise through a lifetime in North America without every encountering any situation to really put into context one recurring theme in the Bible, demon possession. Having now spent a few years out of the country, I still fall into this category; and my western, diagnostic, pragmatic, objective, background easily explains away any less-than-normal happenings. So I was a bit taken back when our training with the relatively conservative Mennonite mission included a straight-forward “how-to” crash course on this topic. But it resonated with me when the exercise (or exorcism) was compared to cleaning a toilet… “It´s not something you talk about, you just do it and move on.” Nonetheless, I don´t see any other way to share this particular praise report and give glory to God without including certain facts. No matter how I view it, possession is a perceived reality for many people in the world, especially where animism and spiritism have a foothold or stronghold.

Fact: In May, leaders of a large indigenous community deep in Darién contacted the Iglesia Evangélica Unida (IEU) church leadership and requested help, citing that they had been unable to convene school properly for 3 months because a large part of the student population was being directly attacked by evil spirits.

Pastor Dalecio and Pastor Américo baptize

Pastor Dalecio and Pastor Américo baptize

Fact: On the unsuccessful heels of two other religious groups, a leadership commission from the IEU traveled to the community and invested time meeting with local authorities, the families, and the children. They led studies and worship services and went from home to home.

Fact: 39 young people were baptized and school was brought back in session. The National Ministry of Education offered to fund a follow-up visit by the IEU which is scheduled for this week.

Hooray!

Well, I (Alan) travel back on Monday to Panama while Colleen and Kalea stay here in SC a little longer for some medical appointments. It has been a wonderful visit home sharing precious time with many of you.

with Hope,

los Fosters

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Blanket of Love

by Colleen

“I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings…” Psalm 57

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On occasion, we all get that warm fuzzy feeling from a picture of a loved one, or something someone says…

But nothing compares to the presence and love of God! Today after a morning Bible Study, I was challenged to think about the times in my life when I have felt Gods presence, and in how He reveals himself.

Through scripture, through others, through prayer, through nature….he reaches us…

A gentle presence of love, comfort and peace….all fear and pain is washed away.

Thank you Jesus for this day! I know you have me in your hands and I have so much to be thankful for.

In the book of Philippians Paul says, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” 4:12-13

My prayer is that we all may know this contentness that Paul speaks about. To be content is being free of fear or worry.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:25-27

 

How is God revealing himself to you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pump it up for Jesus!

scrapping together a playground

scrapping together a playground

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our home church from SC came to Panamá for a “Vision Trip” and Team Bethel was pumped and ready to work! We put them into action….no time to rest here!

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Catrigandí school

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

We had an amazing first day at the public school where we live in Catrigandi. The guys got started on refurbishing an old metal playground, there was lots of sanding, sawing, welding and sweat! The playground is a fun blessing to the children here as playgrounds are scarce to none in our parts. As for the women folk, we entertained and played games with the children……I believe we all sweated equally! Catrigandí playground 3As for our Panamanian counterparts, the women cooked a delicious typical arroz con pollo (chicken and rice), and some of the dads of the students worked hard in collaboration with Team Bethel. The Team highlights of the day included watching Pastor Bart hoola hoop while “Carileth” giggled continuously and watching about 12 boys up against our cousin Andy trying to score a goal….he was unstoppable!

 

Bethel Latrine Dream Team with the Osorio family

Bethel Latrine Dream Team with the Osorio family

Another project they undertook was to finish a composting latrine in a family´s home across the river from the church camp at the end of the road in Yaviza. The construction was inventive and effective, and the true blessing was spending time with the hosting family as they worked alongside us and shared a meal with us.

Our Bethel Team left us feeling encouraged, and excited to have more visits from them!!!! They were a tremendous help, and truly a blessing to us. A special thanks to our brothers and sisters at Bethel Baptist that prayed (and continue to pray!) and blessed us by sending this team to say the least! We are so thankful!

“I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing.  -Genesis 12:2

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