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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In the Homestretch

By Colleen

As some of you are celebrating Independence day, may we also reflect and celebrate the freedom we have in Christ! Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name ; you are mine. -Isaiah 43:1 This verse brings me great joy as I know that God created me for a purpose.  I am His creation wonderfully and beautifully made…(Psalm 139:14 ) Praise God for His enduring love!

We came to the city last weekend and are settling into our temporary home which is located near the hospital we will be using for the birth of our baby! It all is becoming real now, as I have washed baby clothes, and have my hospital bags packed! This last month has been a bit tougher physically. With swollen feet, and the added weight of baby belly, I am not as active as I used to be! Alan also has been experiencing back trouble, which he has intermittently with a disc problem. Kalea is doing wonderful! She is excited about her new brother coming, and now has the opportunity to ride her bicycle daily where we are staying.

This is not photoshopped! Alan having fun with putting our puppy Samson in Kalea´s basket!

This is not photoshopped! Alan having fun with putting our puppy Samson in Kalea´s basket!

Prayer Requests

Would you please pray for our health and strength and wisdom as parents. Pray that we would not encounter typical Panama traffic when time comes for us to give birth, and prayers for a healthy labor and delivery!

Pray for our team here in Panama as they receive a group this week from Canada. May they bless and be blessed as they serve alongside our Wounaan brothers and sisters.

Pray for rain! We should be in our ¨winter¨months now here in Panamá, which means it is the wet season. There has been little to no rain. At this time, materials for water projects cannot be brought up river to communities as the rivers are low and the weight of the materials cannot travel.

Kalea being a big helper while at a baby shower hosted in SC during our visit last month. Thanks Bethel Baptist!

Kalea being a big helper while at a baby shower hosted in SC during our visit last month. Thanks Bethel Baptist!

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The Great Bail Out!!!

Howdy faithful readers, supporters, and prayer warriors!!!

We have been so encouraged these past couple months! Anthony and Rachael Burchett of Solea Water and Ben Goodman of Village Rights International visited us and traveled with us up the Membrillo River where 3 communities are selling avocados to collaborate with us and get clean water in their homes. That´s right!! Similar to the widow that told Elisha “I´ve got nothing in the house… except a little oil,” we often face something more oppresive than poverty… that is, the poverty mentality. Although our indigenous brothers and sisters have been told for generations that they are poor, it is quite possible to break that cycle, giving them dignity and helping them help themselves to meet their needs. After 5 failed projects over many years, Sinaí now has water!!! Canaan and Mach Pobor are not far behind. Thank for you being part of the team and allowing us the privilege of working with all these special people. Check out the video below to see a little of the action.

Speaking of poverty, we have bounced our first check, so to speak, with MB Mission. We spent money that was in the budget. Unfortunately, it was not in the bank. The good news is that we have achieved permanent residency, the cheapest long term solution to mission work here, and will avoid all future expenses for visas. The bad news is that it left us with a deficit of over $6k with MB Mission. Don´t worry. They are still giving us lunch money, but if we can´t catch up, we could be asked to leave the field to raise support. We invite you to pray about helping us meet that need by contributing to our project through MB Mission.

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