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!

kaleaschool

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!

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

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…

4 Comments

Filed under Water

Giving Thanks

IMG_1075

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

 

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

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!

 

IMG-20150722-WA0014

IMG-20150722-WA0009

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

8 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

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!

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Let there be light

At the top of our webpage you can see José Gaitan´s aged hands weaving a basket. If you scroll down, you can see half of his smiling face. Señor José was first our neighbor; his son, Pastor Justo, being one of the main reasons we decided to build in Catrigandí. For a while Señor José was my roommate in our home while I built and Colleen was back in the States.. While we were still lighting our way with candles, I came home to find him asleep with the snub of a candle burning ever closer to the block of wood that it sat upon. I was grateful that I decided to come home a day early and decided the time had come for our first solar panel. José marveled and laughed at the switch and the ensuing glow of the bulb. It was so fun to see his reaction (and such an improvement over candles or kerosene) that we´ve made solar lighting a bit of a sideline project, having now installed simple systems for 2 elderly couples and 2 families. José´s grandchildren finished high school this past year, so he, his son, and his daughter-in-law decided to return to their family land in a very remote scattering of farms called “6 nickels” while the children board in town to continue their studies. It is far, but most of the distance can be covered by an equipped 4×4 in the dry season. So I decided to go and take a blessing to the family that has been such a blessing to us.

Perhaps you could spend an evening, an hour, or even 5 minutes in candlelight or lamplight to help your kids understand how most of the world lives. It may be “enlightening”!!! “You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.” Psalm 18:28

Bendiciones!

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Mount Sinai to Canaan

It is the peak of summer in Panama. Everybody is busy. The dry season allows tractors to cut dirt roads into faraway places. Products come out, like wood and fruits, products go in, like dry goods and anything else you can possibly sell to someone who has just gotten their hands on the most cash they´ll see all year. For certain relatively impoverished communities, this creates a juggernaut challenge of financial stewardship. Compared with their typical monthly income, summer might be something like winning the lottery.

Our most recent excursion took us to Sinaí and Canaan, named after the biblical locations, on the Membrillo River in Darién. The river is beautiful for bathing, but I wouldn´t recommend you drink the water. They wouldn´t drink it either, if they had a choice. Fortunately, they do! These two communities have most of their infrastructure (tanks, tubing, solar panels, etc) from previous projects. Sinaí lacks a water source (you can´t use the river directly because floods will wash anything away) and Canaan lacks a pump (theirs broke due to silting in the well along with inadequate filtration). Through presentations, dialogue, and collaboration, we´ve convinced these communities to raise money through their summer avocado sells to purchase everything needed to get their systems working. This is an awesome achievement for communities that have suffered the repercussions of a paternalistic history of failed projects! It is also an inroad to talk about stewardship, cooperation, and the love that God has for all of us. Have a blessed summer (or winter) wherever you are!!!

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Here, There, and Everywhere!

This past month, we have done a lot of traveling, and are preparing to hit the road again this coming week! We received and hosted a film team from the MB Mission office in California for two weeks. They will publish a film on the testimony of Giovany Peña and how God has been working in his life. They also had the opportunity to film the Zuluaga´s and ourselves in action…so more of that to come in the future. Through all of this, the team seeks to give all of the glory to God as they reveal through videos how He is working through the lives of others. We felt blessed to share time with the guys.

IMG_2740

Don Warkentin, Alan, Giovany, and John Ervin in Majé Chimán taking a break from filming to pray

 

Alan did an inspection of the water system in Majé Chimán…

IMG_3286

… getting GPS coordinates in a creek bed. We are working with Engineers Without Borders, U of Missouri, to help Majé achieve their goals in potable water.

 

Girlesa and Einer hosted a youth convention in Yaviza…

IMG_1223

Kalea, Alan, Colleen, Gabriel, Girlesa, Einer

Kalea started Kindergarten and is hungry to learn! She loves art, and enjoys taking pictures, so it was really nice for her to get the chance to observe the video crew here in action. We give praises to God and thank you all for your prayers as we have had been staying healthy with all of our traveling, and our little baby boy is growing healthy too!

20150216_185350

Don Warkentin, Alan, John Ervin, John-Mark Bergen, and Kalea

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized