Monthly Archives: May 2011

A Bucket Half Full

(by Colleen) Days in Panamá: 63

When the weather is at its hottest, it’s enough to make any sane person think of suicide. I just need to finish the dishes, then I´ll go cool off in the river, I thought to myself. I needed to fill my wash bucket half full for the dishes downstairs with the hose. To my surprise, no water. Great, I was about to give Kalea a bath too, and we don´t bath her with river water since she will surely swallow it. I´ll just wait a little bit. Usually when there is no water, it is for a short period of time. This means someone up the water line is using water (usually wasting it by leaving a faucet open!) or there is a leak. I´ll take the laundry off the line and put the laundry away while I wait. As I´m sorting clean clothes, I have an extreme itching sensation. Since I´m already covered in itchy chigger bumps this isn´t anything abnormal. I look down, great a tick! Poor Kalea needs a bath, I know she´s hot and is covered in food from her lunch. It must be 100 degrees. The irritability of the heat, the tick, and the itch set in. I hate the heat, I can´t live here! I begin to pray and ask, Why here? Why Panamá? How can I help anybody here?

Meanwhile, Alan drops Kalea off with the neighbor, and leaves to go check for leaks in the water line. He returns with no luck which means, there might be a problem higher up at the base of the system, a 2 hour hike away. We get ready to leave for the river to cool off. The sky opens up with a downpour of rain. The rivers too dirty now and at this point too dangerous. I begin to bath in the rain. I´m shivering now because its cold. I look over across the lawn at Alan who is also bathing. A good laugh breaks my solemnness of the previous events. God is good. It is the little things in life we take for granted. I guess I received volumes of water in a way I was not expecting. Now my wash bucket that was left out in the open is overflowing. Now I can go do my dishes.

We currently have running water! But it comes and goes. The system in this community is over 27 years old, and we are in the midst of raising funds to build a new one. Please pray for us, and if you would like more information on how you can help, please contact us!

it is a little known fact that hammocks actually function better when it´s raining


Filed under Miscellaneous

Praise Report: waterfalls, heavy equipment, and what have we gotten ourselves into this time?

We had to scoop our jaws off the floor the other day when a lovely indigenous couple that is one of our main counterparts in the church informed us that he and his wife had decided to buy us land so we would have somewhere to plant. They wound up getting us about an acre very close to our house with a lot of creek frontage, a variety of fruit trees already planted, and a small waterfall. We´re hoping to install the pico-hydroelectric system, for which I have everything but the tubing, on that property and possibly make a charging station so that community members can charge a battery if they want.

An indebted thank you goes out to whoever was praying about our road. The answer came in two forms. 1) Our government officials visited us at our request, promised to send the same slackers back to do a decent job, and charged the community with keeping track of what they did. 2) Most community members either a) continued to do nothing or b) continued complaining and continued to do nothing; and the good Lord gave me the motivation and patience to do exactly what I did not want to do: babysit the road crew.

you can see the excavator bucket trying to keep the dump truck from flipping while the grader pulls it out... one of several "incidents"


Donning my most professional attire and armed with a camera and notebook, and pretending to know how to build a road, I proceeded to regurgitate everything that community members had told me needed to be done, often looking at my watch and utilizing a technique rarely encountered in Panamanian employment: encouragement.

people that only complain are also likely to do stupid things like get their truck stuck on top of a pile of material and then abandon it, blocking the road.


To my surprise, it worked! I coordinated with community members to keep the workers fed and happy and their attitude towards me shifted from annoyance and resentment to acceptance and maybe even appreciation, even though I fended off the majority of community members offering cash to do private work on public time. After a week and a half, I had learned a lot, got to ride in some snazzy machinery, and we now have a pretty decent road.

Our last and most daunting news is that a project proposal we wrote for MBMSI has been approved. It´s about $150k to build water systems and latrines and to conduct educational health workshops in 7 indigenous communities in the far reaches of Darién. The figure is actually outrageously cheap because our goal is to utilize existing infrastructure from recent, failed government projects in the majority of the communities. The timeline is an optimistic 2.5 years. Here is a copy of the proposals if you like to read dry business documents. Aquaducts , Latrines

We´d like to express our sincere gratitude to yall that support us in your thoughts and prayers. Let us know how we can return the favor.

cheeky... very cheeky

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Filed under Miscellaneous