Category Archives: Miscellaneous

“Love is God´s will in action”

This is the phrase that I read in my daily devotional that triggered a memory. After our “Missionary and Training and Equipping” ended in Canada this past December, we were in South Carolina, and I was thinking about the work ahead of us in Panamá. I began to feel very overwhelmed with the thought of curriculum planning for community health workshops.

IMG-20130915-00078At the time, I was reading a biography about Mother Teresa. She said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Something in my brain clicked. Wow! That seems easy enough! Just love everyone. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”  John 13:34. That overwhelming feeling drifted away as I felt filled with love. Now as I reflect on “Love is God´s will in action,” I challenge myself to ponder “What actions am I willing to take to show all people love, so that they may know God?” Who will you serve today?

“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” –Mother Teresa

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I´m having a break down

“Todo se puede arreglar… menos la muerte.” “Everything can be fixed… except death,” commented my new mechanic, and suddenly life made sense again. Here was the perfect invitation to share some great news. Death can be fixed! It has been before and will be once and for all!!!

Two days prior the day started kind of heavy. We stopped to drop off our trash at the smoldering makeshift landfill 30 minutes from our house en route to the end of the road, Yaviza. Rather than a uniformed attendant, we were met by 5 boys, maybe 5 or 6 years old but it´s hard to judge by their stunted stature, barefooted amongst the vultures, staring patiently as I set our trash between them which they then divided up to eagerly search for aluminum cans or other valuables. But we were also optimistic because several hours away many people from the church had gathered to share, celebrate, and plan. We had prepared a short program with microscopes, puppets, and an update on the water and sanitation project.

Another hour down the road and all of a sudden the clutch pedal went stiff, unmovable. Seeing a farm just ahead, we coasted into their driveway and rolled to a stop. “Maybe the pin just slipped out of line.” I got out and popped the hood. It started to rain. After some fiddling and phone calls, and with inadequate tools, I decided the problem was beyond my roadside mechanical competency, and we began weighing our options. “Where is God in all this?” I thought.

We idled up to the farmhouse to apologize for the unattractive lawn ornament (our car) that we hoped to leave there for an undetermined amount of time and were greeted by a smiling elderly woman. She enthusiastically served us cookies and coffee all afternoon and told us stories from her life. We prayed for her ailing back and she returned to the kitchen, emerging with another treat, beaming from ear to ear and carefully holding the most precious treasure that she could offer…deep brown and piping hot. Chocolate!? … no. fried liver. And just then our ride pulled up. “You can take it to go,” she smiled. Praise God! (I´ll eat most anything, but I have a hard time with pork liver.)

The following day, I was being towed at 40mph down the highway, which felt rather fast considering our car maxes out at 50mph on a downhill. The driver of the other vehicle honked and waved to the general public as we came into town. We arrived at the shop, and I stood around in the grease all morning until it was my turn (ie other people stopped showing up). The assistant mechanic decided it would be worth taking apart the clutch slave cylinder and sanding the gunk off which had accumulated. “Do you think that´ll do it,” I asked. “Don´t know,” he said. 20 minutes later I was test driving our car around the parking lot and grinning. “What do I owe?” “Come back later when the head mechanic is here.”

I drove back over a few hours later. “What do I owe you?” I asked, mostly expecting the gringo gouge. He squinted off in the distance… I couldn´t tell if he was ignoring me or calculating. I braced myself.

“$8,” he mumbled. I paused. “Does that include the tow?” “Yeah, that was nothing.” I paid in singles.

100_1997So… as much as I enjoy getting to know every good-hearted mechanic between Panama City and Yaviza, as fun as the jokes are about the noises being from mud or bolts falling off as we drive away, as much as I´ve enjoyed this education in car repair, as entertaining as it is to be passed by mopeds on the highway and little girls on bicycles in the city, we´ve prayerfully decided that it is time to upgrade, especially given the amount and nature of travel that the work requires. This should allow us more time for other ministry activities as I will spend less time under the hood and we will save time bathing because we won´t smell like sweat, oil, and exhaust every time we go somewhere. We´ve secured an open loan through a faithful brother here and decided to spend a modest amount on a used vehicle. As much as I knock on our car, it is actually very solid and has served us well. Most recently, the driver´s door handle has decided to dangle with no other function, so I´m obligated to be a gentleman and open the door for Colleen in all circumstances. So as I have improved upon the car, it returns the favor.

We appreciate prayers regarding these decisions and invite anyone that would like to contribute towards this transport upgrade to let us know.

Happy Trails,

Los Fosters

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One step forward, two steps…

Praise Reports!

Kalea is doing well with her potty training

We have hot water in our shower! (Yes it does get cool enough to use it!)

For everyday God graces us with life!

For the sunshine and the Momma bird we can see in her nest from our back porch.

For UV flashlights and that we continue to discover the scorpions before they find us. Alan was able to clip the tail off the one in the video and do a little experiment. It appears that they cannot climb smooth metal, so hopefully we´ll scorpion-proof our house asap.

Prayer Requests:

Continue to pray for language learning for Colleen and Kalea…for motivation and ease!

To guard our health by making healthy food choices and exercise

For continued partnership in prayer which sustains us physically, emotionally, and spiritually

What we´ve been up to…

Over the river and through the woods, to the Foster´s house we go! We literally do this to get to our house! We cross the river about 5 times. The road through the river curves and turns and goes up and down. Certain places are surrounded by virgin jungle, where you can hear the monkeys holler (hence the name, howler monkey). Alan left for a few days to work in a community with members from the church, and Kalea and I ventured out for a day trip to “town”, about 45 minutes away by car. This was the first time since living in Panama for one year that I have gone out on my own! (Well with Kalea, but without Alan). When big rains come (which is expected nearly every day in the afternoon) the river swells, and so you can´t cross the river in a car, you have to wait.

When Kalea and I returned from our trip I knew it had rained, and I knew the river was up, but I had trouble gauging the first crossing. I quickly learned that it was too high. Water began filling the floor of the car! I prayed quickly out loud, whew! Our car made it! Kalea was chanting in the background of me praying, “God helped us through? God helped us through?!” We waited another two and a half hours before driving through the rest of the river crossings. We were passed by at least four groups of people on foot, and on horseback. As we waited, I felt it was difficult to be patient. Waiting isn´t always fun, and we don´t always understand its purpose. What challenges are you facing? There is no river too deep for our God! I pray that you are finding peace and patience as you go about your day!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

Alan visited Villa Caleta with Neldo and Obdulio. Although they were successful in replacing the pump controller that had been fried by a lightning strike, they found that the windmill had been destroyed by another storm and another electrical part was damaged. It felt like one step forward, two steps back, but the system should be able to be repaired and even improved upon to avoid future damage such as this. We stayed with Obdulio´s parents who are a joy to be around. Plantains over the coals was a treat that I hadn´t had in a while.

Be warm and well,

Los Fosters

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August update

We´ve enjoyed being at home in Catrigandí for a short time, although its a lot of work to re-habitate a house that is largely exposed to the comings and goings of the jungle. I got two sealing 55 gallon drums to toss our stuff in while we´re away. Best $20 I ever spent.

The capacitor on the washing machine Pastor Einer gave us exploded, so Colleen has re-mastered washing in the river, which is actually a very useful and necessary skill to have here… both for practical and social reasons. Of course, they don´t carry that part at our dry goods store at the end of the road, so the impending gratitude is growing daily as we await the part and washing consumes more of our time. 

ImageColleen started her first basket weaving with the help of our dear friend, Andrea. This is another important social/economic activity that should help her develop relationships. Some of the larger baskets can take a year or more to complete with the artist working daily and sell for thousands of dollars. Kalea also continues integrate well. Non-toxic markers are always a big hit.Image

We travel tomorrow with Neldo and Obdulio to Villa Caleta to repair the components of a photovotaic powered water system. Please pray for safe travel and open doors to good relationships… also that the weather will cooperate. Rivers are beginning to flood as we get into the wet season. We had wait a while to cross the river to get home the other day. I may have to fab a snorkel for the old car.

There are certainly some beautiful parts of creation here. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the works of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” Psalm 19:1-4.

Paz y Gozo,

Los Fosters

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July update

Platanares

throwing children into the river! I think there were 25 lined up waiting their turn.

Trip to Platanares

We´ve recently accompanied a group of 10 talented, loving, Spirit-filled folks from Canada over a span of two weeks… over highways, byways, rivers, and ocean. We enjoyed seeing them bless the communities they visited, encouraging the churches, sharing testimonies, songs, and laughter with the people they encountered. This has been an encouragement to us with regard to the impact of short term missions and how God can use our efforts and willingness to go wherever He leads.

Back to our House

coloring with Luris

coloring with Luris at our home in Catrigandí

 

We are getting settled (sort of) back into our house in Catrigandí. Kalea is integrating and adapting better than we ever imagined, and she has showed a willingness to try new languages, foods, and is making friends everywhere she goes. Colleen makes a small attempt to hide her disgust when Kalea sees the fresh, fried fish and politely requests the eyeballs to start her dinner. I guess it goes to show that taste is also a matter of perspective and a learned behavior like so many other things.

 

 

Off to Yaviza

We will be heading back to Yaviza soon to accompany Pastor Einer´s wife, Girlesa, and their 2 adopted children while he goes to Colombia for gall bladder surgery. I will likely make a couple of community visits while Colleen and Kalea remain in Yaviza. Please pray for Einer´s health as well as our safety and sanity. All the traveling can be exhausting and none of us enjoy being apart from our families.

Peace and Health,

Los Fosters

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Hurrying off to church

The day before leaving SC to come to Panama, we were asked a poignant question in Sunday school, “How can a person run to church and at the same time away from God?” Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan immediately came to mind. Although the text doesn’t explicitly state it, chances are that either the priest or the Levite that passed the beaten fellow that day were literally going to “church”, that is, their temple, while leaving another human being to die. The ensuing discussion which followed that question produced a statistic: only 20 % of churchgoers are Christians. Myself being rather fond of numbers, and having personally given up on quantifying salvation, I listened curiously for what would qualify the 20%, hoping to be in that number. Faithful church attendance, regular Bible reading, and tithing were mentioned, and I couldn’t decipher if there was more. Trying to aggregate this new information with the story of the Good Samaritan was giving me a mental cramp. Jesus speaks often of the religious people of his day, saying things such as “they like the chief seats in the synagogue” (Matt. 23:6; Mark 12:39; Luke 20:46), “they study the scriptures diligently” (John 5:39) and fruitlessly, and when Jesus mentions tithing, it is always to rebuke the religious leaders of his day. It would seem that we get little or no celestial treasure for church attendance, Bible reading, and perhaps even tithing. Of course, I don´t intend to discourage these practices in the least, which have been handed down to us to help us draw nearer to God and each other. I only intend to remind myself that my measuring stick is inadequate and that every person has been created in God´s image and has the potential to carry His Spirit. God works through people that are not even in the church, and I may only be able to take part in what He is doing to the extent that I can recognize His hand.

We´re off to a whirlwind of a start here, accompanying the team from Forest Grove Community Church. Their actions and attitudes thus far have been an inspiration to us and to the people we´ve visited. Thank you for praying for us and for this team. We´ve had a little setback in the bowels department, so the team has continued upriver to Vista Alegre while we wait in Yaviza for our guts to work properly again. Thanks again for your prayers.

Amor de Cristo,

Los Fosters

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June Newsletter

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A Call to Prayer

Sunday a week ago, we were asked one of my favorite questions: “How can we pray for you?” And my short-sighted, narrow mind spawned a predictable response- my health, my support, my awareness, my, my, my… Not that there is anything wrong with praying for those things, and not to diminish the importance of those things in my little world, but being asked that question by a sanctuary full of people, I really wanted (in hindsight) to lay something big on the table, something that desperately needs prayer, something that is drastically affecting the work of the church in Panama and beyond, something so far out of our hands that divine intervention seems to be the only answer, something that has made Satan laugh and Jesus weep since long before I was born.

That something is the armed conflict in Colombia. In the last half century 600,000 individuals have died as a result, and upwards of 3 million have been displaced, including Wounaan and Emberá that now reside in Panama. Our friends.

“You have three options,” a 5-year refugee and now church member in Vista Alegre, Panama was told, “grow coca, leave, or die.” He and his family left. FARC (the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia- the largest faction) guerillas continue to move freely in and around the Panama-Colombia border and have been a deadly thorn in the side of villagers and mission workers for decades.farc map

Now, the Colombian government is once again engaged in peace talks with the FARC, and peace marches have been held this month in cities throughout Colombia demonstrating tremendous public support for an end to the bloodshed.  Rather than try to decipher the complex social and political climate that has resulted from this hodgepodge of ideologies and economic interests, rather than trying to figure this one out, it seems like the best thing to do is pray. Pray against pride, pray against greed, pray against envy. Pray that individuals would respond to conviction and trade their swords for plowshares. Pray for Peace.

This week, Thursday, May 2nd is National Day of Prayer for the U.S. of A., a tradition which pre-dates the country itself, having been first established in 1775 by the Continental Congress as “a day of publick [sic] humiliation, fasting, and prayer” to seek God´s favor for the nascent country. Subsequent wars and difficulties prompted the nation´s leaders to return to this practice before it was signed into law in 1952.

I invite you to pray (and fast if you like) with me this Thursday for a peace agreement to be reached between the Colombian government and the forces which oppose them. I also ask for us to pray for transparency, clarity, and wisdom for the leaders which make decisions affecting this situation, be them Colombian, U.S., or otherwise. And I ask that we pray for the individuals in the conflict zones, that they would respond to conviction and choose peace and life over conflict and death.

Blessings and Strength in Solidarity,

the Fosters

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March Newsletter

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Missions Dinner, a glimpse of Panamá

Our apologies for the late notice. We´d like to invite you to a Missions dinner at:

Mt. Tabor Baptist Church Fellowship Hall

401 Tabor Road

Westminster, SC 29693

March 3, 2013

6:00 pm

featured speaker: the Fosters (Faith and Fruit Ministry)

menu: Beef Stew, Vegetable Soup, Cornbread, Dessert

Join us for dinner and an informative presentation about Faith and Fruit Ministry, the Foster´s outreach in Panama. Dinner will be served at 6:00 pm and will be followed by the presentation. A love offering will be taken at the conclusion of the presentation.

For more information, contact Daniel Capps at daniel@barnabasx.org

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