Sunday, August 5, 2018

Saturday&Sunday--the return home

Thankfully this post will be really short.  The team woke up Saturday around 8 a.m.  Had breakfast.  Cleaned up.  Then we concluded our time in Panama with a short meeting talking about re-entry into our home culture.  Around 10 a.m. we loaded up the car and drove out to the airport.  Got through security without any problems.  Then about fifteen hours later, we arrived back at our homes and crashed in our beds (individually, not all together).  There were no problems, no hiccups, and no glitches.  It was a smooth ride and everyone rode it with a mix of joy and sadness.  Our adventure had come to an end.  As we discussed in our morning meeting, now comes the hard part of processing all that we've learned and applying it back home, not to mention waiting till we get to go back.

Praise God for all the great work He's done in and through us; for granting us safety and protection; for blessing us with meaningful relationships and powerful experiences.  Thank you for all your prayers and for supporting us in this amazing journey.  To God be all the glory!

Friday, August 3, 2018


Today was our rest day.  We took a little cruise around the Canal and Gatun Lake.  Fed some monkeys and tried a little fishing (didn't have the right gear though so no luck).  Afterwards we went to the little local zoo and walked around.  And now we're taking it easy back at the base, resting up for our big day of travel tomorrow. 

We leave base tomorrow morning around 10 a.m. and fly out around 1:30 p.m. (that's 11:30 on Seattle time).  We fly to Miami, then have a couple hours to get through customs, and finally board our flight for Seattle around 6:30 p.m.  We arrive back just after midnight.  Please pray for safe travels, everything to be on time, for us to make through customs quickly, and plenty of energy for the long haul (especially for me).  Pray that God keeps us healthy and that He continues to open up our hearts and helps us process all that we've experienced on this trip.  Thank you!

pics from Friday--day off on the canal and summit zoo

Thursday, August 2, 2018


Today was our last day in Curundu.  We worked hard again setting up, helping with groups during VBS, serving lunch, cleaning up from lunch, and visiting classrooms.  The day ended with a little goodbye ceremony for the Iowa team and ourselves.  The Curundu staff were very appreciative and prayed over the two teams before we left.  There were lots of hugs and a few sad faces.  Our team too was sad to say goodbye to the new friends we had made.  It's amazing how quickly we have bonded with people during such a short time here.  Finally, after returning to base, we went for a quick swim in the community pool, a refreshing reward for lots of hard work.

Tomorrow the plan is to take a little boat outing on the canal/lake.  We're hoping to see some monkeys and/or toucans and other wildlife.  We might also stop in at the local zoo nearby. 

Keep praying for us now as we prepare to return home.  There have been some really good conversations with the team the past couple nights.  Individuals saying things like:  "I feel like God is calling me to really get to know Him better when I get home," or "I realize how selfish most of my life is" and "I want to get more involved in helping others," etc.  I'm looking forward to them sharing their reflections with you all when we get home, that is if they are actually willing to get on the plane and come home; several are threatening to just stay here forever...

Wednesday, August 1, 2018


Another good day today.  Left the base by 7:15 a.m.  Got to Curundu and helped set up chairs for the VBS.  Helped run groups for the VBS.  Lizzy even got a job sharing a gospel tract we had used for our church camp at FCC.  Following the program we ate lunch with the kids, then each teen got to join a class for the rest of their afternoon instruction.  Jenny helped in the kitchen and worked like crazy to give their staff a nice break.  All the while I sat and hung out with people I know, a nice way to conserve energy.  After getting back to base around 3 p.m., we have all been doing devotions and writing in our journals.  We'll head to the grill place again for dinner tonight.  They had some really good grilled chicken and fried plantains.  We also shared a picadura which is a mix of fries, grilled sausage, pork, and meat.  Super yummy. 

Tomorrow is our last day in Curundu.  Due to the intense heat and noise, each day there is super tireing, but the team is working hard and building some strong bonds with the people there. 

Some more pics:

Girls' Dance Team

Jen working hard

Emily doing devos
Dinner by the Canal

Alex napping

Palm Trees Everywhere

Kyla doing devos

Paletas by the Canal

Tuesday, July 31, 2018


Today was a good day.  Spent the morning at Curundu Academy.  The teens helped out at the VBS again.  I was also healthy enough to watch and take pictures.  The building is incredibly noisy and chaotic and hot and humid, so it's incredibly draining.  But the teens have been sticking it out, working and hanging out with kids.  I've been really proud of them. 

Since today was a half day at the school, we then spent the afternoon at the Amador Causeway, a small strip of road connecting a few islands adjacent to the entrance to the canal.  We had some fun on some little rickshaw bikes and got to be tourists for the afternoon.  It was a nice break from all the noise, although still very hot and humid.  Tonight we'll walk down from the base and eat dinner at a local grill place.  The team is getting a little sick of rice at every meal, though Alex says he's used to it cause that's all dad serves at home. 

Everyone is doing well.  I'm feeling healthier by the day.  We appreciate your prayers so keep them coming until we make it home safe and sound. 

Enjoy the pics!

Monday, July 30, 2018


Today was our first day at the Juntos Podemos (all together) center in Curundu.  We got there late because it was raining so hard the roads were flooding.  We also had a minor problem with the car, as it mysteriously slipped out of gear and wouldn't go anywhere.  Thankfully we were able to put it in four wheel drive and that got us where we needed to go.  Dan then switched it out with another vehicle.  By the time we got to the center, the kids were already in their classrooms, so the teens helped set up chairs and tables.  There is a team there from Iowa doing a VBS, so our team jumped right in and helped out with that.  They also helped serve lunch to the kids and then packed little gift baggies for a special celebration day tomorrow.  After that, some other volunteers showed up teaching dance and drumming to the older kids.  Our group split up and helped out with that.  We then finished the day by doing a light clean up and setting the chairs up for tomorrow.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to participate in much of this as I was feeling very wiped out.  I'm feeling better now, and I hope it was just the exhaustion from the trip catching up to me.  Hopefully I'll be up to full strength tomorrow.  The good news with this is that I made Jenny drive us home today.  She had to remember how to drive stick and got to test out her Panamanian driving skills.  For her the trip has been all about taking her out of her comfort zone and stretching her faith.  She's doing great!

Now we're back at base taking some time to rest, do some personal devos, and hang out.  We'll have a meeting tonight and discuss the learning and processing that's been going on.  Tomorrow we'll be back at Curundu doing much of the same thing.  The kids there have a half-day so we'll have to find something else to do in the afternoon. 

Everyone is doing well and working hard. 

Juntos Podemos Curundu

Dance Team

Drum Team