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

Sunday, July 29, 2018


I made it safe to Panama.  It was a pretty intense spiritual battle, but God came through and I'm happy to be here.  I'm super exhausted so hopefully I'll get a good night's sleep tonight and make a quick recovery. 

It's fun watching the team here.  They have their own rhythm and routines at the base, singing Disney songs while they do dishes and sweep up the kitchen (yes, parents, your kids are doing chores cheerfully!).  They also have their own language, inside jokes, nicknames, etc.  These are things I expected to be part of from the beginning, but it warms my heart to see the kind of unity and cohesion we've been praying for.

Tomorrow we start an intense four days of ministry at the school in the Curundu slums.  The teens are super excited.  I've warned them we might face some awkwardness the first day as we figure out how to plug into the classrooms. 

Please continue to be in prayer for us.  I'm feeling a little weak after that long day's travel.  Emily has been having a little big of a weak stomach.  We need lots of covering to keep working hard as this week is going to be much more tireing.  

Saturday, July 28, 2018


I (Andrew) woke up feeling great.  Went for a long walk/jog and still felt very good.  So, unless God has any more unexpected surprises for us, I'll finally be boarding a plane tonight to join the team.  Please pray for continued strength, health, and safe travels.

As for the team, I heard from Jenny this morning that they were headed up to Capira to visit a new partner village for Rio Missions Panama (our hosts).  Not sure what they'll be doing other than visiting and getting to check out one of the "mountainous" regions of Panama.  The elevation in these areas isn't that high, but it is significantly cooler and less humid...usually.  I know Dan said he is excited he gets to do this, as it's a village he's been needing to get to for a while.  All in all he expressed that the change in schedule has been very helpful to his mission as the team has helped him accomplish many projects he had previously been unable to get to.  He said the teens have done everything asked of them with a great attitude.  He told them he just wanted them to "do life" with him this week, which means they've gotten to experience first-hand what it's like to serve as a missionary in Panama.  It's not as glamorous as digging a well or building a house, but it's the day to day reality of work and ministry in Panama which is just what I wanted for them.  I'm sure they'll have lots of interesting stories and observations to share.

Seeing as I'll be travelling for the next twelve to twenty-four hours, I probably won't have a new update for the blog until maybe late Sunday night.  I'm also unsure of the wi-fi at the base so I probably won't be able to post as frequently as I have been.  I'll do my best. 

Either way, keep praying for us and especially for my travels tonight.  I leave at 10:20 p.m., go through Miami, and am supposed to arrive at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Friday, July 27, 2018

A couple pics from earlier in the week

Friday's Surf Competition

Emily catching her first wave
Kyla gets caught in the whitewash
Alex dropping in
Like a boss!

Today the team took a break and went to the beach, stopping along the way at the famous Quesos Chela to grab some empenadas and fresh mozzarella balls.  Jenny said they all wore sunscreen, but they all got a little pink anyway--being closer to the equator has a way of always surprising people from the north.  Apparently--based on the above pictures--Lizzy won the surf contest.  Still everyone had a great time.  In Jenny's words, "I think we all needed this." 

Meanwhile back at home, I was hanging ten at the doctor's office.  Nothing new to report.  I'm feeling stronger every day, and if this continues tomorrow I hope to board a plane to finally rejoin the team.  I'm praying and asking the Lord for guidance and healing.  Your prayers are also much appreciated!

Thursday, July 26, 2018


Just got off the phone with Jenny.  She says the team is doing great!  They had to change plans again as the weather has been really rainy (when it rains it really pours, and the mountain roads are mostly dirt so it isn't always safe).  So instead of going to Bajo Grande, they visited Curundu Academy today, met the directora just to get acquainted and prepare for next week's ministry.  They also visited a Salvation Army church and helped clean and paint an area that will be used for children's ministry. 

I also learned that yesterday's visit was to an Indian village close by.  They sat in the pastor's hut and got a quick glimpse of indigenous life in Panama.  Many of the local tribes were displaced when work began on the Panama Canal back in the day, and today they live mostly on reservation land living off of subsistence farming and catering to tourists.   

There's something in the works for later today, though Jenny isn't sure what that is, and the plan tomorrow is to go to a village in the mountains that is closer by with more secure roads.  They will most likely spend the night there then go to the beach on Saturday.  But as we've seen so far, plans always change.  Being a missionary is all about being flexible and just going with the flow--especially in Panama.

Keep praying for me.  I head to my primary care doctor tomorrow to do a follow-up check up.  I am feeling significantly better today so hopefully that continues.  My hope is to be cleared to travel on Saturday, and then get to Panama by Sunday.  God is good!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018


A recent email from Jenny:

"Just a quick msg while I have WiFi!
Went to SanAntonio this morning and heard Phillip's and Lousia’s testimonials.  It was very impressive. We then had lunch at the waterfall and a few of the girls went for a swim. Everyone is doing well and having an incredible time. You can see the wheels moving in their heads. 
We are enjoying everyone’s company. There is another pastor and his son (James and Nate) staying at Casa Paraiso. Nate is 13 and fits in great with the group.  Sadly they are leaving tomorrow. Peter is another great leader at the Casa, He will soon be living down here with his family."

The team is planning to head out to Bajo Grande tomorrow, a tiny town in the mountainous region of Panama, where Alex and I helped make way for a bridge a couple years ago.  They will spend time doing minor fix ups to the bridge as well as possibly laying a concrete foundation for the church there.  Pray for safety on the roads and good weather.

pics from Dan

Our team along with our hosts and some friends.

The team visiting local pastors

Tuesday, July 24, 2018


With a very conflicted heart, I (Andrew) decided today to postpone my travels once again.  I woke up this morning feeling anxious about flying.  I was hoping to feel 100%, but instead the nervousness made it difficult to read my body.  I went for a walk outside to see how I would do and kept monitoring my health throughout the day, all the while praying for God to fill me with His peace.  Around lunch I started feeling more settled, but still was wondering if it would be wise to fly.  Just then, as I was praying for God to give me a clear-cut sign, my phone rang.  The doctor I had seen on Sunday was calling just to check in with me (I don't know many urgent care doctors that do that).  I asked her what she thought of me flying, and she strongly advised against it.  She affirmed that none of my tests looked troublesome, but seeing as I had had that episode she suggested I wait a full week before flying again.  In following up with Pastor Phil, we decided this would be the best thing for me and the team.  Thus I'm now stuck waiting until Saturday to travel, praying God helps me fully recover by then.

In the meantime, the team is doing very well.  In speaking with Jenny this afternoon, she says the teens are in good spirits and doing a good job being flexible--an important skill for missionaries to have.  This morning they spent some time painting the mission base where they are staying, and then went off to have lunch with the pastors they met yesterday, apparently developing a little bit of a friendship there.  They also got to go to the Panama Canal museum at the Miraflores locks which features an observation deck where you can watch the ships floating up and down.  Jenny says everyone has been diligent in writing in their journals, and I'm hoping that means they're keeping up with their devotionals too.  I'm also told Dan has been leading short reflections each day, thinking about worldview and God's plan for their lives. 

So even though the trip so far hasn't been what any of us expected, I am still confident God is at work.  At the very least we are learning to trust (and praise) Him even in the midst of difficult circumstances.  As it says in Proverbs, "The mind of man makes plans, but the Lord directs his steps."  He is sovereign and in control, and maybe one day He'll explain all of this to us.

Keep praying!

Monday, July 23, 2018


After spending time resting yesterday and today, I (pastor Andrew) am starting to feel better.  I've been able to book another flight scheduled to depart tomorrow (Tuesday) evening, giving me another night and a day to recover strength and hopefully feel back to normal.  Please continue to pray for me, for full health and freedom from worry.

Meanwhile, the team is having a great time in Panama.  They've gotten to know their surroundings better, eating out at the local Paraiso restaurante and hanging out at the base.  They've also visited one of our partner pastors in Araijan.  According to Jenny this was a really nice treat.  The plan for them tomorrow is to do some work at the base, take a visit to the Panama canal, and possibly visit the Curundu academy where we'll be working next week, Lord willing.

Keep praying for everyone!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Off to a rough start

     While gathering around to pray in the church parking lot, just minutes before driving off to the airport, I suddenly experienced a dizzy spell and blacked out.  I was a little feverish, my face went pale, and my pupils dilated.  After resting a few minutes, I felt well enough to go to the airport, hoping I would recover my strength and the weirdness wear off.  However, as we made our way through security to our gate, I still felt pretty weak and a little shaky.  This led us to decide that I should not get on a plane for the time being.  We sent the team ahead of me, with Jenny as leader. 

     This morning I went to the Dr's and everything looked pretty normal, except for some small irregularities in my blood pressure.  The doc said it wasn't enough to warrant any treatment, and just advised me to get some rest and avoid any stress.  Meanwhile, the team made it to Panama safely.  They were picked up by my friend Dan, went to lunch, and experienced their first tropical rain shower and thunder storm.  Everyone is in good spirits despite some concern for me.

    As of this writing, I'm still monitoring my health.  I've talked to our travel agent, but unfortunately we can't get much help until tomorrow morning (Monday).  This may actually prove fortuitous as it will give me some more time to see how I'm doing and decide when I should rejoin the team.

   Please keep us in your prayers!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Getting Ready--Testing out our new blog

We are now just two days away from heading out to Panama.  I'm testing out our new blog and making sure it works.  Feel free to comment so we know you're following and get updates as I write them.

As a recap, our team consists of myself (Andrew Edmonds), Jen Kanzler, Alex Basilonia, Emily Faley, Kyla Reynolds, and Lizzy Kanzler.  We've been meeting once a month for the past year, doing trainings and talking about what it means to be on mission for God.  Our main objectives for this trip are:  to Learn, to Serve, and to Learn to Serve.

We're praying for big things and asking God to reveal more of Himself to us as well as use us for His glory. 

We hope you'll join us in this journey.