Yes, I know that “I” is not spelled like that. But, it makes a lot of sense when you find out what we did in Chiriqui, Panamá
But first, let me tell you what we did the week before we got to Chiriqui! We left Bocas del Toro and headed straight to living in a tribe in a town called Santa Rosa! There, we stayed in a little house that YWAM Chiriqui built. It is in the middle of the tribe in the middle of a banana plantation! We were ready for a real challenge.
We arrived and set up our rooms. Girls upstairs on the deck on blow up mattresses and under mosquito nets. It was both cozy and cramped. Mostly cramped. 😉 The guys and Rachel and Andrew stayed downstairs in their mosquito nets. We were settled and ready for some ministry.
There, every morning, we gathered the local kids and did a program with them. Games, songs, bible stories acted out (our team were amazing actors) and just loving on them. It was a blast. I know everyone looked forward to it. The kids were so receptive and loved playing and singing with us.
We also did some church ministry. That included testimonies, teachings, leading worship, the works. While it was a very small church, the people there were always ready to listen and hear what we had to say. And even though worship was usually in English, (besides like the two Spanish songs we knew) they loved it and just praised the Lord. Too cool, right?
Living in Santa Rosa was definitely a challenge. A very simple way of living. But it was growing. The nice thing was that we were all together. I personally never felt like I was enduring it alone because I had everyone right along with me. We all took bucket showers, used flashlights because there was no electricity, and killed big spiders and scorpions with each other. What a team, huh? But really, God really blessed us with a team that could work together and also lean on Him for strength. We all encouraged each other and made sure that the Lord was always our focal point. Especially with home finally at the end of the tunnel.
After Santa Rosa, we made our way to Chiriqui. We stayed at the YWAM base in Portrerillos Abajo. For the first four or five days, we helped with an amazing ministry opportunity. A team of doctors had come down from the US and they set up a free eye clinic for the people in the city. Now you get the meaning of the title, huh? It was amazing. Over 800 people were helped over those couple days. We did whatever we could to help out. Ruth translated for the doctors, which was so great of her. I know our whole team was so proud of her and all the hard work she did that week. The rest of us helped in the various rooms. We did eye checkups, prayed for people and also painted a couple rooms in the school we were at. In the prayer room, a few of our team hung out there and after people received their glasses, they went in and we got to pray for them! It was a really fantastic opportunity. So many of the people there are catholic and don’t necessarily have an actual relationship with God. So we prayed for them and I know so many people were touched.
During this time, we saw healing. Spiritual and physical. Knees were healed, arthritis was healed, stomachs, God was really present there. People were also just affected by our faith. We heard stories after about friends telling friends to go get prayed for as we were sitting in the prayer room. It was a blessing to be a part of that whole clinic.
We also did door to door ministry and bible distribution. It was so cool to do because the people in Panamá were so welcoming and really willing to hear what we had to say. Along with that, we went down to Carnaval. The biggest party in Central and South America. It is literally translated to “Party of the Flesh”, and that is what it is. Party party party and the next week, repent. And that’s how it goes every year. So we went down and just prayed over the event and also talked to people and prayed for them. A group of us talked to one guy and actually ended up praying with him and helping him recommit his life to the Lord. So awesome.
Chiriqui was great. I know we all loved it. I also know that we were all very ready to move on to our last location. Debrief in Panamá city. Here we were, at the end of outreach! Had we really made it all the way through?! We left Chiriqui and got on a bus to start the long drive down to PC. We arrived, got a little lost getting to our hostel, found our hostel, and realized that we had reached the end. Four more days and we were back in LA. Debrief was great, though. We had time to just spend together. We went to the beach, explored the city, went to the Panama Canal (sort of, we went but couldn’t see it because we’re all poor YWAMers and couldn’t afford the ticket) and played games and tried to unwind after a crazy 3 months.
I’m actually writing this a little late. Our whole DTS graduated Saturday. It is still a shock to realize that YWAM is over. Panarica ’14 is over. This team was a blessing. We really knew each other. We knew what ticked the others off, what made them feel loved, and that without the Lord, we wouldn’t all be together. God really brought us all together at the right time. Lately, I’ve been realizing that God brings people into your life just at the right moment. You may not realize it, but you need people who can keep your head on straight and can be those role models you maybe never had as a kid or who can counsel you in your walk with the Lord. We definitely had that on our team. God did so much through us. I have seen each of my teammates grow in numerous ways. Big and small. It was t the chance of a lifetime to travel to multiple countries with those crazy kids. (Says the youngest of the bunch. 😉 )
Thank you to everyone who kept up with our adventures. Whether it was through this blog or just keeping in touch with us. Thank you for the prayers and the support. Outreach began and ended in the blink of an eye. I don’t think anyone can really believe it, but it’s true! We’re all on to our next adventure. We may know exactly what we’re doing or we may not. But no matter what, we know that God is going to be leading us in our next steps and we’re never alone.
The beach in Panamá City