Eye loved Chiriqui!

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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.

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The Santa Rosa house10959656_10204781145761182_1127738351168649011_n 10959365_10204875095349863_6380995673890061706_n

The beach in Panamá City

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Panamá City

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Flying home!

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Living in Awe of His Creation.

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Well,our time in Bocas del Toro is coming to a close. It’s been three amazing weeks of literally living in an island paradise. We said good bye to our amazing San Jose contacts, Rasta and Elsi after they took us through the sketchy Panamanian border. (That meant walking with all our heavy backpacks and crossing a very rickety bridge with holes in it over a river. I’m not still scarred by it, what are you talking about?) So we said goodbye and hopped in a taxi and sped (literally, we drove so fast. I think most of us were scared for our lives) to the boat dock where we would catch our first boat to the main island Colon, where the town Bocas del Toro is settled. When the taxi pulled up, we were instantly mobbed by eager Panamanian men who would do anything for a tip. Which that meant grabbing our backpacks and throwing them into the boat. We had no idea how to react. They were going so fast that we didn’t even realize that Trevor’s guitar hadn’t made it into the boat. We jumped into the boat and again, sped (I think driving abnormally fast is a thing here in Panama) to Isla Colon. The way there was absolutely amazing. I was floored by the beauty of the water and the hundred of mangroves throughout. We saw so many birds and wildlife, it was so cool. When we got to the first island, we switched to a different boat and were then left to find the YWAM ships in the dark! It was a scary trip, I’ll admit. But we made it and were welcomed to the YWAM OutPost Panama base. We got our bags out and proceeded to make the trek up the many, many stairs to the house. We made it up, hot, out of breath, and relieved. Already there, team Kona and a couple of mission builders from Germany were laughing and welcoming us. Along with the base leaders, Michael and Sonja! We received yummy pineapple cocktails and sat down and took it all in. We knew that this was gonna be a good three weeks. This time at Bocas has really been a blessing to this team. It was a real time of refreshment and refilling  in the Lord. We got to have a lot of team times and quiet times. We’ve found that God is very clear out here. Many of us have been wrestling with questions about our future and what it’s going to look like. But so many times, God would stop us in our tracks and would just tell us to trust Him. One of the verses that came up in quiet times and team times was Jeremiah 29:11- “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not for evil. Plans to give you a hope and a future.” That verse resonated with many of us. Trust that the Lord has it all planned out for us. We don’t need to focus on what we’re doing when we get home. We need to focus on what we’re doing now. And more importantly, what God is doing in our lives right now. So that was a big revelation. At least for me and a few others. Besides being hit with these amazing revelations by God, we have also been doing ministry in the local tribes here. These tribes have a habit of not liking missionaries because of some bad history with some a while back. So Sonja and Michael’s mission here is to rebuild that trust between missionaries and the local people. So, we went multiple times to the villages and we played with the kids and did crafts with them. They always started out pretty timid but by the end they were running around and going crazy like normal kids. Along with going to the tribes, we also went to the main island to do ministry in Bocas del Toro. The first time we went was very discouraging. No one really felt up to praying or talking to people. That town was pretty heavy spiritually. But the next time we went, Ruth had a great idea to put on the spiritual armor of God and that helped immensely. We all set out with happy hearts and God on our side! We also got to go to a church one Sunday. It was on the mainland so we had to take an hour long boat ride (which was absolutely gorgeous) and then a bus ride to the church where the Kona team performed a skit and we sang a song and Andrew shared his testimony! Ruth also translated the whole sermon. We were so proud of her.

This time has been filled with beautiful times with God and with our team. We really have bonded. We never stop learning new things about each other and the Lord. We’ve also been spending time with the amazing people here. Card games, Pirates of the Caribbean (because we’re on the Caribbean duh), and doing ministry together. New friendships are so fun!

     These last three weeks have been so wonderful and I can speak for everyone, we had a blast. Now it’s time to move on to our next location! First we will be headed to a tribe on the mainland where we will be staying for a week doing ministry like playing with the kids and doing bible studies and such. It’ll definitely be a stretch for us. But it’ll be great! Then we make our way to the Chiriqui base and we end our outreach there! We will have limited wifi so I will post when we get to Panama City for debrief.

If you couldn’t tell from this post, we had so much fun here at Bocas and we are so sad to be leaving this place and these people. Thank you to Michael and Sonja Geitz for letting us stay with you and thank you to the Kona team for being such fun friends!

God bless!

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Saying good bye to Rasta!

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Boat rides everyday!!

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Free day at Red Frog beach

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Celebrating Australia Day with our super legit team!

¡Que Sabor!

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Well, it has been yet another crazy, fun filled week. When we got back to San Jose after our week in Limon, we got right to business. The San Jose YWAM base is partnered with a foundation called Homes of Hope (Casas de Esperanza) and last weekend, we helped! Saturday was full of moving things from the base to the community and prepping food and all sorts of things. Sunday, our team and people from the base made our way to a neighborhood called Pavas and we started to prep for the four homes being built that weekend. Homes of Hope is an organization where multiple families come together and spend their Christmas building houses for families all over. We were there to help serve them food, water, anything. It was such a blessing to be a part of this amazing weekend. Within two days, four beautiful houses were built.

We left the base on Tuesday and Rasta took us to a neighborhood in San Jose where we stayed with a family for a week. It was a challenge because the family spoke absolutely no English (thank you SO much Ruth for being so gracious and translating for us) but they were so sweet and made us delicious food! While with this family, we walked around the neighborhood going door to door praying for people and playing futbol in the streets with the kids and also completely redid the family’s house! We painted every room and installed shelves and it was amazing! This family is also involved in a feeding ministry in the neighborhood where every weekday they feed the kids lunch. We got to make them tamales and also give out clothes to the ones who needed them. It was super chaotic but fun at the same time.

This week was challenging and different. We had to lean on God for ministry opportunities a lot more than before. That meant a lot of praying a listening to what he has to say. It brought our team together more than ever before.
We’re going into our fifth week of outreach and God is doing some really amazing things here; in us and through us. We are so blessed to be meeting so many nice people and getting to know each other so much better. I feel so blessed to be surrounded by such a tight team. Thank you Jesus!
#liveasateamdieasateam

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Panarica at Homes of Hope

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Spiders and mosquitoes and the Caribbean, oh my!

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Hey there! It’s been quite the eventful week. Last Saturday, we made our way from Heredia, Costa Rica to San Jose, Costa Rica. And then the next day, we hopped in the van and took a little trip over to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica to Limon! There we stayed at the still-being-built Puerto Viejo YWAM base.
Our drive there was absolutely gorgeous. Rainforest, plantain trees for miles, and lots and lots of palm trees. Not too bad I’d say. We pulled up to the base, deep in the jungle of Limon, and lo and behold, there was no electricity or water. So what do we do? We collect water out of the river so that we would be able to use the bathroom. We also got to eat dinner by candlelight every night. What a fun life, huh?
Of course the first thing us girls had to do before any of us could go to bed every night was check for big bad bugs. That meant shaking out sleeping bags, shining flashlights everywhere, and of course, squishing those unfortunate ones who made their way out into the light. 😉
Our main purpose for staying at the base was to work there. So every day, we’d set off to work, painting rocks, building a deck, raking, and other assortments of jobs. We made time pass by blaring some rocking music and dancing the work away. Our hosts, Rasta and Elsie both had amazing work ethics and were so determined to really get every job done thoroughly. Whether it’s cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner like a pro every day (thank you Elsie) or making sure our water breaks weren’t too much on the long side (yes, thank you Rasta).

We also spent a lot of time working with an awesome little church in town. The congregation was so welcoming and their passion and love for the Lord was so inspiring. Someone there mentioned how it was simply so amazing that there were so many different nations in that little church all coming together for one purpose. And that’s to worship and love the Lord. Of course, our team has all different nationalities but also in the church there were congregants from Africa, Jamaica, Greece and Costa Rica. Clearly God is pretty sweet. We specifically helped one couple from the church with the kids. From playing name games to helping decorate and organize the Christmas pageant. The kids were really fun to play with and get to know. Always a huge smile on their faces and very willing to have fun. 🙂
And, of course, who wouldn’t want to go have a little fun at the beach? We made our way to the beautiful waves several times. And on Christmas Day, after having a nice morning of Secret Santa and presents from home ( thank you to all of our wonderful parents who sent gifts!! Such a blessing!) and a little bit of work on the base, we went into town, rented bikes and rode for a while to a beautiful beach! We wrestled with the waves and just as we were about to leave, it downpoured. So we rode our bikes back in the pouring rain in our bathing suits! Talk about an adventure.
This past week was definitely stretching at times. But it was a blessing. We met so many wonderful people and experienced so many new things!
Oh yeah! We were woken up by some nice howler monkeys every morning and also encountered a sloth. Two things checked off our bucket lists.
I said it before but I’ll say it again, what a fun life! We are so blessed to be on this adventure. God is so good!!

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¿Como se dice…?

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Well, it’s been a week since team Panarica has arrived here in Costa Rica! It’s been such a full week of amazing ministry opportunities and fun team time.

We took a red eye flight into Costa Rica and arrived here early Saturday morning. It was a long day of sleeping and trying to adjust to the RAIN. Yes, rain. Not what any of us were expecting. Nevertheless, it’s gorgeous here and we all love it.

Throughout the week, we have been going to and fro from the YWAM base we’re staying at and town. Sunday, first thing, we got to lead worship (in Spanish… Yikes!) and also share a testimony. The people of the church were so welcoming and we really felt like part of it. Monday, we started out with the “Amazing Prayer Race”. We spilt up into three teams and each team had a list of questions and topics to ask people. It took us around the city of Heredia and we got to meet some awesome people. Tuesday, our team took food to homeless men in the city. That was such a great experience. The men were all so sweet and you could tell they just wanted someone to listen to them. Granted, none of us can really understand what they’re saying. But through our wonderful translators, we had conversations and we got to pray with most of them. That morning was a favorite for all of us. It was such a blessing to be able to sit down and get to know these men. The afternoon was a bit harder for all of us. We were split into groups again and we set out to pray for people. Trying to strike up a conversation and keep it going proved a little difficult for most of us. Especially with the language barrier. Having to speak through a translator feels slightly impersonal. It was a little discouraging, but we’re all asking God to help us come out of our shells.

Wednesday looked a bit different from our first couple days. We stayed at the YWAM base and helped out with the animals, the garden, and other odd jobs. A group of us got to learn how to milk the goats, which was awesome! And weird. After the goats were milked, they were taken out to the field to have time outside of their pen. We then proceeded to clean their stalls out. Sweeping and cleaning up the poop. As well as the horse stalls. It was definitely an experience. Others worked in the turkey/duck area. They were given the job of digging a hole for the little pool for the ducks. Lots of mud. Lots of fun. This base is very focused on becoming self sustainable. They have an aquaponics area, ducks, turkeys, horses, goats, chickens, and it’s amazing. I’m very impressed. Thursday, we went back into town and had the chance to go up into El Fortin. An old fort from Costa Rica’s civil war. We climbed the many, many stairs and reached the top and prayed over the city. The view was simply fantastic. As most Latin American cultures, Costa Rica is primarily Catholic. And so some of us prayed over that. I just know that the Lord wants to reach all these people here.

Yesterday was our off day. So we decided that going to see a volcano was a must. We all piled into a big van and left at 7 am sharp. It was a pretty long, bumpy ride up the mountain. But along the way was beautiful scenery. Green all around and a lot of rain. When we got to the ticket booth for the crater of the volcano, the woman told us that it was too cloudy and rainy to see anything. So why pay the money, right? So we turned around and stopped at a cute little restaurant called Restaurante el Descanso. There we got coffee, hot chocolate, and the highlight of the day, fried plantains. We ate, drank, and were merry. We paid, piled back into the van and made our way to a waterfall. But, they charged us too much there so we decided to go home. It sounds a little like a failed trip but I definitely think everyone had quite a lot of fun. Even though most of our time was spent in the van. Today, we helped with this base’s kids ministry. A group called King’s Kids. We played with a bunch of adorable kids (yeah I know, it was really difficult. 🙂 and helped out with lunch and also danced and performed a skit for them. They were all so sweet and willing to play with us. Despite the language barrier.

Clearly, we are keeping busy. I can already tell that this time is not going to go by slowly. God is already doing awesome things through us and in us. This team is growing closer and it’s only been a week. We are all family and we’re ready for the adventure God has for us as we make our way through Costa Rica and Panama.

Thanks for reading this lengthy post! It was a full first week and there are going to be plenty more.

God bless!!

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One thing ends, another begins.

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Hello everyone! My name is Emma and I’m in charge of our team’s blog. As most of you may know, we’re headed to Costa Rica on FRIDAY!! For the last two months we’ve been in a pretty intense lecture phase…
Learning more and more about the Lord and about ourselves and each other. It was a long, heavy two months of serious learning and loving throughout our school.
Our team is made up of 11 absolutely wonderful people. God really blessed us with personalities that do not clash and we definitely all love each other a lot. We have three fantastic leaders; Esther (Missouri), Trevor (California), and Caragh (Australia). So far, they’ve done so well prepping us for this huge journey. And I’m so ready to see how the Lord works through them as we make our way through Costa Rica and Panama. As for the students, there is Jeremy (Canada), Rachel and Andrew ( married, Canada), Ruth (Spain), Esther (Switzerland), Anne (Finland), Melissa (Michigan) and me (Washington)!
We’re going to be doing some pretty amazing things when we get down there. Going to orphanages, working in boy’s homes, evangelism, etc. In one spot, an island called Bocas del Toro, we’ll be ministering to and living with the surrounding tribes. That’s pretty amazing, isn’t it? I can already tell that God is going to do some big things.
So, tomorrow we leave at 7 pm. Stay tuned to find out all the we’re doing in the next three months!!

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