Hello everyone! Can’t believe I’ve already completed 4 months of my 9 month trip. The time is definitely flying by so quickly. These last 3 weeks have been great and I’ve finally been able to get some things going and moving! It’s been a fun challenge trying to find opportunities to share Jesus and try to help the church here. I’ve truly enjoyed the encouragement and friendship that I’ve been able to develop with the missionaries here this last month. For me, I’m such an entrepreneur. I don’t like to sit around and wait for opportunities, but rather I like to sit and brainstorm a little bit, and then put it all into action! Alvaro Barrantes and his family (One of the missionary families here in Panama, the other missionary family is on vacation so I’ve been alongside Alvaro and his family) have been awesome at encouraging me to pursue the opportunities and ideas that I have for ministry in how I can try to branch out and try some things to bring people into the church and into a relationship with Jesus Christ, as well as be part of the ministries they already have going and how I can help out with them and truly be part of them. I’ve had challenges with my limitations on Spanish, but I’ve been growing a lot in my overall usage and understanding of Spanish. The hardest part is trying to grow my vocabulary and understand the people here that speak so quickly and with their mouths almost closed that I can’t even hear them, let alone understand what they are saying. But, with much practice it’s been getting a little easier depending on the person. But, needless to say, I have not allowed my limitations of Spanish speaking and understanding to limit me and my ability to build relationships and find opportunities to share my story, share the Gospel, and try to make an eternal impact on the people here in David, Panamá.
A good amount of the things that I have been able to be part of have been a huge help in my language learning and growing. Every Friday in the afternoon, there is a Christian organization that goes to one of the Universities to have a Bible study. It’s been good to go to that and meet people in the group as well as those outside of the group. An opportunity that arose from this is that I was able to meet a few people that have friends outside of the group that are interested in learning English. This last week I began giving English lessons. My plan is to use the Bible in some of my lessons and eventual use these classes to share the Gospel. Another opportunity that came about from this Christian organization is that they go to the other University and offer free coffee for a 1 minute conversation. I was able to bring board games to get to know some of the people as well as converse with them in both Spanish and English. Through this opportunity, God opened up a door that I was able to share my testimony and the Gospel with many of the students that came to get a free cup of coffee and have a 1 minute conversation. What I thought was going to be me practicing my Spanish became me sharing the Gospel with many of the students. I’m very excited to be part of what the group is doing in that university a different day of the week, each week.
Being able to work with the young adults in the Universities have been so fun to be part of what they are doing, to get to know them, and grow in my Spanish with them. Along with working with the young adults with the Bible study, coffee + conversation, teaching English, I have also been able to get the board game nights going on Fridays at the church to bring these young adults in. Every other Friday, we get together to watch The Chosen, and the other two Fridays are for board games! As we go to the Universities, the idea is to invite those outside of the already established group to come to the game nights in order to get to know them more and have an opportunity to share the Gospel with them. The Friday game nights have been so much fun and great for building relationships!
The missionaries here have an awesome ministry with the kids in their neighborhood that get together every Saturday for games, snack, and a Bible lesson. Since being here, I’ve been able to lead the game time during these Saturdays and it’s been a ton of fun getting to know them and showing them all the fun youth group games that I used to play. Last week we were able to have a lot of fun with some water games and did some tie-dye. It’s really encouraging to see how much these kids are learning and how much they already know about God at young ages. As I am here and helping out with the ministries, I am also taking notes that I will use in my future in missions wherever I end up. What they are doing here is great and I hope to be able to start similar ministries in the future! Once again, being part of the young adult groups and the youth have really grown my passion and desire to serve/minister to them and impact their lives the way the missionaries are doing here.
The Church here is very great and like a family. Since I’ve been here, there has been some really cool ways that God has been working to bring in some new people into the Church. It is growing and very great to be a part of such a loving community of believers. Even outside of Sunday morning service and Wednesday night Bible Study, it’s nice to get together to celebrate a birthday, go to a different city and enjoy the day, or even go to the movies with a few of the people. Even though I wish there was more that I could do personally but am limited in my Spanish, it’s still nice to go and be part of everything the missionaries are doing and to support them and support the believers here.
Overall, this first month has been great. But, there has still been a few ups and downs. It is definitely different being here without my Pastor and his family. Along with that, the language barrier makes things a little hard when I really want to communicate something but feel limited in my ability to do so, or when someone is trying to communicate with me and it just sounds like gibberish. I am grateful though for the missionaries here and their help as well as encouraging me in the things I’m doing. I am also grateful for each of you that support me in prayer. It was difficult to come here with all that traction that was gained at the end of my time in Bonaire to then come here and figure out how to have an impact. But thankfully, being an entrepreneur means I don’t sit around too long and I just put myself out there to find and create opportunities. As my Pastor always says, Jesus never ran anywhere. It’s okay to walk. I’ve just been seeking the Lord and asking the Holy Spirit to lead me day by day and working on being patient with myself. It has been nice to use this time to grow in my Spanish so that as times goes on, I can have more and more of an impact. Not just grow in my Spanish, but in my relationship with God as well. I’m excited to see how these next two months go here and what God does in my life and through me here. I truly love and appreciate you all. Some of you have reached out to me and it truly makes an impact every time. I know I’m not alone because I have the God of the universe living in me, but it is nice to have fellowship with you too, even if it is only through messaging or a video chat.
- Continued growth spiritually and emotionally.
- Continued growth with Spanish.
- The opportunities in the Universities, with the young adults, and English teaching.
- To continue to build connections with people.