Hello to our TPCC family and friends from Panama. The hospitality of host missionaries Alan and Debbie Handt has been fantastic. The weather is perfect, the scenery beautiful, and the people friendly even though for many of us there is just a bit of a language barrier. We are being fed well, and our team is building wonderful camaraderie. While the climate and natural beauty of this place are incredible, the main reason we came is to serve, just as Christ came to serve.
We have gotten much accomplished in only three days here so far. Some of the projects from Saturday include helping to get things in order for the start of school by unloading large containers full of items, moving and storing beds and other things that were temporarily housed in one of the classrooms, and even disassembling old water fountains that were no longer useful. (School in Panama starts at the beginning of March. Our trip is at the very end of their “Summer Break.”) The two youngest gentlemen on our crew, Kellen Julian and Joseph Keyes, worked for hours shoveling dirt to fill in near the swing set where children play.
Ken mentioned in the previous blog post about the medical and dental clinics which serve the congregation after church on Sunday, and our team assisted in registering patients, pulling charts, and anything else that was requested. Several of the men went above and beyond the call of duty on this day by repairing the church sewage system, which became completely blocked during the service on Sunday morning. Team members Wes Nicley and Harry Jiles (along with Nate Wolfe, the husband of Alan and Debbie’s granddaughter) spent the hot afternoon digging up pipe, trying with varying degrees of success to avoid being doused with human waste when the backup became unclogged, and working up quite a sweat. They saved the day, though, getting the job completed late in the afternoon. Kudos for a job well done, guys!
Today, our third full day here, was a long, full day of working on projects to help support the Mission here. After breakfast, the team divided to work on various projects. The big task of painting the front of the church sanctuary was started and mostly completed. When it’s all done, the entire front will be a clean, pure white color: Perfect for projecting song lyrics, bible verses, or photos to aid with the services held there.
A number of the men spent the day hauling gravel and cutting wood (Team Member David Brattain is a whiz with the chainsaw). There were a few mechanical issues with the chainsaw, but a trip to the hardware store for a new chain and it was good as new. There are definitely some sore muscles and sunburned necks, but it’s all being done in the name of Jesus (plus, Alan and Debbie, our hosts, are both doctors. We’re in good hands if something unforeseen happens).
Some of the younger members gathered trash that collected around the coffee plantation. Other tasks included clearing accumulated debris out of what in Spanish is called an alcantarilla del drenaje (similar to a drainage culvert) near the church entrance, and organizing charts and medicines at the medical clinic. Tomorrow is a new day with new projects to tackle during our short time here in Panama. It’s only a quarter after nine in the evening, but time to hit the hay to be ready for the next day’s work.