Author Archives: Panama Team

Panama Feb. 2014 – Day 7

Leaving temperatures of upper 80’s and arriving at Houston’s airport we begin to hear of single digit temperature in Indy! We hope our work glorified God. Please consider joining us in February 2015.

Panama Feb. 2014 – Day 6

We said goodbye to our hosts Alan and Debbie and traveled to David to fly to Panama City. We enjoyed a tour of the Panama Canal (celebrating the 100th anniversary), and several other interesting points of interest. We spent the night in Panama City and will begin the trip home tomorrow.

Panama Feb. 2014 – Day 5

We wrapped up the concrete work and painting. A few members rode to the Comarca (Panamanian version of an Indian reservation) to visit the Ngobe people and to see firsthand their harsh living conditions. It was another reminder of how blessed we are. In the afternoon, we headed to downtown Boquete for sightseeing and shopping. Team leader Rick had an unexpected encounter with a scorpion, the bite was like a bee sting, but all was well (non-poisonous)!

Panama Feb. 2014 – Day 4

This was a busy work filled day of painting playground equipment, painting the outside of the class room building, more concrete work, and working on installing a septic system. A few sunburns were noticed! After a delicious supper, we played a mystery game facilitated by our hosts Alan and Debbie. We returned to the dormitory and slept well knowing we are making a difference.

No Snow Here

Five airports and twelve hours later, eighty degrees welcomed us to Boquete Panama!  Our team consists of Rick & Letty Castor, Eric & Ana Carlsgaard, Randy & Mary Ann Tatlock, Kathryn Martinie, Michelle O’Connor, and Teresa Sandifer.  We are so thankful we made our connections and arrived safely!  We had a wonderful meal and fellowship with Alan & Debbie Handt (TPCC’s own missionaries).  Looking forward to what tomorrow brings!

Panama Feb. 2014 – Day 3

Several team members rode the buses up the mountainside to pick up the Guaymi people for church services. After church services, the medical clinic was open for patients. We also helped pass out school supplies. We are being well fed, and our team is building camaraderie!

Panama Feb. 2014 – Day 2

One of our team members became ill and required a stay the the Mae Lewis Hospital in David, Panama. We took turns praying and staying with our friend while they received excellent medical care and recovered. The rest of the team continued to tackle the projects. The Spanish language is a bit of a barrier for several of us!

Panama Feb. 2014 – Day 1

This is our first full day here. We started with a tour of the Mission, including the medical, eye, dental clinics, and class rooms.Part of our team cleaned and painted a class room including the furniture. School in Panama starts the beginning of March. The other team members prepared the playground area for concrete. The weather is perfect, the scenery is beautiful, and the people are friendly. We are here to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Panama Trip: Day 7

Today was the final day of our Mission Trip to Panama.  After breakfast, we did a few small odd-and-end projects, and the team sanded and washed the fort in the playground in preparation for painting.  Unfortunately, the actual task of painting the fort will fall to the next group to follow us here.

For lunch, we left the Mission and journeyed into downtown Boquete.  We ate deliciously prepared sandwiches at a bakery called Sugar and Spice, then had a few hours of shopping and sightseeing in the town.  Boquete has become quite the retirement destination for Americans, and the tallest mountain in Panama, Volcán Barú, has become a worldwide draw for hikers.  The city is not huge, but featured a diverse population of Latinos, a few Ngobe, ex-pats from other nations, and travelers.

After a couple hours in town, we regrouped and headed for a restaurant a few minutes outside of town.  I cannot remember the exact name in Spanish, but it translates to “The Ruins” in English.  It can best be described as a Polynesian Honky-tonk.  The building was a large hut with a faux-grass roof, but when we entered we heard sounds of good ol’ American country music blaring from the sound system.  The clientele were mostly Americans.  In fact, there were a couple of Hoosiers from Terre Haute dining there at the same time we were.  The food was outstanding, and the fellowship equally as good.

The only glitch happened as we were leaving.  Today is our co-host Debbie Handt’s birthday, and the plan was to go back to the Mission to celebrate with a birthday cake before heading to bed.  However, the Dodge van had other ideas.  The engine ran fine, but the headlights decided to not work.  While we have some very capable mechanical minds, we weren’t able to get lights.  We were eventually able to get a bus from the Mission to pick us up.  Unfortunately, Debbie’s birthday party got nixed, but I’m positive she will be touched by the notes we clandestinely wrote for her.

Tomorrow is our return day.  We are going to be on the road to David by 6 am for the 7:30 am flight.  If time permits, we hope to see the Panama Canal for a couple hours.  Our flight from Panama City leaves around 2:50, and if the planes are running on time, we should touch down at Indianapolis International around 10:45 tomorrow night.

Before concluding the blog, we would like to thank Alan and Debbie Handt for being super hosts.  We worked very hard and got much accomplished in our time here.  Their hospitality and dedication to helping the Ngobe people made this a trip to remember, and more importantly we hope our work was honoring to God.  Also, Nate and Jess were equally as wonderful.  Nate is a godly, hardworking man with a good mechanical aptitude.

Thanks are also in order for Team Leader Ken Julian, who stepped up to the plate and hit a home run.  God used him to blend our motley  bunch into a cohesive unit that got many, many good things accomplished.  Other team members include his wife Lorrie, and children Kellen and Tatum, David Brattain, Harry Jiles, Wes Nicely, Michael Reed, Lindsay Davis, Olivia Byely, Noel and Joseph Keyes from Florida, and Larry and Katherine Cox from Wichita.

Speaking for the men, we want to thank the man who opened up his house to us for the week, Sam Ruth.  Sam is a retired American auto technician who opened up his lovely house to us.  Sam moved to Boquete a few years ago, and shortly thereafter his wife of many years passed on.  He prayerfully decided to open up his casa for ministers on sabbatical or folks like us serving on mission trips.

What really makes Sam’s place unique is the huge garden behind his house.  Boquete is in a mountainous area, almost a mile high.  Sam’s garden has stone pathways leading down to a river, complete with several areas specifically for reflection and prayer.  If there is a place that is closer to Heaven on Earth, I haven’t yet seen it.

Sam also has began a ministry to help the Ngobe people called “Cleft of the Rock Ministries.”   His website is  His accommodations were better than any hotel, complete with a washer/dryer for our use.  Each morning we would gather round and chat.  Sam’s gardener Richie would come in and join the talk as well.  Richie taught himself English, and attends the English church service we went to on Sunday evening, giving the Communion Meditation.  Richie had stories to tell about his life in Panama, and this morning, our final one, he shared his testimony.  He had tears in his eyes describing how Jesus touched his heart, and our eyes were moist as well.

Thank you TPCC for allowing us the opportunity to come to this beautiful land to serve.  We’ll see you on Sunday morning.  Until then, pray we get home safely.  We love you and will be home soon!

Panama Team: Day 6

Today was an early one, as we were ready to leave for the Comarca at 6 am.  The Ngobe Buglé people are true native Panamanians, and live in a reservation in the mountains east of the city of David.  The ride got a bit bumpy when we entered the Comarca, and the van full of people had to jump in the bed of Alan’s Toyota pickup when we got about halfway up.

God’s natural beauty was abundant in this territory.  Alan graciously made a few stops and let us wind our way up a few steep paths to capture photos of some of the most visually stunning vistas on the planet.  Describing it with mere words doesn’t do it justice (hint hint…. Pray and make plans to join the TPCC Panama Mission trip in the winter of 2013).

The Ngobe people have very small dwellings (microscopic by U.S. standards).  The entire family lives in these tiny shacks made of sticks and stones with tin roofs.  Some people live in huts with grass and stick roofs that would look at home on a Polynesian island.  It is common for the people to walk miles up the rocky terrain.

God’s hand reaches even here, though.  We stopped at one church about halfway up, and Alan got out and chatted with the Pastor’s wife.  Across the street lived another Pastor of a church which is a 2 hour walk away.  Talk about dedication!!  On the way up we picked up a family with a disabled father.  He rode with Alan, and his wife and kids rode in the van.  Her son carried a live chicken in his lap.  We dropped them off at the point where the van was no longer capable of navigating the bumpy, semi-washed out road.

We all crowded into the bed of Alan’s truck as he slowly drove us to our ultimate destination on this trip:  A church that a prior TPCC Mission Trip constructed a few years back.  The church was standing strong, with the Pastor’s family living in a small shack beside it.  We were able to go through a barb-wire fence to climb up to the top of plateaus, where the wind can gust as high as 60 mph at times.  The Pastor’s small children were allowed to hike up with us.

It was a treat to have their company.  Though there was a language barrier, love can break through any language.   The kids enjoyed having their pictures taken with us, and we got several group photos, including a few funny, goofy shots.  It felt like the scene in “The Sound of Music” where Julie Andrews is singing in the Alps with arms raised.  One of the Pastor’s sons saved the day for team member Harry Jiles, as his hat blew off his head and over a hill.   While we all figured it was lost, the child bounded down the steep hill and up again in seconds like a mountain goat, retrieving the cap.

When we got back down to the church, the Pastor’s wife and oldest daughter had chakras (brightly colored purses.  Even the men have these in Panama) and child-sized naguas (the dresses the Ngobe females wear) to sell.  They were snapped up within seconds, and a few more were brought out, and even the next door neighbor down the road brought down a few handcrafted items, most of which our group purchased.

After the long, hot drive back to home base for an hour of freshening up, we headed to the Mission for another delicious dinner.  We enjoyed a couple hours of good-natured fun and games both indoors and outside in the cool Boquete evening.  Tomorrow is our last full day here.  Please pray for us to finish strong and get home safely.