J103 Mission Trip update
This guest post was written by Fatima Martinez who is currently leading our J103 Project 4:10 Mission Trip to the country of Panama:
God Is So Good!
We have now wrapped up day two and three. As the team leader, it can be hard to explain to my team members that we may never get to see the fruits of our labor. As I braced my team early on for this notion, day two was the rare exception. We started our day in a village deep into the mountains of Panama. When we arrived, we were pleasantly greeted by the principle of a local school. She welcomed us to their pavilion and gathered the kids to hear and see our group. We sang some songs about Jesus with the middle schoolers and spent the next hour flying kites, playing soccer, and doing crafts. To think that this school stopped their day to welcome our group and allow us to love on these kids and sing about Jesus was just mind blowing! God is so good! As we prepared to say goodbye to the teachers and students, we asked three students what they would do if they had lights inside their home. Each kid proceeded to explain how they could spend time with their families and study more. Next, we told them that we would be going to each of their homes and installing lighting for them, and before we could finish they were each smiling with joy!
Our journey to each home would be one where we could bring physical and spiritual light! As the men were installing the lights some of the ladies sat behind the home under a tree. Marianella, the local missionary here in Panama compared the light in their home to the light that Jesus is. She asked the ladies in the three homes if they wanted to make a decision to accept Christ, and two of them said yes! For our team to see the fruit of our labor twice in one day is so encouraging! God is so good!
Our third day here in Panama has been another productive and successful day! We visited an Indigenous tribe on the Chagres River in the middle of the Panamanian jungle! Our hour long drive from the mission base was met by another twenty minute canoe ride to their village. We had backpacks full of Bibles, hygiene products, toys, bags of groceries and solar lights with panels that we needed to haul with us. We carefully filled the canoes, one by one with each team member and our supplies. The view was stunning, but we quickly realized that this village in addition to the others that live on this river were facing a struggle to get to their villages because the water levels were so low. We would get to certain points and several of the guys would have to get out and push in order for the canoe to even move. After a short hike we arrived at the village with our supplies and immediately began working to install the three solar panels. The tribe leader, Claudio, told us that having light would allow him to spend with his family, care for the kids when they are sick in the middle of the night, and to work later in the evening on their handmade arts and crafts. These crafts are a way for the tribes to make money when groups and tourists come to visit. The ladies prepared a delicious fish that the men had caught spear fishing hours before. They cut fresh plantains and fried them, then presented each of us some wrapped in a banana leaf. A traditional dance was performed by the ladies in gratitude for the items we brought and they sang in their native dialect. We left feeling blessed that we could feed thirty two families, provide lighting for three and love on this community that the local missionaries work so hard to cultivate relationships with. We can truly say, God is SO good!