Our last day in Panama we spent seeing the sights, enjoying the culture and reflecting on our memories that we will take with us back to the U.S. The Panama Canal, Old Panama, all of it was good, but the best part of the day was sharing our amazing and even funny moments over dinner.We laughed hard about the fact that Ken Burgess was introducing himself, “Me llamo Ken” but then would say, “te amo?” Thinking he was saying, “my name is Ken, what is yours?” but actually he was saying, “my name is Ken, I love you!” He did this to everyone, everyday, for 6 days! Spreadin’ the love!
There are many moments that make us smile or laugh, but in my heart, I carry back with me a new understanding of what real poverty looks like, what it means to truly, completely be content in all things, and the beauty that shines brightly through it all that is both breathtaking and heartwarming in a way that I have never experienced. I am reminded of a book I once read, “The Hole in Our Gospel”. Paraphrased from the book, “what would you do if when leaving the comforts of your home, heading off to work and your busy life, you had to pass by one of these impoverished, hungry, barefoot children right on your doorstep, much like one of them in the pictures I posted?” I can do more, I can keep them on the forefront of my prayers, I can sponsor one of the children from these villages, and I can give more money to missions. When you are a witness to what this really, truly means for them, it changes you forever. Time after time, I have filled up one of those shoeboxes at Christmas time and felt good about it, but to actually hand them those boxes, hand that little girl or boy a pair of flip-flops, a meal, their first doll, even bubbles and pop rock candy……. It is beyond words, they NEED us! The people of Espave and Playa Chiquita are spreading the true gospel to their communities and beyond. The Cuna Village is still in the beginning fragile stages of ministry. All of them need us, but not in the way that I thought upon arriving. Because they have no choice about their poverty, they have their minds set on things above, not on the things of this world, they are clothed with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Above all of this, they put on love, which binds them all together with each other and with us. We are very much their brother and sisters in Christ, we cannot forget, and although the 16 of us were face to face with them, you too are a part of their family if you are a part of the family of God! We left money for Espave to finish their building with electricity, plumbing and anything else needed to complete their building project. The Cuna Village will now be serving a meal, almost every day to the 80+ children in their community for the next year. We also left them some money to renovate a couple areas of their community center to help them with their efforts. We started rebuilding the home in Playa Chiquita and hope to return there to continue our efforts with their building needs so they can better serve their community.
As I am flying toward home, I have the words of Paul to the church of Philippi in my head. “It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart, for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for you with the affection of Jesus Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God. Grace and peace to you all!”
And to Alvaro, our bus driver and friend, “every time you drink from the blue ‘life’ bottle that I gifted you, I pray that you will be reminded of the living water that awaits you!”
The Naz Mission Team - 2016: Jim Burgess, Kenny Burgess, Ben Walls, Mel Walls, Al Herndon, Sherry Herndon, Aaron Herndon, Bill Markby, Hannah Markby, Diane Heinig, Karla Heinig, Joe Yurkunas, Tracy Yurkunas, Rick Steinberger, Luz McKinnon, Linda Caswell.
Pictures are posted on my Facebook page:
Posted on Sun, February 21, 2016
by Linda Caswell