Report of 2016 Panama Mission Trip
New Hope and Frederick SDA Church
By Keith Blair
On June 30, at 5:28 am in the morning, 31 participants left BWI airport for Panama. The breakdown of the participants follows:
(1) 11 females and 20 males;
(2) 7 chaperones and 24 youth;
(3) 18 first-time attendees and 11 returnees.
We landed in Panama City about 2:30 pm in the afternoon and spent the night there. We left on the morning of July 1 for Las Lajas, which would be our home for the next 10 nights. It is a six to seven-hour bus ride to Las Lajas so everyone got comfortable and enjoyed the scenery.
Friday evening brought a good dinner and worship at the Las Lajas Beach resort. We stream all our worships online while in Panama so that parents and friends can experience a little of what we are doing.
Sabbath morning our bus driver picked us up and took us to church at the Ismael Ellis School, where we also would be working for the week. The church is not air-conditioned and is entirely in Spanish. But our translators did a good job making sure we knew what was happening. The rest of Sabbath was spent relaxing at the hotel in preparation for the week’s work.
On Sunday, we boarded the bus at 6:45 am —or as close to as possible—to make our way to the work site. We had a delicious breakfast cooked for us and had worship before we began work. Our work for the week would be pouring floors for the lower level of a new church. Unfortunately, the cement mixer was not available as it was being prepared. That meant mixing cement by hand which is backbreaking work. We also ran a VBS for the children at the school. As part of the VBS, we gave lessons in dental hygiene and also de-liced the children’s hair. Our workday ended at approximately 4:00 pmwhen we headed back to the hotel.
This was the general routine from Sunday to Friday. We continued to stream our evening worship back home on a daily basis.
On Sabbath, we gave the worship service at church. Grace Boughner preached our sermon from the Frederick Church.
Our Sunday activity was zip-lining in the mountains of Bouquette.
On Monday we packed up and headed back home.
Our group has made 4 trips to Panama. While there, I told them that the new emphasis would be in Honduras. The group unanimously said they wanted to see the project in Panama completed and wanted to return until it was done so we will be back again in 2017.
Our group has made a real connection with the Ngoble-Bugle people in Panama. Even though we do not speak the same language and our worship styles are different, we have a bound that has been built upon our shared love of God.
Summary of projects for Panama:
· One large church 100% completed
· One middle size church 100% completed
· A large kitchen for the school 100% completed
· A set of bathrooms at the school 100% completed
· Sidewalks at the school 100% completed
· One large church under construction (Spencerville group has been working on this project) – 80% completed
· One two-story church that includes four additional classrooms so the school can expand into secondary education. We have one more
team going down this year. – 50% completed