Thursday, August 26, 2010

August update

Well it has been a little while since I updated the blog, and we have a lot changes and events that have happened within the past weeks. Two weeks ago we have prayfully decided to return back to States. We have a close family member that is in need of our assistance. We will arrive back to Texas Monday September 13th. We fly out of Panama September 5th, but will be heading to Florida to catch the last US District Convention Sept 10-12. So we look forward to seeing our family and friends again. We will miss the close friendships with have established with all the friends in David, Boquete, but especially here in Volcan.

On Sunday August 22nd ...Volcan experienced a torrential rainstorm that dropped 10-12 inches within 1 hour. We were at a local restaurant enjoying hospitality with the Russell's, and returned home to find 5-6 inches of water throughout the whole house.  What a shocking event to see personal items floating through the house. I placed a few calls to some local brothers (Tom Blacker and Larry McMillian) and within 10 minutes they were here along with the Isaacs (Doug and Peggy) and the Langans (Steve and Adriana) assisting us getting items to higher ground and removing the water. What another fine example we experienced in the brotherhood of Jehovah's organization. Within 3 hours that night we had the water out of the house and dried up using brooms, squeeges, and a shop vac. The McMillans lovingly opened their house for us to stay with them for the next 2 nights. This was a treat to be them and have their loving support, not to mention Alice's delicious morning muffins, fruit shakes, and cookies :-). We spent the next 2 days drying items and washing clothes that were in the flood. Sadly some of the other brothers in the area experienced worse damage to their homes. Several roads in the area are in need of repair. 

Throughout the whole experience it has helped me appreciate that materials things don't last and can go in an instance. I was very proud of the children and how they handled the event. At first (and understandable) they were shocked and tears ran down. Stephanie and I spoke with them and told them these were material things and can be replaced but we still have each other.  Andrea Blacker later related to me how she was impressed how the children were stating "Oh these are just material things".  I am also thankful no one got hurt, and that this didn't happen in the middle of the night because the results could have been disastrous. Most of all it helped me appreciate Jehovah's organization and how the love that we have amoung each other as Jesus mentions in John 13:35 trully sets us apart.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Abigail went out in ministry with Ngobe Saturday

Abigail was invited by missionary couple to go out in service, and preach in Ngobe today. Ngobe is indiginous tribe which often are the workers on farms in this area. They live by very, very humble means (poor conditions), but the growth in this field has taken off in Panama. It was an encouraging experience for us all to her about her day out in the ministry and seeing her zeal to preach to the Ngobe. It was just announced that there will be having a Ngobe convention here in Volcan October and we will have the priviledge of supporting the lodging arrangments by opening our houses to the Ngobe families.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Week of July 26th

I must share with all a very faith strengthing experience.... Pretty much since we arrived in Volcan and found our first rent home we have been looking for our next rent house. It has been quite the challenge to say the least due to a large hydroelecric Russian company that has moved into the area and pretty much taken most of the rent homes in the area that can be lived in. We have also come across many greedy locals who are very proud of their houses(they think that it is worth more than actually is) and are not willing to negotiate price. I guess they would rather let the house sit and wait for someone to come and pay the higher prices they are asking. So this matter has been the source of much frustration and stress. All the friends in Volcan were on the lookout for rentals for us as well.
The english groups in both Boquete and David were trying to convince us to move there to assist in the preaching work. Around 2 weeks ago we found a house in Boquete that would fit are physical needs and budget (which fitting budget in Boquete was a suprise since that area is generally more expensive than Volcan), but we decided that we would still try to find a house in Volcan.

There were a number of factors to keep us serving inVolcan, which I mediated and prayed about. (1) The congregation was just formed in April (so still lots of territory to work),  (2) The whole family is being used in the congregation experiencing spiritual growth (if we move to David or Boquete we would be attending the bulk of meetings in Spanish), (3) We have formed a loving bond with all the brothers and sisters in this congregation.(the children don't have children their age but have lots of grandparent figures that are very spiritually mature. This is good for the whole family).

Okay so this week Stephanie and I decided on Monday that this would be the week to decide if we stay in Volcan or move to house in Boquete. We saw several houses this week but none fit living or basic needs. Thursday night Stephanie and had a conversation that we really wanted to stay in Volcan and despite the lack of home prospects we would trust in Jehovah and put our soles of our feet in the Jordan. We mediated together on the account in Joshua 3:11-16.
Friday morning we decided to stay in Volcan and check for more houses and I received an unexpected phone call from a house that we had looked at about a month and a half ago.

So I must fill in the details now of the history about the house and family that is trying to rent the house. The house belongs to a widow (Panamaian) who is currently living in David (1 hour from Volcan). She doesn't speak any English, but her daughter who works in Panama City speaks perfect English as she is a English teacher is trying to assist her mom in watching after the house.  The mom (widow) lost her husband 3 years ago he suffered from heart attack (after 45 years of marriage). She also lost her youngest son 10 years ago in tragic car accident. She is living in David because she has hard time being in house by herself due to emotional ties.
So about a month and a half ago on a Friday we were coming back from service in Boquete and we had some Spanish speaking sisters with us. So the mom was able to show us her house and the house was very nice but there were a lot of concerns with the renting the house. 1. No furniture; 2. No closets in any of the rooms; 3. The stairs weren't built right and would be considered a safety hazard by US standards.  We were able to witness to her and place some literature. We expressed the concerns about renting the house, and thanked her for her time. I called her daughter (Seri) since she had been the main point of contact and I told her the same concerns. So I thought we were done with this house.....So Seri calls me on Friday and asks me if we have rented a house yet. I explained we were still looking and she tells me that her Mom has taken a lot of recommendations that we had given her and was getting them worked on because she really wanted my family to rent her house. Seri mentioned to me that her Mom had interviewed many other individuals but didn't like them. She only wanted to rent to us. So we made arrangements to revisit house on Friday to see what all had been done. Some furniture had been placed back in house (which the mom had previously given away to relatives and went to ask it back from them), closets were getting added in the rooms (about 80% complete), some work on stairs but not fixed to our liking.
So we were able to reach agreement that she would buy material for stairs, and we would have stairs fixed. We have a loving brother, Cliff Vickerman from Minnesota who is a general contractor back in US volunteered to assist us and work on stairs for us.

Stephanie and I were also able to place literature ( 2 August Magazines and Bible teach book) with Seri who plans on reading it for herself and share with her English classes. I will keep you posted with this return visit as she is very interested in spiritual things and was amazed of the love we have amoungst each other in our organization. So yeah....we have a house to rent for the next year now.... 4 bedroom 2 bathrooms ; house situated on one of the largest lots it actual covers a whole block. Usually 4 houses would fit on the land that this one house sits on. The rent is actually cheaper than the house we are in right now.

We decided that it would be best for our spiritual well being to keep the family in Volcan and rely on Jehovah to help us find a house to rent.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Week of July 19th

Just getting back to the swing of things. Last week we had just recovered from the Flu. Two weeks ago Stephanie, Oliver and I were hit pretty good with a flu bug that was going around. We were able to join the Boquete group last week who had the visit of Circuit Overseer and his wife. We are looking for our next rental house in Volcan, but things are looking to good. There is a big Russian hydroelectric company that has bought up a lot of the rentals in Volcan. We have found a house in Boquete that fits our needs and budget. We will probably have a decision reached by this week. There is also a possibility of moving to David area but that area is very hot. We are seeking Jehovah's direction on the matter.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

week of June 28th

This week in the Ministry....

Monday visited neighboring hotels to inquire of any English speaking staff members. Visited Hotel Bambito (about 10 minutes up the mountain from Volcan) and met an individual Jose who has worked @ Hotel Bambito for 29 years. Probably in his sixites and was very receptive to Bible message, so I plan on returning and demonstrating the Bible study arrangement with him. Visited another hotel and got into conversation in Spanish with receptionist asking how much the rates were and if she knew anyone who spoke English. We also inquired about if she knew of any house rentals in the area. She proceeded to pick up phone and got me in touch with Jorge (George) who has a ranch in Volcan with some rent houses. We visited him and it turned into a witnessing opportunity as Jorge who is Greek has been in Panama for over 15 years recently lost his wife to death (4 months ago). So we were able to place "When someone you love dies" brochere with him. Looking to make him a return visit but not interested in any of his rentals that he has available.

Wednesday--- (David) Stephanie had here study with Tonya in the park. Very promising study.  I found a man who speaks English he works in Autopart store was set up as return visit in order to demonstrate Bible study.

Thursday ----(Puerto Armulles) purpose of our trip was to turn over some studies that the Gilby family had but needed some other friends to take over study.  Since we aren't planning to make Puerto Armulles apart of our weekly schedule. We had some friends accompany us to turn over the studies. While Stephanie was at a study in a neighborhood. I decided to take a walk with Oliver and see if we could find anyone in the neighborhood that we could witness too. I came to find a 66 year old lady named Mrs. Silva who is here for the summer while school is out. She is a teacher in Pearland, Texas and her husband is trying to obtain his US citizenship so for close to 2 years she has been coming out to be with her husband. I was able to have a 1 hour Bible discussion with her. I placed a Bible teach book with her and currently making arrangements to have a sister that will be going to Puerto Armulles come and study with Mrs. Silva.

Friday---  (Boquete)  I started study with young lady who works in the Airbox office (Jessica). I presented the Bible teach book with her as a "special gift" for her. She opened to the page where her name goes and she put her name in it. I introduced her to Stephanie and we plan on going through chapter 1 next week....

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Week of June 21st

Very interesting week in the ministry....Wednesday was out in David. We were working the downtown area. There is a park in the middle of the town square and would ask people if they spoke english and then carry conversation from there. Stephanie found a young girl in her twenties in the park and started conversation on why were out there and offered a Bible study. Stephanie was able to determine that she didn't speak a lot of English. So Steph offered "You can be God's Friend". She (Tonya) accepted the study and a date was set for next week. However, guess what happens....after some time we started making our way back to the car when Tonya stopped us and asked Stephanie that she would like to have the study that day instead of waiting till next week. We made arrangements to return after lunch and Steph conducted study with Tonya who brought 3 other friends to listen in on the study. Arrangements have been set for another study on Wednesday.

Another experience to relate from the Volcan congregation that is very encouraging ( Puerto Armulles--visit on Thursday's) ...Bro. Doug Isaacs has been having a study with a English teacher in Puerto Armuelles. The english teacher started relating what he is learning to another teacher. That teacher wanted a study for himself and thought the children in his class would also enjoy both learning English and learning the Bible. But the principal needed to approve of the matter. The principal thought it was such a good idea that he arranged 2 classes to begin having Bible studies in English for a total of 16 students. The first study was conducted last week in "You can be God's Friend". Doug told me to his suprise when he showed up all the students were ready for their study and even brought their own Bibles.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Week of June 14th

We finally made a beach trip on Thursday June 17th. It wasn't the clear blue of Carribean but rather the Pacific Ocean but it was nice. The fact that it didn't rain on us was nice since it rains most afternoons here. The name of the beach was Las Lajas which is located about 1 hour from David. So the total trip was 2 hours to get to the beach. We saw one of the largest waterfalls on the way (but didn't take a picture) coming off a cliff. The McMillians (Larry and Alice from Ohio) came out there with us and we packed a lunch. Everyone had a nice time.

The preaching work is still slowing coming around. I currently have 1 study with Marcos in Cerra Punta. Stephanie has inherited 2 studies after Rochelle left. One is very interesting her name is Gala short for Galina. (Russian decent). Gala's first language is Russian. She prepares for her studies by reading the website reading Bible and Bible teach book in Russian and translates to English. Stephanie mentioned that her answers in English are so direct and to the point. Gala has a true appreciation for spiritual things as she spends hours preparing for her study. How refreshing to find someone who cares for spiritual things in the world. We are waiting on a order of Russian Bible and Bible teach book for Gala. Mom brought to my attention that some other pictures had shown up from "Panama bound" section of this blog. Those pictures were not from our album. Apparently the google link from Picassa got mixed up with someone else's album. I have corrected the problem. I apologize if they had any offensive pics in there. Good catch Mom.

Saturday we hosted a Hula Party @ our House. Everyone participated in a hula dance. Abby, Sophia and Oliver received lessons from the McMillians..The Russell's (from Kansas) have returned to serve in Volcan. They had left back to the states after a Melonoma was found on his head. All is well with them. He is currently the only Elder here in the congregation until July when others return from the States. So Dale and I will busy with congregation items.  I have taken over accounts and talk coordinator which is quite the challenge. Jehovah continues to assist us in all our efforts.