Often during the summer months of January and February, we get extra visitors to our base. Family often travel to visit their relatives in far away places. We tend to get a lot of opportunities to serve people from even more remote areas.
Two weeks ago, the mother of one of our neighbors came down from the high mountains to visit her daughter. She brought her youngest grandson. They are from a very isolated area of the mountains. We were able to do a health check, give deworming and anti-parasitic medication and talk about clean water options. Unfortunately, they live so high up that digging a well is not possible. Rain catchment is difficult because this region is dry. Their water source is the nearby creek which also serves as their bath, laundry, and bathroom facilities. Knowing this, we gave her a Sawyer filter, and Nathan demonstrated how to use it. (A Sawyer filter is a reusable water filter in a bucket. They do not have to keep investing in a new filter, all they need to do is clean it when it is dirty. It is one of the few options for people that live in this difficult undeveloped areas of Panama.)
During this time one of our volunteers was teaching me how to crochet. Our neighbor’s mom took a huge interest in what we were doing and grabbed a hook and tried to learn our technique. She loved the yarn we were using and said to us that they can’t buy fancy yarn like this where she is from. She then proceeded to share with us how they make their yarn to use in the Chácaras. (Chácaras are a traditional bag made from plant fibers and dyed with things like mangrove leaves, fruit, and other plants to make beautiful colors. Both men and women use these bags and they are often sold in the marketplace.)
I found it amusing to watch my neighbor and her mom interact. Her mom kept teasing her because she (the daughter) wanted nothing to do with making Chácaras and made numerous comments about her desire to live a “modern life.” I asked the mother what she meant and she said, “You know, she is a modern girl . . . she has water that comes to her house and not from the creek. She likes the convenience of not having to bring her laundry to the creek to wash. She can just wash it under her house. She also doesn’t want to live by me or make our traditional crafts.” I chuckled to myself, thinking how not much changes across cultures in a mother’s heart! Whether you live in a modern U.S. town or in the jungle mountains of Panama, mother-daughter relationships face the same challenges.
Days for Girls and Menstrual Cycle Teaching
We also had the opportunity to teach these young women about family planning, and they each received a Days for Girls pack (thanks to all who made them for us!) and a menstrual tracking bracelet. I would love to recruit some of you sewers in the future to come and teach these girls how to make them. It would give them an opportunity to develop a new skill they could use to provide an income. Let me know if you are interested.
Update on the Robbery
Unfortunately, the two boys who robbed us are still eluding the police. We had a small breakthrough in solving the case when one of the boys’ aunts came to the police a few weeks ago. She gave testimony that her nephew was bragging about what he had done and when she found a stack of $100 bills, she went right to the police and turned in the money. They told us they have a really good paper trail and that it is only a matter of time before they catch him. This month we invested in security cameras, and they have given us a little peace of mind. We know they aren’t foolproof, but now we can get an idea of who is causing trouble around the base.
The coronavirus (CoVid-19) has arrived in Panama. Our teams and volunteers have had to cancel their plans as well as our summer DTS outreach team. We are praying about how our fall school will be affected as students are usually applying now. We are confident in our God and none of this took him by surprise. We are daily seeking his face along with the rest of the world as we await what may come and how we will all be affected long term. We are doing fine, and are prepared for the next few weeks. We have a family here from New Zealand who are stranded for the time being. We are having fun getting to know their family and making the best of our time together.
Panama has just closed the borders and all establishments, tourism and hotels have been affected by new rules trying to mitigate the rapid spread of the virus. Pray for us as we interact with our neighbors and fellow Expats that are very fearful. Please pray for Panama; I can’t imagine what will happen when/if the hospitals become overwhelmed, especially here in Bocas as we are far removed from the rest of Panama.
We will continue to pray for you all back home. If there are specific prayer requests, please don’t hesitate to send them our way. We have a lot of time on our hands now. Please continue to lift up our family in the days ahead. Pray for energy, endurance, and a renewed passion. Pray also for staff to come and join in what God is doing here.