A Month of Visitors . . . 

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.

CoVid-19

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.

 

The Road to Forgiveness…

I sat down many times to begin writing an update on how our year ended and began. Sixteen days into the new year had me second guessing much of what transpired at the end of 2019. While our DTS was in full swing, we had the great opportunity to minister to our neighbors a lot. The kids to the side of our property were over at our house on a daily basis. Our students and staff spent many hours investing in them and loving on them and their families. It was one of those things I was going to write about, the joys of ministry. That all changed Sunday, January 13th, after we discovered we had been robbed, and those wonderful little boys we had poured ourselves into over the last year were part of the crew who had cased the base for the young men who robbed us.

For those who have experienced something like this, you know you go through a wide range of emotions. It is a violation that cuts to the heart of your feelings of security. As we have shared our story with our Ngäbe neighbors, fellow sailors, and homeowners in the bay, one recurring theme came out: “To live on Basti is to live amongst thieves.” Over and over again we heard how this was the “worst island to live on” as far as safety goes. This opened our eyes to some vulnerabilities of the base, and that we need to make some changes for base safety. This also left my heart sick, longing for these boys to be known by a new identity. 

We filed the necessary police reports and waited for the police to come investigate. It wasn’t until almost a week later that they showed up. In the meantime, we have learned that living overseas sometimes requires you to take matters into your own hands. We began visiting all of our neighbors, informing them that we were robbed, asking if they had seen or known anything. We also offered a reward for the return of our belongings, specifically our passports, credit cards and vital records. When we visited our neighbors in our bay, we were surprised at the reaction of the oldest boy. He had spent a lot of time with us and our students over the past six months. He would not look at us when we addressed him, rather he hung his head in shame. We made it known that the police were involved and it wasn’t too late to come forward. His grandmother assured us she would let us know if she heard anything.

The next day, while we were reporting our passports as stolen, the boy and his grandmother came to base. His grandmother proceeded to tell me she knew who did it. She was mortified to discover that two of her other grandsons were involved!  She figured it out when she saw them spending money that could have come from nowhere else. When she questioned the young boy, he succumbed to the guilt of his actions and confessed he was paid to watch our place, figure out our day-to-day operations, and look for a moment when they could enter unnoticed and steal our safe. She also gave her testimony to the investigators, condemning her 18- and 26-year-old grandsons.

One of the things I’m praising God for is the sweet moment we had with this young neighbor boy. We had the opportunity to sit down with him and thank him for telling the truth. We offered him our forgiveness, and we had the chance to share about sin and God’s grace for those who seek reconciliation. We also had the opportunity to encourage him to live and walk correctly with God, and reminded him that he had a choice: to follow the world, his cousins, and every other thief in the area, or to walk closer with God and live a different life. Pray with us that he chooses to walk with the Lord. 

After lamenting to his grandmother about our passports and such, she mentioned she would try and get ahold of the boys who robbed us so that they would return them. Two days later we discovered all of our documents next to our dock, soaking wet, but returned. After almost three years spending time serving and caring for our neighbors, we realize they had our backs in this difficult situation. Even when the grandmother discovered the thieves to be her own family members, she was looking out for us, knowing those documents were important. 

Our neighbors to the other side of our property were also great. Every time they would see the robber come to their village, they would send someone over to let us know he was still here. This information along with the grandmother’s testimony led to the discovery of his hideout. When the police went to his house to question him, he took off running carrying a light blue backpack full of the mission’s money. The police weren’t able to catch him, but they found a valuable piece of evidence in his house. One of the bags that held coins was recovered from his home as evidence. Last Sunday we were able to identify it as ours. We were told that when they catch him, that is enough evidence to convict him.

So here we are. Waiting for justice and knowing we need to move forward. The road to forgiveness is long. My mind chooses to forgive, but my heart sometimes needs time to follow. I daily have to remind myself that they don’t know any different way of life. What would I do If I faced hunger on a daily basis? I have to remind myself to not let the enemy win. Remember that I choose to forgive. That’s easy when I am sitting at my desk; it is another issue when I see the robber face to face. Everything in my body screams, “Thief!! Get out of here you nasty thief!” but I am reminded that when we put our trust in Him, He gives us a new identity. So when I see the young man, I am replacing my desire to say, “thief,” with the knowledge that he is a child of God who has lost his way. Just like I once was. God gives me the patience to say, “Welcome, come in, and have a glass of water.”   

Many people here, including men from their own culture, say this culture is “all the time evil,  nothing good…” Questions flood our minds as we ask if they are unreachable. Are their hearts too far gone, and are we just throwing our pearls before swine? Such hard questions this missionary heart of mine is fighting with. Walking this new road I find myself on, I am going to continue to choose to forgive and choose to believe the Lord can turn hardened hearts of stone into hearts focused on Him. Pray for us as we discover new ways to continue to minister amongst a people group whose identity God wants to change, to no longer be known as thieves, but as Children of God!

Thanks for walking with us through this!

Going Forward:

We are in urgent need of small groups of people with construction experience to come and assist us in securing base to prevent future break-ins.  We need to accomplish this prior to our next group of students in July 2020.

If you are able to come, please contact Christina at: christina.pineault@ywamships.net .

We are also raising funds to purchase supplies for the security construction and security cameras.  You can give directly to our Outpost bank account through YWAM Ships Kona (link here). Once there, you can choose give once or monthly. On this page you have the option to choose “donation for specific project”, and then to the right there is a comment box. Please write: For Outpost Panama.  Please send me an email (above) to let me know you made a donation, so I can make sure we receive it correctly.

 

 

Our Boys: Helping, Growing, Serving With Us

 

I don’t often take the time to talk about the boys. I don’t know why not, because they’re a HUGE part of our ministry here in Bocas. Family in missions has always been our priority. They always jump in to help with whatever we are doing, from mowing the lawn, to burning the garbage, to making a meal, and so much more. This last Friday, our boys rose to an extraordinary occasion as they helped me with an emergency with one of our neighbors.

Last week the boys and I sent off Nate with our staff and students to drill wells with Simone, and to do some teaching in the villages on the outlying islands. They planned to return by 2 p.m. the next day, but some strong weather rolled in that next morning. The strong winds and rain kept Luke and I from kayaking to base, but once the weather lifted, we headed to meet up with Noah and Caleb who were holding down the fort (one of the many things the boys do to help keep base going). I received notice that the team continued with their projects once the storm lifted and they would return a few hours later than anticipated. Other than that the day seemed normal. 

The boys were finishing school and working on some projects, and I was caring for neighbors who dropped by. One of them was Rufina, the gal I tutored a year ago. It was a delight to catch up with her as she was five months pregnant and I was helping her look through some baby clothes when another neighbor from the main part of the village came by. I graciously said, “Hi, how are you?” The man replied, “Bad, very bad,” as he pointed to the gal walking up behind him. It took me a minute to figure out what “bad” referred to because they don’t often come out and say what’s wrong. As my eyes met hers, I could see the panic in her eyes. As I looked her over, I noticed her hand was bundled up and hanging at her side. As I focused in more, I could see the blood running like a faucet, even through the bandages . She had cut her hand with a machete!

Once I realized the urgency of the situation, I called to my boys and they knew exactly what they needed to do. Caleb stayed with our neighbor, Luke grabbed my phone, Noah grabbed the trauma bag from the med room, and I walked her up the stairs. I immediately put pressure on the area. The bleeding was so bad that I had Noah hold pressure because he is much stronger than I. He didn’t even hesitate. He put on gloves and got right to it. I asked her how she was feeling, and she said fine, just in a lot of pain. But within minutes, things changed. 

All of a sudden she was cold. She looked at me and asked for water, and as she began to form the words, “I’m dizzy,” her eyes rolled back into her head and she began to slide off the chair. Thankfully Noah was there or I would not have been able to catch her. We eased her to the ground. All at the same time, I asked Luke to find the radio as I readied a tourniquet. There are no ambulances here in Bocas, and I had no boat at base. The team was still out of contact so I radioed the Bocas Emergency Network (BEN). On this channel, the local sailboat owners monitor traffic for distress calls. There is no coast guard either, so when something goes wrong, we really only have each other.

No one on the BEN station was within a distance to quickly assist. I asked them to get in contact with the manager at Red Frog Marina, where our sailboat is. I knew that he knew where the YWAM base was. Thankfully they responded quickly and sent the Red Frog taxi guys, however they were 10 minutes away. As we sat there, working and trying to stop the bleeding, we just began to pray for her. I knew this could be fatal. She came from the quebrada (creek) in the village, which is a good trek (almost 3 km) to base in a cayuca (canoe). She had lost a lot of blood in the time it took her to get to me. I knew Bocas had no blood bank, so all we could do was pray. She was responsive to pain at first, slightly opening her eyes; at one point she could still remember her name, but then she would quickly lose consciousness again. 

When the taxi drivers arrived and started up the 110 stairs to where we were, I began to wonder out loud how we were going to get her down to the boat. She was far too big to carry, and was completely unconscious. Luke chimed in and suggested using a hammock. What a great idea!! (I was thinking to myself: Whose kids are these? Man they picked up some good skills along the way!)  With the help of Caleb and Noah, the taxi drivers got her in the hammock, down the hill, and loaded into the panga (boat). It took us about 15 minutes to get to town and on the way she would not even respond to pain. So I prayed and prayed the whole way. The Bomberos (firefighters) were great! When they saw us approaching their dock, they grabbed a backboard, helped us get her out of the boat and quickly put her in the back of a pick up truck; we sped away to the hospital. I told the nurses what happened, and then I wasn’t needed anymore. 

I didn’t know what happened to her right away. I had no idea who her family was or where she lived, other than by the creek. I spent a few sleepless nights praying for her, hoping to hear how she was. A few days later, a man that cuts grass for a friend came to our house for help with his mower. As we were talking, I asked where he lived. He said he lived by the quebrada (creek). My face lit up when queried a bit more and learned that the injured woman was this man’s niece! He proceeded to tell me that she was ok. The hospital got things under control, they stitched her up, and she was home again. She was weak and in a lot of pain, but doing ok. Elated with that information, I could finally put it to rest, literally. 

As I reflect on this now, I am very proud of my boys. When I needed them most, they were not afraid to step in, even into a very scary and bloody situation. I saw obviously God-given strengths arise in a very stressful emergency that would have made most adults faint in fear. We have always desired for our boys to be part of what we are doing, and Nate and I work very hard to include them in the many aspects of our work — family in missions, not just the mom and dad.

I praise the Lord for giving me strong and able boys who are quickly becoming well-rounded men, and I thank the Lord that we get to do this life in missions together, as a family.

 

Saturday Morning Musings…

 

“The little ones, those without a voice, those who count for nothing in the eyes of the world, but so much in the eyes of God, his beloved ones, have need of us, and we must be with them and for them, and it doesn’t matter at all if our action is like a drop of water in the ocean.  Jesus Christ did not speak about results.  He only spoke about loving each other, about washing each others feet, of forgiving each other.”    ~ Annalena Tonellie

I thought I had Saturday to myself.  After all it was my day off. Remember that common theme that recurs in our crazy missionary life: “Ministry doesn’t make appointments.” 

At 6:30 a.m. we received a text from one of our indigenous friends. He was having excessive bleeding and needed help. The day before he had come to base asking us to take a hammer and pull his teeth. They were causing him so much pain he could neither eat nor drink.  We obviously were not comfortable with that, so we helped him get to the dentist, who ended up pulling what was left of his two teeth. The next morning he was still bleeding. We quickly jumped into our dingy, our eyes still crusty from the sweet deep sleep of moments before, and responded to the appointment the Lord had for us that day.

Little did I know there would be two!

Later that morning, after eating breakfast and sitting down to my favorite Saturday morning activities, drinking coffee and doing my devotions, my phone sprang to life with another need.  As I sat there pondering the wisdom of owning a cell phone in the first place, I was reminded of those crazy nights working in the pediatric intensive care unit when there was a full moon. Although the sacrifice then was different, I am thankful that I could get a quick bite to eat and empty my bladder (the only thing missing was overtime pay!).

This time the call was from one of our neighbors we had not seen in months. Her four year old son, Edwin had some major health problems last May and almost lost his life. He had been recovering in a hospital in David, on the other side of the mountain from us. They needed a ride into town to purchase supplies for the child and were returning to Almirante (the mainland) to be closer to the doctors. Thankfully we were headed into town that day, so we were glad to help.

We met them at their dock, and as they were loading up the few belongings they had, I was reminded of the time I stepped on one of the loose boards and tumbled into the murky mud below.  I hesitated to go further, but the Lord quickly reminded me that he had determined my steps and there were bags to help carry. As we loaded the last of their belongings, I had to step over some white rice bags filled with what I thought were potatoes.  

On the way into town Edwin cheerfully took his customary place next to me; I think he likes talking with his gringa friend.  His mom showed me all of his hospital records and his new diet plan, which included a large amount of chicken. As I read the new orders designed to get little Edwin strong again, the white bag of what I thought was potatoes began to dance and squawk at my feet!  Startled, I screamed, “What is it, what is it?!?” Much to Edwin’s delight, he watched this gringa almost jump out of the moving boat as he squealed, “Mi gallina, mi gallina!” (Translation: “My chicken, my chicken!”)  

As I processed the bag’s contents — chickens — I relaxed and I found myself laughing with Edwin who was quick to show me his chickens.  He pulled out four chicks that fluttered frantically around in the moving boat. (How is this normal?) Thankfully, he left the adults tied in the bag. I continued to laugh, and Edwin grinned with pride from ear to ear as he told me about his chickens, a gift for his fifth birthday.

 

Health care is not an easy monster to navigate in Panama, especially for an indigenous person whose children are unregistered and uninsured.  I ran around town with Edwin and his mom in search of medical supplies, all the while carrying my new feathery friends! This is not what I imagined life would look like serving on the mission field!  I mean, we have strategies and programs for reaching people with the gospel, right? Over and over again, the Lord keeps teaching me that it is in these crazy not-so-mundane moments that we can pour out His love and serve those He is trying to reach, even if it means carrying chickens through town in search of something that should be easy to find.

We had the opportunity to catch up as we walked from pharmacy to pharmacy.  She shared how Edwin recounts stories of seeing a man in white standing by his bed every night in the hospital while his mom was away.  She went on to tell me how afraid he was when visiting hours were over, but that the man in white made him feel safe. Later, when they were recuperating at his grandma’s house, he insisted on going to church.  He kept saying he wanted to know more about the man in white. So the entire family began going to church, and we know an angel of the Lord pointed them there!

As she spoke of her new found faith, it was sweet to see the tangible difference in her spirit.  She was filled with a joy I have never seen in her. She smiled, and laughed as she shared how God had taken care of their family.  She shared how she knows God will continue to take care of them, even though her husband is without work. She even told me they were fasting that day as a sacrifice to the Lord to seek His will.  As we walked and talked, her eyes never left mine. Culturally speaking, this is huge! More often than not, a Ngäbe woman will not maintain eye contact with you; she will keep her gaze on her feet.  (It may be from shame or not being valued in their culture.) This was the first time in two years that I have had a conversation with this precious woman eye to eye! It was so good to see the Lord working in her heart.

There are so many things I will never understand about this culture, such as bringing your chickens along for your hospital stay. What I do know is that in the midst of the cultural differences that can drive us mad, constant interruptions, and strange requests, God asks us to serve our neighbors by binding ourselves to them.  To see them where they are and enter into their context. In the end, it’s not programs and results that matter, it’s those everyday moments where we choose to live life with them. It’s being there for them when life gets tough and sharing in the joys the Lord brings amidst trials. 

And so, may that time I carried a bag of chickens through town serve not only as a reminder for me, but for each of us, as we set aside our best laid plans and thoughts of what ministry should look like, and watch how God works.  Those unscheduled appointments may be our chance to be the Lord’s hands and feet.  

“I can never do great things.  I will always do small things. I will be a presence, a witness…We must accept spending our lives not doing anything great or extraordinary.  Accept a simple life, trivial, monotonous. Understanding that the only valuable thing is our presence. Our coming here is only meaningful to the extent that we are joyfully willing to be manure.” 

~ Annalena Tonellie

 

Open Doors…

 

When I came to the city of Troas to preach the Good News of Christ, the Lord opened a door of opportunity for me.

  2 Corinthians 2:12

The last six weeks brought many new and exciting opportunities for us at Outpost as we welcomed a DTS Outreach team from Kona.  They spent their time being the hands and feet of Christ not only at Outpost, but also in a few remote villages, and volunteering alongside other organizations here in Bocas.  The Lord used this team in great ways to open new doors of ministry.

The most exciting moment for us was being invited to speak in one of the Mama Tata churches.  For those of you who are unaware, Mama Tata is a religion that is specific to the Ngäbe here in Panama. It is a cross between Catholicism and animism with lots of twists.  It began sometime in the 1960s. The story of this church begins with a woman who was washing her clothes in a creek outside her village. She received a vision of Jesus on a motorcycle.  He proceeded to preach a new creed over the woman, essentially abolishing the church and naming the Ngäbe as the chosen race that will inherit eternal life. She returned to her community and began spreading the teaching. Those who adhere to strict Mama Tata beliefs typically keep to themselves so as to not allow outside influences to affect them.  They oftentimes do not register the birth of their children and do not mandate their children to go to school. Because of fear, they do not accept government medical care or other help, and they only speak their native tongue of Ngäbere. They are very superstitious in many of their beliefs.

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Knowing all this, it came as a big surprise at how welcoming and engaging they were.  It helped that our Ngäbe friend, Simone, introduced us. He has been witnessing to this village for many years while assisting them with access to clean water.  He helped us understand that they really needed encouragement to read scripture. They think of themselves as Christians, sing many similar songs, and know some of the stories of the Old Testament that have been orally handed down. However, with a lack of understanding and inability to read the Bible, they have been led astray from sound doctrine and do not live by biblical standards.  Our students had the opportunity to share testimonies and teachings on the importance of knowing the Bible and holding firm to the truths God gives us in the scriptures. We also handed out 15 SD cards with an audio bible and the Jesus film.  I was brought to tears as we sang “Came to My Rescue” in Spanish.  You could see in their faces how much the song ministered to their spirits. Before we left, they asked us to sing the song again. After all was said and done, they were very eager to welcome us back, offering to open their homes to house our teams and feed us delicious freshly caught fish from the ocean.  They also asked if we could do more bible teaching and English classes. What an open door!

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During the final week of the Kona students’ visit we revisited this village to assist Simone with water catchment tools and ended up helping the community with some of their daily work.  It was a neat experience for our students to get a glimpse into the daily lives of the people. The women helped clean up the common areas while the men harvested a GIANT log to make a new bridge through the swampy entrance to their village.  The log was a great addition as many of our students and staff succumbed to the swampy wetness after falling off old rotten boards that were originally meant to keep people afloat. Please continue to pray as we plan for some fall ministry days in this village with our upcoming DTS students.  Pray that the Lord would open the hearts of those enticed by the Mama Tata church, that they would see God’s truth as we help them understand scripture.

The Kona Students also had the privilege of assisting Coral Restoration, a nonprofit organization here in Bocas that is working to rebuild our reefs.  Currently, our reefs have succumbed to the damaging effects of climate and human impact. Because of the loss of reefs, we are seeing a devastating loss in the fisheries.  Our Ngäbe neighbors historically are fisherman. This has had a drastic impact on their nutrition and means of earning a sustainable living. Community development is part of the drive behind the passion to help our indigenous neighbors, and bringing back the fish is one way we can help.

We are excited to be working towards building a reef in our bay.  With the help of Coral Restoration and our community development DTS schools, we hope to make a noticeable difference and assist our community on improving this fragile ecosystem.  Coral Restoration has been working hard at developing new techniques and structures in their nurseries to promote coral growth. In just over a year, they have seen predator fish returning. They have made such progress that the Smithsonian Institute and the government are taking notice.  If anyone is interested in giving towards the purchase of supplies for this project, please email us! It takes many hands to make a project like this succeed.

With all of these new ministry opportunities we have been working hard at getting Outpost ready for the influx of students and staff this fall and beyond. We recruited some willing and able-bodied people to assist us over the summer.

The end of July brought a team from one of our supporting churches in Minnesota.  Grace Church sent 12 eager volunteers. They assisted us in the daily grind at base, as well as the building of our new solar supports.  We could not have done this project without them! We also had the privilege of doing a clothing drive for our neighbors and gave away bags and bags of used clothes.  To close out our time, we had a Jesus film viewing with many excited neighbors.  We ate popcorn and watched the video together.  We were very encouraged by this team and our boys had a blast playing with the kids that came. It was a boost our family needed.

 

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August brought us friends from another season of life. It always amazes me that even as time marches on, bonds of friendship forged long ago remain intact. The Bergeron family came to be the hands and feet of Christ and served us and Outpost in many ways.  Dan jumped right into finishing the casita with the guys; Kate helped me organize some rooms on base for our upcoming DTS, as well as write up some fundraising campaigns for the next stages of development at Outpost. The kids hung out together, just like old times, and they helped dig up many trees from around the new building.  It was so encouraging to have them here showing us their support of what God is doing, and encouraging us to keep going.

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So there you have it. We now have a very small window of rest and preparation for the next round.  We are excited to announce that we have 10 new staff joining us this fall to help lead our DTS and assist with base operations!  Please pray for us as we meld together this new team and also pray for the students who will be coming. Pray for God’s blessing and anointing as we seek Him together over the next three months.

 

Rest for the weary…

Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.

  Matthew 11:28

It’s hard to believe we are already back in Panama!  Our time in the U.S. went so fast. When we left Bocas, we were desperately in need of rest. We were bone tired and also in need of encouragement. The Lord definitely delivered on His promise to give us rest, and we came home to Panama ready to once again take on the joys and challenges of living life in Bocas.

We began our homestay with a two-week leadership conference in Mazatlan, Mexico. Our days were packed full of many good things that we have tucked away, and our hearts were encouraged by fellow “YWAMERS” who have gone or are going through the process of building ministries. I am so grateful for the time we were able to spend chatting over coffee and tacos. It was a priceless two weeks.

Our time in Minnesota was a blurr. We traveled a lot, visiting family, friends, and supporters, and we stocked up on precious items that are hard to find in Bocas such as personal care items, coffee and many boat parts. One of our highlights of our stay in Minnesota was the time we spent at a friend’s cabin in the Boundary Waters. This is our favorite place on earth!  It was a time of much needed refreshment and reconnection with our boys. We had lots of late-night games filled with laughter and competition. We read, did puzzles, and marveled at how God designed birds with cute little personalities that were revealed as they fought over the stale bread on the picnic table. We had many chilly nights roasting marshmallows for s’mores over the campfire, and there was an abundance of giggles and strange voices coming from little boys who are changing into men. We cherished this time, knowing in a few short years the boys will be off to their own adventures. It goes by so quickly, just like everything else! 

We ended our time in Minnesota with my mothers wedding! It was such a sweet time to celebrate together this new union and we pray Gods blessings on them for many years to come.

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We have been back in Panama for a week. We had one day to unpack and get ready for a DTS Outreach team from Kona, Hawaii. They are joining us for the next six weeks and will be working on coral restoration, Bible distribution, as well as various community development projects in the islands and on base. We are so excited to see what God will do through them as they reach out to bless not only Outpost but the community of Bocas as well.

We are also excited to soon welcome a team of 12 from Grace Church in Wyoming, Minnesota, in just one week. They are coming to help build the supports for our solar upgrade! We are very excited that God has provided the funds, supplies, and teams to help move Outpost forward in this area. It will be huge for us to be able to have the electricity that we need to keep Outpost thriving and growing!

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Finally, we will also receive the Bergeron family at the beginning of August. We used to do homeschooling together way back when our guys were little. We look forward to the gifts they bring to assist and encourage our family. They will also be assisting us in the development of an improved bookkeeping system for Outpost!  I love when God brings people with the special gifting we need to move Outpost forward! It encourages our hearts as we remember that God is in every detail.

So many great things happening!  Please join us in praying for our family and our team. The next six weeks are packed full of great projects that we can’t wait to share with you once they are done!  With all of the hustle and bustle, we need a supernatural filling of his spirit to keep us going! Please also pray for the hearts of the people we are serving, that God’s love would radiate from us all.

 

Grateful to have you all on our team!

The Pineault Family

 

Carrying the Torch…

 

The Olympic flame is the most recognized symbol of the Olympic Games. During the time of ancient Greece, athletes competed in a relay race, passing a torch from one to another until the last runner, in a long procession of runners, would sprint to the top of the stadium and light the flame to signal the beginning of the competition. Yet today, the Olympic flame continues to carry a message as it passes through each city. It announces that the games are about to begin; it embodies the shared ideals of the Olympics and speaks of unity and peace amongst the people. It bears witness to the allegiance, the courage and the solidarity of all the competitors.

God has handed to each of us a torch to carry for Him, one that carries a message as we run our race towards that final goal.

We came to Outpost in 2017 content to serve as medical directors for years to come. We were excited to be a part of a team whose goal was united in reaching the isolated/unreached with God’s love. Little did we realize how soon we would be handed the torch of leadership as our predecessors began the process of obeying God’s call to another ministry.

This past year was a time of transition, and it reminds me of the transition point in the torch relay race. I am reminded of how a torch changes hands. One runner runs with all her might, carrying the torch to the next runner. As she approaches, the second runner starts to jog forward in anticipation of receiving the flame. There are a few moments when both are running together. One is in the final push to end her race while the other is building up his momentum to continue carrying the torch forward.

The second runner can prepare as much as he can, but that torch will still hit him with a jolt — a  sense of realization that it’s time to hold on tight to the responsibility that was just handed to him. And as he watches the first runner finish, he presses in, accelerating to carry the flame forward.

Just like a relay race, we have been running alongside our base leaders as they faithfully handed off the torch of base leadership to us. As we began to jog, we entered into a season of learning, and a time of heavily relying upon the Lord.

Our legs were shaky at first. Sometimes we can still feel them tremble, even as we gain strength. Thinking back to all of the life experiences that have prepared us for this moment, we see how God was crafting them, using every high and low to prepare us for our next race, as the new base leaders. In spite of shaky knees and feeling ill-prepared, God gently reminds us that it is in His strength alone we are able to move forward. It has always been in His strength. “He will build his church” is a mantra that keeps ringing through my head as we continue to run. He is the one doing all the work; we need to be obedient, putting one foot in front of the other, no matter how tired or shaky our legs become. To continue to push through either to the next transition or to the finish line, only he knows.

We plan to come home for a short stay in May-June. We first have a leadership conference to attend in Mexico. It is a two-week intensive and we are excited to glean all we can from it. During that time we will also be celebrating 16 years of marriage! There is so much to thank the Lord for! Please be praying for our long-term staff, Ryan and Payton, along with a few volunteers, who will run the base in our short absence.

 

Here are the churches and dates we will be visiting.

Cornerstone EFC in Rochester, MN – May 19

Grace EFC in Wyoming, MN – June 9

Lakes EFC in Lindstrom, MN – June 16

Immanuel Church in Forest Lake, Mn- June 23

Hope EFC in Osceola, Wi – June 30

We hope we can see you all while we are home. We have lots of exciting ministry updates to share more in depth.

 

“Ministry doesn’t make appointments”

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Being on the mission field has meant saying hello and goodbye to many different people along the way.  Some were only acquaintances, but some turned into really good friends. One thing was consistently true: Our time together was all too brief.  We have found ourselves and our children grieving the losses over and over, but continually trusting God’s hand. Here in Bocas, it is really difficult to make friends.  Not only are we very isolated geographically, it is also a community that is very transient. From the tourists and expats living abroad, to the sailing community and beyond, many people come and go.  It can get pretty lonely here, but it’s funny how God knows this and provides friendships in unexpected ways.

We live between two small indigenous villages.  The people come to our base often, for various reasons. We do a lot of minor healthcare, provide rides to town, and many other things.  It takes a long time for this group of indigenous people to trust outsiders, so when a friendship started to develop with my neighbor, it was a delightful surprise. This woman came over on a daily basis, sometimes three times a day for various reasons, but mostly just to talk.  I really enjoyed our time together, but quickly became frustrated with the constant interruptions throughout the day. It was hard to get the necessary things done and focus on homeschooling the boys. There were days she would show up before we even had a chance to eat breakfast or sip our first cup of coffee.  (All of you coffee addicts can understand the problem this may pose!)

I never knew the greeting “Buenas” (Good day) could cause my nerves to jump.  I grumbled under my breath frequently, but God always gave me the strength to be gracious.  I would sit on the front porch, in my jammies most days, and Nathan would bring me my first cup of coffee.  He would lean in and whisper in my ear: “Ministry does not make appointments,” a phrase his mother said to us often when she was alive.  I know this. But man, sometimes I just wish they would. So I would offer up a little prayer for a gracious attitude and sit, sometimes for hours chatting with her and playing with her kids and the baby birds she happened to bring that day.  After I got over the initial frustration, I began to enjoy our time together. It became less of a chore and instead a part of the daily routine.

As our friendship began to emerge, the conversations shifted from talking about our families, the rain, and often just sitting in awkward silence, to deepening chats about faith, hopes, and dreams. She started asking me lots of questions regarding baptism and some of the basics of faith. I then began feeling prompted to start a Bible study with her.  I had a Spanish study about the fundamentals of the faith that we used with the church in Espavé. I was nervous, because my Spanish is still not stellar, but God continued to prompt me so I obeyed.

She was very interested and we enjoyed reading through scripture together. One day she came to me and very anxiously described a dream she had.  She didn’t quite understand the meaning and was asking me about it. Dreams are very significant to their culture. She shared with me that her deceased grandfather came to her in a dream and gave her a cross necklace and told her to follow it.  I have not had much experience with dreams, but I explained to her that it sounded like God was telling her to follow Christ. She smiled and said, “I thought so.” Her continence changed that day; she seemed to walk a little taller.

The next morning she came to me, looking very disheveled, and asked for a ride to town.  It was unusual for her to do this. We were not going into town that day, so she asked if we could take her to the public dock nearby where she could catch a taxi.  I agreed. She went home to gather her children and came running back to our dock with a suitcase in hand. Her mother-in-law was chasing her asking, “Why”!?! Confused, I did what I’d agreed to and dropped her off at the dock.  As she got out of the boat, a feeling of dread hit me in the pit of my stomach; I didn’t know if I would ever see her again. I turned to her and told her that if she was not coming back, to please, somehow send word that she was ok.  I gave her a hug, prayed for her, and told her I loved her. She responded back with “Te quiero,” which means “I love you.” I hugged her little kids, who had come to call me “Abuelita” (little grandma), and off she went.

To this day I do not know what caused her to leave.  I can look back at our interactions and see that there was something off, which was why she was over several times a day in the last few months.  I am so grateful that I died to myself and didn’t allow the “interruptions” to ruin this friendship. I know now that she went to her mother’s village, which is about four hours away by boat. It’s in a location that is only safe to access during the calm months of September and October.  This is one of the locations outside of the archipelago that we pray we can visit. There is no access by roads, only water. Their village is just off a river that runs into the ocean off the Mosquito coast. In hindsight, I can recall a time when she showed us where her mother lived on a map.  I’m so thankful my husband is a map fanatic because he pinned the location. I remember her telling me that her family there lives in very poor conditions and often there is not much to eat. They also have no access to clean water and other resources, and there is no church there. This raised an eyebrow for me when I consider how she currently lives as she too lacks many resources.  

Her last request as she left was that I would pray for her. Since then, the Lord has put her on my heart and I constantly lay her needs before the throne, hoping she is doing well. I pray that someday soon that our boat will be up and ready to sail out to the opening of the river where she now lives. I do not think our time together was an accident. I hope and pray the Lord continues to move in her heart as she learns to walk with him. I also pray this will serve as a reminder for me, when the demands are ever increasing, to allow God to schedule out my day, and that sometimes those mundane and frustrating moments have great impact. Please pray with me for this friend and her kids, and pray we can visit her soon.

 

 

By Faith…

 

As we start our fifth year in missions, I can’t help but reflect on what God has done over the years, and we know he is calling us to many more exciting adventures of FAITH in 2019. I continue to stand in amazement of His faithfulness amidst the trials and joys of 2018. From God-ordained meetings with His servants in Barbuda to seeing him move among our indigenous neighbors, and now, finishing out our first DTS school and watching God bring in over half the money we need to update our water and solar. God is SO good!

When we first came to Outpost, we began praying about our housing situation at base. We loved living in community, but soon found we had little time and ability to pull away from the daily stressors and be a family. Interruptions for various needs from our neighbors were 24/7 and we knew that in order to stay in missions long term, it would be vital to maintain a healthy balance. We also quickly discovered because of a lack of housing options, there was little wiggle room when speakers or new staff came. As we prayed, God affirmed our need to live off base. However, we quickly discovered that finding housing for a family of five in close proximity to base was impossible.

In the fall of 2017, it was suggested to us to think about buying a sailboat for the dual purpose of housing and use it for medical/evangelistic outreaches. After all, we were serving with the ships division of YWAM with the goal to bring transformation to isolated communities, accessible only by ships. However, we were very quick to say “no” to that idea. We thought, yeah, we don’t know how to sail. That’s a crazy idea. Right?  Then God gently whispered, “Are you even going to ask me about it?” I can remember arguing with Him and telling him all the reasons why we couldn’t. Have you ever found yourself in that situation? As we surrendered, and began to ask God, He began a series of confirmations that, indeed, this was His plan for us: To live aboard a sailboat even as we use it for ministry.

So much of our walk with the Lord is navigated by faith, not by sight, by what makes sense to God, not man. We need to be ready to step out in faith, into the unknown as he leads. Trusting the plan He is orchestrating even when we can’t see it. Also, with God’s purpose comes His provision. Boy, did He rain down provision for us! It was a constant reminder that where He leads you, He provides the way for you to do what He is asking you to do!  Hands down, every time!  So we asked God three things: To confirm it in his word, to provide someone to train us, and to provide the money.

The first of many confirmations came through God’s word. I do not have time to write about the many verses that came to us about the coastlands and people walking out of the darkness and into light. It was clear that the isolated/unreached people living in our region, along the Mosquito Coast, are on God’s heart and he wants to redeem them.

The second confirmation came through our dear friends, Craig and Tricia. These lovely friends sailed their boat to Panama in 2017 to serve alongside Outpost and live in Bocas on their boat. Craig has been sailing since he was a wee lad and sailed charter boats for many years in the Caribbean. They encouragingly told us that we could, in fact, learn to sail, and that they would be by our sides teaching our family all we need to know.

The final confirmation came in December of 2017, as we began to step out in faith and looked at what was available. We were quickly discouraged because so many of the boats were small, and would not fit our family of five. We gave one last look at a boat, the White Falcon, which we thought was way out of our league price-wise. She was a 60-foot custom built ketch with a double mast. She needed a lot of TLC but she was the perfect size. Each of us could envision our family calling this boat our home. As the excitement waned and reality set in, we were quickly discouraged because it was way out of our price range. I prayed and asked God for this boat, but quickly let it go, thinking it was impossible.

But God. He did what only He can do.

The marina owner told us the boat had been in an estate for the last three years and the family was desperate to close out the estate. He suggested that we write the family a letter explaining what we wanted to do with the ship and offer them what we could, which was far far less than they were asking for, and way less than its once-appraised value. So we prayed and took a leap of faith. As we began to formulate a letter, we still didn’t know how much we could offer. That’s when God stepped in and provided the money. As 2017 drew to an end, Nathan received an unexpected inheritance. We were shocked. I thought, “Did God just buy us a boat?”

We finished the letter with a very low offer. It was all we could afford. We prayed, our friends prayed, and our teammates prayed. And guess what? They accepted our offer.

So, in Jan of 2018 we became the owner of the White Falcon, hopefully soon to be renamed Redemption. After a lot of work to get her livable, we moved in just before the start of the Fall 2018 DTS. Just in time for the base to be able to accommodate our staff, students, and weekly speakers.

Living aboard is still a lot like camping. Only half our electricity works, we use a garden hose for water, and we have leaks everywhere that we are trying to plug. But it is our home, a refuge and retreat when living and working in Bocas becomes hard. It’s also a place we are making ready to accommodate small teams to reach out to our neighbors who live in very remote and isolated areas, to assist them in using Community Health Evangelism principles and teach them God’s word using our audio bible chips that have been translated into their heart language. Our hope for Redemption is that she will not only be a refuge for our family but a beacon of hope to others, showing them that God cares for them, too, just as he cares for us. We want to encourage our students to also step out by faith and serve their God who is always faithful.

Would you join us in prayer as we begin to step out of our comfort zone and begin developing relationships with other villages? We are in the process of connecting with a local church that has a small indigenous church a few islands away. Pray for us as we continue to learn how to sail and navigate the archipelago. Pray also that Redemption will be more than merely the name of a sailing vessel!

 

Build the dream…

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The end of the year is quickly approaching, and we are in a new season at Outpost.  It is a very exciting time as we dream and plan for the coming years. Outpost Panama exists to bring the hope of Christ to the islands of Panama. We do this by equipping students and nationals to partner with communities to help them move towards God’s intentions for their lives. To accomplish our mission, God has placed in our hearts the need to develop Outpost into a training ground, not only for students, but for nationals as well.  We envision training stations for sustainable farming techniques, gardening, clean water systems and sanitation, as well as the ability to train locals on community health while using principles from Community Health Evangelism. We dream of Outpost becoming sustainable, with more University of the Nations courses offered, more outreach teams, and adequate staffing levels to join what God is doing here in Bocas Del Toro.

We already have many interested staff and students who want to come and join our work.  However, in order to accommodate more staff and students, we need to strengthen our current infrastructure and begin planning for expansion.  For those of you who don’t know, Outpost is completely reliant upon the sun and rain for electricity and water. It is really great for our environment and helps keep our costs down. However, our current systems are not able to support the growth we have planned for the future.   

We want to see Outpost move from surviving to thriving.

With the increased interest in serving at Outpost, the leadership team is in the beginning stages of developing a plan to build staff housing and increase the amount of space for students and classes.  As we begin this growth and expansion, we first need to make sure our solar and water systems can handle the increased demands for energy and water. We are stepping out in faith, together with you, to bring Outpost to the next level.  

We are looking for individuals to come alongside Outpost to help us raise money to begin these new and upgraded systems.  The cost for these projects is approximately $20,000. For our solar energy system project, we need new inverter(s), cables, control panels, batteries, and mounts.  For our water system project, we need new gutters, supports, connecting pipes, and pre-filter(s) as well as upgrading the plumbing for the water pump improvement.

These changes will allow us to accommodate  additional staff and visiting teams here at Outpost.  Would you consider joining with us to make these dreams a reality? Would you help us move to the next level at Outpost? We see God at work and we want to prepare the way for what he plans to do!  

Click HERE to give online.

Or

mail a check to:

Accounting Department

PO Box 3000

Garden Valley, TX 75771-3000

 

**Make checks payable to YWAM**

Enclose a note stating the donation is for Nathan and Christina Pineault.

(If our name is on the check it cannot be accepted)

We will be purchasing the needed supplies for Outpost along with guidance and accountability  from the Kona leadership team.

 

With many thanks and anticipation of what God is going to do at Outpost,

 

Nathan and Christina

Outpost Panama

YWAM Ships

 

P.S. Thank you for considering how you can partner with us for the next stage! (And remember that your gifts are tax-deductible at this year-end season of giving.)

 

Give Here Today!