FBC Lebanon survived! We went to the Gamboa Jungle and met with three different villages.
The night before we left, we had to condense our belongings down to the absolute bare minimum, then put them into plastic bags. Walker told us plastic becomes like gold in the jungle, because once things get wet they will never dry.
We woke up early to go pray over Panama City as a whole. We got a very clear visual of the difference between the old Panama poverty and the new Panama business. Next we took an hour-long bus ride out of the city. The driver dropped us off at the edge of a lake, and we waved goodbye to our only source of civilization. The view of the lake and the jungle in the background was breath-taking. Everyone should have the chance to experience the magnitude of God’s creation the way we did as we awaited the small boat that would bring us to the village.
Once in the village, San Antonio, the first thing we saw was little girls running around, trying to get a glimpse of their new visitors. Huts, palm trees, and miles of jungle were laid out before us. Several families welcomed us into their hut home, and the rest of us stayed on the meeting hut floor. The huts were expertly made of woven grass and wood. The floors, of course, were dirt. Once the mosquito nets were up and we were settled comfortably into our huts, we were whisked off to dinner and then to worship and devotions with Walker. We were invited to a hut in a neighboring village that had cold Coke in glass bottles for us. It’s amazing how refreshing a simple drink can be. We were able to bond as a team and as a unit, sharing laughs and making memories.
Pastor Todd, our host missionary here in Panama, led the devotion about Perceive and Proclaim, and we went quickly to bed after an already-long first day. That night was long for several of the Missourians. We weren’t accustomed to the number of mosquitoes we would see or the animals we would hear. If you think you know what monkeys sound like … you don’t. Just ask one of the team members from this trip. They would be happy to reenact them for you.
Most of us were awake by 5:30 am, with much to accomplish for that day. Also, we realized that once the monkeys were up, so were we. The day began with Walker’s morning Bible study about how we need to be spit-tites and not sit-tights. Spit-tites want to get their hands dirty for Jesus. Sit-tights are those who, as Walker described them, want to look like the poster child of a Christ-follower but have no real intention of going to work. We had a harsh realization of that idea when Walker asked us to make spit balls in our hands using the dirt from the floor. Some gag reflexes were tested, but the morning ended with heartfelt emotion and the real evidence of God’s presence.
After breakfast, we took a brief walk through the jungle, and the kiddoes of the village were more than happy to accompany us. Our team was then split up into groups and sent into the other villages to offer to help with any work the people might need. We also invited them to the drama we would present later that night. One group was able to go fishing with some of the nationals. Although they didn’t catch any fish, they had an unforgettable experience.
We presented the drama twice on Tuesday: once in the far-off village and another time in the village next to ours. We were unable to share it in San Antonio because of the torrential downpour that had begun. Through the drama presentation, a Bible study was set up in the far-off village, and that gave us all reassurance of why we were here.
That night, Pastor Luciano preached to us about his testimony and the difficulties in his life, including his daughter passing away with cancer and how he was stabbed nine times saving a child from the Colombian rebels.
There are SO many more stories to come about our adventures in the jungle, but they’ll have to wait until we get back. One more day!
Sending our love . . . we’ll see you tomorrow,