Applications for summer trips are flowing in! Click here to apply now!

Panama 14 2016

Your Panama 14-Day team has returned from Cañitas to Casa Blanca with overflowing hearts, minds,

and spirits, ready to share the great things God has done. We will save most of our stories for Saturday,

when we return home to family and friends, and the days that follow, but we want to share some of

them here as well.

Thursday was our final day of ministry in Cañitas. The team woke up early because of the need to pack

for the return trip to Panama City. A number of the students have discovered during this part of the trip

that hammock sleeping is more restful than they anticipated. Several more have grown in their Spanish

abilities and willingness to try out new words and phrases. And even more have grown in their

relationship with the Lord as they have watched Him moving through the people and places we have

encountered here in beautiful Panama.

After one final hearty breakfast prepared by the local church women (ask your students about the

delicious chicken empañadas they made for us Wednesday night), we met as a team only to learn that

today’s ministry had changed. A teacher’s strike meant our planned school visits could not go on as

scheduled. We traveled out to the local community instead with a view to helping the pastor of the

Cañitas church in his missional outreach.

We spent the morning traversing the streets of a local neighborhood, inviting people to the drama but

also engaging them in conversation, serving them in various ways, and watching for opportunities to

share (or SHARRE, as your students can explain) the gospel. You would be very proud of them and the

many ways they stepped up to serve: washing dishes, picking up trash, folding laundry, and even

removing an unwanted chicken from a bedroom (takeout chicken, Cañitas style).

One group of students encountered a man who fished for a living and told us it was a miracle we had

found him there. He was home only about every six weeks and was only planning to be home for a few

hours that day. He told us he knew God had saved him from a crocodile he encountered while fishing for

tilapia, and the group was able to talk to him about heaven and the power of a personal relationship

with God. Please keep praying for Caesar; our conversation was cut short, and we did not see him at our

later drama performance.

Another group met a woman and her son. The woman said her son went to church occasionally, but she

knew nothing about Jesus at all. Both wanted to know more, however, and as our students shared God’s

plan for bringing salvation to the world through Jesus, each made a decision to turn away from sin and

receive the truth of the gospel. Truly God was moving through our team today!

The noon hour brought our presentation of “Freedom” to the neighborhood where we had served, and

many adults and children came to hear and see. One group of students pushed a woman in a wheelchair

all the way to the park where we performed the drama, holding an umbrella over her head to protect

her from the midday sun. Another group played tag with a group of children, who later enjoyed

watching the students perform.

Just as they had done in service and conversation, the team gave their all in sharing “Freedom” and in

conversations with the people of the community afterward. We are asking God to not only grow the

church through the results of our outreach today but to begin more than one missional outreach

(church plant) as well. Please join us in this prayer.

After a welcome lunch of sandwiches, chips, and cookies back at the church in Cañiitas, we loaded the

waiting bus and traveled back to Panama City. The bus was quiet as students and leaders took

advantage of some siesta time after an exhausting few days. Later, after refreshing showers, the men

and women of our team traveled separately to local restaurants to celebrate guys’ and girls’ nights out

followed by our Man Up and Reign On Bible studies for each group.

The team has seen so many of your prayers answered, including those for health, safety, unity, and the

deep desire of our hearts to make an impact in the country we have come to love so much. Through our

service and by His grace, God has had a deep impact on our lives as well. As we prepare to return home

tomorrow, we ask for your prayers that we be like those disciples in the book of Acts who “turned the

world upside down” (Acts 17:6c).

We had more ministry on Cinco de Mayo today and having a special team celebration tonight. We

have already begun the debriefing process, so make sure to ask us to share our stories with you. Thank

you again for being such a vital part of God’s great work here in Panama.

For His glory,

Panama 14 Leaders

View All Images from Panama 14 2016

Good Evening from Panama City!

After a restful trip home, the team has moved back into the roundhouse with many stories to share! The team was welcomed warmly by the Panama 35-Day team as we were settling back in! After getting cleaned up from our jungle gear, the team traveled to go eat in Panama City to enjoy a time of fellowship tonight.

We want to post another update tomorrow morning to share our adventures in Canitas, but we want you to enjoy these pictures tonight!

Looking forward to sharing with you soon!

Panama 14 Day Leaders

View All Images from Panama 14 2016

The Panama 14-Day team has newly returned from an amazing, God-focused day in the Embera village of Maje. We woke up early this morning and met at the church in Canitas, where our local cooks prepared a delicious breakfast for us consisting of ham, scrambled eggs, cereal, and fruit. We are carrying lots of water with us every day to help make sure the team stays hydrated in the intense Panamanian sun.
After breakfast, we loaded up and rode approximately twenty minutes to the police station by the dock at Lake Bayano, which we had to cross to reach our ministry destination. After receiving permission to cross, we loaded into two longboats powered by outboard motors and made the voyage to the beautiful village of Maje. Lush green foliage and huts made from wooden planks topped with thatched roofs make up this beautiful village. Two church leaders directed us to the hut used as the local church, where they gave us the sad news that the local pastor of this church had been taken to the hospital last night. They were glad to receive us and our prayers for their pastor, however, and invited us to share in their ministry to the village. Pastor Luciano also reminded us of the unique privilege of this visit, which was not originally planned as a part of this trip, and of the irrevocable calling on each of our lives as representatives of Christ.

Next, while Walker shared with the local church leaders the story of taking the cross (signed by the local villagers) to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, the team went out and invited people to our first drama presentation of the day. However, we quickly discovered that most of the villagers and many of the children were away at school on the side of Lake Banyo we had just left!

Because Awe Star is fluid and goes with the flow of the Holy Spirit, we made the decision to eat lunch and then experience the Embera tradition of vegetable-dye tattoos. Every member of the group, including leadership, now sports a tribal tattoo (don’t worry, Mom and Dad, they’re temporary). First, the tribe blessed us with a delicious lunch of freshly-caught tilapia cooked over the fire and our new favorite side dish, fried plantains. Then the beautiful Embera women laughed and smiled as they applied the vegetable dye to our forearms in beautiful designs that show various aspects of God’s creation including rivers, sky, and mountains. While the tattoo-painting was going on, the students enjoyed interacting with the adults, small children, and even a beautiful green pet parakeet.

By the time the entire team was tatted up, enough people had returned to the village that we decided to present “Freedom” after all. But first, we had another important task. One of the students (after parental permission) and one of the Embera leaders had requested baptism in the lake. Walker Moore and Pastor Luciano did the honors, reminding the students that baptism is a symbol of God’s saving work.
After the baptism, the students returned to Maje and did a wonderful job of showing their joy in the Lord to the audience, which consisted largely of local church members. After prayer, smiles, and encouragement, the team returned to the boats and the refreshing boat ride back across Lake Banyo. Within just a few minutes of deboarding, we had the unique privilege of presenting the drama to the residents of a small Guna (formerly known as Guna) village (the Guna are another of Panama’s indigenous people groups) by the side of the lake. A crowd quickly gathered, and after an introduction and student testimonies translated into Spanish, the people seemed surprised and pleased to hear the track for the drama begin in the Guna language, narrated by our own Pastor Luciano, who has been with us every day. They watched attentively and listened to both the narration and the gospel explanation, also shared by Pastor Luciano.

The team has now returned to our home-base church in Cañitas, where we enjoyed a delicious dinner of chicken and rice or spaghetti and canned corn. After a special treat of Gatorade from the local store (keeping those electrolytes replenished), we are waiting to present the drama once more to help open a local pastors’ conference, which is meeting at this church tonight. Please pray with us that this presentation will open doors for future Awe Star ministry. Following this, the team will split into two groups to hear Bible studies from our fearless Team Directors, Trevor and Mya. We look forward to tomorrow, which we know will include more drama ministry and a return bus trip to Panama City and our previous home in Casa de Blanca.

We are grateful to have had more wifi than anticipated, allowing us to post pictures and updates. We hope they are encouraging to you to keep praying as you see how the Father is moving among the team and among the people of Panama. Thank you for blessing us with your love, support, and prayers.

For His Glory,
Panama 14-Day Leaders

View All Images from Panama 14 2016

Panama 14 is having a wonderful time doing Jesus ministry here in Cañitas! We left Panama City early yesterday morning after another delicious breakfast and, on our way, stopped at a local supermarket to buy supplies for the four days in this more remote location. The students divided into groups to help purchase the needed groceries and also a few snacks and drinks for their time away from the city. Four of our amazing interpreters have joined us for the trip as well as Pastor Luciano, our main contact in Panama, who has been busy setting up locations for us to serve.

We arrived in Cañitas and spent much of the afternoon setting up the three locations where we are staying: a local church, a school, and the home of a man in the community who is graciously sharing with us. Many of us are sleeping in hammocks, a much-awaited part of the trip.

That evening, we all met at the church for a delicious dinner cooked by the women of the church and then prepared to lead worship and present the drama during an evening worship service. This church has a beautiful history as the first evangelical church in the community, and the members greeted us warmly. The pastor showed special excitement as he introduced us, and the church sang for us before we led them in worship and then presented “Freedom.”

As a part of the service, Walker preached a brief sermon on Zaccheus and encouraged the national believers as well as the Awe Star students. The church presented a special gift to the students: a second dinner, this time featuring Panamanian cuisine (chicken with spices and fried yuca). After their long day of service, few had trouble eating once more! Church and students prayed for each other as we departed with a friendly police escort making sure we arrived safely for our overnight stays.

Cañitas is a farming community, so the sounds of chickens, roosters, and even cows accompanied our slumber along with the noises of more tropical birds and other animals. But we slept peacefully and were grateful for our natural alarm clocks since two groups had to leave by 7:30 to meet the third group at the church for breakfast. We are being careful to eat protein (scrambled eggs and Spam this morning) and drink plenty of fluids as our bodies continue adjusting to the heat and humidity of Panama. We then had a beautiful ride to the small mountain village of Buenos Aries, another farming community. Our wonderful local policeman, Ricardo, who is also a member of the church where served last night, again accompanied us. It is a special blessing to have this type of support and protection.

Our service there consisted of ministering to a small elementary school. The one teacher for about 25 students also lives at the school. This was the very first time the school had ever had an assembly or even special guests. “No one has ever come here,” the teacher told us. A fellow believer in Jesus, she was very excited for us to share the story of Jesus with her students.

The group took time to dance and play with the students first, then shared “Libertad” (“Freedom” in Spanish) with them. The Panamanian students, in their blue and white uniforms, sat in rapt attention as the story unfolded and many spoke with us afterward to hear more about the gospel. The students again took more time to minister to the students. One of the girls from the school even called the entire group together to say a special thank you from the students, telling us, “We will never forget you” before we returned to the church to fill up on water and rest for a few minutes.
As this update is being written, the men of our team are out serving the community by helping move gravel. Soon, we will go out within Cañitas itself and invite people to one or more drama presentations. Once again, we are grateful for the opportunity to serve this beautiful place and people.
We also look forward to tomorrow, when we will have the unexpected opportunity of traveling by boat to the village of Maje, the first place Walker Moore did ministry in the jungles of Panama. We will travel, serve and get to know the nationals, and then present our drama once again.
We covet your prayers as we are experiencing not only new places but new languages (we will hear a national language as well as Spanish tomorrow), people groups, foods, and cultures. We ask that you pray for the team’s continued health, unity, and service. Please lift up our sister team also serving in Panama as well as the teams in Suriname and Peru, and feel free to check out their updates, too. Thanks for partnering with us as we take the truth of Jesus to the nations!
For His name and renown,
Panama 14-Day Leaders

View All Images from Panama 14 2016

The team has settled here in Cañitas with hammocks hung,enjoying our mac and cheese with some good ole’ spam for dinner, and getting some rest for a full day of ministry tomorrow!

Thank you for your prayers!

Panama 14 Day Leadership

View All Images from Panama 14 2016

Today has been a day filled with worship, ministry, and preparation. We began the day with another
hearty breakfast and a brief walk to the Metro (subway) station. We learned the proper way to get on
and off a subway (quickly!) and rode three stops to La Comunidad Bible Church where we were blessed
to worship in Spanish and English with our ministry partners, Pastor Todd and Marielena Tillinghast and
the people of La Comunidad. Hearts and voices sang praise in two languages to one Lord and King—truly
an awe-inspiring experience. After a challenging message by Walker Moore on trusting God, which is
also the focus of our summer devotionals, the students took the platform and closed out the worship
service by singing and playing “I Will Trust.”

After another delicious lunch (can you guess what was served?) and refilling our water bottles, we again
took the Metro to the bustling avenue of Cinco de Mayo. We stopped in two different places to present
“Freedom” for the ready-made crowds of shoppers. At both sites, we saw people respond to the gospel.
One man in particular was resistant at first, telling one of our students he did not believe the message
was anything more than words. He had friends who said they believed but lived their lives in any way
they pleased. However, once the student fully explained the truth of the message and that a genuine
believer’s life will reflect a true relationship with Christ, the man understood and wanted that
relationship for himself.

But the students also ministered to believers. One ministry team spoke with a woman shared that her
young child had died not long ago. She was still very sad but also still trusting in God. Our students were
able to bless, encourage, and pray over her before they left. After the two drama sites, the team returned to Casa de Blanca, our home away from home, for showers, rest, and fellowship time followed by dinner and a message from Walker Moore on the qualities of a true adult. As 1 Timothy 4:12 says, we exhibit our adulthood through our speech, conduct,love, faithfulness, and purity.

Right now, the students are busy packing for the few days, which we will spend in the farming village of
Carnitas, performing the drama and serving the people in practical ways. You will probably not have
more than brief updates from us until we return to Panama City and wifi service Thursday afternoon (if
you haven’t yet signed up for our text messaging service, we encourage you to do so through the
information below).

Please pray for our ministry in Carnitas, asking God that our love for one another and for the people
there will multiply. Please keep praying for the beautiful country of Panama and her people whom we
have come to honor, serve, and bless. We count on your prayers and know they are a huge part of any
success we count in ministry.

For His Glory,

Panama 14-Day Leadership

View All Images from Panama 14 2016

Panama 14 is watching the truth of Jesus’ high priestly prayer unfold before our eyes: “That they all may be one . . . that the world may believe that thou has sent me” (John 17:21). God is allowing our team to grow in unity and love, and as we do, we are seeing more and more people come to know Christ.

This morning, the team woke up refreshed to a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage, and delicious Panamanian fry bread. We are so blessed by our cook, Mirna, and her niece, who make sure we have the food we need each day. After breakfast, we loaded onto our bus and traveled through some heavy traffic to our first drama site, a small village named Chechebre.

We walked in to the drama site, a church pastored by Julio, Walker’s bus driver friend mentioned in yesterday’s update. Our fabulous team directors split us into groups, each of which went with a translator to invite people to the drama. In this community populated by squatters, none of the homes has running water, and most consist of crude wooden walls with corrugated metal roofs.

Warm, welcoming people greeted us at every home, however, and many came with us to the drama site. The students again gave their all in the presentation of “Freedom,” their costumes bearing the marks of the red Panamanian dust as Jesus was thrown down before his crucifixion and good and evil knights battled for the souls of the people of the land. A number of children as well as adults watched this drama, and several prayed to receive Christ.

After what is becoming our favorite lunchtime entrée of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, we took another hike to a large soccer field at the other end of the village. Despite the heat and humidity, the students again gave their all toward their presentation. Today, two students gave their testimonies at each drama site, so before long, all will have had the opportunity to share their personal experience of coming to know Christ. The team did a great job of engaging the audience, which again included many children. Those watching screamed as the scary dragon (Satan and his demons) jumped out at them and later cheered at the joyful resurrection of Jesus. Please join us in asking God that today’s ministry bear fruit in His time and that each of these little ones will one day have a genuine relationship with Him.

The small village dotted with banana trees where we gave our third presentation of the day had a very appropriate name: Benediciones de Dios (“Blessings of God”). Once again, we split into groups and walked through the dirt streets to invite all to attend. Hot and thirsty after our trek in the hot Panamanian sun, the team was delighted to see CCs Walker and Becky approaching with a cart filled with a special treat: a bottle of Gatorade and an ice cream treat for each student. After the drama, where our unity and renewed energy resulted in more power for service, one ministry team went to speak with the ice-cream vendor. What we believe was one of his best sales days is now his spiritual birthday as well.

We ended our day with a welcome spaghetti dinner and inspiring after-dinner worship by the Awe Star praise band. Since a previous Awe Star band is now known as MercyMe, we have great hopes for the future of this group of young leaders. We also heard a teaching on Dangerous Prayer and spent time reviewing our day as a team and in our MOM and POP groups.

Right now, the students are preparing for another night of welcome rest. Tomorrow, we will attend La Comunidad Bible Church, one of our ministry partners here in Panama City, and look forward to afternoon ministry on the busy avenue known as Cinco de Mayo. We ask for your prayers for strength and endurance as well as for continued growth in unity that the world—which is truly represented in Panama City as thousands visit for tomorrow’s opening of the expanded Panama Canal.

We cherish your prayers so much!
Panama 14 Day Leadership

View All Images from Panama 14 2016

Today has been such a beautiful day on our first day of Jesus Ministry! When we arrived last night, it was already dark in the city. This morning was the first time the students had the opportunity to take in the sight of Panama. This morning the team woke up to the sounds of the birds chirping out in the trees along with the sound of the buzz of the city around Casa Blanca. It is amazing to see the trees surround the city in their beauty and the creatures that the Lord has made, such as bigger grasshoppers and Panamanian critters! We are thankful for today because God made this day and we will rejoice as Psalm 118:24 says to and be glad!

After breakfast, the team gathered to pray and begin ministry in the schools of Panama. As the autobus pulled up to gather our missionaries, they began to focus in on the ministry the Lord had prepared for today. As our leaders pulled up to a ministry site, the team began to pray. As first, the site would not allow the team to come, but we serve an awesome Lord and Savior who gave us 20 minutes, yet even after 20 minutes no one stopped the Gospel or asked us to leave. What a blessed opportunity to share the good news, and these students have been giving everything to let them know about who Jesus is! At another site, the team began to realize that how they engage with those passing by does matter as many were intrigued by the drama today. Even a window washer, making sure windows were clean for the business, took pause to see how the Lord made a plan for salvation. Coming back to Panama, there have been some we have reunited with expressing how they have seen the drama before. One of our leaders even had someone leave their job for a moment to come say hello and thank the group for sharing an important story. Even from 4 years ago, a man who was once a bus driver for Awe Star is now a pastor of a church cmame and expressed his joy in the Lord. Such blessings!

As the team began to do their last drama of the day, there was one young man who was shopping at a local store. The drama began with God’s Creation and before the end of the Restoration, he had sat down on the sidewalk and kept repeating “I know I need to change, I know I need to, I know, I know!” The Lord had salvation planned for this young man, and what a day this has been!

Thank you for reading and we hope to continue to praise God for what He has done and is doing here in Panama!

Panama 14 Day Leadership

¡Hola de Panama!

We made it safely into Panama late last night to Casa Blanca (White House). Our team of translators welcomed us to Panama with a grand welcome while the students began to see and take in Panama. The Lord blessed us with smooth flights and people of peace to help us get from one location to another. On the flights, the team was able to begin ministry in talking with the people around them. One person was able to pray for comfort for a mother who was on the way back from Alaska after dropping her daughter off with family. We thank the Lord for these opportunities, for He is awesome!

The team had breakfast this morning and is now on their way to begin ministry with the schools of Panama! Thank you for checking in and we will update tonight!

Hasta la noche! (See you tonight!)

Panama 14 Day Leadership

View All Images from Panama 14 2016

We are boarded on our flight and preparing to take off for Panama! We will update you tonight when we arrive in country. Thank you for your continued prayers in our travels today!

Panama 14 Day Team