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Panama 35 Day 2014

Good evening yet again!

We are safe and sound back in Dallas! The team has had a long day of travel, beginning at four this morning. After two flights and a long layover, we have had dinner and have settled in for some sweet rest. We will spend tomorrow learning how to effectively share the stories of what God has done this past summer. We want to share stories in such a way that God alone gets the Glory!

This will be our final update. Thank you for following along so faithfully! Thank you most of all for your consistent and fervent prayers. As you pray now, pray that we can return home with the stories of God’s goodness on our lips. He has moved, so pray that He gives us the passion and joy to share these stories and glorify Him alone!

With all our love,

Craig and Karissa

Greetings faithful readers!

Good evening for the last time from Panama! We have had an exciting last day here in country. This morning we had a special time together as a team. We were able to finish off this trip by encouraging and edifying one another, thus allowing us to return home joyful and ready to continue to do Jesus’ ministry in our respective homes. All the encouraging words were made more difficult knowing we were counting down our final few hours together as a team, but we know God intends to continue to use us and our stories as we return to our friends and families.

After a filling lunch (PB&J of course), we left the White House for a local Indian Market. We spent much of the afternoon perusing the shops and seeing some of the traditional crafts and adornments of the various native tribes. We saw hammocks, bracelets, hats, shoes, wood carvings, and a myriad of other knick-knacks. When the students had shopped their fill, we took the subway over to the Albrook mall. Here, the students were able to go out in groups to various restaurants for dinner, as well as to buy coffee and other Panamanian snacks to bring home.

Finally, we returned to the White House to pack and prepare finally for a departure very early tomorrow morning. The students said their final goodbyes to the translators and pastor who left us tonight. Please be in prayer for us tomorrow as we travel. Pray for good attitudes as we set out long before the sun rises tomorrow morning. Also, pray that we are able to make all of our flights without troublesome issues that often accompany flying. Most of all, pray that we are open and available to ministry opportunities that the Lord presents us with as we travel and come into contact with people from all over the world in the airports.

Look for one final update tomorrow evening upon our arrival back in the United States. Thank you for faithfully following our blog, and most of all for praying ceaselessly for this team! Your prayers unify all of you with all of us, so that we are one team setting out to do Jesus’ ministry!

Much love,

Craig and Karissa

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Good Evening!

Today was our final day of official drama ministry in Panama! But we know the Lord does not need our drama to bring souls to Him, so we look forward to being used be Him still in the days to come!

This morning we were able to attend La Comunidad Bible Church where our missionary contact, Luciano, is the missions pastor. They welcomed us as only the family of God can, and we felt right at home worshiping alongside them. Afterwards, we headed to the busy Cinco de Mayo street to share the drama our final two times in Panama. Though scattered rain drove away large crowds, it could not stop the Gospel from being proclaimed. We proclaimed it joyfully to the few pedestrians willing to brave the rain. And many came to know the Lord!

We finished off our day with the Panama-35 Day 2014 Talent Show! The students were showcasing talents including rapping and pun-making, as well as performing various skits. It was a light-hearted way to relax after a long day’s ministry.

We will finish our time here in Panama helping La Comunidad Bible Church. We will be painting, cleaning, and reorganizing for them Monday and Tuesday. Continue to pray for good health, and that we would be able to build strong relationships with our brothers and sisters from La Comunidad. Thank you all for your faithful prayers all summer!

We love you!

Craig and Karissa

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Howdy friends and family!  We have had an awesome day of ministry!  Today, we traveled to the city of Colón and began the day off with a bus ride that was a little over an hour long.  When we got there, we started off by having a meet and greet with the leaders of the church in the area.  After the meet and greet, we then headed to our first ministry site of the day.  The students performed the drama at a small park not far from the church we were working with.  The Lord began a mighty work in a few young men there.  They witnessed the drama and could not deny the love of God.  The students left these men with certainty in their hearts that they now have new brothers in Christ and were greatly encouraged by the enthusiasm of the men at their newfound life.

This is only one example of how the Lord moved at our first site.  Due to the long travel time, the students then had lunch.  Right after lunch, the students divided off into four groups to teach Sunday school (on a Saturday!) to a bunch of the local kids in the area with age groups ranging from 1-12 years of age.  They had the opportunity to teach the kids about God and pour out love upon them.  The teaching ranged anywhere from playing a game that demonstrated the lesson or diving into the Word!  How awesome is our God for the students to experience something like this?!  After leaving the excitement of teaching the kids, the students then got to perform the drama for the students and further show them love after they performed it.  And get this, the people who drove our bus, remember those guys?  They are now YOUR NEW BROTHERS IN CHRIST!  After the second drama, a group of students boldly approached them and began to pour their hearts and love on them.  The men responded and came to know their heavenly Father!

Finally, we packed up and began the long ride home.  When we got back we ate dinner and went into “guy/girl time”.  It was a time for Craig and myself to take the guys and Karissa and Kayla to take the girls and just spend time having guy/girl talks.  We then switched groups and the girls were able to ask the male leadership questions and the guys were able to ask the female leadership questions.  It was a good time of bonding with the students for us as leaders and just a fun time!  The students are now off in their beds safe, happy, and healthy and we are soon to be there too!  Just pray for continued good health and that the Lord will continue to move in mighty ways!

Much love,

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Good evening!

We are very grateful to all of you who have been faithfully following our blog over the course of the summer. Thank you for all your constant prayers and encouraging comments! We have had another exciting day of ministry today. We drove out after breakfast to the small village of Calli. In this village, the people are very poor. The houses are not much more than shacks all connected by a thin dusty path. As we were walking to the local church building, God opened up the heavens and it began to rain. Our shoes and costumes were soon caked in mud from the soaked dirt path. When we finally arrived at the church, covered in mud, we had an impromptu service instead of performing the drama right away, because few people would venture out into the rain. Here the pastor of the church shared his testimony with us of how God healed his back and made him able to walk again. He said that if only he could walk, he would walk anywhere to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was very encouraging to hear his heart and the trials he had walked through in order to plant that church in Calli.

After the rain died down, we performed the drama for the few members of the church that had ventured out. Afterwards, we had intended to travel further into the village, but due to the amount of mud on the hilly paths, we had to turn back. But as we know well here at Awe Star, our disappointments are God’s divine appointments. In lieu of performing further in Calli, we performed the drama twice on the busy Cinco de Mayo Street. This was God’s divine appointment indeed, for we had huge crowds stop and gather around us as we pranced in our costumes, all for the advancement of the Gospel. We had many students who were able to share in English because of the tourists around Panama City. Others shared the Gospel with store owners. Thankfully, because the rain turned us away from Calli, many unsuspecting shoppers on Cinco de Mayo heard the life-saving Gospel this afternoon.

We finished up the day learning a bit more what the Cross means for us as Christians. We dove deeper into what it means that Christ took our place on the cross. Christ was declared guilty on the cross and treated as such, so that we could be declared righteous and treated as such. This makes us all the more excited to go and tell of the glorious Gospel that Jesus has won for us!

As always, pray for good health and safety as we continue to travel around Panama City. Tomorrow we travel to the district of Colon, where we will share the Gospel to some of the neediest people we will meet this summer. Pray for focused hearts and divine encounters. We can’t wait to tell you what the Lord does in Colon tomorrow!

Until then,

Craig and Karissa

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Buenas Tardes! We apologize because our update last night never went through. So here is yesterdays update. We will post another update later tonight about today so make sure to check for that later on.

Good evening blog followers!

We are back safe and sound in Panama City today. We left the mountainous region of El Cope early this morning. Ministry there was so incredible, and many of the small villages in the area are much closer to having a church body among them because of the work God did through us. Today has largely been a day of rest and recuperation as we prepare for our final few days of ministry here in Panama City.

Tomorrow, we will drive to Calli to share the Gospel. Saturday, we will go to Colon as well. But today, we were able to spend time studying God’s word individually, playing games together as a team, and finally listening as Karissa taught us about how we are to be slaves to righteousness. All of this is preparation for us to walk out in unity as we begin to share the gospel in and around Panama City. The team is growing each day, and so we ask that you continue to pray for soft hearts as God continues to teach us. Pray as always for continued good health and for effective ministry as we share the Gospel in some of the neediest neighborhoods in Panama. Finally, make sure you check out the pictures we have uploaded from our time in Berrigon and El Cope!

Much love,

Craig and Karissa

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Good evening all!
Just as we did in Santa Marta and Villa Lobos before, we have spent the last two days ministering in Barrigon here in the mountains of Cope. The Lord has moved faithfully to bring people to Himself there!
Upon first arriving in Barrigon yesterday, we had the opportunity to present our drama, and more importantly the Gospel, in a school. So excited was this school to have us that the Director dismissed school for the rest of the day at noon so that the students could watch our drama. In this small mountain village, we had over fifty young students, as well as many parents, standing in the audience. Our students were able to love and encourage all the young children, telling them the good news that Jesus can restore them to relationship with the Father. We soon left the school and hiked (yes, hiked) high into the mountains. When we arrived at a small mountain church, we ate lunch, and then performed the drama for the few people who lived around the church. As always, it is so good to spend the day both introducing new believers to Christ and encouraging established churches in their own work.
Today, we were able to do yet more ministry even higher in the mountains than yesterday. Our original plan was interrupted when several large trucks began to do construction on the road. Thankfully, there was a man who lived nearby who opened up the porch of his house and storefront for us to use in performing the drama. There, we performed for nine or ten people, of which many knew the Lord, and several came to know Him for the first time.
After hiking down from that place high in the mountains, we found the home of a local politician. This man had recently campaigned for the responsibility to represent the town of Barrigon in Panama City. Despite having lost the race by only a few points, he was a very well known man in this town. He was also a believer, and he allowed us to perform in his yard for all his neighbors. As we began, no one was watching, but by the end, several had gathered to watch, as well as many watching from doors and windows of the surrounding houses. Dramas like these are such a reminder that when we are obedient to preach the Gospel, God provides and works in all the hearers.
Please continue to pray for good health and strong ministry for the team! Also pray for safe travels as we head back to Panama City tomorrow!
Much Love,
Craig and Karissa

Good Morning Blog-Followers!

It has been a busy couple of days for us. Since our last update, we have had the opportunity to visit another town up higher in the mountains called Villa Lobos. There is not much of a church presence in Villa Lobos, but the people there had seeking hearts! We were able to perform the drama four times, and with those four times, we reached everyone in Villa Lobos. It is a very small town. We saw many come to faith in Christ, and we introduced them to Juan, who has helped us all week and leads the effort to plant a church in Villa Lobos. One of our students, who gets more excited to do Jesus’ ministry every day, had the chance to lead a whole group of men to the Lord one evening, as well as two more the next morning!

Our original plan had been to spend another day in Villa Lobos, but God had other plans. We had performed the drama several days ago outside of a school in our headquarters of El Cope. As we ministered in Villa Lobos, we got word that the Director of the school had invited us to come back and perform the drama inside the school for all the students and the teachers! As a result, we had a morning service with the new believers of Villa Lobos, and we traveled back yesterday to El Cope. Just this morning we were in the school, sharing the gospel. We only had twenty minutes, and as a result could not go out in ministry teams as we usually do. So only God knows the hearts that were changed this morning, and we praise Him because we have proclaimed His word in the school of El Cope. His word never returns void! In addition, the Director told us that he liked the drama so much that we now have an open invitation to return year after year! Praise the Lord!

As you pray for us, remember to pray for continued good health, safe travels, and fruitful ministry. The Lord is certainly moving here in the area of El Cope, both in the lives of the Panamanians and in the lives of our students!

Your CCs,

Craig and Karissa

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Good Morning from El Cope!

The team arrived safely back to our headquarters in El Cope this morning! We will stay here one night before heading out again to another small neighboring village.

During our time in Santa Marta, the team had the opportunity to share the gospel with many people. Because the area is so rural, we were able to present the drama twice in the afternoon and reach almost all the people in the nearby area. For many of the people watching, it was their first time to see and hear the gospel portrayed. As a result, over sixty people in this rural river village responded to the Gospel! Both nights we were in Santa Marta, we had a church service in a local believer’s home. In the past, very few people had visited the small group meetings. But while we were there, the house was so full that some had to look in from just outside the door! The local believers were very thankful for our help in reaching the surrounding area.

In addition to drama ministry, our team was able to build strong relationships with the villagers as well. We went out yesterday morning in small groups to spend time with the people, talking and working alongside them.  Some of our students cut tall grass, built fences, and learned to weave straw hats. In addition to helping with daily tasks, the students were able to strike up conversations about Jesus and the Gospel. The villagers expressed their thanks for our help, but we also were very encouraged to see the number of believers in the area increase. We also left knowing the pre-existing body of believers was encouraged by our obedience. Now, we are praying that AweStar can send a group back to the same village and find a church established where once was the home of a faithful believer.

Traveling so much is difficult mentally, physically, and spiritually. Please continue to pray for good health, tireless attitudes, and daily spiritual renewal! We love, appreciate, and need your prayers very much!

Craig and Karissa

 

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Good evening from El Cope!

Early this morning, we began our journey to the city of El Cope. The students were ecstatic to get back to drama ministry. We arrived shortly before noon. El Cope is a small town nestled in the foothills of the Panamanian mountains. The town consists of three or four main streets, a couple of grocery stores, and a school. It is quite a shift from the bustling and crowded Panama City. We are thankful to have arrived safely and excited to have already begun drama ministry.

This afternoon, we were able to perform three dramas in the streets of Cope. First, we performed in a covered futbol field. Here, only a few ventured away from the World Cup match to watch, but we are confident that those few had seeds planted by seeing and hearing the Gospel. There were several children as well with whom the team was able to engage. Engaging brings us closer to the culture, especially when we can engage with the children. This aspect of our ministry is so important for effectively bringing people together with the truth of the Gospel.

In addition to the field, we were able to perform in front of both grocery stores this afternoon. The first one was not far from the local school, so there were many young people relaxing in front of the store. We were thankful to share the Gospel with so many, and were able to gather information from them so that the local church can faithfully proclaim to them the Gospel.

Today presented a unique challenge to our students because we only had one translator with us for much of the day. This meant that more students had to minister on their own, doing their best with their own Spanish and a Spanish ministry card to proclaim the truth. This challenge certainly stretched many of our students. Despite our broken Spanish, we trust the Lord to use us mightily when we are obedient in proclaiming the Gospel. One of our students expressed his frustration at not being able to share as much as he wanted due to a lack of a translator, but he also expressed supreme trust in the Lord for ultimately gathering those whom He intends to save.

While in Cope, we will be headquartered here but will travel to neighboring towns throughout our stay. Tomorrow, we will travel from El Cope to a nearby town, Santa Marta, where we will spend the next two days sharing the drama, but more importantly, sharing the Gospel. As long as we stay in Cope, we will have internet to update the blog, but we are unsure for now how well we will be able to update in Santa Marta or the other small towns to which we will travel this week. Please pray for continued good health, safe travels, and encouraged spirits as we move from place to place.

Your CCs,

Craig and Karissa

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