From March 26th through April 1st, our family had the privilege to take the principles of “Life in God’s Way” to the people of Panama, Central America. We lived and worked with Edilberto Mendez, the Director of the Lutheran Hour Ministries’ office in Panama City. The office operates under the name “Cristo Para Todas Las Nacionces” or “Christ for All the Nations.” We had a WONDERFUL time! The travels and weather were great. The food and lodging worked out well. Edilberto was the perfect host. And, most of all, the people of Panama were eager to receive the guidance and blessing of Christ Jesus through our teachings about “Life in God’s Way.” In fact, Edilberto is seeking to find a way to have us bring our teachings to two locations in Peru, South America, where he is doing satellite work. In addition, Rupert, our translator for the seminars, a local pastor and the head of the Church of God in all of Panama, would very much like us to come back to Panama soon. He believes there are hundreds more in Panama who would be eager to receive what we have to give. As he said, “Your presence as a family who are living what you teach is a huge blessing to us. People here are eager to learn from those who live what they teach. Your family does that very well.” Edilberto backed up this sentiment as he said on our way back to the airport, “Not only are you a good family, you are a good team. You work well together to show the love of Jesus.”
Below I’ve included the day by day journal I kept on our trip. While these entries were posted earlier on Facebook, I’ve added pictures and further details.
Please join us in praising God for a safe and productive trip. Based on the initial response, the people of Panama were thrilled to have received the love of Jesus Christ, the perfect husband, through our time with them. They’re also eagerly sharing that same love of Jesus with everyone around them … living life in God’s way. More doors may be opening to the working of the Holy Spirit as a result of this trip. Thanks be to God!
WED., MARCH 26 – Fly from Flint, MI to Panama City via Atlanta
We made it to Panama on schedule without a hitch … even through immigration 🙂
Our host, Edilberto, is wonderful.
THURS., MARCH 27
This is our next installment from Panama. We had a very good presentation by the staff here. They are doing great things to connect to the people. Tonight we will be speaking to single people about relationships in God’s Way. We’re excited to join them for this. Please pray that all goes well and we make many connections. God’s blessings to all of you.
FRI., MARCH 28
It is now Friday morning. We had a wonderful singles´ seminar last night across the Panama Canal. Beautiful drive through rain forest … once we got out of city traffic. There were many happy children eager to greet us. The youth who attended listened well and had many good questions. Hannah, Micah and Heather all added input that was eagerly received. Today we will be going to visit a Project Joel outreach site in a public school. We will also prepare for the couples’ retreat which will take place tomorrow.
We’re all doing great and are enjoying the warmer weather.
Today we were able to see Ancon Hill, the highest point in the city, with a great view. We also visited the Miraflores locks of the Panama Canal, which was awesome. We then went to a school for maritime students in which Project Joel is teaching Christian values. I spoke briefly to the students about leadership in God’s way. Another highlight of the day came when we visited the hotel where we’ll be presenting the couples’ seminar tomorrow. A group of reporters and dignitaries were gathered in the lobby where we were waiting. When one group came our way, Edilberto, our host, stepped forward to greet one man with a handshake and a brief exchange in Spanish and the man then greeted each of us with a smile, handshake and welcome to Panama. After he left, Edilberto informed us he is one of the leading candidates for President of Panama in the upcoming, May 4 election. His name is Juan Carlos Navarro. Edilberto has a confidence and kindness that connects well with everyone.
Please pray for a God-pleasing and engaging seminar with the couples tomorrow.
SAT., MARCH 29
Our couples’ seminar went VERY well today. Edilberto and his team did a great job of planning and carrying out the seminar details. The couples were attentive and enthusiastic in their response. Everyone wanted a picture with us and to have us sign their certificates at the end. We felt like we were candidates for the Panama elections. Praise God for a successful seminar to his glory and the good of all who participated, including us.
Tomorrow we travel to Emanuel Lutheran Church in Sora, about 90 minutes from the city. I will preach for worship.
Thanks again for all your prayers.
SUN., MARCH 30
We had a great trip to the town of Sora this morning, stopping along the way for a “typical” Panamanian breakfast. We very much enjoyed worshipping with Ken Peterson and the members of Emanuel Lutheran Church. Ken is the former director of Lutheran Hour Ministries in all of Latin America. I, Todd, really enjoyed preaching in the outdoor air church with a background of singing birds, chirping cicadas and beautiful sunny skies. The people listened well and were very supportive.
We also really enjoyed visiting the mountain top home of Ken and Martha Peterson. The view was awesome and fresh squeezed orange juice from their own backyard was wonderful.
We then stopped for fresh seafood along the Pacific coast in Veracruz and also took a driving tour of Old Town Panama City. Panama is a truly beautiful country and Edilberto has been a perfect host and tour guide.
Tomorrow we will go to tour the new Panama locks construction site in Colon on the Atlantic Ocean side of the country and visit with Rupert, another partner pastor who grew up in Colon.
God’s Blessings to All!
MON., MARCH 31
Today we enjoyed our trip to Colon with Pastor Rupert. Our visit to the construction site of the new set of locks on the Panama Canal was awe-inspiring. This is truly a massive and incredible project. After driving THROUGH the Panama Canal on a draw bridge that lowers in between ships, we had lunch at a marina on the Atlantic coast. We then briefly toured Colon and the massive “mall” of duty-free warehouses before returning to Panama City. The best part of the day was interacting with Rupert: hearing his childhood stories of collecting crabs in the area and sharing joys and dreams about God’s awesome work in Panama.
TUES., APRIL 1
(~6:00 p.m.) We just walked in the door of our own house … safe and sound and praising God for a WONDERFUL trip. GOD IS GREAT!