Greetings from Panama!
Please allow me to begin this with the deepest felt thanks to my prayer warriors, supporters, funders, church, family, and most of all, God. None of what I’m about to share with you could possibly happen without the entire Panama Team. Thank you all for being a part of this team! (Ephesians 4:16)
The last four months have been nothing short of amazing in terms of growth, both personally and spiritually. I have been stretched in both areas according to His will. As a result, I find myself yet again a more refined “new creation”, and ultimately more equipped to continue this ministry with the direction of the Holy Spirit. (Zechariah13:9)
Teaching English to the Gnobe Children
As of my last writing, on July 31, many things have progressed and new things have begun. We held a community meeting with the village and they shared a desire for their children to learn English. The school in the village is grades 1-6. I began working with the teacher in the school, supported by partners here on different Islands. We are teaching English two days/week, with a strong emphasis on the older children, in hopes of preparing them to achieve success in the coming year.
As a result, a few of the children are now able to leave the village to attend what we would all know as High School. Unfortunately, in the past, the few that had the means to get to Secondary School would sadly flunk out, due to inability to speak English.
I have been able to spend time in the village meeting people and developing a presence there. As a result of my teaching in the village, the children are ecstatic to see me when I arrive. Most of them don’t call me by name, but begin jumping up and down screaming “Practica, Practica, Practica!” This is because I help them write something in English and tell them practice, practice, practice! It’s so special to me! It’s relational!
I’ve seen others spend weeks working on projects in the village and don’t have anything close to the reaction I receive when entering the village. I give praise to the Lord for the favor I am receiving. The teacher and I have scheduled our first of what will be monthly meetings to develop a committee, similar to a school Parent-Teacher Association. Its purpose is to oversee the small amount of funds they have for the school year. Together they will assess the needs of the school and decide the extra-curricular activities to invest in. Already discussed is acquiring traditional head-dresses for the children so they can participate in the cultural parades and celebrations they’ve sadly missed in the past. Developing a committee and working together in this capacity will be a huge milestone for this village. I love that they are open to learning new skills and working together in an organized fashion is just that!
Favor from the Village Chief
God has given me favor with the Chief of the upper end of this village. (Luke 2:52) I have seen him work with others that have done projects in the village and there has been no respect or relationship developed. Yet this Chief has sought me out twice here in town with greetings including hugs. The last time he asked for my contact information. One morning God blessed me with the gift of language so I could have a conversation with him about the importance of his presence in the training! We literally had a conversation in Spanish and understood each other! I’ve been working on my Spanish but honestly don’t think I could have that same conversation again. It was truly the favor of God!
CHE Training Conducted in the Village
In October, we were blessed to have Dr. Hugo Gomez come here to facilitate training for the village. Dr. Gomez is the founder of Global CHE Enterprises. The training is called “Training of Trainers (TOT) 1”. The purpose of this training is to:
Understanding the Biblical basis for CHE and basic principles of wholistic, community-based development.
- Learn basic skills for raising awareness, organizing, and mobilizing the community for cooperative action through the formation of a development committee.
- Identify and train local ‘trainers’ from the village, who will begin the process of training others to implement the CHE model in their community.
Here are some results that God orchestrated with the training:
- We now have a CHE trainer who lives in the village.
- He will finish the training of another who attended and begin training his wife.
- God brought forth another individual that wasn’t even on my radar, to become a trainer! What a blessing.
- We were hoping to have 10-15 in attendance and opened the first night with 22 including the Chief!
- With the guidance of Dr. Gomez, we assessed the status of the village and its level of learning capacity.
- We agreed we have a lot of work to do to prepare this village to move forward in the development process. Many Community Awareness meetings need to take place.
- This training was the single biggest thing this village has ever done together – a HUGE milestone for them!
In the weeks following the training, I have thoroughly immersed myself in the Lord, His word and His presence, asking for wisdom and knowledge as to how to move forward. The revelations I’ve received from Him have more to do with myself, than the Gnobe people. As I seek guidance and wisdom from Him, he has begun a new work in me. In the past few weeks I have notice some remarkable changes in me.
In an effort to communicate to you the severity of these changes, I must first start with a confession of facts. For the first few months of this ministry, I honestly felt like I had a “job” to do. I would enter the village, do introductions, work in whatever capacity and couldn’t wait to get out and take a shower! The village and the people are dirty, buggy, and there is constant sickness and lice. I struggled daily to complete the “job” and always kept a safe distance physically.
God revealed to me that safe distance physically was also keeping me separate in other ways, namely spiritually and emotionally. I continued to pray and ask for strength. On one very sunny day, I was walking from the schoolhouse toward my accommodations and a little village boy named Nelson called out to me, “Practica, Practica, Practica”! In that moment I felt my heart burst. I ran, I mean ran to him and scooped him up in my arms with all the love of Christ! I couldn’t hold him close enough or tight enough! It was gone – all the phobias, fears, and barriers. God had changed my heart!
God Revealed His True Will for Me
I continued to immerse myself in His council and he began to reveal how I should move forward in this community in a way that will truly bring His Kingdom forth. I need to become an “insider” not an “outsider trying to help”. I need to be a learner of their culture, a true disciple of their lives. I have a trip planned home to Arizona in a few weeks. The other day I actually said I wish I wasn’t going home because I want to continue working with MY PEOPLE. It came out of my mouth but originated in the heart that God has given me. For the first time, I truly feel like these are my people. I want to become one of them and I must be if I’m going to do the work God has commissioned me to do. I give Him great praise and thanks for the transformation he has done in my heart. God has blessed me with great detail of His will in moving forward.
Visitors from My Church in Phoenix
Two weeks ago, I was blessed with a visit from my Missions Pastor Josiah Vasquez and Mike Richardson, from Pure Heart Church in Phoenix. During this time, they were instrumental in providing complete confirmation as to the path God has given me in continuing to move forward with this ministry and transforming this community to the Kingdom for His glory.
Fellowship with Other Christians on the Island
I have one other praise report I’d like to share with you. One thing we have been praying for has been for other believers to come forth to provide fellowship, potential bible study and worship. I have been completely alone on this Island in this respect, which has been so very difficult. God has answered our prayers! Someone approached me as a result of seeing me wear a faith based T-shirt to an event. Yea! Another Christian woman on another Island also met someone on my Island who is interested in fellowship. Thank you, Lord, for answering our Prayers! I will move forward to facilitate a meeting for all of us to meet, greet and begin regular fellowship, worship and bible study. God is moving here in Panama in more ways than I originally thought. Please continue to pray for more ministry opportunities….I think they are coming! 😊
Interested in being a part of Beth’s story? Donate to Global CHE, Beth and the “Panama Project” here!