Exactly one year ago this very week, I had the awesome privilege of being able to go to the country of Panama on a short-term missions trip. Right now, a group of twenty-eight students and adults are back in Panama on another ten-day trip. I read one of the blog posts updating friends and family back home about the trip, and I realized that I had never blogged about my own Panama trip. So, without further adieu, let me tell you what God did last summer in Panama.
To begin, me even going on this trip was a total God-thing. We go with an organization called AweStar Ministries, and we perform an eighteen-minute drama that displays the Gospel. After we perform the drama (we either perform it on street corners, in schools, orphanages, or other places like that), we break out into groups of three or four (these groups are called our family groups) and go talk to people who had watched the drama. We ask them about what they saw, discuss the drama with them, and if the Spirit leads, we tell them about how they can invite Christ into their lives. Until going on this trip, I had never gone on a straight evangelical trip like this. I’ve always done the “behind-the-scenes” type of work, and honestly, I like it better. So, just going on the trip was way out of my comfort zone. Add in the Spanish language and the jungle for three days, and you’ve got yourself an interesting story. So, after much prompting from friends and family and the Holy Spirit and after knowing that I was clearly in line with God’s will, I headed out to Panama with my youth group. I knew many people were praying for me back home, and I knew I had good friends going with me that would help me out along the way.
Chelsea, Caroline, and I on the plane to Panama.
Last bit of comfort I had!
Once we arrived in Panama, I began praying one thing: that God would make me bold and not be ashamed to share the Gospel. I have family that do not know the Lord, and I was praying that on this trip I could get up my courage to share the Gospel with strangers so that back home I could share that very same Gospel with my family. We got to Panama on Saturday night, and on Monday, my prayer was answered. We started off the morning early by performing the drama in some schools. It was raining, which is very common in Panama especially since we were there during the rainy season, so we had to stay indoors all day. After doing the drama four times in schools, the rain let up, and we headed to a bad part of town to do the drama one more time. The area is called “Cinco-de-Mayo”, and it’s sort of like “the projects”. It’s one of those places you don’t go after dark, and if you’re a girl, you never go alone. After most of the team argued about where we would stop to do the drama, we finally set up camp in the middle of the street in front of lots of stores. It was getting late, and we knew we had to do the drama, talk to people, and get out of there fast. We performed the drama, and it definitely wasn’t one of the best performances we gave on that trip. After we were done, my family group leader, Austin, picked a person to talk to, and we grabbed a translator so we could really talk with him. I could tell that he wanted to know the Lord. I just started talking, Abe (our translator) just started translating, and Luis (the man) just listened. The Holy Spirit totally moved, and Luis accepted Christ into his life. It was so cool, because I could see it in Luis’ eyes and face. He had been changed because of Jesus Christ!
From far right:
Abe (our translator), Kyle, Luis (the man who accepted Christ), Austin, and myself
Angels sure were rejoicing this day!
That was probably my spiritual “high” of the week. After that, the Lord began to break me down and show me different things about myself that needed some work. He kept taking me out of my comfort zone, and he used people that I never would’ve imagined He’d use. On Wednesday, we packed up some of our stuff, and we headed to the jungle (yes, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”
was constantly playing in my head as we made our way there).
We rode on boats like those two on the right to the village of Incandi.
I don’t do the outdoors. At all. Seriously, I don’t. Taking showers everyday is a major need for me. I like to sleep on mattresses, not the ground. I like to pee in toilets. Yet, during the two-and-a-half days I spent in Incandi, I used a toilet only two times, because they get locked up at night. I didn’t shower. Let me repeat, I didn’t shower. At all. I seriously thought I was going to die. Yet, the Lord so used this time to teach me things. One thing in particular was that He had equipped me to do certain things that He didn’t equip others to do. I have strengths that my best friends don’t have, while they have strengths that I don’t have. I compared myself to others on my first day there, and I didn’t think I was worthy of being a leader even though I have many leader-ish characteristics. Satan tried to attack me, but the Lord totally won. Even though I was disgusting, I wouldn’t trade those days in the jungle for anything!
I couldn’t put my contacts in because my hands were so dirty, so I had to wear my glasses.
I couldn’t perform the drama without my glasses, and everyone said it was hard for them not to laugh during the drama. Even the kids in the jungle laughed at me!
Caroline and I in the village one day.
We were tent buddies, and I know I couldn’t have gotten through those jungle days without her!
The Lord moved in so many ways during this trip. I am so thankful that I went, and that I was able to learn and experience the things that I did. He brought our group together in such cool ways, and I’m so thankful for those 20+ people that I got to know better on this trip. I’m thankful that I can look back at that week and know that God had ordained for me to be there. I’ll never forget it, and I so can’t wait to hear what God is going to do during this week in Panama through my friends!
in one of the schools we performed the drama in
She stole my heart!
All hot and sweaty for the glory of God!