George Strait had a hit song that ends with the words, “some folks think I’m hiding, its been rumored that I died. But, I’m still alive and well in Tennessee. ” Guess the same could be said for us. Several of you have checked in on us to make sure we haven’t died or if we are just hiding. In fact we are still doing well and living in Panama. Lots of things to catch up on. Whew, where do we start.
We think the last newsletter we sent out was last year, so we will start with January 2015.
First of all, we started the year full of plans and ideas about ministry for this year. Terry’s vision was still limited but he was able to drive, and with the help of some vision aids was able to read ok. He was back to doing bookkeeping for the base, on the leadership team and taking/co teaching a leadership class here at the YWAM base. Liz was leading hospitality services at the base, active in the Nursing Home ministry, and leading a women’s prayer group in our home. We felt like after a rough year following Terry’s retina surgery and vision difficulties things were going pretty smoothly. Well, as much as they can for two 61 year olds in a third world country. In January or February Terry prepared a draft of our current newsletter. He closed down the computer and when he reopened it the next day the computer started acting up. We found out later that the hard drive had crashed. This was the second Macbook Pro we had lost within the span of 18 months. The first to a power spike and the second to, who knows what. It was only about 6 months old. But, in Panama things only have a six months warranty, even Apple products. We finally got it repaired and life went on, but obviously not the newsletter !!
In late April we went over to the Bocas YWAM base to help one of our staff get situated where he and his family would be overseeing the operations for a few months. During our visit, Terry began noticing some strange sensations across the top of his head coupled with an extreme headache. We traveled home the next day and after a few days of treating for what we thought was a sinus headache,the sensations turned into some significant swelling of his face and were accompanied by small blisters and some significant pain. We headed for the emergency room where they gave him a shot of cortisone and told him it was an allergic reaction, to what they could not tell. Nothing changed and by evening the same day the pain was so intense we headed back to the ER where a second doctor took one look and diagnosed it as Shingles…. Of the face and eye on the left side, and life as we knew it stopped……
Shingles, it seems, is a virus left over from chickenpox and resides in the spinal column. For many people it never reoccurs. For others, it shows up in the form of shingles. For about 15 percent it occurs in the face and scalp. the trigeminal nerve which runs from the back of the head across the center of the head straight down to the tip or your nose and horizontally from the temple across the eyebrow to the nose. Terry had blisters along the central part of his scalp and across his eyebrow. The misfiring nerves were extremely painful. This was the same eye that he had a torn retina in last year in January and the only eye he has vision in. Obviously, this was the work of the enemy. Most of Terry’s time was spent sleeping and taking pain medicine. Most of liz’s time was spent taking care of Terry. Generally, shingles last for about 3-5 weeks, however, Terry has PTN or post treatment neuralgia. This causes the pain to continue long after the disease process ends. It has not been until the past six weeks or so that Terry has been able to function relatively normally albeit on a decent level of pain medication and lots of ice on his face, things in the Bolt household have finally started returning to normal.
In late February we were finally able to find a piece of land and start the building process on our new small Panamanian style home. Many of you know we sold our home in Conroe late last year and with the proceeds from that and the partnership of a friend who is building a casita on the property we had enough funds to build our own house. Fortunately, we had a great guy who was attending our church that helped his with the building process and took most of the burden off our shoulders. Originally, we thought using him was so we could keep on going about our normal routine with YWAM. Little did we know that it would be so the construction could go on without us involved in the process. Our son and daughter in law came for 3 weeks in June and Chris tiled our bathrooms ( floor to ceiling-to prevent mold) and Ashley helped me with shopping for lights, paint colors, etc. We had a great time with them and it was certainly a boost to our spirits as well as practical help!
Our lease expired where we were renting so we were able to get special permission to go ahead and move into our new home using an extension cord for electric power at the end of August. Its a sight to see. This cord stretches about 200 feet to our neighbors house and brings us enough electricity to power a few lights and our refrigerator. As of this date, we are waiting for the final papers to filter their way through the various powers that be in the local Municipio ( government). Things that take a few hours or a day or so in the states take weeks and months here. Once we have the final document, the Permiso de Occupation, we will be able to apply for our own electric, so maybe soon….. Even with limited electricity we have had the privilege of hosting missionary friends and relatives since our move which we totally love.
Life is what happens when you are making other plans……
As you know, it has been on our hearts to start a mentoring/trade school opportunity for young men ( and eventually women). In preparation for that we formed a non profit corporation when we applied for our residency here in Panama. It is JOBS Panama. The actual mission of the corporation is to provide jobs for these young people after the trade school. As it turned out we are using JOBS Panama before the program even begins! Without going into tiresome detail, construction workers are frequently paid “under the table” which does not provide for their Seguro, which is similar to Social Security and also provides health care for them and their families. We, nor our builder/friend Embry wanted to do treat them in this manner. But in one of the many catch 22 scenarios here you can not provide Seguro without a company, or a zillion other things. So, after 5 months of trying to make this happen jumping through many hoops and fees we finally accomplished this for the crew that worked on our house. They are currently working on another job but we will continue to provide this through our company at no cost to the employees. We are also able to use this for other friends who want to provide for their workers but do not have a corporation to make it happen. It was also something that Terry was able to work on during his illness, as he felt like it ( and many times when he did not). We also learned much about how Panama employment works which will help us as we go about finding jobs for them after training as well as helping others to get coverage. So…what about that training school……
Current plan, subject to change on God’s leading
We now believe we have a clearer picture as to how this can happen. Here is the idea, we offer a one year mentor program to qualified candidates. These candidates will come and live at the YWAM base. During their time there they will be trained on a daily basis in all types of job skills including construction, auto mechanics, etc. Each week will be filled with a regimen of either working on a construction project at the base, on one of the Homes of Hope structures ( info below) , maintaining one of the base vehicles, or doing maintenance and repairs and/or construction for locals in the community.Most of the training will be on the job though we will use classroom as needed. The problem with too much classroom time is the education system here is substandard ,making academics difficult. At the end of the mentoring program, these students will be offered an opportunity to participate in a DTS (Discipleship Training School) to round out their training. Upon graduation our goal will be to help them find full time work in the community. As we discussed this concept with the YWAM director earlier this year we were struggling to identify a good source for likely candidates, ones who would be willing to commit to such a program. He asked if we had thought about Arturo Miro? Arturo Miro, is our local boys home. It is a boys home we have been working closely with for the past 3 plus years and have a great relationship with and is the one Terry started woodworking classes with prior to his detached retina. The system here works very similar to our own in the U.S. When kids in the system reach age 18 or graduate from high school they “age out” of the program and are no longer able to live in the home. This means they are basically sent out on their own. Being able to provide them with a training program and have them live in an incredible Christian environment such as YWAM is the best of everything.
How awesome it is when God puts things together
Here is our hope and plan. Many of you have been incredible faithful supporters of us here in Panama and we are very grateful. By us building our own house we are reducing our expenses by more than $400 per month . That will cover the cost of two students at $200 per student per month. This pays for housing and food. If we could couple that with an additional $400 per month in additional support we could provide this program for a total of 4 candidates starting this January. Our goal is to start with 4 and build from there. If additional support is provided we could offer this to more students.
We have already received some financial support for this from the few people we have talked to personally. If you would like to partner with us in this please use the address for Northwest Vineyard. Place “Panama Mentoring” on the memo line and we will be sure it gets to the proper use.
Terry, Liz, and Odie
P.S. We plan to be home November 5 through December 4. We look forward to seeing you all during that time. Let us hear from you if you would like to get together. We will be staying in the Spring area. Here some info on Homes of Hope…
HOMES OF HOPE
Originally started by a YWAM base in San Diego California Homes of hope runs much like the Habitat for Humanity program in the U.S. It differs in that it has a significant Christian component to it. In every aspect of construction and actual provision of the home we have opportunities to minister to the recipient family and neighbors in the area. YWAM San Diego has used this program to provide over 6000 homes to needy individual over the past few years. What a blessing it is to be able to say to someone this home is provided to you to show you how much God loves you. This program has already been operating in the southern portion of Panama in the Darien. This is an area ridden with drug runners, but inhabited by the Embara indian group. Providing them with a solid roof over their head, actual functioning toilet, and shower opens so many doors of opportunity it is incredible. .
Our first Homes of Hope project in the Chiriqui Province this last August was exciting and we have a group of more than 250 YWAM’rs from around the world coming early next year to help us construct 10 homes in 2-3 days in the Ngabe Comarca about 1 1/2 hours from our YWAM base. Every person in that area certainly qualifies for a home and the real challenge will be to determine whom is first on the list. It has been our practice to enlist the support of the local village to help determine this. The first one was a huge success as both leaders in the village and the villagers themselves all named the same widow as the best recipient. We are providing some pictures of that event. These events require much preparation in getting materials together, determining what is needed, getting property leveled, etc. This is an area where we want to teach/mentor our students in addition to the actual building projects. Here are a few pictures of Homes of Hope in progress….we are still technically challenged so please click on the links to see the pictures.