This is Liz, which will become evident pretty soon so thought I would spare you trying to figure it out. I have been thinking about the people that sit around my dining room table. I have wonderful memories of dinner tables. Both of my grandmothers had big round dinner tables that were always open for friends and family. I actually thought some of the friends were family till I was old enough to figure out who was who. My memories include lots of sweet Texas tea, fish fries, Thanksgiving dinners and bologna sandwiches. It never really mattered what we ate. It was about the love that surrounded those tables. Since we live far away from our blood families here, I have found that my friends like to eat at my table no matter what I feed them. Some of the faces around our table stay the same, some come and go. No matter who the faces or what we eat, it is the love that makes us family. I thought at one time I should just send a “family of the month” picture to you all since we now have so many wonderful friends of all ages visit and sit at our table.
Our current nuclear family here in Panama consists of Terry, Willie, and I. Opps..did we fail to mention we have another son? Willie is living with us while he finishes his last year of high school. He house/dog sat for us in November while we were in the States and shortly after we returned it seemed like a good thing to all of us that he stay with us. We love him and it keeps us on our toes. It has been a while since Christopher was 18 years old….just saying. So the 3 of us are usually at the table here, but we are frequently joined by others. Terry’s Mom and our friend Dorothy were here for a few weeks in December and then a few weeks in February. They sat at our table and we laughed and talked and did jigwsaw puzzles. We taught Nanaw how to play her word search games on the Kindle and generally tried to stay out of trouble. It is awesome for us that Nanaw can travel at 84 years of age and that Dorothy is such a trooper to help her travel back and forth. We love having them both. They were here with us Christmas Day for the 2nd Annual Bolts Christmas Brunch. We had about 35 friends and neighbors with us and had a great time.
We also hosted part of a progressive dinner for Valentines Day in February. I am not sure what the number started out to be but we ended up with 12 of us. Then we played the Not so Newlywed game. Now, THAT is fun. Actually the couple who had been married over 50 years took the prize…oh, wait, there wasn’t a prize.
A few days later we had some great Mission Builders from Minnesota stay with us for 3 weeks. Mission Builders is a YWAM program for people ( usually retired) that volunteer to come and help out however they are needed at the base. Now that we live so close to the base and Dorothy so generously lets people use her casita, it was a perfect fit for this couple. They sat at our table and went on adventures with us, prayed with us and for us, and then returned to the frozen tundra of the north. I could go on and on…a week does not go by that new and/or old friends sit at our table. We have “entertained” more since we have been in Panama than the rest of our marriage all together. I have found that I had made this way harder than it really is. It is not about the food, it is not about how clean the house is, what the furniture looks like ( though it generally does get dusted) , but about the fellowship. And we share stories, and we learn, and we pray, laugh and cry together. God’s family is so big, it is a joy to get to know others. So think about who sits at your table, any new faces? Maybe it is time to add some new ones. It always turns out alright. Promise. But now, in case you think that is all we are doing is eating and fellowshipping……. ( is that a word?)
The Christmas Gift
Yes, I know we are way past Christmas but since we are a bit behind with letter writing…… A few weeks after we returned home from the States in December a friend sent Terry an ad about a need for teaching young men how to work with wood. It did not list a location but sounded like it might be Arturo Miro Boys Granja ( farm). Anyway, Terry called and talked to a gentleman who had been volunteering at the farm for 2 years. Does 2 years ago ring any bells for anyone? That is how long you have all been praying for Terry and his eyesight. That is when he had to give up woking at the boys home because he could not see enough to keep the boys safe with the limited equipment. This man, Willie, was leaving the country and did not know when or if he would ever be back. After visiting with Willie and the staff for a couple of days, Willie told Terry that he ( Terry) was his Christmas gift and that his heart was breaking because he had no one to take over for him. He was comfortable with Terry and handed him the keys and records. In 2 years, Willie had obtained $20,000 in donations, filled the shop with modern equipment and started an area for car mechanics. So while Terry was recovering from the retina surgery and shingles, God was at work at the boys home. He now works there 3 afternoons a week and the boys are busy and having a great time. Our friend, Steve Banks, is helping him and the last few weeks, he has seriously needed some help. He started out with 3 boys in January and currently has 5. At one time there were 12. Yikes. It is a very small place for that much energy!
Ok, so I just named what we do. It did not have a name but I just figured in out. We fill in gaps. When there is a need that we can fill, we fill it. On Mondays, I have the privilege of keeping 4 year old Andy. If you remember, he is the adopted son of Rich and Debbie, the directors of YWAM Chiriqui. We started keeping him off and on since he was a little over a year old. He started to school in December and so on Monday afternoon after school he stays with me. We play lots of games, some video and some absolute make believe. I love getting to be part of his life and his Mom gets some time to not worry about juggling the demands of the base and being a Mom to he and 4 teenage girls that are a part of our Hogar program….at least for a few hours each week.
On Thursdays, I enjoy the company of 15 and 16 year old brothers who come to do homework and hang out with me for a few hours until it is time for soccer practice. They attend our church and we have known them for several years. They try to keep me up on what is cool these days. It is a hard task but they persevere.
We have other young men and women in and out of our home. From here, the US, and all over the world. They are ones who God brings to us and we help as needs arise. Some are financial, but many are simply ones in need of a hot meal and/or listening ear. It is amazing to me the number of young people have lost parents either through death or divorce at an early age. That leaves a gap and they seem content to let God fill it with those who care about them. They seem to enjoy our stories and frequently ask for advice and listen. Which is a bit amazing. One is currently here using our internet as I write.
The other Gap Terry fills is helping maintain the YWAM base vehicles one day per week. Several of the young staff members are also asking to learn as he works on the vehicles.
The Trade School
We have talked about this for so long and next week Arturo Miro and YWAM will sign an agreement that boys who age out of the system will be eligible for the 18 month trade school. They will live on the base and be involved in individual on hands learning for general and speciality trades. The 18 month program will include a 5 month DTS ( Discipleship Training School). The trade school will not be limited to only boys from Atruro Miro but others that meet the requirements or are otherwise approved. One of the young men we are helping is already involved in University here ( which is very inexpensive) and we are helping him with expenses such as books, clothing, shelter and food for the weekends he is in school. He works for us for a few days a week and Terry teaches him as he works. We have friends that are also helping him in the trades.
So, Terry tells me I have had this blog on my computer far to long and is requesting I actually finish it and send it out. So I will just finish it up with a few other things we are/have been involved in since our last visit.
Homes Of Hope
We have discussed this in some of the other blogs so I won’t go into detail about the actual program but Terry was part of a team that built 5 houses in 4 days in the Gnobe commerca. There were over 200 people helping and he had a great time, despite the fact that he injured his knee preparing for the trip and it is has recovered completely after 5 months. ( Yes, it would have healed faster if he would have let it rest and heal but we are talking Terry here…..). Here are some pics from that project.
.Just one more thing….Our Vineyard Chiriqui church is going strong and even planted a new church in the Darien Jungle of Panama….but that is apparently a story for another time……
We love you all and will see you, God willing, in October!
Liz, Terry, and Odie ( who is very offended not to have his picture in here!)