My Dining Room Table….

22 May 12471311_10208260288006801_4257901641546509132_o

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.

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This was the after party of Christmas Brunch. You know, the people who were too full to leave.:)

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This is the infamous Christmas Puzzle. Liz learned that you should always buy interlocking puzzles! This took about 6 weeks and over 10 people. Nanaw and Dorothy started it and it was finished at our New Years Eve Party. Yeah, we are party animals here. Not.

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Completed!

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Andy and Gracie having fun with bubbles at the Christmas Brunch. ( i love the Dollar Store!)

 

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.:)

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Progressive Dinner First Stop-Yes, there were husbands involved, they just didn’t get in the picture.

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!

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When a project is finished there is a party. They love pizza, cokes, and sweets. Typical, huh?

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This is one of Terry’s favorite pics. This is how it should happen. One teaching the next. These really are not as young as they look. Probably 11 or 12 years old.

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This is one of the oldest. He will be 18 in December and may be the first in the offical trade school. They made this cage and he is showing off his guiena chicks.

Gap Ministry

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. 12512456_10208693121788087_969215382705001915_nWe 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!

Blessings,

Liz, Terry, and Odie ( who is very offended not to have his picture in here!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are alive and well living in Panama!

28 Oct

Well, kinda…..

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.

Many Blessings,

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.

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lucretia edited pdf

 

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The Legacy Continues

25 May

And the legacy continues…..

Legacy can be defined as a gift or bequest that is handed down , endowed, or conveyed from one person to another.

April 4th, 5th, and 6th, we saw this in action.  It was the 20th anniversary of YWAM in Panama.  What a celebration!  Over 150 people gathered from Panama, the U.S., Brazil, Sweden, Colombia, and Costa Rica   and .joined us in the celebration.  

Rich and Debbie Tracy, our base leaders and the national leaders for YWAM Panama were highlighted for their huge contribution to the ministry here.  Their tireless work over the past 20 years has produced  much fruit and resulted in literally hundreds of people completing DTS training in 39 DTS schools.   Practically any area of Panama you mention to Rich he responds “oh yeah, we lived there for this  period of time and started a work there”.    We know this has not come without a price.  We are so blessed to work with leaders who are willing to continue being obedient to God and His call.

HERE COMES THE REALLY COOL PART FOR US

Sunday morning Brett Curtis (formerly with Mercy Ships) shared his vision for YWAM Ships.  He told the story of being contacted by a man two years ago who was told by God to donate a ship to YWAM ships ministry.  It was a beautiful handcrafted wooden 60 foot sailing vessel which had never seen water.  He had been told  by God 10 years eariler to build the ship.  At the time, Brett did not know where the ship was going but willingly received it.  We will share the name of the boat later.   

Then a sequence of events happened that gave clarity to Gods plan.  Many of you know that our first 14 months here  were spent on an island in the Caribbean in the north eastern edge of Panama.   During our time there our hearts cried out to God regarding the people there and their need for God.   Spiritually the area is incredibly depressed and it seems like a heavy cloud hangs over the entire area.  Many times when we prayed it seemed like we were praying with a blanket draped over our heads.  We continued to pray and believe that God had a plan and knew the needs of the people of the area.  Though several months after the base closure there we felt led to move to YWAM Chiriqui  part of our hearts remained there on the islands.  The brokenness and bondage of the Ngobe people grips you so powerfully you can’t shake free from it.

We moved to Chiriqui knowing God had sent us but wondering how He would continue to care for the Ngobe there in Bocas. It didn’t take long to find out…

Last fall we were contacted by Kim and Dale Kapsar, the owners of the property in Isla Bastimentos and the couple we worked with while there in Bocas.  They said God was telling them they were to not sell the property (which appraised for $691,000) but rather donate it to YWAM Chiriqui.  Rich immediately contacted me and we began to pray for Gods direction.  

A few weeks later Rich was at a conference in San Diego.  During that conference in a time of worship Rich looked across the room and saw Brett Curtis.  He immediately sensed God saying we were supposed to give the property to Brett and YWAM Ships.  After a time of prayer and discussion on both sides we agreed that God was definitely in this and that the process should move forward.  then came the complexities of transferring the property back and forth so it could in fact be donated because it was held in a Panamanian corporation and was being donated by owners who were U.S. residents back in the states.  Pretty complex.  Add to that the speed, or lack thereof, with which Panama does anything and six months later we were ready to make the transfer.  Sunday morning  during the conference with Kim and Dale on speaker from their home in Ohio and Brett and his wife here in Panama we officially gave the property to YWAM Ships.  It was an incredible moment.  We could hardly contain our emotion as the process unfolded in front of us.  For us we knew that times of prayer spent there on Bastimentos praying for and claiming land we believed had been given by God to not go into non believers hands had not been in vain. We knew that the ministry there would continue and become something far beyond we could hope or imagine.

Brett shared that as soon as he knew they were to accept the donation he knew where the donated ship would be coming, Panama of course.  And the name of the ship……. El Encuentro.  Literally “the meeting” or the encounter.    Fitting, don’t you think?

Imagine the process.  God spoke to Kim and Dale 10 years ago to buy the property and develop a YWAM base there.  10 years ago God spoke to a man to build 60 foot sailboat to be used for ministry.   So many people involved in the process.  All being led by God.  

Here is a link to YWAM Ships announcement of the transaction.

http://ywamships.net/global-locations/outpost/

The vision going forward is that this boat and others like it will be used to sail to remote islands throughout the Carribean to take the message of Gods mercy and grace to many who have never heard.  You can’t fly in, drive, or walk, the only option is to sail in. There are pockets of isolated people groups throughout the region that will now have an opportunity to hear Gods message.  What a blessing it has been for us to be a part of this process.  

Meanwhile on the home range….

Terry continues to heal from his eye surgeries.  He has had two now.  The first to repair the torn retina and the second to remove the silicon oil.  He expected his vision to suddenly be better after the second surgery but that has not been the case.  It is slowly improving but has a ways to go.  He has had to suspend his woodworking class at the boys home till his vision is clearer in order to ensure the boys are working safely.

Liz continues to attend the nursing home ministry and with the teams lately has had quite a large group going with her.  She has also added childcare and cooking for large crowds to her portfolio as we are now officially referred to as “Nana” and Papa” by Andy, the little boy that Rich and Debbie are raising and she keeps him each Tuesday morning so Deb can have a few hours of time to herself ( they are also raising 4 children from the commerca so they can continue their education past grade 6-so it is a very busy household.)  Liz also cooks one day a week at the base. We have had multiple teams this month so cooking for 50 has been the norm. Terry has been doing some teaching and has been invited to go to Costa Rica and teach in two schools there for a week as well.   We have been asked to handle much of the special counseling needs here at YWAM Chiriqui.   We had said we would never do counseling again but never say never! We think God laughs each time we say anything about “never”

We have hosted several teams since the celebration and successfully sent out our own DTS of 14 students for their 7 week outreach in Panama.  They will be covering a large area of Panama and end up in the Bocas area.

Prayer requests:

 For Terry’s vision and that it will be fully restored.

Terry will be traveling to Bocas this week to help obtain a boat for the new folks coming to YWAM Ships. They are bringing larger vessels for ministry but still need a smaller boat for transportation. Please pray they will be able to find the one God has for them quickly.

Pray for safety as we finish the training center in the comarca. The winds have been very high and now we are entering into the rainy season. We plan to start the first Discipleship Training School there in July. There is a team leaving from here to go tomorrow, they will be welding at the top of the tall structure, so special prayers for them as they go.

The “get Raphael a mule” campaign. We have received $350, approximate cost is $800.

Praise Reports:

Our monthly support has dropped by about $250 per month this year but $3,000 in one time donations has come in this month.  This will make a huge dent in he $4700 medial expense for Terry’s eye surgeries.

Thru a generous offer from the owner of Airbox Express here in Panama we have $100 a month in free shipping from Florida.  In the past it has been cost prohibitive to receive packages. Here is the address for packages:

Terry and Liz Bolt
PTY 75858
7801 NW 37th St
Doral, Fl 33166

The address for letters:

Terry and Liz Bolt
PTY 75858
PO Box 25207
Miami, Fl 33102

We love to get letters and packages! Our first “Care Package” arrived last week and was awesome!  In this time of electronics it is still fun to get a “real” letter or card. :)  If you do send a package, please let us know when it is sent as we have to notify them in advance for speedier service.

Liz’s knees are getting stronger! She is walking 3 times a week with friends in the neighborhood.

The confused Rooster in our back yard has been…uh…removed! His sense of timing was a bit off. He started crowing at about 10PM and went pretty much until 8AM. We may actually have to set an alarm!

We will try to add pictures next time. We are waiting for more flattering pictures of us.:)

Blessings to all of you,
Terry, Liz, and Odie

The View from Three Thousand Feet

8 Mar

The View From Three Thousand Feet

As I sit here gazing out at the trees, sky, and area around me I am amazed by the incredible creation of God.  (Potrerillos Arriba, Chiriqui, Panama is about 3000 above sea level.  Nestled at the base of an extinct volcano named Volcan Baru the views are breathtaking and air crisp and cool)  The song “You are God” is softly playing on my ipad.  As I think about the words to the song I can’t help but reflect on the recent events that have occurred here in the Potrerillos province of Chiriqui, Panama.

The last two months seem like a blur.  We arrived back in Panama on December 23rd just in time to celebrate Christmas by hosting 23 students and staff members from the base. An added blessing was that my mom was able to come with us for a good visit. Our 3 1/2 weeks in the U.S. was a great time of visiting family and friends, reconnecting with others, sharing in churches, and taking care of business.  We returned to Panama anxious to begin implementation of some of the dreams and visions God had placed in our hearts more than 3 years ago.  Little did we know that the very concept of implementing those dreams would soon be challenged on every level.

The day after Christmas we began the process of packing up our household items to facilitate a move to a home closer to the YWAM base.  We had been anticipating this move for more than three months prior to our visit to the states.  Timing and availability was the limiting factor and so we left for the U.S. knowing that upon our return we would have 4 days to pack up and move

Our move was like many others, days filled with scurrying around locating boxes, placing items ready in our vehicle to move other to the other location, painting the other location prior to moving in, etc. etc.  In spite of the short time frame everything went smoothly and we were settled in our new `‘home” on the 31st of December just in time to start the new year.

We immediately jumped into the routine of getting things ready at the base because we knew that by the third week in January the population of the base would change dramatically.  Two schools were beginning January 31st and with that we would see an influx of temporary staff, permanent staff returning from holiday, teams, students for both DTS and the SLMD leadership school, and the occasional mission builder single or couple.  All in all we expected anywhere from 35 to 60 people on any given night residing at the base.  All wanting to be involved in ministry.  All needing some sort of transportation support.  All needing to be fed, and supported.  Housing alone was no simple task.  Even though the new base facility is 95% complete It can comfortably house a maximum of 45 people.  What to do with the other 15 people.  Add to that the complexity of housing singles vs couples, a team of 25 opthalmologists and optometrists wanting to see 4000 patients in 5 days, DTS teams coming to do outreach in Bocas and beyond, church groups from 10 to 25 in size, and our base leaders, Rich and Debbie,  having to be in the U.S. till January 15th made for some pretty long, busy days.

We were slated to begin the workshop at Arturo Muro the second or third week in January.   That workshop was to be the precursor of our trade school endeavors here in Panama.  Our dreams and goals for this are huge.  We know that only God can accomplish the things that are in our heart.  Our plan is to start small, teaching the homeless boys there how to do woodworking, gradually moving them into learning a skill that will be transferrable into them finding jobs in the area.  In the future this program will expand to encompass welding, all types of construction including concrete work, carpentry, electrical, plumbing, roofing, etc., nursing skills, office skills, and bookkeeping.  Our immediate plan was to get the boys excited by having a church team come from Wisconsin who would help them build birdhouses.  In the future our plan is to bring them to a skill level that they could build items available for sale at the local merchants in Boquete (a local gringo favorite).

January 17th much of that changed, at least temporarily.  I began noticing something going on with my vision.  Many of you know that I had an injury when I was three that caused me to only have vision in one eye.  Up until that point my vision had consistently been excellent in my left eye.  Now suddenly I began seeing flashes of light, hundreds of floaters and what seemed like a curtain moving over the left side of my eye eliminating  my peripheral vision.  A visit to the opthalmologist in David revealed I had in fact torn my retina.  In the Dr’s words this was a double emergency.  First because I could quickly lose vision in this eye.  Second because this was the only eye I had vision in.  The problem was the retinologist is only in David one week out of the month and he had just left for Panama City.  By 8 pm that evening we were on our way to Panama City being driven by our base leader Rich Tracy for the appointment Saturday at noon.  By 6 pm Saturday evening I was laying in a hospital bed in hospital Nacional prepped for surgery.

Liz quickly sent out a request for prayer on facebook.  We have heard from others, over the years who said they knew people were praying for them.  In fact, we have experienced that ourselves but never at this level.  From the moment this started we  had a deep sense of peace.  It was more than a hope.  It was a deep sense of knowing that God was in control.  As the song says, you are God of the heavens and God of the earth, you are God of our saviors virgin birth.  You are God when we fall and God when we stand.  You are God who holds us in your hand.  We have remarked to each other the amazing fact for us that through this we never questioned whether we should go home.  For us, Panama is home.  None of this comes from some superior strength we may have that others don’t.  It simply comes from the knowledge that our lives belong to Him.  Whatever He chooses to allow we know it is all for His purpose.  `‘For we know that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.”  This is the life God has called us all to.  A life of complete surrender to His will and purpose.  We cannot achieve this through any natural means.  It is only achieved through His strength.  “For as many as who believed in Him, to them gave He the power to become the sons of God”.

Some of you may be saying “I could never do this or that”.  We in fact have said that very thing regarding some things we saw others doing in ministry.  How does one go forward in the face of extreme obstacles and circumstances?  Our base leader Rich brought this home when, in the hospital in Panama City, he stated; “this is where we lost our first little girl”.   One cannot help but wonder if they had been in the U.S. whether that would have happened.  One of the things God is teaching us is He is not impressed with our sacrifice.  He is impressed with our obedience.  It’s not what we give up or how difficult the situation is that God measures.  It is our willingness to be obedient in every circumstance.  It does not matter what the circumstance.  Each of us have had our challenges.  It matters how obedient we were and are willing to be.  In that obedience God provides us with the measure of grace and strength we need to go through it.  We personally are grateful that God didn’t call us to serve in Africa or Afghanistan.  However, we have friends who are called to these places and yearn to be there when they are away.  Their hearts are there and that is the grace of God working in them.  If God hasn’t called you to these places it’s ok.  Be faithful and obedient in the things He has called you to.

Through this process God has taught us many things.  Perhaps the most important is how He has highlighted the strength and power that comes from a family of believers all lifting one another up.  You are our family and we are truly grateful for how you have stood by us, prayed for us, and even financially supported us by helping us with our medical expenses.  We anticipate our out of pocket costs to run about $6000.

We are also pleased to tell you that the team was able to go over to Arturo Muro’s and help the guys build birdhouses, the opthamologist/optometrist team did indeed see more than 5,000 people in 5 days, teams came and went and were able to minister in the Comarca.and we were able to hold the fort down until January 15 till Rich and Deb came back. This  Tuesday marks our first workshop at Arturo Muro with some of the hand selected boys there.  The Director is very excited about the prospects and has already identified the first project he would like to start with.  We know this program along with the other ministry opportunities here are all according to God’s plan and timing.

We have one more surgical procedure coming up in the next couple of weeks.  We ask that you keep this, the Arturo Muro boys home, the Nursing Home ministry, and all of the teams and ministry groups here in Chiriqui with the largest number hitting about 300 in April.

On another note, it was a special blessing to have my mom, Dorothy Brumlow, and Kathy Yarbrough visit us here in Panama.  Their being here and ministering to us came at a very important time.

We welcome all visitors! Think about it.

God Bless,

Terry, Liz, and Odie

P.S. Liz is going to show her side of the story in pictures. Well, at least we are going to try.:) Also ministry pictures from the outreaches into the Comarca.

Christmas Day 2013

Christmas day on our front porch.

Christmas day 2014

Lots of people Christmas day in our tiny home.

Eyeglass fitting 1

Exam completed.  Waiting for glasses

Eyeglass fitting 2

Seeing clearly for the first time….EVER   Many

said they had never seen leaves on the trees.

Eyeglass outreaach tugri

More than 5,000 waited for hours over 5 days to

be examined and fitted with glasses.

Tugri build feb 2014

Starting the footings for the new educational building

in the Comarca.

Tugri building Feb 2014

All the building materials for the 40 X 60 building

had to be carried in by hand.

Frequent view from the kitchen

Odie standing guard while Terry patiently obeys

the Drs orders of staying on his left side.  FOR 5

WEEKS.  His mom kept him company and helped

Liz with all the housekeeping duties.

Terry's view

The kitchen in our new home and Terry’s view for

5 weeks.

Liz Birthday 2014

Fortunately we had a chance to celebrate Liz’s

birthday before all the medical excitement.

Standing in the Gap

12 Nov

 

 

“I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one.  Ez. 22:30. New Living Translation

 In Texas many of us are familiar with a gap.  Ranchers know it as an opening in the fence through which cattle, horses, people, or even cars, trucks, and tractors can pass depending on the size of the opening.  Our “gap” here in Panama consists of two wrought iron gates which are closed most of the time.

 Occasionally we leave the gates open for a brief period and that is wheb the fun starts.  Since we live in a rural area it is not uncommon to see cattle being herded up or down the road in front of our house followed by a horseman, car, truck, or a couple of guys walking with sticks.  A couple of days ago One of those incidents occurred.  Our German Shepherd,  Odie, bristled and raced toward our front gate.  As i looked up i saw 4 rather large cows headed onto our property, obviously looking for greener pastures.  Odie gave chase and after much bucking and kicking the cows were safely herded into the very back corner of our property.  They were soon retrieved by a rather sheepish looking vaquera (cowgirl) and her rottwiler mix cattle dog.

 

Ezekial 22:30 talks about we as christians standing in the gap.  We do this in many ways.  Today one of our friends was telling about his daughter there in the U.S.  She is a teacher and has been working closely with one of her students who is a troubled foster child.  CPS has asked her if she is willing to step in as a foster parent to this child with the possibility of adoption in the future. She has accepted this opportunity to stand in the gap for this child.

 

Here in Panama we work very closely with a couple of childrens homes.  We attend weekly offering soccer, Bible study, and in January will begin woodworking classes.

 A church team visited recently and through their outreach efforts more than 400 people decided to follow Christ.

 All of these and many more are ways we all stand in the gap for others.  Sometimes our work is done behind the scenes and receives little to no recognition.

 Our calling as followers of Christ (Christians) is to find ways we can “stand in the gap” for others daily.

 As we read the news of things going on inthe U.S. we can only imagine the negative impact it can have on each of you.  We share these excitingthings with you that are going on here to encourage you and let you knoe God is still moving powerfully throughout the world.  We also want to encourage you to keep doing what it is that God has called you to do to stand in the gap for others.  It is through our obedience to His purpose for us that each of us positively impacts the lives of those around us.

 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.  Galatians 6:9,10

 We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible while we are home.

 We will be at Spring Vineyard on December 8th and Northwest Vineyard inTomball on December 15th.  

 After the services we will be meeting for questions and answers and invite any of you that would like to attend.

Liz, Terry, and Odie

 P.S.  We have just concluded leading our DTS team on 6 weeks of outreach.  Below are some of the pictures from the comarca, villages, schools, churches, parades, nursing homes, and parks we ministered in.

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Lessons Learned from Living in Community

2 Sep

ImageAs september approaches we will mark our second year living and serving in Panama.  As many of you already know we spent our first fourteen months living on the island of Bastimentos in the Bocas del Toro province of Panama.  In late October of last year we moved to the Chiriqui (pronounced cheerrakey) province of Panama to work with the YWAM base there near the city of David.

 

We have seen some pretty awesome things happen in both locations.  During our time on Isla Bastimentos we were able to see a young Ngobe couple (nearly everybody is young by our standards) raised up there for the purpose of ministering to their own people.  Reaching the Ngobe is a long tedious process and is best accomplished by training and equipping Ngobe to reach Ngobe with the love of Christ.  You may recall our plea for support last year to send this couple Simone and Amalia through the indigenous Discipleship Training School.

Many of you responded and we were thrilled to be able to send them.  We are even more thrilled to report that now, almost a year later their work is growing in Bastimentos.  We have received reports that even members of their own family have started going to them to ask for guidance and  direction regarding spiritual matters.  We know from history and scripture that evangelism is usually hardest in our own community.  Regardless, Simone and Amalia have continued to minister, work, and live in their own village and are now starting to see the results of their perserverance.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

At the end of June we managed to get enough work completed on the new 5000 sq ft YWAM building to be able to house several teams during the month of July.  At one point we had about 75 people living there.  The wall to wall mattresses and bunk beds makes an interesting picture and…. -and here is where the real fun begins- 75 people all living together brings out the best and the worst in all of us.  There is nothing like someone, or several someones, invading your private space.  It occurs to us that this is exactly what God intended to happen when we live in community.

As long as we can retreat to the solitude and comfort of our private dwellings we can continue to hide those areas within each of us that really need the most work.  Some of you remember the scene in Crocodile Dundee where the reporter tells Dundee that someone is seeing a therapist.  She says, “it’s good to talk to a therapist, you know, get things out in the open”.  Dundee responds, “back home we just tell Wally our problem.  Wally tells our everybody.  No more problem”.

When we truly live in Christian community as God intended we are constantly faced with the reality of our weaknesses being exposed.  It is this “exposure” that forces us to do something about them.  Someone years ago said it is the little things that cause the greatest problems in our relationships.  When our spouse squeezes the toothpaste tube from the middle or forgets to snap the cap back on the vitamin bottle we become incensed.  The truth is that we are simply selfish human beings and want things our way.  Living in community addresses this on so many levels.  It is through this process that we learn more about what it really means to die to ourselves.  The dying  process allows us to be more available for what God has in mind for us.  We simply cannot do it.  He has to do it through us.

We began  leading  Discipleship Training School  on July  5 th.  It has been an awesome experience.  Watching the students discover new aspects of God, draw closer to Him in their personal walk, and learn new revelations about God through the instructors has been incredible.  Ours is a small class but we traveled for one week to join the DTS in Panama City and they came here  to Chiriqui for another week of teaching and outreach.  We are now past  the halfway mark and will soon begin the process of deciding where to go on our 6 weeks of outreach which will begin in late September.  It is during this time that the students get to practice what they have learned by ministering to others.

In the middle of all of this we have been busy helping out in the base kitchen, Terry has taken over the bookkeeping at the base, and all of the other routine things necessary to keep life going on the mission field.

ImageLast week we said adios” to our awesome kids, Chris and Ashley, as they returned to Texas for some R&R and waiting to see where God needs them next. We have been so blessed to have them in the same country with us for the last two years. We will miss them but are excited to see where God sends them next ( though we can pray he sends them back to us!) They have been visiting with us for a couple of weeks and have had a great time just hanging out. It is such a joy to share what God is doing in all our lives.

Reservations for our return trip to Texas have been made! We will arrive in Houston on November 25 and hope to see you all during the holiday season.  We do plan on sending out more newsletters before then- just wanted to give you fair warning:)

Blessings,

Terry, Liz, and Odie

Aside

  Bienvenidos a nuestros familia! This month marks 6 months

17 Jun

 

 

Bienvenidos a nuestros familia!

 

This month marks 6 months that we have been in our new environment here at Potrerillos Abajo, Chiriqui, Panama and we are excited about all of the things going on. 

 

We had the privilege of attending the YWAM Leadership  Conference of the Americas at the beginning of May in Panama City.  While there we heard great speakers, slept on the Gamboa church floor, and met many new friends.  It was a great time of spiritual renewal and getting to know our new YWAM family.   The theme for this conference was family.  It was time spent discussing, exploring, and strategizing about how we as parents and grandparents raise up younger people to carry on the mission, and how we best go about reaching the unreached people groups throughout the world.  Since this was a conference of the Americas we had breakout groups of North America, Central America, and South America. What we heard in our outreach group was one of the most powerful show of God’s amazing desire for all people to know Him.

 

As you know, we do outreaches into the mountains of the Comarcas ( like reservations) to the indigenous Indians here. Rich and Debbie Tracy, our directors here, have worked with the indigenous groups for 20 years and last year had the first all indigenous Discipleship Training School. We want to train them to reach their own people group. One man went to a “regular” DTS several years ago. His name is Raphael. 

 

Rapheal is a very quiet and humble man. He, his wife Bertillo, and their 7 children live on $110 dollars per month in order to spread the gospel to his people. In the discussions about reaching unreached people groups he and his wife sat very quietly. Rich asked him to share his story. I will try to summarize what he said. I was honestly afraid he would only say a few sentences when I knew all the things God has done through him. He surprised me and spoke so honestly from his heart I started crying almost in the first few minutes. To hear people who know nothing but Christ is a great honor.

 

Raphael started his story by saying that he understood very little of what was going on in the conference because he and his wife are uneducated and Spanish is their second language, but he would be glad to share his story. He stated that he understood very little of what went on in his DTS but knew he needed to seek God in all things. He went home and shared with Bertilla and they began to pray for God’s direction. At the time they lived in the town of San Felix. After some time they believed they were to travel into the Comarca and share the Good News with their own people, so they packed up their belongings and headed into the mountainous jungle to do just that.   The village they settled in was two days walk from the main road back into the comarca  far from any resources or paved roads. He said they didn’t know what they were to do so they prayed and God told them to go hut to hut and share. They began sharing with their neighbors and new friends and over time impacted the lives of others in the village. As they went from village to village, they started churches by finding someone willing to take the lead.  As Raphael shared his simple story of how he and his wife and family trusted God in this act of obedience people in the room began weeping.  It was simply overwhelming to hear this simple man, uneducated in the ways of school and books, talked of his clear connection with his loving heavenly father and blind trust in what he believed God was telling him to do.  He ended his story and I am sure he wondered why the whole group was now crying. Rich (who has been his mentor) asked him how many churches they had started. He stated 12. Then Rich asked him how many people have been baptized and he said ” we think about 500″.  Numbers stated simply and without any kind of bravado. No church planning seminars, not evangelism teaching, no structures, just people sharing what they know with their neighbors. Raphael and his family live in a wooden shack with dirt floors, no electricity, and walk every where they go yet they are far richer than most of us.  It is our privilege and honor to know him and be able to work alongside him.

 

The work in the Comarca continues and is growing rapidly.  We now have two wooden structures and will return at the beginning of next year to construct yet a third unit.  There is now a school at the bottom of the hill with oversight from YWAM that educates children from the area. Raphael, on one of his outreaches, discovered a village about 4 hours walk (for the Ngobe, it would take us two days) where about three hundred people live whom are totally illiterate.  At their request we have joined forces with the government and will be sending yet another Ngobe Bugle YWAMer to live there and teach them basic reading skills.  Once the children have basic reading skills they will be eligible for residency at the new structure we are building and will live there during school semesters and attend the school.  Their families will be able to visit and they can return to their villages when they complete each semester or during extended holidays.

 

 

In addition, the location Raphael originally settled has now been determined by the Ngobe  indians as their future capitol city in the Comarca and named it Tugri.  We, YWAM, through Raphael , have been given an additional parcel of land that is situated in the two crossroads of this city where we will build a community center.  This community center will host year long DTS training for those in the area further creating more disciples  There are an estimated 200,000 Ngobe Bugle indians living in this area of Panama.  

 

Beginning July 5 we will host our last all indigenous DTS here at the YWAM Chiriqui base.  All future DTS’s for the indigenous will be held on location in the Comarca.  In addition, we have been developing plans to host year round DTS’s in other areas in order to disciple people in their own areas. It will be held on weekends to allow people to stay with their families during the week.

 

On other fronts, the work continues to progress on our new base location in Potrerillos Aribba.  This base will be the hub for continued DTS trainings, an orphanage for about 100 children, outreach into the local orphanages, nursing homes, children’s cancer hospitals, and prison ministries in David, and various other outreaches to the community.  We have been working very diligently to complete the structure and have plans to move into it by the end of June.  All of this has been made possible by a huge financial gift from one of the churches in the U.S. and God also blessed us with the ability to purchase commercial kitchen appliances at 1/4 retail cost. They came from a local restaurant owner who is returning to the states and wanted to bless the ministry. 

 

God continues to provide us with resources both financially and staff wise to accomplish the tasks before us.  We are truly blessed.

 

On the personal front:

 

Terry had the opportunity to attend some formal spanish classes in nearby Boquete thus allowing him to better communicate better with the people here.

 

 One of our friends from the states came to visit us in April and our kids, Chris and Ashley came last weekend to celebrate Terry’s 60th  birthday. It is such encouragement to us to have visitors. So some of you need to pack your bags and come visit!

 

We will have the privilege of keeping Rich and Debbie’s 18 month old foster son for the next 3 weeks while they are in the states. Due to the laws here, they are not allowed to take him out of the country. We love Andy and are looking forward to hearing the pitter patter of little feet in the house again. 

 

We will  be leading the DTS here beginning on July 5th and we are working construction each day on the new base in order to have it completed before that time. We currently have 10 students registered with a couple of others who are considering coming. This is the 5 month course we attended in Tyler before we came to Panama. We would really appreciate your prayers during that time. It will run until Nov 22 and then we will be heading back to the states to eat turkey and see all our friends and relatives before the new year begins.

 

We are now in the rainy season here which runs from May through December.  It rains pretty much every day for a couple of hours very hard and things have really greened up.  We were very close to having the government schedule mandatory blackouts due to a shortage of electricity (Panama gets it electricity through hydroelectric power) but with the rains that should ease up a bit.

 

We continue to be grateful for each of you and knowing you are behind us gives us encouragement to carry on. 

 

 

 Blessings,

 

Terry, Liz, and Odie

 

 

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