MAY/JUN SpanishWordOf theMonth: Nuevas Responsabilidades- New Responsibilities

 

A famous Greek philosopher once said that the only constant in life is change and we have experienced that this is especially true on the mission field.

We joined the RG Panama team in June of 2016 because we thought this was where God was leading us and we felt confident that we could work under the leadership of Jon Fowler, and with the other team members. Now, just three short years later, not one of those people is still on the team!

Earlier this year, the Fowlers felt called to leave RG to serve with the Word of Life Ministry (WOL) here in Panama. In fact, WOL was the Fowler’s original connection to Panama and Jon had been mentored by their local director Mirko. When Mirko died unexpectedly in July of 2017, it created a huge whole for the WOL team. Through a series of events and the calling of God, the Fowlers felt led to switch mission agencies and assume leadership responsibilities with WOL.

We are excited for them and the way we have seen God lead them through this but now it’s our team’s time for a loss of leadership. We are so grateful for how God used the Fowlers to establish this team in Panama in 2014 and are thankful for the healthy team they have built. While we are all personally sad to see them leave our organization, we are glad that they will still be serving in Panama and in reality, all missionaries serve on the same team!

In the meantime, Mike is stepping in as our interim “on the ground” team leader and we have another temporary team leader off site. RG is also working to recruit a more permanent team leader.

We have appreciated the way that all sides have handled this transition and we look forward to all that God has planned for Panama.

It’s good to know, that while these things surprise, and sometimes unsettle us, they are not surprises to God and that He knows the plans He has for us.

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We are praising God for:
  • 40 years of marriage celebrated June 2nd
  • A good health report for granddaughter Nora
  • Successful hernia surgery for Mike June 7th
  • A smooth transition of leadership for our team
Please pray for:
  • God to send more workers into the field, specifically PAAM could use administrative helpers and Conexion Training more teachers
  • God to continue to encourage the students as they work hard to learn English and language acquisition skills
  • PAAM to be able to move their offices downstairs in Casa PAAM soon.
  • Continued physical health and strength for Mike
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2019 Mar/Apr SWOM:Moved-Mudamos

PAAM new address

With great joy we announce to you that PAAM has moved into CASA PAAM, the building that Mike has been helping renovate for the last year. While the construction is not yet complete, PAAM needed to move in according to the terms of the long term lease agreement that they have for the building. And so, mid March brought the relocation of the mission agency’s office to the new place.

The new building/mission training center has three floors. The basement houses the mission agency’s offices, the main floor contains a kitchen, laundry room, and meeting rooms (where Peggy will be teaching English) and the upstairs has bedrooms to provide housing for the students and other missionaries.

Currently, the basement is still under construction, in fact, the tile floors are being laid this week and so the mission agency is being temporarily housed on the main floor, all crammed into one small room.

It’s been quite a transition moving the internet, offices and personnel to the new location. As you can imagine, the whole place has been rather chaotic.

Additionally, two new Conexion Training students arrived in early April and are now living upstairs in CASA PAAM. The girls are delightful and have been so patient with us as we are all just figuring things out in the new building.It is their home for the next 6 months as well as their school, a mission office and a construction zone.

As you can imagine this has also made things more complicated for Mike as he is used to being there working without any interference from people needing to work or study or teach or live there. But we are all just trying to give each other grace and trying to respect the space and needs of each other.

We are praising God for:
  • The relocation of PAAM into CASA PAAM
  • His goodness and love to us in the cross and resurrection
  • Gospel minded national partners, like PAAM
Please pray for:
  • Smooth transitions at CASA PAAM
  • The new students as they work hard to learn English and language acquisition skills
  • God’s provision for the supplies and materials to complete the remodeling at CASA PAAM
  • Continued physical health and strength for Mike
  • God to heal our granddaughter Nora’s asthma

 

FEB: Equipos de Construcción- Work Teams

While February is the shortest month of the year…   to us it seemed to have lasted about 40 days! It was a whirlwind of teams and activities as you can see in the following video.

We are so grateful for God’s goodness to us in His provision of help from the body of Christ.  We received two work teams from Wheaton and a medical missions team from Missouri. As missionaries living outside the US, there is almost nothing like receiving visitors from home.

We did a lot of work, had a lot of fun, shared meals, laughter and memories as well as blessed our local partnerships.

Thank you to all of you who came, who gave, or who prayed for those coming to serve with us. We can’t say thank you enough. You encouraged our hearts and made the work that much sweeter to be doing it with friends.  Ecclesiastes 4:9 – Two people are better than one because together they have a good reward for their hard work.

We are praising God for:
  • The huge encouragement, help and support of the February work teams.
  • The safety of the teams, especially those on tall ladders at Casa PAAM.
  • The end of the first year of ESL teaching for Peggy. Her last students left at the end of February.
  • You, our partners, who provide for us to be here.
Please pray for:
  • The transition of our local partner, PAAM, as they move from their old office into Casa PAAM March 9th.
  • Planning and preparation for the new Conexion Training school year beginning early April for Peggy.
  • Our kids and grandkids back in CO.
  • Our continued language progress.

NOV/DEC/JAN VÁMONOS – LET’S GO!

As 2018 ended we:

thanksgiving 2018

Spent Thanksgiving with our families in Wheaton and then in Colorado. It was great to be there with all the family without the hecticness of the Christmas season. We took some nice hikes, spent time the grandkid’s schools and sporting events, hunted for mice at one kid’s house, had a great Thanksgiving meal together and even saw some early Christmas decorations.

gingerbread houses 2018

Then we were back to work in Panama for the rest of the year. The end of November brought the conclusion of the second trimester of Conexion Training (ESL & SLA) for Peggy and we said good bye to several of our students who are heading to serve in Afghanistan, Korea, Egypt and Kenya.

English classes continued for the rest of the students throughout December and we had many fun moments making gingerbread houses, singing Christmas carols and learning the Christmas story in English. It was the first time any of them had ever made a gingerbread house and while they didn’t turn out amazing, we had a lot of fun making them together.

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Mike continued his construction work at Casa PAAM and Juntos Podemos. His one daily helper left for the States so he works most days by himself at Casa PAAM with occasional help from our teammate Matt and his son Ian and Peggy’s student Fernando,  but it is amazing the work that they get done.  *faces blurred intentionally

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Early December we welcomed a new teammate, 26 yr. old Sarah K, from Pittsburgh. Her first days were spent apartment and car shopping and she found a lovely furnished apartment right down the street from us and a great used car. She is transitioning well to Panama and will begin language school next week.

It was a tropical Christmas season for us here in Panama, a little weird but not bad. We took a day trip to an island with our teammates, went to a local cantada (singing program) and celebrated Christmas Eve dinner together as a team. Mike and I spent a quiet Christmas; taking a bike ride, talking to family back home and opening a jar of blessings that we had written down that we had received throughout the year. It was a special time remembering God’s goodness to us in 2018.

2019 is off to a good start…

team retreatWe are both back at work, teaching and carpentering (a new word, thanks Jer).

We had our annual Reach Global Panama team retreat where we reflected on the year past, set goals for the future and enjoyed each other’s company. Our team now has 5 units; 15 people in all including children but not pets! We are excited and encouraged to see where God will lead this relatively new team that was just established in 2014. For now, we are doing church planting/revitalizing, child sponsorship program, pastor’s network and training programs, mobilizing Latino missionaries and construction help through the outreaches of the local church. God is at work and it’s our privilege to be part of it all.

 

 

 

MISSY 1981-2017

There are things in this world that no human being should be able to endure. We should die of heartbreak, but we do not. Instead we are forced to survive, to bear witness.          “The Good Father”

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In light of the coming anniversary of Missy’s death, I need to bear witness to the goodness of God, to the security of His love and to His sovereign control over every detail of each of our lives. He has been so good to us. He has been our rock and our strength, our comfort and His joy.

The following is just a little excerpt of one of my recent prayer times. I am sharing with you all to testify that God doesn’t make mistakes and that He is able. He speaks so sweetly to us during our times of sorrow.

In such a real way, I am more alive now than ever before because you have walked so intimately with me. You have put your healing touch on my broken and wounded heart. You have held me so close to your chest. You have carried me when I could not walk. You have molded, with your own hands, my broken heart back together.

I am so so grateful for the promise that Missy fully knows now. You have healed her every wrong thought. She is free and understands how fully loved she is by you and was by so many of us whose lives she touched here on earth.

You didn’t let her down Lord, you saw each tortured thought she had, and you allowed her to endure such pain, whether from her own sin or just from living in a broken world. Perhaps this was the extra light and joy that she had and exuded to all of us; the sweet intimacy she shared with you for so many years in her pain. You saw how she suffered and you could have corrected it all but you didn’t God. You allowed her to suffer, this was part of your plan for her life and then you brought her home. You numbered her days before there was even one of them. You knew we would only have her for 35 years.

You knew she wouldn’t be a lifetime wife for Paul or a lifetime mom for Hannah and Amelia and yet you gave her to them and them to her for the limited time she had with them. You don’t make mistakes Lord. She was that burst of love that they had for such a short time but God I trust it was purposeful according to YOUR plan. To me, it’s awful and my heart breaks for them without her, but I will keep trusting you God. Please help them see their lives blessed because of the time they shared with her instead of forever destroyed by the loss of her. In you alone Lord there is reparation and healing. I trust you to be their healer, you know and love them all even more than me.

Thank you my sweet, sweet Father and lover of my soul for the contentment of resting in you and of seeing life from your point of view, for living each moment in the joy of your presence.

Lastly, I would like to say to all of you, live each day to the fullest. God wants us to live an abundant life each day. We have no earthly guarantees, today might be your last. So laugh, and love and share His love. Enjoy the people God has put in your life today. These relationships are purposeful. Do not let the enemy of your soul steal your joy. Christ died to gain victory over the power of the enemy and of death, so let’s live as overcomers and show the world the wonders of the amazing God we serve.

As Missy did, let’s live for His glory alone!

JUN/JUL SpanishWordOfMonth: THE WORLD CUP-LA COPA MUNDIAL

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The months of June and July hosted the FIFA World Cup Soccer Tournament in Russia. Being the Americans that Mike and I are, that didn’t really mean too much to us as we have never been big soccer fans. However soon discovered how important this tournament was to our host country and to its people.

Panama qualified for the FIRST TIME EVER in its history to be part of this competition. The excitement and patriotism were palpable here as the people were SO proud to be represented in Russia. There were signs and flags everywhere, saying Go Panama, We’re heading to Russia etc.

Well, our team went and lost all three of the games they played in but we learned some intriguing lessons as we watched the Panamanians throughout this process.

For example, in game 2, even though they were losing 6-0 and it was very late in the game, the Panamanians couldn’t contain their joy and exuberance when they scored their first ever world cup goal!

Lessons learned:

  • look for the joy in all things
  • don’t be overwhelmed by difficult circumstances
  • celebrate victories
  • never give up

The Panamanians came home apparent losers according to statistics but they felt like winners just to have been part of the competition and to have scored a total of 2 goals.

The World Cup served to remind us as global Christians :

  • First of all, to be aware of all that is happening around the world.
  • There are crisis’ all around us, in Nicaragua, Venezuela, Syria, in your family, neighborhood, town, etc.
  • There are people that God has made and loves suffering all around us, let us not fail to help where we can and to be mindful and prayerful of them.

Let us not be overcome by the seemingly incomparable odds often stacked against us, let us hold firm to the truth and live in the victory, day by day!

We are praising God for:
  • The progress of Peggy’s work with the ESL and SLA classes
  • Mike’s continuing work at Casa PAAM
  • A week of rest for us in Florida with Peggy’s sister and brother in law in early July
  • The gift that each day is to us and the opportunity to participate in Kingdom work 
Please pray for:
  • A greater awareness for all of us of others who are suffering, both near and far, especially these days in Nicaragua, Venezuela, worldwide refugees etc.
  • Help for Greece due to recent wild fires that resulted in the loss of many lives and property, followed by flash flooding.
  • Continued healing for all our family
  • Additional ESL teachers for the Conexion Training program here in Panama
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Un Milagro – A Miracle

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Emily, Clay, Simon, Andrew & Mike

We just have to share this GREAT news.

A week ago we asked for prayer for our niece Emily and her family as her husband Clay was scheduled for surgery to remove a brain tumor on June 1st.

Well amazingly enough, God stepped in and responded in an amazing way!

Emily and Clay had flown to Seattle to have the operation and as Clay was in the operating room, where they were preparing for surgery and beginning to administer general anesthesia, the surgeon came in after seeing the latest brain imagining and declared that there was NO tumor in Clay’s brain. Accordingly the entire operating room stood still, they had never seen anything like this before. Isn’t this so like our amazing God?!

Thank you so so much for your prayers for them and for being part of this miracle with us. We are praising our miracle working God who is always able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. Ephesians 3:20.

To God be the glory, forever and ever amen.

You can read more details Clay’s caring bridge page.

APR/MAY SpanishWordOfMonth: RUNNING – CORRIENDO

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And we are off and running…

  • The Conexion Training SLA (second language acquisition) program that Peggy is a part of officially began in mid April! Peggy is now busy in the classroom 4 days a week teaching English to Latino missionaries and spends time outside the classroom preparing lesson plans, grading, evaluating etc. Like anything new, it takes a lot of time and there are always bumps along the road but she is enjoying it immensely. She also loves the chance to share life with these missionaries who will soon be leaving for the mission field.

  • The temporary kitchen at Juntos Podemos that Mike has spent a lot of time working on has finally been completed and was officially inaugurated on April 28th. It was an honor to be part of this celebration and to see how the gospel is transforming this community.

  • Work continues at Casa PAAM, the future home of the Panamanian mission agency and Conexion Training. Mike, along with two other helpers, is in charge of all the renovations for this three story building. Currently he is redoing the entire electrical system and up next is the plumbing. He would LOVE to host a team of qualified plumbers as soon as they are able to come help him. If you know anyone who might be interested, please let us know.

  • Additionally, we have had a host of visitors which is always special to us. In early April our niece Emily and her husband Clay and sons, Andrew 4 and Simon 3 visited.

  • In May, our Wheaton Bible Church missions pastor, Kyle Reschke, and our good friend Lee Lewis were also here for 4 days.

  • And at the end of May, we visited with a friend we had met when we were in Greece, Dale Smyth. He is currently skippering a yacht in an around the world race and they were docked right down the causeway from us.
We are praising God for:
  • The beginning of the Conexion Training program in Panama
  • The continuing work at Casa PAAM
  • The opening of the new kitchen at Juntos Podemos 
  • His constant love and care for us
  • Our Costa Rican teammates, the Saavedras, are finally funded and began full time ministry with us in April!
Please pray for:
  • Our niece Emily and her family. Clay is having surgery June 1st for a brain tumor that they found just after they left Panama
  • A short term team of plumbers for Casa PAAM
  • Our granddaughter, Hannah Bennett 15, who was transferred to a residential treatment program for girls with attachment disorder in May. Please continue to pray for the adjustments for Paul and Amelia too without Missy and Hannah in the home.

 

FEB/MAR: PROGRESS-PROGRESO

Casa PAAM

Casa PAAM

Casa PAAM

The demolition crew

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Conexion Training for Peggy

Clay

A visit from Clay, our niece’s husband in February

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Worship night

Teeuwen

A March visit from the Teeuwens, our missionary friends from Greece

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The new kitchen at Juntos Podemos is now open and working!

While many of you are awaiting Spring in the US, we are coming to an end of summer or the dry season here in Panama which has brought the following progress for us: 

  • First of all, we are all moved into our new apartment on the outskirts of Panama City and we are thrilled with our new location. Mike’s commute has changed from about 3 hrs/day to about 30 minutes! This is awesome!
  • The Nolen family moved into the same apartment building as us so Peggy rides the elevator to go to her instruction for Conexion Training. This Second Language Acquisition (SLA) and ESL program to equip Latino missionaries will begin it’s pilot class here in Panama on April 11th. Peggy will be teaching on Mondays-Thursday from 10-3pm each day.
  • After about one month’s delay, we finally received a signed contract and the keys to Casa PAAM! This is the future home of the PAAM offices (Panamanian mission org) and also where we will be hosting the SLA and ESL classes as well as housing the missionaries that will be attending Conexion Training.
  • Mike has begun the renovations to the building, which are quite extensive and will probably take place for the next couple of years. For now, he is working hard to get it manageable to host our first students who are coming from Chile for the classes beginning in April.
  • Our Reach Global teammates, Jon and Bianca Fowler, have stepped in to help revitalize the small church that we have been attending. Our pastor needed to step away from the ministry for a bit so Jon has been preaching and training up the young leaders in the church while Bianca has been coaching the worship team. Overall, it has been exciting to see how the nationals are taking responsibility and ownership of the church. They hosted their first outreach last weekend, a night of worship, that was very well organized and received. 

We are praising God for:

  • His providence and provision in providing new housing for us so close to work
  • For the start of work at Casa PAAM
  • The opening of the new kitchen at Juntos Podemos 
  • His constant love and care for us
  • Our national partner Cesar’s new car!

Please pray for:

  • Workers and provisions for Casa PAAM
  • A good start to Conexion Training classes April 11th
  • Continued healing for us and our family following the death of our dear Missy