MAY/JUN 2020 SpanishWordoftheMonth TODAVIA-STILL

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Panama changed the quarantine restrictions for 6 days in the beginning of June and we are so grateful that we were able to move from one apartment to another during this time. We had been packed up since March so this was a welcome surprise to us and it is nice to begin settling in the new place.

Unfortunately, after the six days Panama decided to return our province to total quarantine, which means 3 hrs out, 3 times a week for each of us. This was devastating to us as we were so hoping to be moving past the strictest quarantine of almost any country in the western hemisphere. We are sure the government has it reasons, but they were not anything that we could logically understand.

So we are back locked up (I mean safely at home) here for who knows how long, God knows! Some positive things are that we have a new apartment to unpack and this new place has an outdoor walking track that is open from 8-6 daily, so we are able to get some outdoor exercise everyday that we were not allowed to do for the last 11 weeks at our old apartment.

 

Our hearts are broken with the news of the civil unrest in the US and around the world. This video helped us to better understand the problem of racism and how to make changes in our hearts, our families, our churches and in our communities. It is well worth the 14 minutes it will take you to watch it.

 

In addition to Mike’s new stay at home jobs, he has been going to Casa PAAM in his 3hr window of time 3 times a week to continue working on his construction projects there. You can imagine it is difficult to get much done in this short time but he keeps going and has small achievements day by day.

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Screen Shot 2020-05-21 at 9.29.58 AMOne of Peggy’s favorite classes to teach is TBLL or task based language learning. It is a very practical class that teaches real life language learning by accomplishing a task. Last month, she worked with one of her students learning how to plant a garden as this missionary will be living in the country in Jordan and wants to be able to grow some of her own food.

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We landed here with a bang, as we had a problem connecting an instant water heater that caused the shut off of gas, to the entire 80-unit apartment building for 5 days, and other water damage. This was a huge debacle that is causing us to look to God to see how He will use it for our good and for His glory (Rom 8:28) because it wasn’t our idea of how to meet the new neighbors.

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Our oldest child turned 40 Jun 13th and has a wife, a teenager and these tweens of his own-we old!

 

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Mar/Apr SWOM Cuarentena-Quarantine

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How is this changing our lives? Maybe you are like us, wondering how all this will affect the future. We thought we had our plans perfectly laid out but now we are learning to trust that God has a better plan than ours.

We have been in quarantine since March 14th. Our airport and borders are closed. We are allowed to go out for groceries and medicines in very restricted hours. Other than that we are not permitted to go outside, even for a walk.

Stuck at home or safe at home? We’re learning that attitude matters. We are thankful to be safe, to have food, shelter and each other (most of the time)!

We’re waiting and trusting God in this unprecedented time just like the rest of you. We are hopeful and secure, knowing that God is in control and He alone holds the future. He has seen us through harder times than this and we know for certain that that He will see us all through these times as well.

Thank you so much dear partners for your love and prayers. We so appreciate you. We pray for you often so please let us know how we can be more specific in praying.

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Feb 2020 VISITAS – VISITORS

What a whirlwind February was for us. It was our great joy to host friends and work teams and to share in ministry with them.

Peggy’s students enjoyed learning medical things from the Springs Church team, practicing budgeting with Amy and practicing their English with Nancy.

Meanwhile the guys stayed busy preparing Juntos Podemos for the new school year that started March 2nd.

What an honor to be part of the global body of Christ. Thanks for being part of this crazy adventure with us.

We are praising God for:
  • Great fellowship with friends from near and far
  • The safety of all the team members
  • The completion of all the work team goals
  • Great opportunities for Peggy’s students to practice English
Please pray for:
  • Us to find a new apartment and to move by March 31st
  • Wisdom and direction for a chapel presentation to 6th-12th graders at a local Christian school Mar 18th
  • Clear communication for a presentation to local pastors (in Spanish) Mar 28th about how to make friendships with Muslims

 

2020 Jan Nuevo-New

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Click here to watch a video review of last year

And just like that it’s the end of the first month of 2020! Happy New Year!  We were able to spend the holidays with family and to visit some of our ministry partners in the States in December and now we have hit the ground running in Panama. Screen Shot 2020-01-31 at 1.59.37 PM.pngScreen Shot 2020-01-31 at 2.00.17 PM.png

We are praising God for:
  • His goodness and provision to us in 2019
  • The fellowship and unity of our RG team
  • Meaningful ministries in Panama
  • Our families and ministry partners
Please pray for:
  • February’s short term teams that will serve with us
  • An awakening in the Panamanian church, to be missionally minded
  • Peggy’s students as they strive to learn a new language
  • To complete the classrooms at JP before school starts in Feb

2019 JUL/AUG PUENTES – BRIDGES

One thing that we have always been interested in since our very first days dreaming about the mission field was Muslim ministry.

To that end, we have been trained and equipped in several courses over the years including the Bridges curriculum published by Crescent Project.

“All too often, Christians respond to Muslims without the compassion that characterized Jesus. Bridges helps Christians relate to their Muslim neighbors with love and gentle boldness”

Bridges is a 6 week video course that teaches a basic understanding of Islam and its tenets. It also instructs Christians very practically on how to reach out to their Muslim neighbors.

Beginning in August, Mike and I have had the opportunity to facilitate this course both in English and in Spanish.

It is encouraging to see what God is doing to awaken the Latin American churches to the needs of those around them.

While exact statistics are difficult to obtain, it is said that Panama hosts the greatest number of Muslims in Central America. In this relatively small but strategically positioned country, there are 14 mosques and one very large Islamic training center.

We believe building bridges of friendship is one of the first steps to opportunities to share with others about the God we love and serve.

Additionally, next month Panama will host a very well known worker from the underground church in Iran, which is reported to be the fastest growing Christian church in the world. It’s exciting to be part of this movement.

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We are praising God for:
  • Strategic ministries here in Panama
  • Our national ministry partners
  • Continued encouragement and growth in our ESL students
Please pray for:
  • God to mobilize the church in Panama to show Jesus to their neighbors
  • Muslim ministry seminars Sept 14th
  • Wisdom and safety and protection for Peggy’s mentee who leaves for a one month vision trip to Jordan Sept 1st
  • Successful total knee replacement surgery for Mike Sept 18th

 

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

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.