Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Left Behind

We are almost three months in with our life in Panama. It has been a sweet time of growing and learning through many different facets!
We have had many encouraging days and many discouraging days following by some more encouraging ones!
Basketball, has been very discouraging. It is safe to say that we have not had a winning season...all 6 teams. This week marks the end of basketball and it can not come soon enough.
Nathan has done an awesome job with what he has been given. Improving on the athletics in many areas....but if you don't have the talent...you just don't have the talent!
I asked him yesterday what he felt like the Lord has taught him most, he said patience. I said do you think you have learned it then...followed by a big "NO WAY!" We both had a good laugh...we are both learning patience.
Nathan posted about relationships and how we have been very encouraged by the many relationships we have already developed. There is one in particular that I would covet your prayers for.
I have had the opportunity to drive all my girls (8th-12th grade) to all our practices and games (that is for a whole new post...11 girls in a 7 passenger and I ran over the bag of balls, 6 of them, not my finest moment!)It has been a privilege to watch them enteract with each other and to see them growing as people and as a team. We have two girls on the team that are completely new to the school (most are new to bball.) One of the new girls lives up the road from us.
I am not going to share her name, but she is from Europe and speaks fluently in three languages and understands 2 more, one being Russian! Her mother died when she was 7 leaving her father with three children in a foreign country. They have just moved to Panama as he has continued his work here. This is her first christian school to attend. All others have been science based, as she described to me.
She has come under my wing, always riding in the front seat,babysitting for our kids every Thursday night when she is not grounded, treating our car and stroller as if it is her own when we are at school functions and her father is not around, and sharing about her adjustments to living here and about her life growing up. It has been my joy.
Last week she was reading "Left Behind." She is an avid reader and very brilliant.
The few weeks prior I asked her if she wanted to come to church with us, she looked like I had just run over a cat, she was so shocked saying, "I can't remember the last time we went to church." She and her brother agreed to come but called the night before to say they could not. We did not pry praying for other opportunities.
Last week after dropping everyone else off I asked her how she like "Left Behind" she said she loved it. I asked her what she loved about it. She said all of it. Then I asked her if she was going to be Left Behind, she replied, "probably."
I asked her why she felt that way and she said she was so confused, confused about everything. The only things she knew for sure was that, "I am here, and that I am a girl. Beyond that, I have no idea."
We continued in a deep conversation of what the Bible means and what it means to follow the Lord. She said that there was a lot for her to think about.
Please first pray that she feels the presence of the Lord in her life, that she accepts that she is loved unconditionally by a Heavenly Father, she has be given a place to release her sins and that she can give her life to someone whom she cannot see, she cannot understand, and she cannot figure out.
Her brain is trying to grasp the profoundness of what the Bible is saying and she wants to figure it out...without the love of the Lord in her heart. I want so badly for her to accept His love and love in return.
Please pray for many more opportunities for her to share and for me to share and for me to love and encourage. Pray for a wise and discerning heart, and pleasant words to promote instuction. That I may be a fountain of understanding and for my mouth to be guided. (Proverbs 16:21-23.)
There are so many more things I want to tell you about her....hopefully soon I will have lots!
This is why we are here. This is why we are sweating our brains out and shuffling our kids around so that we may coach these kids. It is such an awesome way to love, teach and encourage...with the love of our Savior.
I will be with her, even today!
Pray for courage, boldness, knowledge of the Holy Spirit and always for patience!!
Team pictures on Wednesday....I will post asap!

Thursday, October 8, 2009


The "Evergreen" Crate arrived after a mostly safe voyage on the "Ever Divine." We were grateful to not have any extra taxes and we found favor with everyone involved. We got a good taste of how Panama operates as we went back and forth to the office handeling the process on the Panama side of things....a sweet taste with the exception of the location of the office. After wandering around the insides of a seeminly deserted building we happened upon an office under total renovation down a dark hall...the office was still in full effect though! We had a few damaged goods. Some things damp. It seemed as if the crate had been dipped into the ocean about 18 inches up. It was still like Christmas!
Sadly, as soon as we unloaded the crate we piled it into the middle of the rooms and covered it all with plastic as we had much to go in having a livable apartment. The school was so gracious to put new floors in and re-do the bathrooms. Another taste of Panama would be how long the processes are here. I just about drove the painters crazy. There were complete walls of paint peeling off. They arrived the first day and painted two rooms without so much as wiping off a few years of dirt and grim much less sanding. I spent days sanding with them. It was a full two weeks of spanish lessons. It ended up being a blessing because I was forced into remembering and learning the language. Nathan would probably tell you that NO ONE can paint a room to my satisfaction except myself. I think he may be correct. I can tell you this, it may not be perfect, but its a lot better than what was there!

These are the painters. In the two weeks we spent 'lejando y pintando" (sanding and painting) they called me a princess, detailed, boss, commander, perfectionist....and that is what I heard! I think they finally got the picture that I wanted it done well. I taped down the floor lines and they said, "We don't do that here in Panama!" I said I knew that and that is exactly why I was doing it! I treated them to many Snicker bars hoping they would see beyond my needs for perfection! We spent a few nights going behind them and sanding and cleaning. They had never seen or heard of a 5 and 1 tool used for all your painting/scraping needs! Nathan has been a huge trooper with all my perfection detailed princess bossy moments!
We are moved it, plastic is off, sanding and painting has commenced until a later date and I have the urge to be nerotic! We are having fun settleing in and enjoying our neighbors...fellow teachers with Nathan. We are so grateful to the people helped us with our furniture and so many other things to make this feel like home and to look beautiful! All three kids are sleeping WELL together and having lots of fun giggling and jumping on the beds. Hope they remember these days! I know I will never forget. I am doing my best to remember the Lord's promises of yesterday, of today and for our future and not dwell on what I do not have, but remember what I do. So many prayers have been answer and so many new ones have manifested.
More to come....just taking it one day at a time!
All our love! Clare and gang

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


It is a testimony to prayer at how we are starting to feel settled in here. We have been in our apartment for three weeks now. It has been a huge blessing to have our own place since dismantling our house back in April. Clare has done an awesome job as you could expect in organizing and maximizing the space. I think all we have left to do is to get some coverings for some windows and to get a few things up on the wall. It has already been called "the vortex" since it just sucks you in. That's what we wanted. At times it feels like we are living in a college dorm again as the people we work with and socialize are just a few steps away. Except this time we have kids. We are very grateful for our neighboring teachers that were very gracious with us as they let us use their oven and washer and dryer while we were waiting on ours to be delivered and fixed. It has been fun to be in fellowship with our new neighbors and getting to know them, their background, and their faith. Just as we have been learning the cultural difference in Christianity while living in Panama, I am getting to see how there are many different Christians carrying out God's work in different ways and mindsets in the States. I just pray that we can learn to not see the differences but celebrate how we love our Saviour.

I believe it is all about relationships. We are here to glorify God and to share what He has done in our life with others. To be able to share and give input with others, you have to have put time in. That comes through family, being a friend in tough times, a listening ear, a shoulder, youth leader, counselor, carpooling, small group, bible study, or meals together. Relationships are what makes life messy. It is easier to not be involved in someone's life then to deal with issues and to love them through their faults and risk the same for yourself.

This contributes to why teaching is such a draining profession. You are in the middle of relationships with parents and students. You come across more people then most typical workplaces. I have been praying about seeing the children for who they are and what the Lord has in store for them. They will one day be husbands and wives, mothers and fathers. It is easy to lose track of that when you are trying to manage a classroom. I pray that I am teaching life lessons and shaping them to be joyful in serving our Lord.

Relationships back home are definitely missed. It is hard to be away from the ones that we love. It is more difficult in that I must choose to not dwell on what I am missing, but to be where I am. This is more a defense mechanism than anything. We are working on being content with where the Lord has us. Some days that is easy, as I play games with kids, see parrots flying by, watch a cruise ship go through the canal, learning a new language, and countless other things. Other days it is more difficult, as I deal with parents that don't communicate, drive for an hour after a practice or game to take kids home, deal with staff that is anti-sports, have to talk with kids about their apathetic attitude, and learning a new language. On top of missing out on family gatherings, small groups back home, and groving in Oxford before a big game. Ro is especially homesick these days after a visit from her Grancy and Grampton. When she prays it is "Help us to be in Panama, I don't want to be in Panama." She then prays for everyone that she wants to come see her here. It kills me.

Thank you for your prayers, and please continue to do so. Pray that we hear God's words of encouragement and not Satan's doubts. I pray that you see the hearts around you that need prayer and love. We are all in this together.