Saturday, January 12, 2013

Saturday, January 12

Our last full day in Panama. Friday's post was just updated as of 4:20PM. - Coach Haas

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So we are going to do some tourism stuff like see the canal, go shopping, and so on. It'll be a great day. We went to some bazaar type shopping area and got some souvenirs. Then we made our way to the mall and by some act of God's inspiration we made it there after almost going the wrong way and backing up on a main road. We had lunch at Quiznos again and looked around. It was a really cool place with toy trains around the food court and a mall so big it needs parking organized with animals. Now we are looking for a super market for Coach to get coffee and hot sauce and then we are headed for the canal.

We went and saw the canal and a boat was just finishing its trip to the Atlantic Ocean. There was a huge museum and a small exhibit about the marine life. It was very impressive and really an intelligent design even as way back as 1913.
They sure do love that canal. (:
We went to this insanely shady waterfall swimming hole and met this guy that pretty much said, "hey, panama is great, no? There is carnivals and they are great you can drink for four days and four nights and nobody says nothing. Girls are nice too. They have nice hips and are warm". Thanks bud. It was so shady and awkward, but it was a beautiful spot with fish that love to eat spit.

Coach taught Jeremy how to drive stick and he drove back to our home. It was quite impressive, I must say.

We went to Niko's one last time for dinner and had devotions about prayer and then reflected on the whole trip and everyone we talked to.

Luke for the Team

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday, January 11

After a fun and late evening with Daniel’s basketball team we woke for an 8 AM breakfast of pancakes. Daniel gave us a report on the previous evening’s testimonies and message of salvation. Five of the thirteen boys responded that they accepted Christ as their savior last evening. The previous number was 7; however 2 of them had done so previously. One wrote that he is “certain that it will change his life”. Another wrote that he has not accepted Christ yet but he believes he will soon make that decision. Yet another that had already accepted Christ previously wrote “to follow the path of God forever and to honor God.” One of the young men stated that he wants to see further change in his life because he doesn’t obey his parents and doesn’t behave well.

We then took the ½ mile walk back to the gymnasium for some more b-ball. We split into 6 teams of 3 per tem with each team have a gringo captain. We played one another for about two hours. The boys made significant improvement in their level of lay in just that short amount of time. You could see them trying to emulate our passing and a few learned “give and goes” for easy lay ups. The day before none of them drove to the basket.

Returning to Casa Paraiso we helped prepare lunch while the boys showered. After sandwiches, chips, fruit, and lemon lime tang we said our goodbyes to our new friends. We provided them with a list of our names for Facebook and have already received friend requests.

After their departure we showered and set out for some sightseeing. We visited the Ancon Hill - a steep 654-foot hill which overlooks Panama City and the canal.
It was under U.S. jurisdiction as part of the Panama Canal Zone for much of the 20th century and therefore was never developed like most of the surrounding urbanized parts of the city. As a result, it became a kind of an "island" of jungle in an urban area, where wildlife still survives cut off from other jungle areas. Great views!

We then drove out on the Amador causeway for an awesome seafood dinner. The causeway is a roadway and walking path that stretches from the mainland to four small islands in the Panama Bay (Naos, Culebra, Perico, and Flamenco Islands). It was constructed from rock that was removed from the construction of the Panama Canal. Joey didn’t want any part of the ceviche. Phenomenal batidos (fruit milkshakes).

Coach Haas

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thursday, January 10

Good morning world (: it is another beautiful day in Paraíso and the sun is shining and the birds are chirping and all is good. My body hurts me. And the cuts on my knees look gross. I'm sure everyone else hurts really bad too. This morning we are going to an orphanage for kids 5 and under so I am so excited. BABIES!

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16)

Orphanages are the hardest places to leave. Definitely. Unfortunately they didn't let us bring in cameras or take pictures. Diego, was the favorite because he was so cute and when you said "Y bebe" he would sing and bob his head like little hip hop song. It was adorable. Bernardo was a villain and a toy stealer, I held a child for a solid 25 minutes and he never told me his name, but loved showing me Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto. It was,a lot of fun and very uplifting. I love kids. I pray that they will come to be better off than now and come to know The Lord.

But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, "Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it."
(Mark 10:14, 15 ESV)

We are not alone anymore.
I sweat a lot.
The kids are here to play basketball. It's 13 junior high boys. Haha I do love them, but they are certainly a handful. They are not very good at basketball so we had a little fun playing them. I drained a couple of threes and had maybe 5 or 6 steals. It was a lot of fun. We came back and showered which as you can guess is quite the ordeal. They are captivated by Jayson's motorcycle game.
After dinner we went and had a youth group like program. We played pingpong and Señor Presidente (one kid got out because he farted and laughed), Daniel shared, Jeremy, and I shared too. Jeremy suggested I play a song I wrote, so I was voted into it by the flapping of people arms like voting for an infraction.
We shared testimonies, I showed them my novia, and it was a great time of sharing. Two of them also shared a little too about their lives. Jayson spoke out of 1 Juan and shared the gospel. Daniel said that 7 made a declaration of faith. Wow. Awesomeness. Great day. Great night. We are watching Facing the Giants in Spanish. Reminds me of the good ol' days in Sra. Winokur's class.

Luke

Wednesday PM, January 9

We had another fun-filled, action-packed day here in Panama. This morning we had a delicious breakfast on the floor below where we are staying. I had a healthy bowl of honey bunches of oats topped off with a little dab of a lucky charms knock-off. We left around 8:30 because we were headed to a prison. The prison is for juveniles who have broken the law and were penalized with time in a facility but were too young to be placed in a normal prison. The kids’ ages ranged from 15-20 and there were a few exceptions who were older. We were told that about 80% of the kids were convicted of some type of theft. The facility was newly constructed and top-of-the-line.
The kids shared a cell with one other person and there were four cells to a building. Each building had its own futsal and basketball court, which was fenced in by barbed wire. The facility offered work for the kids and could choose from a variety of trades to learn. The facility was training the kids in cooking, sewing, carpentry, and also computer technology. Our team had the great opportunity to play futsal (small court soccer) with some of the kids. I think some of them were incarcerated because they were too good at soccer. It was fun to kick a ball around and sweat in the scorching sun with the kids. Afterwards we shared the gospel message. Luke shared his testimony which then Jayson translated into Spanish. I met a boy named Luis. He only has a few weeks left before he is to be released from juvenile prison. He has a relationship with one of the missionaries (Daniel) that brought us to the prison. Luis told the missionary that as soon as he is out of the prison he will call him. Today, when Luis saw the missionary his first question was, “Do you still have the same telephone number?” It was clear that he professed his faith to Christ when the missionary came to the prison the first time. Luis wants to serve at a church and learn more about God. It is exciting to know that were we able to share the gospel and also hand out the gospel of John. We can praise God for people like Luis who are going through so much and God has hand selected him to further His kingdom. Please keep Luis in prayer as his time is close to ending at the facility.
Also at night we had another scheduled game of futsal to play. It was a continuation from the tournament we were competing in yesterday night. Our team was pretty exhausted and beat up.
I, myself, have a lovely pair of open blisters on the balls of my feet to prove this sport can get intense. As a team we had a wonderful time of devotion before the game and then we were as ready as we were every going to be. At half-time, the score was 5-2 in favor of our team. I had a hat-trick, Jayson and David (a missionary who works with Score, also an amazing soccer player from Uruguay) each had a goal. The second half reflected our “elderly wisdom” as we began to grow tired and failed on defense.
The other team scored 5 consecutive unanswered goals. We just wanted the other team to feel good about themselves so we could present the gospel to them. The final score was 7-6 as we made a last effort to reach a tie. We may have lost the game but God definitely did work through us tonight. We shared the gospel with the opposing team and collected email addresses to stay in close contact with them.
Today was a long day and well spent. We are tired, but we are looking forward to visiting an orphanage first thing in the morning tomorrow and then we begin basketball.
God Bless!
-Jeremy and Gringos

Tuesday PM, January 8

Hola amigos! Sorry for the delay in this blog post. We have been very busy these couple days and also very tired. I think a lot of it has to do with laziness as well though. But anyways, yesterday was a wonderful day in Panama. We got up early, ate breakfast, and headed out to a local village to go and visit.
Heading out to the island near Gamboa.


We were accompanied by David “bueno” and his wife and child. They go out to this village every Wednesday and talk to the local people about God and the bible. The villages we went to are two tribes named the Wounaan and Emberas. There are approximately 10 families in each tribe. It was amazing to see all the local people and the way that they lived.

Bananas or Plantains?


Unusual Rainforest Flowers









We got to play some footsul with the kids in the village. All of them were a lot younger than us but they all were great at footsul. For those of you who don't know what footsul is, it is a type of game like soccer. Except the field is about the size of a basketball court, there are only 5 people on a team and the ball is much smaller and harder than a soccer ball. It was a fun and competitive game.
Soccer on a dirt pitch.











Bringing in the harvest.


After the game we took a tour of the villages. We saw all the huts the people lived in, all the happy children that were so excited to see us, and we even saw a Wounaan dog that was “laughing” at all of our jokes. We got to end of the village right at the edge of a nearby lake and the view was so beautiful! At the end of our visit we got to check out and buy some the souvenirs that the locals had handmade.




We headed back to our home in paradise (Paraiso) where we had some time to just relax and bond as a team. We ate lunch at a nearby Chinese restaurant that was right off of the Panama Canal. We got to see the huge cargo ships go by as we were eating our chew mien and fried rice. After lunch we began to get ready for our two footsul matches in Panama City. Heading to the game I thought that we were going to get destroyed by Panamanian official footsul teams, but we actually didn't do too bad. We won our first game 3-2, but then lost our next game 4-1. I think I would take 1-1 for our first time playing footsul together. I was goalie for the games and was scared out of my mind. The ball is much harder and the people blast then from 5- 10 feet away sometimes. Overall we did well and I’ll take 6 goals allowed in 2 games anytime especially for being my first time ever playing footsul. At the end of the games we had the opportunity to speak to players from the other teams.
Jeremy shared his testimony and Jayson also spoke to the kids (in Spanish) about the gospel and Jesus Christ. They all seemed very open to what we had to say. Not only did we speak with the players, but we also got to speak to some field hockey players who were practicing in the same gym we were playing in. Again Jeremy shared his testimony and Jayson spoke to them more. It great to see how God plans things or us. We didn't expect to speak to those field hockey players, but it was God’s plan for us to minister to them. Our expectations are always less then what God actually plans for us during this trip.
I want to thank everyone for their prayers and support! See you guys in a couple days!!

Hasta luego!
Joey and the team










Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tuesday AM, January 8

Yesterday we met a Rotarian (Tom McCormack). He runs a clinic providing prostheses. We gave a full set of catcher’s gear to a 16 year old ball player that Tom had met and identified as in need of equipment. He was so excited!

Next we were back to the church to do some work with church members because they were on holiday. We had a great time painting and interacting with the people.


They fed us a nice meal of rice, beans, and some beef. We said our goodbyes to the church and city of David and headed east for the 5-6 hour drive back to Paraisio/Panama City.
BTW, we had no problems with the Martyr’s Day holiday. Our team is working together so well and God is protecting us in our work and travels.

Woke up around 630 here in Paraiso (Paradise); it may be pretty close to paradise. I cleaned up some work and recruiting emails before our 830 breakfast. It’s great having wi-fi available in our residence. The residence here is awesome. We are definitely not roughing it. We have three sets of bedrooms, 4 showers, a kitchenette and a large cathedral ceiling meeting room. We have very nice accommodations. I am getting better at trusting God to lead us and give Him my expectations for the day. Our time in David taught me more about giving the Lord my expectations. I shared this during our devotions when we hiked to the bottom of a canyon and went swimming in the river.

Coach Haas

Monday, January 7, 2013

Monday AM, January 7

After a great dinner in Boquete last evening at Big Daddy’s Grill and then dessert in another restaurant we returned to our little home on the outskirts of Boquete. We played some cards and packed. We awoke early, cleaned up and said goodbye to Boquete. Off to breakfast and wifi connection at McDonalds. We are meeting a Rotarian this morning so we can provide a ball player with a new set of catcher’s gear that was donated. Then we are back to the church to assist them in their work day. We were fortunate to be with the church on this work day scheduled for one of their national holidays. However, we will keep a low profile because it is the celebration of Martyr’s Day.

Martyrs' Day is a Panamanian holiday which commemorates the January 9, 1964 riots over sovereignty of the Panama Canal Zone. The riot started after a Panamanian flag was torn during conflict between Panamanian students and Canal Zone Police officers, over the right of the Panamanian flag to be flown alongside the U.S. flag.
U.S. Army units became involved in suppressing the violence after Canal Zone police were overwhelmed, and after three days of fighting, about 21 Panamanians and four U.S. soldiers were killed. The incident is considered to be a significant factor in the U.S. decision to transfer control of the Canal Zone to Panama through the 1977 Torrijos-Carter Treaties.

Coach Haas