Saturday, April 19, 2014

Machuca and Then Some

As Cuaresma — or lent — is coming to an end, we wait with anticipation for the rising of our Savior. I’ve spent over nine months in Panama, and through the time here, I’ve had many moments to declare my faith. Every chance I get to mention how it’s grown, gotten stronger, I do as well. April has been a long month, with it being so long, I will cut this blog into two.

First I would like to say wherever you go, many people have the same desire to spread the gospel. The first week of April, I was pleased to say there was a mission group one of my friends brought by the school. It was nice to see the students interact with the mission group. Although the group was not Episcopalian, both the students and the organization learned they are not so different from each other. Below are some pictures that capture how happy the students were to just talk to the mission group.

Here are some of the 10th graders I use to teach.

The whole group  
Selfies are a new thing coming into 2014.

On the first weekend of April, I was also asked if I wanted to join the PTY Episcopal Youth Group to deliver clothing to a community in Machuca. Machuca is near  Penonomé, Panamá. The Diocese of Panama has a presence there from there development program called PROMESA. In 1989, the Episcopal Church of Panama established a program for social and ministry education. PROMESA was officially created in August 1989 through the development office of the Diocese of Panama . During the first years, it focused all its efforts in the areas of advocacy, community organization, community health, education and promotion of human rights and emergency assistance. Below are some pictures of what happened that weekend.

Bags filled with woman clothing.

Harvesting yuca for the first time.

Learning how to plant yuca.

Although individuals see Panama as a rising country, one main thing I took away from helping out was many tend to forget there are real needs in the rural parts of the country. The main problem they have, is there is no official clinic for the ministry of health to help individuals, and there is no running water. Having running water is a big problem there. It opened my eyes so much to appreciate what I have in life.  However, they still stayed optimistic. One thing they said was God gives them a place to sleep and know that their children have an education and what more can you ask for. God is simply amazing when it comes to showing that everyone can be happy in the eyes of the lord.
Happy for finishing.

Understanding the rules for this game.

Always having fun.

The whole group.

Learning how to make sombreros.

Team building 

I have to at least win once. 


Donating woman's clothes. 

The whole group.

We also worked with the children in the community, which was nice because they had something to do other than to work. If you want to learn more about PROMESA please click the link below. I believe this is an example of what can help rural communities all over the world.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

YASC Lenten Reflections

Wow two post in one day!!! I am writing to let you know that our YASC group decided to write our own Lenten reflections. It already has a post of pictures of Ash Wednesday from around the globe and also has a post from Heidi Galagan (in Tanzania).

Here is the link:

Received my ashes at St. Luke's Cathedral in Panama City, Panama 

94th Convention

I'm sure I sound like a broken record, but I am sorry for not having a post every month. I am not the type person who can capture everything in words, but I try my best. Febuary 20th - 23rd marked the 94th convention for the Iglesia Episcopal de Panamá. The theme was "Dios de Vida enséñame tu palabra y afirma mis pasos" or "God of life, teach me your word and affirm my steps." This theme was taken from psalm 119:133, which has a special meaning to me. From the start of this mission, I really felt that I was on a spiritual journey that was going to find a better path, a new path, of knowing where I was going. It has been at least 6 months and I am still where God is teaching me his words and affirming my steps. I feel the more that I am in Panama, the louder of a calling I hear from God. The fact that my faith has grown these past six months is remarkable. I can't imagine what my next calling from God is, and I can't wait to find out. Here are some pictures of the 94th convention.
The Bishop giving his message.

Most of the group.

Holy Eucharist in the church San Antonio in Cañafistulo

Being presented at the ECW meeting

A big shout out to a friend, Victor. He is the one who provided all the photos and is the Communication Director for the Episcopal Church of Panamá.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Month of Community Service

It is already going to be February, which will mark 6 months on this wonderful experience. This past month has been a wonderful experiencewhich reminded me why God has given a path for each individual. For three weeks I had the pleasure of supervising two groups that had to do community service. I was accompanied by a wonderful teacher who teaches Spanish. After the three weeks, I accompanied a mission group from Trinity Wall Street based from New York.

Let me start off with the amazing experience I had supervising the two groups. I was a little nervous because I was going to be working with 12th graders, especially because I have only worked with 8th and 9th graders. I initially thought the two groups were not going to want to do anything — but I was proven wrong. We went off to the Fundacion hogar de ninas de la Capital. The girls home is an institution of the Episcopal Church in Panama, which offers a short or long term home for girls in at-risk situations. The home is responsible for the education, training, health, nutrition and spiritual guidance for the girls. We painted most of the place. I enjoyed helping out because it’s a wonderful program needed in Panama. It also needs help with funding, so being able to help out was a blessing. The home also reminded of me working for Good Sam. Good Sam will always be a part of me and it felt good hearing about the non-profit in Panama.

The teacher that was with me was a Spanish teacher and has worked with this community service site for about ten years. I was a little scared because my Spanish is not the best, but I can get by. The teacher only knows Spanish (most of the teachers at St. Christopher’s are bilingual). Well, I’m proud to say I had not one, but a lot of conversations with her and she said that my Spanish has been really good from the first day I got Panama. I also found out that she has a sister that lives in McAllen, TX. Here are some pictures on what we did.

After the three weeks, I was greeted by a group from Trinity Wall Street. They have had a partnership with Panama for about 5 years. I did not go with them for two days because I had a duty for the school but on Saturday and Sunday I was able to join them. On Saturday we went to a rural community that the Episcopal church has a presence in. It was the community of Tres Hermanas in Capira. The program from the Episcopal church is a agriculture project that helps the community to show how agriculture can help the family and the community. Below are some pictures.
It was in the middle of nowhere.

They were talking about the program.

We walked for about 20 min to get where they plant crops.

One member for Trinity working to harvest.

Surrounded by the forest.

Walking back to the car.

This was most of the group

Panama and Trinity at the Bishops house.

Panama Group

Yes I helped.

This month has been a great month and I am so blessed to have witness the community service that the children do and the relationship that the Anglican and Episcopal church has in the world.  I want to leave you with a prayer that was given to me when I was taking an online class from Bishop Michael Curry from North Carolina. I believe this sums up what I pray for everyday. Thank you for reading and God Bless.

O God, let something happen to me,
something more than interesting or entertaining or thoughtful. 
O God, let something essential happen to me, something awesome, something real. 
Speak to my condition O Lord, and change me somewhere inside where it matters, 
a change that will burn and tremble and heal, and explode me into tears 
or laughter, or love that throbs or screams, or keeps a terrible cleansing silence, 
and dares the dangerous deeds. 
Let something happen in me which is my real self, O God. 
(Ted Loder)

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Run You Clever Boy, and Rembember...

Five months have gone by, and let me tell you, it has really been one big eye opener. First, it started by getting ready to attend graduation for the first time-- as a teacher. Then, I attended a Christmas concert hosted by two choir groups. I also attended two parties, one for the bishop and the other for the diocese office. I had an opportunity to chaperon prom for my students as well, and then ended it by having mass on Christmas Eve and spending Christmas with Patricia and her family.

Let me start off by saying I commend all teachers and staff that work with a school district. It was a tough job getting all the grades in and knowing that you will have students at the last moment wanting to make up a grade. I know these past five months have been eye opening and I now know how difficult it is being a teacher. On December 17th,  there were two graduations, one for 9th grade and one for 12th grade. I taught 9th grade so I really felt proud seeing these students walk across the stage receiving their diploma. In 9th grade you graduate from primary and figure out what bachelor you want (Science, tourism, or commercials). Below are some pics from that day.

On the 15th of December, Cantus Panama and Coro Musica Viva held a concert benefiting the Cathedral of St. Lucas. It was filled with many Christmas and native songs. I did not take many pictures because my tablet was acting up and I have not bought batteries for my camera.

On the 19th of December I attended a party for the bishop that was hosted in my apartment (I did not know that would be the location at the time). It was just a good time to get to know the staff and just celebrate the bishops birthday. That same night, I went with Rachel to chaperon the 9th grade prom. It was a fun and the kids saw me dance salsa for the first time. On the 23th of December there was a party for the diocese staff.  There was a lot of turkey, ham, ceviche, and music. It was the first time that I really got to meet the staff and it was a fun. All the music and dancing made me realize that you don’t have to be afraid of what you look like or if you can dance, as long as you want to have a good time, you are always welcomed.  

On Christmas Eve, there was a night service at the cathedral. It was strange how much it felt like my church back home, with the whole lighting the candle and singing “Holy Night, blessing of the nativity, and singing “O Come O Come Emanuel for the offertory hymn. On Christmas day I woke up early and headed of to Villa Lucre where Patricia and Rachel live. They said breakfast starts at 9 and it was a 30 min drive so I headed out about 8:30. However, in Panama nothing starts on time, but thinking it was Christmas, I thought it had to start on time. Well I was wrong. We did not eat “breakfast” till about 11 but it was worth the wait. What really got me was that Patricia said that breakfast was only for family and to know that I am part of her family was a true Christmas gift. I also got to meet Rachels mom who gave me a stocking full of candy and Time magazine.

I was truly blessed these holidays, getting to spend it with people that I love and finding a place in my heart was a true blessing from God. I know a new year is coming and I feel the presence of god is stronger than ever and I know that my faith has been guiding me through difficult and good times. I Hope you all have a wonderful new years and a prosperous one. My journey is just beginning and I know what that journey is.