Monday, September 23, 2013

160 years. Convicencia. La Chorrera

Many things have happened in the last two weeks: celebrating 160 years of anglican presence in Panama, convivencia  and traveling with the bishop to two other churches to confirm over thirty children into the episcopal church.

Let's start off with September 15th, which was the Sunday that marked 160 years of Anglican presence in Panama. Bishop Julio Murray was the bishop to bring all 6 provinces together to represent the Diocese of Panama. It started off with all 5 Episcopal schools and all the churches representing the Diocese of Panama getting together to march down the street and into the Auditorio Clarence W. Hayes, where we held Eucharist together. It was an amazing experience to watch all Episcopalians gather in one room. I know that the power of prayer was beaming all over Panama. Below are some pictures that represent an historic day in Panama and for the Episcopal Church.
The banned held by Victor and James 

The Banner for the school that I work with. 

Many people marched in the parade.

The banner of San Mateo. 

I was so shocked on how many people were marching.

Students marched with their instruments 

I keep all my programs for church. 

This was not even half the people. 

Now I'll jump ahead to September 21st. I went back to the school and made my way to camp, where convivencia took place. Convivencia happens once a month with different grades, and usually has a theme. This month was the last one for the year and it happened with grade six. The theme was frendship. So for the whole day most of 6th grade worked together by doing various team building activities and getting to know each other. Below are some pictures to highlight the wonderful day. Also, this experience helped me get closer with some of the teachers, which helped out a lot. The love from this school is so much and you can actually feel God's presence when talking to the teachers and students. 

Itzel Rodriguez giving directions for the group.

Free time for about an hour

some of the students explaining their answer. 

The group acting out their answer. 

Team building at its finest 

It was at the Lions International 

Our view from the camp grounds. 

The next day on September 22nd, the Bishop took me to two different churches in La Chorrera, which is about 20 minutes outside of Panama City. The first church was the Episcopal Church of San Jose. The Bishop was going to confirm about 31 kids for the episcopal church. It was an amazing experience to watch the Bishop speak about the parable of the shrewd manager. The Bishop was very charismatic and I enjoyed watching how he engaged the congregation. The church was so packed that people - including myself - were standing outside of the church to see the glorious work of God, which included the confirmation of 31 of his children to the church. After Eucharist, I was introduced as one of two missionaries that will be helping in Panama. A generous amount of rejoice was received when I was introduce. I felt the love from the community and warm welcoming. We then had a big feast to celebrate this marvelous occasion.

Bishop Julio Murray giving his sermon. 

Blessing individuals.

The alter of San Jose
The outside of San Jose. 
Later that day, I headed off to a smaller church that had about 30 people, as well as one confirmation. The difference was so breathtaking. In the bigger church there was more people but less interaction by singing, even when there was a choir . In the smaller church, I saw that church bring down the house without music, a choir, and with no music. 

The program was used at both churches.

The Church outside.
The churches alter. 

These two past weeks have been really eye opening. I ended off with a home cooked meal from the bishop's wife, which made me miss home-cooked meals. I was so pleased to learn that my spiritual guidance has not ended and that I have found a person to talk to about my faith. I also want to say thank you for everyone who has been following me in this life changing event.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 9, 2013


Can you believe that it is going to be a month since I first arrived in Panama? I can't even imagine how fast the year will go by. The last time I updated, I informed you that I would be a science teacher at one of the Episcopal Schools. By that time, the school was already having exams and getting out for a week from the 2nd trimester. Last week was a break from school and I did a little bit of exploring on a beach and helped paint a mural at my church. Which led to a weekend getaway to the camp grounds of the Episcopal Church in Panama.  

I started off quoting Mark 12:31 from the NIV "The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these." Love your neighbor as yourself is a really strong message. Most of the human race might think they do this on a daily basis, but in reality it is probably the hardest thing to do. The reason I quoted Mark was because, during Monday and Tuesday of last week, which was September 2nd and 3rd, I gathered some of the youth from St. Mathews to paint a mural. Below are some of the pictures that show a working progress of the mural.

The boys getting the hands painted 

Rev. Glenda putting on the last hand

Rachel trying to reach the M. 

Shevell fixing the letters

After we were finished with the mural, Glenda and I took the youth to the Amador Causeway or the Calzada de Amador. This is a causeway that stretches from the south side of the Panama Canal to the Pacific Ocean. In length it is about three kilometers. There is a sidewalk to ride bikes on the causeway. We took two bikes that held four people and started biking. Below are some pictures of the cause way.

This is the route going back to the city.

There is a storm coming. 

We rested and I love how I captured this picture.

Just riding by.

On Wednesday and Thursday, Rachel and I had an experience that led us to the beach which is called Playa Coronado. It is about an hour away from the city and you can by a bus ticket for about 2 dollars. This was a relaxing time because there was hardly anyone on the beach and it took away from all the craziness from the city. I would like to note that I ate Mexican food at the beach, and it felt like home.

Salt and Pepper sand. Black sand is due to a volcano that erupted.  

Like I said, hardly anyone on the beach.

My love for Mexican food. I really love my Hispanic culture. 

On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday the Episcopal Church of Panama had a camp called Expresate. It was a camp dedicated to the youth on knowing how to express their love to God. Whether through theater, dancing, singing, or playing an instrument, the children were told that expressing your love to God is something that can never be expressed too much. This camp was in Santa Clara which is about an hour and a half away from the city. Below are some pictures of what was a awesome time before I started teaching for the semester.

We have crazy laughs. They tell me that I have a Panama laugh.

Participants in doing Theater.

Participants playing musical instruments. 

Participants singing.

More acting.


The camp was near the beach and they let the youth go.

Took this photo because of the Island in the back

Part of the chapel 

Dedicated to Bishop Shirley back in 1989.

The front view of  St. Clare's Chapel 

The view of the alter.

I would like to end on this note: Expresate is something that I just did right now. I expressed my whole adventure through pictures and capturing the moment. I titled this post Expresate because this week showed me that I need to embrace my Hispanic culture. As most of you know, I did not truly embrace my culture when I was back in the states. I had my heart opened up over this past weekend and finally understood why it is important to express yourself.

We had Eucharist on Sunday, and all the Spanish hymns were eye-opening to me. It made me feel like Panama was "home," and now I can truly be proud of being Mexican and not hide from it. It is something that I have struggled with for a long time back in the states, and even tried to run from it. I know that God has been showing me that when I embrace myself to my full potential, I feel more connected to God. Expressing myself is something that I work on everyday and knowing that God loves me when I express myself to my full potential is an amazing experience inside and out.