Panama 2019 – Day 6

Our tour day today was a dream adventure. We all loaded into our small boat and headed out on the River Chagres. The weather was the best it had been all week and our team was excited to see some more of Panama’s wildlife. We found a Cayman only minutes after being in the water. The River Chagres flows into the canal and we were soon buzzing by a gigantic ship loaded with shipping containers. Did you know that ships can be charged up to $1M to use the canal?

We veered out of the canal to an area filled with small islands. All told today, we were treated with seeing Capuchin and Tamarin monkeys, a 7-8′ crocodile, and a river tortoise! We were even able to feed the Tamarin monkeys little bits of banana, so cool.

We arrived at Jungle Land and were blown away by the scene. A three story, floating house, decked out with hammocks, swing chairs, a restaurant, and a myriad of water activities. After lunch, our group, being the adventurous and lively sort, elected to kayak further into the jungle. Part of the time we were racing, part of the time we were slinging lily pads at each other, but the whole excursion was a blast.

We got back with enough time for some swimming and relaxation. Then, we were back in the boat returning to Casa Paraiso for the last time.

Our day (and week) finished with the students affirming each other. They spent each day listening to each other’s testimonies, watching them serve, cheering on growth. Tonight was a special opportunity for them to call out the Godly attributes that they’d seen in each other and they saw a lot. Hearing them speak so kindly and encouragingly was truly heart-warming. They called out leadership traits, special giftings, and obvious talents and inspired faith-filled living by saying how excited they were to see God use those gifts coming back from Panama.

 

 

The MYM Team

 

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Panama 2019 – Day 5

DSC00392DSC00432DSC00376DSC00854Our team visited the indigenous church today. The church was a couple cinderblock walls with some corrugated metal roofing. The houses were makeshift. But the people were brimming with life. We were welcomed by the murmurs of young children eager to meet students from the U.S.

One of the many things that you learn on mission trips is flexibility. The team has been amazing in this regard.

When we showed up to the church after a long bus ride, children were seated and waiting for us. We thought that we were leading a service for adults. There was enough time to put our bags down, that’s about it. We rolled right into leading the service and our students didn’t miss a beat.

We taught the children a song, Waves of Mercy, complete with dance motions. One of our interpreters even knew the Spanish translation.  A couple of our students adapted their testimonies to communicate more effectively. A couple others taught from passages of the Bible, with basically no preparation. They crushed it.

Aside from leading the service, few of our team have seen people live like this. Seeing the indigenous people with such  joy and fullness of life was a good reminder that our joy isn’t defined by our circumstances, it’s defined by our God.

We ended our last ministry day with dinner and now we’re headed to bed a little early in anticipation of tomorrow’s Jungle Land Tour.

 

 

The MYM Team

*Pictures to follow

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Panama 2019 – Day 4

Today was our earliest start yet – 7:00a Breakfast (5:00a PST). But, we were sufficiently motivated to get to the kitchen early and get our fill of scrambled eggs and pineapple!

The schools today were a unique challenge and blessing. We started at an elementary school, where students were eager to hear our testimonies. Next, we went to a Panamanian preschool to sing songs and talk about forgiveness. Finally, we ended our day with high school students. We shared our God stories, sang with them, and got dominated by them in Futból (Soccer).

It was our last day in Panamian schools. They shut down for the last two days of Holy Week, so we are going to lead service at an indigenous Panamanian church tomorrow. What a week!

 

The MYM Team

 

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Panama 2019 – Day 3

Our team was well rested ready to tackle the day. Breakfast was chocolate chip banana pancakes!DSC00231DSC00212DSC00195

Today’s school was a public school and they were a lot of fun. There were some special interactions, especially with a few of the younger students. One of the English teachers was very excited to have us in her classroom. Her students reflected her eagerness and were the most engaged that we’ve experienced thus far. With a PE class, we danced and sang. With a math class, we solved a quadratic. What an incredible experience it is to be able to relate and share our testimonies in Panama.

After a full day at the public school, we changed for a quick hike. We were treated with some breathtaking views of Panama and a local delight. With a little work, our team was enjoying their first coconut.

We’re now back at Casa Paraiso, the sounds of fans inviting us to sleep.

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Panama 2019 – Day 2

DSC09937DSC09946DSC09949DSC09975DSC09995Today was another great day! The students did an amazing job on their first day in schools. We visited a school called “Edificios y Artes,” where students pick a career to focus on and work toward. The Panamanian students that we interacted with were in junior high and high school. Our students did an incredible job of sharing their stories in a powerful and unique way, while also being flexible with changes to our schedule and time constraints in each class.

We met with the principal of the school, who was extremely appreciative of the time that our students spent there. We visited over 20 classrooms today, and interacted with so many students during their break periods.

After our time at the schools, we visited the Miraflores locks of the Panama Canal. We watched a movie about the significance of the Panama Canal to the local people, and spent some time in the museum. We finished our time at Miraflores by watching a ship go through the locks. The students waved to some crew members on the ship, and even got them to do a few dance moves!

We finished our evening with some games at Casa Paraiso. The leaders have loved watching the students connect and get to know each other throughout our time so far.  We’re excited for another big day in classes tomorrow!

The MYM Team

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Panama 2019 – Day 1

DSC09838DSC09845DSC09892IMG_5207IMG_5208Our first day in Panama was a fun day to bond as a team and get our bearings in this beautiful country.

We drove across the Panama Canal to get breakfast and clear our foggy minds from the red-eye. Our first tests speaking Spanish with locals were pretty clunky, but everyone is gracious and our Mission Generation staffer, Alex, was there to bridge the many gaps.

To get our bearings, we walked the streets of Old Panama and enjoyed up some local coffee while Alex taught us a bit about Panama’s history. Seeing the contrast of worn-down buildings next to newly renovated structures speaks to Panama’s relatively recent economic boom. While in Panama Viejo, we stopped briefly to sing in one of the gorgeous Catholic chapels on this Palm Sunday and, of course, to snap a few photos.

Casa Paraiso is a beautiful place to call home for the week. Tonight, we are turning in early in anticipation of our first full day of ministry tomorrow.  Final touches to our testimonies and lights out!

 

The MYM Team

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MYM ISRAEL – Tuesday June 26th.

Today wraps up our time together as a team in Israel. It’s been an amazing trip, and today was no exception.

Our day began very early in order for us to get out of the hotel and onto the Temple Mount before the crowds gathered. It’s a crazy experience being in such a significant place that is steeped in history!

Our team spent the rest of the morning in the area around the city of David. We visited the house (and jail cells) of the high priest house from the first century, then on to the ruins of David’s ancient castle, followed by a trek thru Hezekiahs tunnel.

Our day wrapped up with our team celebrating communion together at the garden tomb. What a way to end our incredible trip!

Thank you so much for praying for our team while we were away. We had incredible weather, sites all to ourselves, excellent health for the team, and most importantly – we had God move in our midst! Praise God for our amazing time in this special place! – Trevor and the Youth Missions Team

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MYM ISRAEL – Monday June 25th.

Our day began with some of the most amazing sites that Jerusalem has to offer.

We started our day by visiting the grounds of Hagia Zion. Tradition tells us that this ancient house of worship holds the burial place of King David, the site of the Last Supper, and the room where Pentecost fell on praying disciples! Wow!

Afterward, we made our way to the West Wall where our team touched and feel the western retaining wall originally built by King Herod’s men in the process of build the 3rd temple.

After weaving our way through the Rabbinic Tunnels, we made our way to St. Anne’s Church. The acoustics of the crusader style arched construction made for an unforgettable worship experience, led by our very talented worship leader, Olivia.

Just outside the church, we stopped at the Pools of Bethesda. This is the site of Jesus healing the “invalid” that we read about in John 5. There is something unbelievably powerful about sitting reading the words of our Bible while sitting only a few feet away from the locations where the events took place.

After a snack, we headed into the jaw-dropping Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This church is the culmination of the Via Dolorosa, or “Way of the Cross.” It is absolutely beautiful and inspired reverence in all of us as we approached some of the most painful parts of Jesus’ life: the location of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial preparation, and tomb.

It was an incredibly moving and full morning.

After a late lunch, we left Jerusalem to spend some time at The Holocaust Museum. Even in the short amount of time that our group spent there, the depth of tragedy and pain brought us to tears. It deepened our understanding of evil and inspired us all the more to look forward to the day when Jesus returns to make all things new.

This team is a joy to be around and wonderfully sweet. Time for some rest before our last full day in Israel! – Drew and the MYM Israel Team

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MYM ISRAEL – Sunday June 24th.

Today our team served alongside a wonderful Christian church to provide household items for Jewish, Muslim, and Christian families. We had a wonderful time working alongside of members of the city municipalities and of the local church. We even had a visit from the city’s mayor and head rabbi. You’ll have to ask members of our team about our time today. It was great!

In the late afternoon our team headed to a sifting site to join the work of a team of archaeologists. We sifted through dirt that has been hidden deep under the destruction of the old city from 70 ad. Our team found some incredible things; pottery, Roman glass, even two coins. But the most impressive find we had was what the head archaeologist referred to as “the find of the year” with their dig team – an alabaster dice from the first century! It was an incredible find as it looks like it was just made yesterday, even though it’s been concealed in the ground for 2000 years.

Our day was unique, in that we spent time with the living stones in Israel and yet also sifted through the ancient stones. What a unique and special place this city is!

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MYM ISRAEL – Saturday June 23rd.

Today began at the Garden of Gethsemane. We spent some time as a group in a private garden where Trevor shared a powerful message. We were all able to spend some time reflecting about what Jesus experienced in that place, the pressure he was under, and the deep compassion that he has for each of us in our own suffering. We walked across the street to visit more of the garden, as well as The Church of All Nations.

We also stopped at a beautiful lookout point atop the mount of Olives to hear a message from Drew. He emphasized the idea that God keeps all of His promises. We were able to see many of the locations that he mentioned in his message from where we were sitting. Such an amazing experience!

From there, we walked Palm Sunday Way down the Mount of Olives and up into the Old City of Jerusalem. We also walked along Via Dolorosa, or “The Way of the Cross.” This is believed to be the walk that Jesus would have taken on the way to his crucifixion. Once we made our way into the city, the students were able to grab lunch and check out some of the shops in the area.

After lunch, we headed to the Israel Museum. This stop allowed students to see an incredible model of the Old City of Jerusalem, and tons of artifacts that have been uncovered all over Israel. One notable section is the Dead Sea Scrolls. We were able to stop at Qumran earlier on the trip, which is where they were originally discovered. It was great to see parts of the actual scrolls, and some of the clay pots in which the scrolls were found!

While in the museum we even had an older gentleman who is a local professor approach our team, he shared his story of being a young teenager that worked the archaeological site atop Masada in the late 1960’s!

We had another busy day with lots of walking, but the weather has been incredible, and the students have been awesome! We are so thankful for your continual prayer and support.

Olivia and the MYM Israel team

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