Friday, March 24, 2006


I visited Aquilino today and he seemed to be a´right. It was raining today so it was colder than usual. He was sitting on his rocking chair when I saw him. He was happy with the cold cake I offered to him and we chatted a little about my last trip to Chiriqui. I w¡sh I could spend more time with him.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Chiriqui Mission Trip.

Once again I have been truly blessed by God by going to a mission trip in my country. Last saturday I got a call from Benjamin, my brother´s best friend´s brother inviting us over to work as interpreters for this group of american fellows from Texas. So I raised up my hand and counted myself in for the trip. So we departed from Panama city the following day very early in the morning for we knew it was gonna be a long ride to reach the high lands of Chiriqui. My friend Benjamin told me to pack all my warm cloth because we were heading to the coldest area of Chiriqui. I´ll refer to that later on here. Anyway, so the ride itself wasn´t to bad for me, cuz I spent the whole 7 hours sleeping like a King with no crown on a very unconfortable seat of an old bus but as I said, it wasn´t that bad. When we finally made it we were eager to stretch out badly our dumbed bodies but I was happy to be there safe and sound. Our brothers and sisters from the north stayed in a local hotel and I was told we (interpreters) were gonna be relocated to local homes of some church members. So the teams were formed and I was assigned to a three-person group. Pastor Larry and his son Andrew and Mr. Ron, we were assigned to a small very humble village called "Vista Linda". Houses there cannot be called as so, they are made of zincs and pieces of wood, on the inside there is no other floor but the bare soil and health condition is real bad. That was the first glimpse of the village I perceived and I knew it wasn´t gonna be an easy week. The other two interpreters were from Costa Rica, James and Jujesky and they also knew it was gonna be hard. We started right away evangelizing people using the evangicube from "Global Mission Fellowship" and we went knocking doors from house to house. The one interesting fact about americans on missions here in Panama is that people inmediately opens up their homes and themselves to hear what they have to say or share. It is unusual to have white-tall-blonde-blue eyes-people walking in their neighborhoods so as soon as they are seen, specially the children come and surround them. So this, I conclude is a wonderful way to break the ice and be able to communicate the message. As an interpreter I realized that the way you transmit the message has an extremely important role and I have been blessed with both, the missionaries and the people from the village on the process of interpreting. As we entered house after house and we shared with them and we spent time with them, a strange love started to grow inside my heart for this people and an urge to be of any help either spiritually and economically. We were able to share with as many people as we saw during that week the gospel and we held also discipleship meeting with them for a few days. An interesting fact was that while it was extremely hot and the sun was very intense, from time to time the wind would blow hard and would kick up the dry dirt and because we were sweating very bad the dirt would stick to our skin. Anyway, at the end of the week I was very bonded to many of the villagers and it was a sad thing to depart. I learned something very important though. Once couple of years ago, my friend Travis and I were walking in Panama city and we saw a homeless who was probably on drugs as well, but he approached us and Travis decided to share the gospel with him. The guy listened to us to the last word and was very happy that someone would take a time to speak to him. Afterwards he asked for something to eat and Travis said, "yes of course", so we took him to a restaurant and we bought him a meal. Later on, Travis and I talked about the experience and he told me, "I want to share the gospel to as many people as I God allow me, but the same way I am giving them spiritual food I want to be able to give them material food if needed, I want to be able to meet their needs if it is possible" That was quite a lesson for me and ever since then, when I see people like the ones I met in Chiriqui I feel like I should be of more help, yeah, it is important to evangelize all, but part of the discipleship is to help them if it is in our hands to do so. Many people however, think that it is wrong to help poor people because then they would become dependant of them and that is true to a certain point. I think we must find the middle point where we help them economically while not making them dependant but at the same time we are making sure they are growing their faith in God as His all powerful supplier and helper and not in the help of other humans. I saw how much need there is in this small village of perhaps 200 people mostly children with no proper houses, electricity, potable water, jobs and the basic things and I felt in my heart that I could bless some of them with what God has blessed me. I think that´s all about. The more you receive from God the more you should bless others. The more we put this into practice the more God is gonna bless us and so we are gonna be tools of blessings to others. We minister people with the Gospel of Salvation, but it will be incomplete if we having in our hands the material bread dont feed those who are in a worse condition than us.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Getting Ready for the After Death

Yesterday I met a guy who accepted Jesus recently. I was interpreting the conversation between him and couple of canadian missionaries. So it turned out that he is fighting lung cancer and he and his wife were devastated until they heard about the story of Jesus and how he offers him eternal life and unconditional love. We were on a local hotel sitting on the restaurant by the pool and while it was fairly empty there were always people passing by. It was hot but this guy and the missionaries seemed not to care. So the missionaries started praying and right after it, they started the discipleship. He was very receptive and seemed to be very confortable around them. As they spoke and I interpreted I learned that he was real bad and his greatest fear was to die. The canadians began approaching the fact that when we have Jesus in our hearts there is nothing to fear about death. Even more, it´s far better to spend one day with Him in Heaven than a thousand year on the best of the Earth. This guy was assured that God was gonna take control and care of his family after he died. He was told, that God performs miracles, but it´s up to Him to determine if he is gonna grant it to us or not, for all is related to His perfect plan for each and everyone of us. But even if he didn´t heal him from the cancer, he should be in peace that things would turn for good. While I was interpreting, I thought, what kind of approach is this one? Usually I hear on the churches how the main approach is about healing and miracles from God, but hardly I hear people dealing with the death. So it was amazing to be there and experiment it. At the end our guy said "I feel such a peace right now, that I don´t care if I were to die tomorrow" He was ready for it and he knew what was to come for him....are you?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Ministring With the Language

I was still under my bed sheets when Selegna rang me, I was all sleepy and grumpy and she was like, hey ya lazy, wake up, it´s time to be up. She was needing couple of interpreters for this canadian missionary group who is in Panama working with Campus Crusade for Christ. So I was like, nah I already have plans, but then in the middle of my sleepiness I realized that these are the chances God gives you to serve Him and work for him. So I inmediately changed my mind and decided to help. This was my first time working with grown-ups and it wasn´t that bad, I mean, having in mind that I have always work before with teenagers and college students and that I am still young, lol. These were nice people like most of canadians plus they were christians. So we had a great time sharing with some guests that were invited to a house and we had dinner and then they started sharing their testimonies of their life and how most of them had succeed big time in terms of money, jobs and everything, but how they felt that there was still an emptiness in their heart that wasn´t been filled and how only Jesus filled it up. 8 people commited their life to Jesus tonight and are willing to learn more and more about this new relationship with God. So after the dessert and the afterward time we had getting to know them we headed back to the hotel and we had a drink(lemonade and coke) while we were discussing about the event and what was gonna happen. Finally my sister showed up and I said good-nite to my new friends and we left.

Visiting The Unvisited

Today I woke up and the first thing that hit my mind was Aquilino. Last week when I visited him, for some reason I can´t remember I asked him when was his b-day and he told me it was the 7th of march. Well, I don´t know why I thought today monday was 7th, so I bought him a nice small piece of deliciouscarrot cake and a papaya milkshake and I headed to the nursing home. So I was all happy about surprising him and stuff and when I saw him and whished him happy b-day, he was like, ohh thanks very much son, but you came a day earlier. Lol, if he could see the embarrasing expression on my face he would´ve been laughing. So he told me it was nice of me going there to spend some time with him and he was happy which ultimately made me happy. He is doing good in terms of health, only his vision impairment affects him but he´s learned how to deal with it and the thing that really impact me strong is the fact that he seems happy all the time and has always a song in his lips and when someone approaches him he always has something to say and share. I really wish his children took more time to visit him and make him feel loved and important. Yes, I can understand nowdays why in some cases we children have to take a sad decision to take grandparents and parents to nursing homes when there is no other way, but boy, one thing is to take that decision and the other thing is to just leave them there alone and not visiting them like they ought. It is so sad. Aquilino I met while I rotated on that nursing home when I was still finishin my PT studies at college and ever since then I sort of adopted him and I´ve been visiting him year after year everytime I am in town. Three weeks ago when I visited him after almost a year of being out of Panama, I started talking to him and I didn´t expected him to recognized me for he can´t see, and he surprised me. After 5 min. of talking to him, he was like, hey, I know you, you are....Josh. That was it. I got all emotional cuz last time after I spent another 8 months out of Panama and I visited him, he couldn´t recognize me and I had to tell him who I was, so I wasn´t really expecting him to recognize me, but well, that was the wonderful case. But this time, I when I leave, he won´t have to wait to long to hear from me again. My panamenian friend Sandra who I already introduce to Aquilino is gonna pay him a visit every now and then and she will take over while I am out. When I was about to leave the NH I ran into another grandpa who I met 3 years ago while I was there, and it was nice to see him still alive and feeling good. It was a very productive morning for me.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Friend´s Trip to Pedasi

So I went to an amazing trip this weekend with Sandra, her family, Dina and Howard. It was quite an experience to travel deep into panamenian territory very far away from the capital. As per the schedule were were suppose to departure at around 11:00 am, good panamenians, we finally left at around 3:00 pm. However, we couldn´t make it all the way to Pedasi that same day because for different reasons it got late very late and we were still waiting for Howard to show up, so we decided to stay the night somewhere nearby and so we stayed at my uncle´s yet-to-be-finished vacation house. It was extremely crazy, cuz we had to fight all night long with the hot temperature and the crazy bugs and mosquitoes everywhere around. They were like, woohoo, fresh meat for banqueting. However somehow, after a long lost battle most of us finally jumped into the world of sleeping beauties and when the temp. was just getting slightly colder and the bugs were already exhausted of bugging us and making us miserable, it was already time to wake up. We woke up early because I knew that had we woke up later we would´ve taken forever to get ready to leave, and since we were already out of schedule I was radical into making us to leave too early in the morning on friday. So we resumed our road trip to the land of our church Pastor, Hermes. As we were on our way there, I thought, what a wonderful opportunity to see new towns and lots of vegetation and raw nature. Truth is, traveling gets you wicked tired. Finally we made it and we found ourselve a very nice and cozy place to stay the following two days. First thing we did was to get a nap after the long road trip, but right after some of us got good to go, we went to visit some of the local beaches. It wasn´t that wonderful like some people said, but it was good enough to enjoy a peaceful late afternoon. The following day we decided to go to the beach very early in the morning right before the sunrise. Sunrises and sunsets are my favorites and it is always a good time for reflexion while admiring God´s marvelous and divine art creation. It wasn´t exactly what we would´ve wanted to have as a group but I guess we still enjoyed the wonder of the born of a new day. Later on that day, we went to La Playita Resort which according the knowleadgeble it is one of the best beaches around. So everyone put on their swimming suits and we headed toward this famous place among panamenian beaches. So we arrived there and surprise....there are a bunch of exotic animals roaming around like huge parrots, emus, monkies, turkies (the real beautiful ones) and a lot more of these amazing animals. The place was simply relaxing and great, expensive though. It was extremely cozy and confortable. So we unpacked everything and we were all set for a fun day at the beach. Sandra, Howard and Dina they spent the afternoon chatting and playing table games, Sandra´s mom spent the afternoon in a very relaxing hamac under the roof of a hut and so her other daughter. I wasn´t in my best mood to be hanging around however, so I decided to spend some time for myself and while I rested a lot and eventually got myself tired of resting I did some photographs around the place. Finally my friends decided it was about time to get into the water and so they did. They played and tried to learn how to swim, and afterward they made a sand castle or so they tried. Lol. Then it was time to leave and we got everything packed and in the cars and we left almost with the sunset going on on our back. I definitely owe an apologize to my friend Sandra for not hanging out with her more as I was expected to, but I really wasn´t on my best mood and for that I am really sorry and hope you forgive me. Of course I wish she didn´t remember this in the future but I guess we´ll have to deal with it.
Sorry Sandy, you are my good ol´friend and I love you a bunch.