Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Brief update

Too long has passed since I last updated, but we have been steadily busy.

We all went through another round of sickness which seemed to last forever. Tummy bugs, fevers, coughs, and I was graced with my 3'rd round of strep this year (which I am still fighting with a second round of antibiotics). To say the least, it has been an adventure. We also had our computer charger randomly stop working so updating the blog was not an option as I had no computer access.

We are learning that being in a new country brings not only a lot of new excitement and adventures, but also a lot of new diseases and illnesses that our bodies are not used to. We will adjust eventually, but for now we just may battle sickness a little more than we are used to. On top of that, we are ministering and working in an orphanage (where lots of sickness is shared) and also in the Comarca where disease is rampant. For now, the kids and I have been staying home from the Comarca until we can adjust a little better and get our immune systems back on track, so Nathan has been doing that alone. I truly miss it and am excited to be able to get back up there. Meanwhile, I am being patient and doing as the doctor ordered.

Despite the illnesses, we are really feeling at home here in Panama. We have so much to be thankful for and our humbled by the blessings that have been coming in for some needs that we desperately wanted to meet in the Comarca. I will be making another blog update in regards to this shortly so be on the lookout!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas season.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Our first holiday in Panama

Thanksgiving week was difficult. We were still recovering from illness and I was packed full of emotion. As thankful as I am for the internet, sometimes seeing what everyone else is doing back in the USA is extremely difficult. Several times I considered jumping on a plane and heading back home. I saw post after post on Facebook about people spending time with family, shopping with friends, and enjoying some of my favorite foods and deserts. Things I loved, things I enjoyed, things I always took for granted, and now---things I miss.

I wanted to make a few dishes the boys like to try and have some familiarity, but nothing seemed to be working in my favor. The store didn't have the ingredients I needed, our internet was still not hooked up so I could not even search for recipes, and then I discovered our stove was not working anyway. We went to center city to try and get some plastic chairs since we still were sitting on the floor, and I felt completely overwhelmed and frustrated with people shouting at me in a language I didn't understand. I felt out of touch with everyone Feeling unable to relate with anyone back "home", and struggling to understand people here, I just felt completely overwhelmed. To top it off, we got a message on thanksgiving from our closest friends saying Shawna was in labor and heading to the hospital. I was ecstatic for them, but heartbroken to be so far. I shed a lot of tears that week.

God knows what He is doing though, and after getting on antibiotics and seeing some improvement, we accepted an invitation from the Pastor to get together for thanksgiving with several other missionary families. It was exactly what I needed. Being able to speak to others people in English was a blessing in itself, but the fellowship was so nice to have. It was a wonderful time getting to know a little about these families and enjoy their company. That weekend we got both internet and furniture, and Nathan got the ants pretty much under control. At last our house finally started feeling more like home. Our health has steadily been returning and we are back in the swing of things... just a few more details to iron out. Sometimes the trials truly are needed to make you more appreciative of what you have and to keep you reliant on God. Our week ended with a wonderful message on Sunday that was exactly what I needed to hear---

Psalm 62:6-8

My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.
In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


There are so many little details still to figure out. Before we left we sold most of our belongings aside from summer clothing, photos, and some essentials we knew we would still need here. Those items are being shipped in a container that should arrive near the end of December. Until those items arrive, we are trying to find some creative ways to make do. Our washer and dryer, kitchen table, pots and pans, dishes, silverware, and towels are among those items. It’s been slightly challenging to figure out daily living without those things. We also are shipping our dressers so we are trying to keep everything in our suitcases meanwhile.

We have been keeping very busy the past few days cleaning and trying to get some of the items we absolutely need. Hopefully today we are able to get a couch and some chairs as we have been sitting on the (ant-infested) floor to eat. Curtains are also a must, as we don’t want to be the exhibitionists in the neighborhood, plus the sun really beats through the windows in 90 degree weather. Hopefully curtains will help keep some heat out. The living room has one whole wall of windows so that room is extremely hot. Also on our list today is cell phones and possibly to try and set up internet although we are still waiting on our lease for that.

So far we are enjoying the adjustment. We are living in a nice neighborhood here in Panama. We have more than most of the people here, yet in comparison to the USA it seems so simple. What we so often took for granted is a luxury here. Our home is very basic by “American” standards. Probably around 1,100 sq. ft. and 3 bedroom. There is no hot water, no air,  and no dryer hookup. The stove is very small (one rack) and there are no kitchen cabinets or drawers. We doubt we will have many people begging to come visit, but we really love it (although we admittedly miss hot water). It’s perfect for us, and we feel incredibly blessed to be able to be here. When I feel frustrated over the bugs or the heat, I try desperately to remind myself that we are in the minority here in Panama. Many don’t have indoor showers or toilets, many don’t have concrete yet alone tile floors. Many don’t have stoves, and very few sleep on a bed with the breeze of a fan at night. We may have cracks or holes in the walls that let bugs in, but we are so lucky to have walls. We have spent only a few days without furniture, not our whole lives. Yes, we are beyond blessed!

Please continue to pray for our health. I am still fighting Pneumonia, and Kellan has been sick with an awful virus now for over a week. He had a fever for 5 days, has randomly been vomiting, his one ear is still bothering him, and he has been fighting a cough and mucous as well. He is absolutely miserable and we would love to see him back to normal soon.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Our New Home

Friday we drove to David thinking we were meeting with the Realtor to get the keys, the electric switched to our name, and the lease as previously discussed. We were supposed to meet at the house at 1:30 so we arrived right around then. Around 2:30 Nathan tried to call the realtor to see what was happening but considering she speaks Spanish and he speaks English, they didn’t get far. Thankfully we have some very helpful friends and when I called Cesia, she immediately called the Realtor and called me back. The realtor told her that she wasn’t coming but that the owner was meeting us with the keys. She showed up around 3pm and we were so incredibly thankful to see that without asking, she had decided to put bars on all the windows so we would feel safe. The house was pretty nasty and still had trash and such laying around so the landlord gave us the front door key, and said she was going to have someone clean the house and meet us back at 6pm for the 2 back door keys that she had just had changed. The new plan was to meet with the realtor for our copy of the lease on Monday.

It was Tyler’s birthday so we took him to the toy store to pick out a gift (he chose a lego set) and to eat. We drove back to the house at 6pm and again, nobody showed up. We waited an hour, and decided we needed to head home. Since we at least had the front door key, we figured we would still move in the next day.

Saturday morning at 7am a man met us with a big box truck to pick up our beds and suitcases and drive them to our new home in David. The house looked a bit better than the previous day, but it was still pretty dirty. Nathan mopped and steamed and cleaned each room but it was no small feat. The walls were filthy, and each room needed to be bleached and detailed. Unfortunately, move in came on a week I had been hit with a bad case of Pneumonia. Nathan insisted I rest while he cleaned (I am one lucky lady). It’s incredibly frustrating to feel so useless when you really need to get things accomplished.

We still have much to accomplish and we discovered a few small details that we need to figure out. The back door doesn’t have glass or a screen covering the window section of the door, so we need to figure out a way to keep the critters out. Also, it appears there is a serious sugar ant problem (at least that is what we were told they are). There are some holes in the kitchen and around the sink and the little ants are just pouring out of them. They are also coming from some other places we have yet to figure out. Sugar ants (or whatever they may be) are VERY tiny and are pretty hard to see. Some of them are almost like a clear color. Until we get this taken care of, I can’t have ANY open packages in the kitchen, which has already proven a little challenging.

We are so very excited to be in our new home in David, and can’t wait to see what God has in store for us next. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

This little piggy went to the Hospital...

...and by this little piggy, I mean Kellan, although I went as well. 

After 4 days of a fever, cough, and nasty runny nose, we decided it was time to take Kellan to the hospital in David. Monday morning he woke up vomiting and also had diarrhea and he felt warm. It seemed his vomiting was from choking on his mucous, so I wasn't exactly sure what was going on. Here we are, 3 days later and his fever is not breaking and his cough is only getting worse. This morning he also gagged on his mucous again and threw up so we decided to head to the hospital.

The two older boys also have coughs and congestion but no fevers and I have also been struggling with a sore throat, ear ache, congestion, cough and fever this week which has made us some pitiful campers over here in Panama. Let's hope daddy stays healthy.

I was starting to worry Kellan may be getting pneumonia, so instead of searching to find a doctor, we went straight to the Emergency Room. I struggled to explain in a mix of english and spanish what was wrong to the woman at the front desk. She seemed slightly confused but I think she figured me out eventually.

The wait was pretty short, and they took him back for weight and temp. I didn't catch either but I am certain he had a fever. We saw a doctor who was very friendly and did speak English alright. I liked him, but I left a bit confused with what was going on. He said his lungs sounded a little junky, but not like Pneumonia, and his one ear was red. He let me look in his ears to show me the difference and said it wasn't a full blown infection yet. He sent him to the lab for blood work and several of his levels were off indicating he has a viral infection. He gave him some anti-virals, we waited on my IV to finish and we headed out.

His total emergency room bill was $10.36 and his lab bill was $5. Grand Total of $15.36. 

We also got 6 prescriptions (Most were for me) and the prescription total was $35 and some change. 

Tomorrow is supposed to be moving day. We are going to go out to the house and switch electric and gas into our name and get our lease but we most likely won't be moving in until Sunday or Monday. We have to see when we can get the beds sent over so we have somewhere to sleep. We are also going to most likely have to do some cleaning and get a few items we will need until our container arrives from the USA. We are praying next week we are once again healthy and ready to serve again in the orphanage and community. Nathan and the older boys have had to leave me and Kellan home this week, and it's been such a bummer to miss out. We would love your continued prayers for our health. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Just some ramblings...

  • Move to Panama
  • Find a house
  • Get a vehicle
We are slowly moving along on our little checklist! We have been in Panama for just over a month now and we are very excited to be moving this friday into a rental home. It is in a little Panamanian neighborhood just outside the city of David. There is no air (eeks!) except one of the smaller bedrooms does have an air conditioner in it. I forgot to ask about hot water (it isn't common here), but it really would not have made a difference anyway. It should be fun and quite an adventure to really live amongst the people. I hope one of the neighbors can teach me an efficient way to hand wash our clothes, lol. We are currently staying about 1 hour and 30 minutes from David which has been quite a hike, so we are very excited to get closer to the city, the stores, PEOPLE, and most importantly, the orphanage.

The boys have been battling a bit of sickness now for about a week (coughs and congestion) and this morning Kellan woke up with a low-grade fever and vomiting. I am praying it quickly passes so we are able to go to the Comarca tomorrow. We had to skip out on the orphanage today which always is a disappointment, so prayerfully no one else gets it and we are able to resume our normal daily routines.

We would really appreciate prayers that an affordable vehicle turns up soon for us. I am pretty certain Nathan is going to have to make the 6 hr. bus trip to Panama City to find something for us since David just doesn't seem to have much to offer as far as vehicles go, and we have heard that you can find much better deals in Panama City. Prayers for our health would also be wonderful. We have all had to adjust a little to the food and have been dealing with upset stomachs for a few weeks. Hopefully it won't be an issue for long.

We are missing our friends and family, but we are enjoying this beautiful opportunity to follow where we believe God wants us for this season. Thank you to those who are continuing to follow us on this journey. Have a blessed day.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

"The Comarca"

Thursday is "Comarca Day"...I had been looking forward to it but Kellan woke up with a tummy bug so him and Nathan had to stay home. I was bummed Nathan couldn't join us, but we packed up and headed to the mountains anyway. The trip is over an hour and the roads are not the best. Some are not paved and in rainy season the dirt and rocks can be very bumpy to drive on. I have always gotten carsick and was feeling a little under the weather anyway so as we headed up I was feeling pretty sick. Frustrated with how I was feeling I started wishing I had sat out today and stayed home with Kellan. But then, we pulled into "The Comarca"...

The rain was pouring, huge orange dirt puddles were everywhere, and yet despite the rain and just a small tin roof covering the church (with no walls), there sat pew after pew of soaking wet people. More people yet were still arriving, many of whom I know walked for over an hour to get there. Drenched and shivering they made their way up the steep hill to find a seat. A little girl with no shoes, but a huge smile and an umbrella ran up my car door and grabbed my hand. Hand in hand we made the slippery walk up the hill to the church. She kept looking up at me and smiling the whole way. I took a seat next to her and looked down at her incredibly muddy feet and legs. She kept smiling. Some other little children rushed up to me with a spanish hymn book and several squished in next to me in the pew, while others just watched from a distance and stared. I looked around and took in the whole scene. Children shivering from the cold, mothers trying to warm their babies the best they could. The music started and I sang along. The service began and ended and the food was ready to be served. I watched every child eagerly receive their plate of food. I heard no complaints. Nobody asked for something else, nobody sulked, they all just ate. Every last bite. I watched my sweet little boys hand out little candies to the kids after dinner and I felt overwhelmed with joy. I knew that we were right where we were supposed to be.

We drove home, had our own dinner and washed up for bed. I lay in my own comfortable bed thankful to be warm and dry. I look outside and watch the lighting and the rain falling down. Suddenly, my mind is swirling back to the site at the Comarca and I no longer feel content in bed. I feel guilty. I think of all the people that I just saw and I picture their homes. I know they are still cold. They are still wet. I listen as the rain pours down and my eyes begin to tear up. Most of their floors are dirt, their walls and roofs are poorly constructed and I am sure many have water drizzling in their homes. As I am laying here in my cozy bed knowing my children are all safe and warm, I just cry. I know full well I can not change life for all these people. I know that many will die of starvation or disease. I know that while I have been writing this, people all over the world have died from starvation or preventable disease. Millions more are suffering. 

I'm thankful that I have been given the opportunity to perhaps make the difference in one persons life. I tell myself again and again that I can not become frustrated or overwhelmed by what I can not do, I simply must do what I can. My heart breaks for these people and I lay here feeling so small. But as small as I am, My God is BIG. I know this first hand. I have seen many great things He has done in my life and the life of other's. I will focus on how great He is. I will believe that His people will step up and heed His call. I will rest tonight knowing that God is greater than any struggle I will come across or any heartache I will feel. God has created these people and He will not leave them. 

1 Samuel 2:8 “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; He seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor.”

Goodnight friends!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Home at last!

The past few days have been incredibly crazy. For weeks we have been packing and trying our hardest to get everything squared away to leave. So much goes into an international move, especially when you have things at several different houses while your packing. We had boxes and MORE boxes. Trash, yardsale, donate in USA, bring to Panama to donate, pack in container, pack in suitcases, store at sister's, store at in laws, carry on, etcetera. Aside from the tedious packing, we had important doctor appointments and visits with friends and family we had to fit in.

The night before leaving, my parents house (where we were staying) had an incident with the fireplace that left ash all over the house and the house smelling horribly of smoke. I knew the boys couldn't stay the night there so we packed them up and brought them to spend the night at my sisters. Nathan and I still had some last minute packing to do so we headed back to brave the smoke and get everything together. Our AMAZING friends Matthew and Shawna came over to help (as they did many days leading up to our departure). We did not finish until 4:30am and as exhausted as we were, it was such a blessing to have that time to spend with them. Once we said our tear filled goodbyes, we headed back to my sister's house to get some rest.

The next day was a whirlwind. I know at some point I had to do one of the hardest things I have ever done and say goodbye to my sister and her family. By this point I had said my share of goodbyes, but they never got easier. Through misty eyes, we waved our final goodbyes and drove off for the airport.
I could barely keep my eyes open on the way and before I knew it we were pulling into the terminal at Newark. My father in law and brother in law helped us wheel our huge load of luggage into the airport. We checked in and through more tears we once again said goodbye to more family and headed through security.

Our flight went smooth and after about 6 hours of flying we landed in Panama City. We were greeted by my mom and Pastor Edwin who loaded us up and we headed to the hotel for some much needed rest. It was around midnight when we were settled in for the night so we quickly accepted any sleep we could get before the sun rose. Our plan was to get on the road by 10am so we had a relaxing morning and grabbed breakfast before heading out. The drive from Panama City to Boca Chica where we were staying is about 6hrs. We made a few stops for potty breaks and food and arrived around 8pm.

It has been an exhausting couple of weeks and we are excited to be here safely and to have the opportunity to take a few days to rest up. Thank you so much for all of your thoughts, prayers, and well wishes along the way. We truly appreciate everyone who has taken the time to write us a quick note or say some prayers for our travels.