Bittersweet

Tomorrow is my last day at P.C.A. (Panama Christian Academy)

wow

This week has gone by faster than I ever would have expected, so much was happening at the school with the science projects (all about the ocean) from all grades. Being busy is sure a great way to pass the time away.

I will feel a lot of love tomorrow, I know it. Lots of hugs will be given.

..*sigh*..

.Leaving is bittersweet.

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.”
Proverbs 3:5&6

I pray that God is glorified in the love and faithfulness that I have tried to show.

I pray that I made an impact on P.C.A. for God.

If I affected anybody, it was because of God’s character living in me; He is the reason for the goodness of this trip.

Tomorrow…ahhhh tomorrow…..tomorrow will be a memorable day.

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Finish Faithful

My mind goes back to the Sunday morning, when I grabbed the shirt I was going to wear that day, for the trip back to Centro de Panama, from Piriati.

The shirt was from my summer camp, and on it was the theme and title for this past year.
“FINISH FAITHFUL”

I read that and thought about how we may finish jobs, but not always with a glad heart, glorifying to God.
I want to finish my Panama trip with a joyful heart, accomplishing all that God desires of me.
“Lord, keep my ears open to your voice, let me know what You want of me this last week here. Lead me, cause I can’t do this alone.”

Philippians 3:13 & 14
“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Acts 20:24
“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”


\\English Tastes Weird//

Thursday morning was the last conversation I had in English, until Sunday afternoon.
The adventure began with Viviana and I walking to the Rey (grocery store) so she could call some people and then we walked to the bus stop. At this time, I suddenly felt the urge to run back to the house, in fear of the event ahead of me, but then a verse came to my head in which I read that morning; The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

God was with me, I could do this. I pushed the cowardly thought aside and worked on reading more in the dictionary, to work on my Spanish.
We had hoped to catch the bus at 9, but we ended up waiting for it for an hour–in which I read a book that Randy had given me to read; Hostages by Nancy Mankins. (click to read summary)

On the bus ride, which was four hours, we talked very little, but I read a lot. I was still extremely insecure with talking in Spanish, afraid that I might sound like an idiot.

We arrived at our stop and I saw the sign for the Piriati tribe across the street. “You’re here, Sarah, no turning back now”
We walked down the rocky road passing the tribal houses and the school. All the way at the end of the road was the church (where we would stay) and my first friend’s house. Elizabeth (A.K.A Ellie) (All names I was spell phonetically) and her husband (Bee-en-ben-ee-do), he is one of the pastors–the only one I met. They served us lunch-patacones, arroz, y pollo. (fried plantains, rice, and chicken) It was yummy and great for my empty stomach.
After conversation and sitting around on the porch as visitors came to see their beloved Viviana, I closed myself and only observed, preferring not to speak my pathetic Spanish. (Everybody in the tribe speaks Spanish)
Raquel, my second great Embera (tribe name) friend, asked if I would like to go to her house as she prepared yucca for the evening meal. I accepted and went without Viviana.
Raquel was extremely patient with my Spanish and for some reason I understood her better than any other Spanish-speaker. At her house, thanks to God, I opened up and forgot about my insecurities. I talked with Jessica, Mah-rah, Mar-lel, and their brother, whose name I forgot…all are siblings with Raquel but they told me they have other siblings, that I did not meet.

As I was forced to talk in Spanish and listen extremely hard to understand them, I began to get more comfortable with the situation. I suddenly didn’t care if my Spanish was horrible, I remembered when I first came to Panama a person saying, “…it doesn’t matter how horrible your Spanish is, we appreciate your effort to talk in our language.” I wanted these new friends of mine to feel comfortable with me and to love me as their sister in Christ, therefore-I tried my best to speak Spanish.
As our conversation continued we found out more about each other and they were astounded that I had learned all my Spanish here in Panama.
“Only three months!?” Mara exclaimed in Spanish.
“Yeah, I knew the basics, but not enough to talk to people” I responded.

Everybody was impressed with the way that I had learned; listening and and reading the dictionary.
Each day I attended some sort of devotion; whether the women gathering together, or Raquel and Viviana reading the Bible and sharing insight and life’s hardships after breakfast. It was beautiful.

As Thursday turned into Friday and Friday to Saturday, I was saddened by the fact that I was leaving early the next morning…it was going to be extremely hard to leave this place as I had grown to love the people.

Saturday, after lunch with Elli, Bienvenido, Viviana, Actavio, and two other kids, I decided to walk the road and take pictures. I figured I was safe enough and of what I had experienced, the Embera were very nice people.

At the end of my walk, I met five girls who were so cute and loved the camera. The oldest, who was fourteen, talked to me and I only understood her after she simplified her sentences  and talked slower. I was glad to meet these girls, because they definitely put smiles on my face and gave me extra practice with my Spanish.

After my walk I laid down to rest, for Spanish was extremely hard on my brain and it wore me out big-time.
Raquel came and I went with her, Jessica, Marlel, Tatiana, and Marysing, to Raquel’s aunt’s house about a mile away.

After walking down the road, through muck, over water on a slippery bridge, and up a muddy path, we reached the tree in the backyard of her aunt’s house. This tree, the jagua tree, bore fruit in which the Embera paint with on their bodies. This coming week they have a traditional fiesta, therefore, we gathered many taguas. Raquel gave me one so that she and Mara could paint on me after the church service that night.

The church service included testimonies, singing, a message, and a tribal video about New Tribes Missions.
It was all very lovely, but the message was in Embera, so I understood the two words that were similar in Spanish, meaning: Jesus Christ.
Ellie gave me her Spanish Bible, because she had her Embera Bible (WHICH WAS SO COOL!). I never thought I would see the day where I was highly thankful for a Spanish translation…it was extremely funny to me, and I couldn’t help but give a chuckle.
When I first arrived, you all know that I had memorized Bible verses in Spanish, well, some of these verses were also in this specific message given!!! Thank you LORD that I understood the verses and got something out of the message. It was beautiful really, when this man went up and gave his testimony-although I only understood a little, his emotions stirred mine and I felt like crying in awe of God’s glory. He was rescued from the torturous death, and raised up with Christ to walk in a new way–praise God!

After washing my incredibly dirty legs and feet, I went with Raquel and Mara to Elli’s house. It was already ten o’clock at night, so Viviana went to bed because she knew our morning would come early (we had to leave to catch the bus at 7).

Raquel explained to me that the jagua was white now, but tomorrow it would be black, which fascinated me! As Raquel grated the fruit into a bowl, Mara cut the spine of a coconut tree leaf to use as the paintbrush.
Mara began painting, but because I had such white skin, she couldn’t see where she had already painted; “White on white doesn’t work good” (Actavio)
I laughed at his silly humor.
Actavio’s sister gave Mara an ink pen to mark out the pattern before painting, it would show up MUCH better this way.

As my traditional Embera tattoo was being formed, Raquel and I began reciting Bible verses to each other in Spanish and afterwards we sang some songs. I knew them in English so we sang our bi-lingual duet, which was fantastic. Actavio plays guitar, but left it in the church. (QUICK THING: he let me play his guitar along with him my first night there, it was SO fantastic!! AND it was a steel stringed acoustic, it had been so long since I played one…in Panama City I only play nylon string)
So anyway…
It was a great last night for me.
As my tattoo was done, I slipped on my shoes and said my Embera goodbye. “Ah-bah-noo” (hasta meñana; see you tomorrow)

That night I dreamed in Spanish.

In the morning at 6, I woke up and tried to wash off the jagua ink that had smeared all over my right arm and left hand…but no such luck-I was stained.
I was told that it would last for two weeks-which made me roll my eyes and say, “of course”.

After buying a paruma from Raquel, I told Mara and her that I loved them very much and I was thankful for the goodness and kindness to me and that I would see them in one year.

It was hard to leave..it honestly was.
As I sat on the bus heading back to Panama City, my mind flowed with the scenes from the last three days. Funny thing, it was all in Spanish. Not that it was good, because my Spanish is still EXTREMELY TERRIBLE, and of course, in English formation, but I thought in Spanish…heehee!

Viviana and I walked rapidly from where the bus dropped us off, to the house, to change. We quickly changed clothes, shoved some food in our mouths, and rushed out the door to make it to church in time.
I was greeted by many and extremely glad to see them, especially my Panamanian family; Randy, Donna, Jordan, Jonathan, Jesse and Sanna.
I missed them and my English conversations.
As I began  to spout out words in English, I stopped every once in a while to think what I was saying and to grab a word from my memory, because I forgot it. I LOVED THAT FEELING.

English tasted really weird on my tongue. But this experience…I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Piriati and the Embera will always be in my heart, always.
Their kindness, goodness, sacrificial love, and open hearts touched my life and changed me forever.

 

 

My tattoo being designed

 

¡Vamos!

It’s almost 1 a.m. here, I gotta get to bed!

WHY AM I UP SO LATE?!

I’m going to the tribe, finally!!!

.Thursday, October 21, 2010.

Pray for patience, as it will take a lot for me to get used to forgetting English for a few days.

Sorry this is so short, but I wanted to update my readers 😀

Thank you all so much for reading my blog and praying for me, honestly, I can never thank you enough, it’s just indescribable-the power of God.

It’s time for me to get to bed, I’m packed and ready to go now! (I think…)

 

La Escuela

The teacher that I was substituting for came back today, which means no more 7th, 8th, and 9th grade for me. I enjoyed being their teacher, although at first, I’ll admit, I was not looking forward to it. After I entered the eighth grade classroom to teach spelling, I was at peace; suddenly sure of my teaching ability-but slightly nervous for literature and grammar//composition. I had heard things about eighth and ninth grade being horribly obnoxious and un-respectful, but I saw the opposite. I made a game up for the spelling and they all did really well, but a few times I had to call on some of the kids to spell a word if they weren’t participating. Each day was a new adventure as the kids instantly warmed up to me.
I was told that the grades treated me different than any other teacher and nobody knew why.  The kids respected me and were calm and I never shouted at them (because that’s just not my way of discipline). Each time a kid was acting up (which was only twice in all the days combined) I would go up to him and talk face to face with him.
When I told one of my close friends (also a student) when we were hanging out, about this procedure she really appreciated the fact that I respect them, as students, because in return they respect me.

A few of the kids I feel sad for, whether it was because they were slow in school or they had no friends, possibly because I could see if they didn’t turn their life around it would be extremely hard for them. Each of those three things were in each of the three classes. Different students, but same situations.
I can relate to the feeling of “Aw seriously!? When are we gonna get done…I hate school” and then be sloppy with the work. I was totally like that. For some reason, I can appreciate school more now-NOT THAT I LIKE IT-but that I respect those who taught me and I realize how important it was//is to be educated.
SO those kids that were slower or just didn’t want to pay attention, I would give them consequences but also encourage them. And one boy, especially, improved after my encouragement–his love language must be words of affirmation.

Even though I’ve only been out of school for six months, I feel as though I’ve aged four years, because of my circumstance. I mean, I’m TEACHING for crying out loud! This is psycho!

Now that the teacher is back I am only doing K4 phonics twice a day. I sit in K5 and read a theological book that I received for a graduation present from my friend’s dad, when I don’t have obligations. Sanna and Sulim teach the K5-ers and I don’t feel as though I need to assist them, they are excellent at their jobs. For the last eleven days of my stay I am working on being prepared to leave, making sure everything will be sealed up and put away nicely; I don’t want to leave with regrets.

I am helping Delia with decorations for the science fair this coming week; I cut at least six dozen bubbles and made a lot of origami fish today.

I am also helping Sanna with the drama the kindergarten class is putting on and that has been really interesting. After Sanna wrote the drama and we helped each other come up with a song, we tried to teach the kids. We have them in three rows for the song, and each row is doing a different beat-boxing sound. It’s SUPER cute-considering their ages! Three of the kids are coming up and saying a little line and then we continue with the song. It’s really fun, and hard to explain. haha!

The costumes are coming along, but honestly, there just wasn’t enough pre-warned time for this event. We found out about it the beginning of the second week of October…which gives us three weeks to accomplish this feat.

I have surely enjoyed being a part of Panama Christian Academy, it’s changed my life.

My Improving Way

Because I haven’t had much time for long posts, I’m trying to AT LEAST help update you with short ones.
I have been talking in Spanish more often, trying to learn better and test my skills (which fail, FYI). The teachers at the school are encouraging and tell me how my Spanish is getting better and better, which is SO nice to hear, so uplifting!
I am, as I type, trying a new way to learn more Spanish. I’m going through the Spanish//English dictionary that Donna && Randy are allowing me to borrow, and writing down in the journal my amazing older brother, Josh, gave me for Christmas, all the words I know in Spanish. It will be a slow process but it will help me realize how much I know and encourage me that way, but help me memorize as well.
(Oh and I believe this week I’m going to the tribe with Viviana) (PRAY FOR ME!!!)

Thank you so much for all your encouragement through prayers. I appreciate your comments as well.
Because of recent readers I came to realize that so much goes on behind the scenes. Even if I don’t hear or see results whether in my blog or through this missions trip, God has a plan and He is being glorified.

Quote of the day:

Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Ineffable Emotions

I feel as though time has flown by incredibly fast, but just as well, has been slow. I cannot hardly believe that I have been here for seventy days, but I’m used to my ‘routine’ and it’s so familiar. This year has introduced more changes than any other.

My surroundings will change a lot, starting with the weather (just as it did when I came to Panama). Nowadays I get cold when it’s seventy degrees out!
Depressing side of things:

No more Panamanian hugs for a year. I have always loved the little kids hugs, they energize me and make me feel special. I guess I never talked about the Panamanian’s greeting and goodbye. We greet with a kiss on the cheek and end our time just the same. I really like this, because in the Bible it states ‘greet each other with a holy kiss’, and hardly anybody does this anymore in the states. When everybody greets me this way I feel the love of friends, and that of Panama.

I will miss Sanna, Nair, Oscar, Josh, and Joel a lot because we had our hang out group; going to the movies, to eat, to each other’s houses, making food, STOMP concert, etc…Our times were extremely memorable because of the fun personalities that filled the air.
Not so depressing side of things:

There is so much that I will miss when I leave, but hardly any of it has to do with Panama. It’s the people I will miss. The ones who show me love and accept me for who I am, those who have affected my life and changed it permanently.

I could not name all the people who I love, because there are so many. But categorized, these people include, my Panamanian family, the students of second grade C, some of the teachers, church friends, those who I shared sweat and blood with in construction, two specific wonderful girls from 7th and 9th grade..the list goes on.

These people have affected my life which will change how I am back in the states, and it’s a good thing.
I have learned so much because of stepping back and purely observing the actions of those around me.

..depressing thing:

fifteen days left…

I miss home incredibly, so much about it I cannot wait to return to, but a piece of my heart will be left in Panama no doubt.

When one leaves the country, they are sure a change.
When on leaves the country on account of God’s call, they are sure  a transformation.

It’s hard to describe all my emotions on this subject, but just giving you a glimpse of it: I will never be the same.