Journal and photo credit: Bruce Edwards

Our team has grown. We left town with thirteen people headed to Panama. It has more than doubled counting the Panamanian members who have thrown themselves into all that we do. It’s a testimony to how God has worked, filling the holes and doubling our capacity to minister to people who live in close proximity to the churches we are serving and who have found their way into churches they may never have visited before. The Lord has enlarged our presence here and in turn his own presence. Even if we could have met the need and served all those who came without the local team members, the days would have been much longer and much more tiresome. Our Panamanian team members have come with not only their gifts but with their love and joy.  The experience has become complete because of them.  I’ve found myself looking at these other team members forgetting that we didn’t leave home with them but have been blessed with them here. We have truly become one team, one church with one God.

This was our last day to serve as a medical team. We has served every person who came to have their medical needs met. That feels good. God has blessed us with the time here and the people we have met. My job has allowed me to say hello to each of the more than 500 patients we have treated. It feels sad to leave them behind.  I love the people here. They are gracious and caring, for each other and for us. I love the relationships we’ve made however brief.  Each of us have found bonds with certain individuals God has placed before us. We’ve made an effort to watch for how God is working in our lives through this trip.  It’s bittersweet to love someone for a moment and walk away.  It’s a blessing you wish would endure.

We packed up the van for the last time.  All those many boxes of medical supplies and eyeglasses will wait for the next team to come. Our bus driver, Juan, has become a member of the team as well, joking with us in Spanish that few of us understand.  It doesn’t matter that his words aren’t understood. There’s love in his eyes.  I know it’s been a special time for him to be with us.  He doesn’t try to hide it. He’s one of the first people we see in the morning and the last to say goodbye.  He sits and eats lunch and dinner with us. He photobombs me as I try to make a photograph of the van being loaded. I’m glad. He will be a fond memory of Panama.

Hasta la vista, Panama. I hope to see you soon.

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