panama

PANAMA // MEDICAL TEAM // DAY 5

Goal!!!!!

Yesterday, we wound through narrow alleys and streets. Our destination? The “Jesus Foundation” in Panama City. The buildings surrounding the foundation were dilapidated and broken down. Water dripped off a roof on one side near the field--its origin was a shower being taken from a man upstairs. The color of said water…green.

We started the day as we always do, gathered around in a circle for prayer. Once we said “Amen”, we went to work. Our work site was constructed on top of a turf soccer field. The green field contrasted well against the surroundings. An oasis in the middle of a desert.

The day started with a very different tone than Wednesday. All the doctors had their stations constructed and ready to go. Their stations were made of tables, pallet wood, and chairs. Being outside posed a bit of a logistical concern, certain equipment would not work properly in the direct sun light. Our team assembled makeshift tables and crafted creative solutions for our sun problem.

The people of the community were very grateful for our presence. Their demeanor was one of thankfulness and joy. I had the pleasure of being near the eye exams. I don’t think I will ever grow tired of witnessing people gain their sight through a simple pair of glasses. Great work was accomplished yesterday!

At the end of the day, a soccer game broke out. Several of our team members participated. The greatest goal was made by our very own Mary Ann Owens!

The day ended with us gathered around tables sharing stories of where we saw Jesus. This night was different. Our support team joined us for dinner! They are the people who interpreted for us all week long and assisted in helping us communicate and run a smooth clinic. They are absolutely integral to the whole process, although their job is mostly a thankless one. We were able to share stories of how we saw Jesus in them and the work they are doing here in Panama. We sang praise songs in Spanish and in English.

The night concluded in prayer, hand in hand.

PANAMA // MEDICAL TEAM // DAY 4

Flint or Colón

Yesterday we arrived in the city of Colón. It’s located on the Atlantic Ocean side of Panama.  We entered the city and were immediately able to see shipping containers and lots of traffic. Colón is an industrial port town.

The Colón Iglesia del Nazareno was located in a part of the city that has been around for quite awhile. The street we were on was under construction. People couldn’t resist making the joke about Michigan roads and construction.

Colón COTN was by far the cleanest location we have worked at to-date. The pastor there was extremely grateful for our presence. He spoke excellent English, which helped quite a bit when we got busy.

DMV… That’s what comes to mind when I think of our time in Colón. As the day drew on, lines extended longer, wait times crept up, and tensions rose. The mix of heat and dehydration just added to the pressure that everyone was feeling.

Several arguments broke out, but were quickly quelled by a barrage of interpreters and team members. Colón was just a different group of people than we had seen previously. Think, city vs country. Several people tried their luck at the pharmacy by trying to petition for more medications than were prescribed.

I have to be honest. It was a trying day. Day 3 of our trip, exhaustion started to set in for me. I found myself thinking harsher and harsher thoughts. I was increasingly unable to “see the bright side” of things.

Last night, as we set around the table recalling the day and talking about where we saw Jesus. The team reminded me of something as they were sharing. Several people described seeing Jesus in the midst of the chaos of the day. They testified that even though it seemed hopeless, even though we thought that we may never catch up, even though the reality of poverty seems overwhelming, even then…

I saw Jesus today! And that was enough.

PANAMA // MEDICAL TEAM // DAY 3

So I misplaced my phone… which is not particularly good for multiple reasons:

  • I couldn’t take any pictures of the team!
  • It’s our emergency contact!!
  • And it's valentine’s day!!!

Long story short, it had fallen in between the crack of a seat on the bus we were using. It was fine--unharmed and still charged!! When I retrieved it, I had 16 text messages and 3 missed phone calls. One was my wife saying, “Are you still alive?”

Yesterday, we returned to Caso Blanco Church of the Nazarene where we were greeted by a crowd of eager faces. The day began with unloading boxes and boxes of medications and glasses. The hill was steep near the church. We formed an assembly line to the top with a chain of people. Some Panamanian, some American.

Once we set up for the day, the start was slow. It was a nice change of pace from our frantic “learning curve day” yesterday. Things began to pick up pretty quickly. At the end of day we had seen over 210 people!

It was a great day. I saw Jesus several times throughout the day. An interpreter, doctor, and patient were all gathered around praying right in the middle of a consultation. In another corner of the church, a team member handing a small boy a bottle of water. 

We ended the day gathered around tables at the district office, sharing stories of where we saw Jesus throughout the day. It was a powerful moment when Nicki shared how she had seen Jesus in Elianny through her joy and gracious demeanor, always willing to help and happy about it!

Till tomorrow!

Pastor Joey

PANAMA // MEDICAL TEAM // DAY 2

I Love Mondays

Monday our team woke up well rested and ready to go! We hopped on our bus at 8am and headed for our first assignment. When we arrived at Cabuyita Church of the Nazarene, people were already starting to gather. There were tents constructed outside to shade people from the sun while they waited.

The people of Cabuyita were very sweet. They were patient and kind as we began to set up for the day. Monday can be described as Dr. Stoker would say “a training day”. Everyone had their station and everyone was ready to go.

●      Step 1 Registration

●      Step 2 Take Vitals

●      Step 3 See Doctor

●      Step 4 See Vision Doctor (If applicable)

●      Step 5 See Pharmacy

●      Step 6 Pray

I was fortunate to meet several Panamanian families. I was able to pray for them and carry on very small conversations.

A guy by the name of Sergio was standing in the doorway with a beautiful little boy. I approached him and started talking with him. Come to find out he is the same age as me and with 2 kids as well. He introduced me to his son Jacob.

Through talking and A LOT of google translate, he explained that he was in the church band as their drummer and was the youth leader sometime ago. He also said that he was going to be married next week! I asked Sergio if we could pray together with his family and he was delighted that I asked. We gathered around, in the room adjacent to the clinic, with his 2 children and his soon to be wife and prayed together. Sergio and I are now Facebook friends and we look forward to the day when our two families can meet.

The rest of the day was filled with filling prescriptions, evaluating patients' needs, taking vitals, coloring with children while they waited, playing 4 square, and praying with precious people.

In the afternoon of the day, we gathered together one last time. We shared in prayer with the pastor of the congregation at Cabuyita and were able to bless her ministry with a gift.

The evening ended by sharing stories of how we saw Jesus throughout our day and eating together at the Central Panama District Offices.

There is something special about ending your day at the table with your team. Everyone is very different, much like the people we saw that day in Panama, but we all serve the same Jesus.

-       Pastor Joey