138 Dirksen Drive, DeBary, FL US 32713
It’s Wednesday – is this week really half over?
This week has been amazing! I am truly blessed to be a part of an amazing team that God has put together to bless these children this week. God has answered the prayers to so many of my concerns heading into my first trip. From wondering how to connect with the children with not speaking their language, to being concerned with traveling internationally, to being concerned that no other team member is within 10+ years of my age, God has faithfully answered your prayers for me, so thank all of you back home for your prayers!
This week, I am assigned to be with one of the rooms and follow the kids around for most of the day as they participate in their various activities. At first, this was a little overwhelming for me with there being 21 boys in my group and no immediate connection. Our first time together consisted of the boys making fun of my Spanish! The connection with them has steadily improved as the week goes on. From throwing them around in the pool, to playing soccer and basketball with them, to thumb wrestling with them, to helping them find their verses in their bibles that they need to look up in their breakout sessions, they have really been opening up to me.
There was a real breakthrough today connecting with the kiddos. Yesterday at dinner time a boy named Daniel pulled me aside to play a game with him. It was Panama’s version of “table football”, which was a new game to me. Paper football, or table football, is a game I’ve enjoyed playing all of my life, so learning to play table soccer with Daniel was an awesome experience. Today, I made a paper football and at dinner time I started showing Daniel how to play. Little did I expect that almost the entire table to gather around to watch to learn how to play. Daniel urged our team leader Fernando to come over and interpret so they clearly understood how to play. The boys had a blast playing. Even the girls sitting near by took interest with a smile. One girl came up to me while I was playing and gave me a piece of candy. It absolutely melted my heart!
During dinner time this evening a boy from my team named Abel, with the help of his translator Fernando, asked me several questions in English. We had a blast laughing together as we attempted to speak each other’s language! It has also been great to form closer bonds with our team members. I’ve enjoyed spending time with them and getting to know them better. It’s awesome to serve with people that have a passion to serve the Lord, and it’s been especially encouraging to me to see the fire these teens have for serving our God.
This trip has really stretched me and has helped me to grow. I’ve learned that kids are kids regardless of where they are from. If you put a ball between them, they can come up with any game to play. I’ve seen them make faces, photo bomb, act crazy in the pool, and just have a great time. I’m learning how important building relationships is, and by just spending another minute with them, spending a few dollars on them, staying up another hour to play games with them goes a long way. We are truly blessed to be here this week and spend time with these children who come from difficult family situations. These kids are going to remember this week for the rest of their lives. The staff here is amazing, and these kids are constantly getting fed the gospel message. It’s so great to witness firsthand so many kids coming to the Lord this week, and also seeing so many seeds being planted. Please continue to pray for our team and the staff here at WOL in Panama as we close out this week. Your prayers and support are paying eternal dividends!