2013 Panama Mission Trip

Dispatches from The Republic of Panama

Below are dispatches from our members who are serving and worshiping there -

From Mike Williams – Sunday, July 7, 2013
We have had a restful and fun day with a great period of worship, as well!  The kids are really sad, but are also excited about getting back home.  It is my prayer that you will see smiles and other changes in them as a result of this short trip into another world.

Each of them have expressed that they will now look at things just a little differently than they did before coming.  The Lord has blessed us with a number of memorable experiences.  Perhaps Will said it best this morning when he said he usually measures experiences by the tingles he gets and this has been one of those. 

We owe Mark and Miriam and all the loving people of Farallon a big thank you, we also owe all the home folks a big THANK YOU as well.  Chad shared Jeremiah 1:6-9 this morning and challenged us to resolve to use our mouths to serve our God when we get home.  We also talked about being reflection of Jesus in our daily walk. 

We expect to depart the hotel at 6:30 AM and with no delays will be in Memphis around 6 PM.  It has been a wonderful experience.

For the crew,


From Mike Williams – Saturday, July 6, 2013
We spent most of Friday playing with kids and doing our VBS.  Our hole work was hampered by the rain.  There was a great deal of water in the bottom and the decision was to wait for it to dry before we tried to lay any more bricks.  So I guess the next crew, coming on Sunday, will have a job awaiting them. 

During the VBS session we shared the naming of the 12 apostles and how to pray.  This last session was doubling up because we had been rained out on Thursday.  All our group helped the kids with crafts and play.

Our devotional was conducted by Cori and Jacen.  Both shared about giving of ourselves in service.  Each of the group then also shared one thing that really came home to them this week.  There were some very thoughtful things shared, but most of all they were impressed by the love and the openness of the people of Farallon. 

Two of the ladies came to Miriam earlier and told her they wanted to host a fish fry for us on Friday night, so we all got to eat shring, panfish, and plantains for supper Friday night cooked Panama style!  We topped it off with Miriam`s cake and mango preserves. 

We left Farallon at 7 AM on Saturday and headed to visit the indigenous tribe with whom Mark has been working.  We got to ride  down the river in  native constructed boats and visit the tribe.  They fed us lunch and then demonstrated some of their native dances.  They invited our kids to join in and they did.  Mark has been teaching some of the members of the tribe to speak English.  The kids all enjoyed the visit.  The each got a tatoo.

We arrived back in the city and got rooms in the hotel for tonight and tomorrow.  We hope to visit with Kirvyn, our translator from years past tonight.   Those who have not been plan to visit the Canal tomorrow afternoon.

We thank God for all of you and look forward to our trip home on Monday.

for all the crew,


From Mike Williams – Friday, July 5, 2013
We went to the school on Thursday for the coronation of the school queen.  There was a big ceremony with lots of dancing and pageantry in which a little kindergarten girl was crowned queen for the next two years.  It was really neat to see the activity and to observe how the people feel toward their traditions.  All our kids were there and enjoyed interacting with the school kids.  The guys did not go to work at Cecilia's house, but we plan to make up for lost time today.   It's a school holiday, so all of us  are going to the work site.  Drew has volunteered to teach the girls how to mix concrete!  He and Will are pretty good at it after 2 years.  Colton is the wheelbarrow driver.  Taylor is the understudy for Drew and Will.  Jacen assisted Chad with the brick laying in the hole.  We hope to get a second row of bricks up today so they can cure and the tank can be finished then in record time.  Mark taught plumb-bob 101 and now everybody will get a chance to practice.

VBS got rained out yesterday, but the kids all assembled under our canopy in the front yard and played for a while.  Language is no barrier and anyway we have Jorge who has been outstanding.  He translates for us and has even helped Miriam over a couple of tough spots. 

Colton and Sara shared devotional thoughts on the good Samaritan during our devo time last night.  We can tell that this group is drawing closer together as the week goes on.  Amanda is a great help and influence on all. 

We plan to get a really early start on Saturday as we want to visit the indigenous tribe on the river, so our report for today's adventures may be delayed.  We start our journey back home tomorrow so please pray for safe travels.

Everybody says HEY MOM, HEY DAD!  Bye the way Drew says he'll see you in a month!  He's decided to stay down here.

For the Crew!


From Mike Williams – Thursday, July 4, 2013
Hey Everybody, have a glorious 4th for us!  We're going to work again today!!!!   The girls are headed to the school to teach some more English words and to `learn' some Spanish ones as well.  There is a celebration at the school today and all our crew will go over there to interact with and support them. The Guys are headed back to Cecelia's house to work on our concrete work for the tank tomorrow. 

It has been hot here and we are having to go slow and drink lots of water.  This is the rainy season and no rain has come.  We went down to Ralfeal's yesterday and he showed us how they harvest coconuts.  Everybody got a coconut with a hole in it to drink the coco-milk,  It's really quite tasty!  Drew brought his own coconut back to Upton's and tried his hand at peeling one...Not easy, but he got there!  

Miriam has pictures of our crew up on the Upton Panama Ministry page on Facebook.  Friend her so she can invite you to the page.  It is not a closed group. We will also have some video when we get back.

One of the really neat things we have been doing is everyday before VBS we walk the neighborhood and invite the kids to come to be with us.  This gives us a chance to see new faces, and for Mark to make new contacts as well. Everybody is very friendly. We had 40 kids yesterday.

Will was John the Baptist yesterday and most of the other kids were listeners who came to be baptized.  Jacen was Jesus and came too.  Then all the children got to make a dove.  Some of them were quite good!  Eliza, Jessica, Cori and Sara all have their special following of little girls who swarm around them.  The guys have made special friends as well with the Frisbee and playing in the sand.

Will, Eliza and  Drew shared with us in devotional last night.  They talked about making sure that we have love when we serve others.  They made the point that one could serve without love, but that we needed to make sure we did it with love.

We enjoyed the SKYPE session and wanted to send a big hello to all who missed it.  HUGS to all!


From Mike Williams – Wednesday, July 3, 2013

We really went into a hole on this one!!!  The guys all pitched in yesterday and dug a septic tank.  It's 6X6X6 and that's feet!  it took us most of the morning and everybody had their time in the hole shoveling out dirt.  We had to get through the clay layer to the sand so thing would work correctly.  We will begin building the walls for the tank today!

Meanwhile Sara, Liza, Jessica, Amanda and Cori were accompanied by Jorge as translator to the school.  They taught the kids some English words and phrases.  They conducted 6 classes for Kindergarten through 6th grade.  So we really had a busy morning out meeting and serving!

We began the afternoon with our VBS by telling of Jesus' birth.  Sara changed her name to Mary and Colton became Joseph!  They talked to Gabriel (Jacen) and then when Jesus came they were visited by the shepherds (Will, Jessica and Cori)  and by Wise Men (Drew, Taylor and Liza).  Amanda was the star over Bethlehem, Chad the storyteller and Jorge was the translator.  Mike took pictures. There weren't any roles for Moses!  There were 15 children in this first day of VBS.  There were games and prizes afterward and then the `crew'  headed down to the beach to play in the Pacific Ocean.

Devotional time was conducted by Jessica and Taylor.  They told us the story of Mary and Martha and about Jesus washing the disciples feet.  We are also learning some more Spanish songs to sing with the children.  Everybody is in high spirits and doing well!  It's hot but no rain so far.  We're headed out again today to `be Jesus' to some more folks!

Everybody sends HUGS!

For the Crew!

From Mike Williams – Tuesday, July 2, 2013
"MANGO"  this is the equivalent of the sky is falling ala Chicken Little. 

there is a mango tree in the Upton's front yard and the fruit are falling off the tree at irregular intervals. 
when one hits the tin roof with a loud bang we all shout `Mango'  A 1 lb fruit falling 15 to 20 feet can dent a car, so it's best not to stand under a mango tree when fruit is falling. 

We arrived hale and hardy into Panama City about 1 PM on Monday.  The trip to Farallon with a stop at McDonalds for lunch made us get here at 5.  Mark and Miriam welcomed us with a tour of the village and orientation.  For some reason, everybody was really washed out (I suspect the 2:30 AM start) and after supper and a practice session for VBS we had a short devotional and headed for bed.

We will try to get some pictures transmitted to you today.  We have some good news!  The roof that we were sponsoring (via Charlie Cooper and his support group) at Cecilia's house is installed.  We are working there this week on a septic system and other things.  Mark got the materials and the folks hers got the old roof off and a new one installed in one day.  They send a big thank you to OCOC for this assistance.

Everybody says `Hello MOM, Hello DAD!!!"  but there are no special messages this morning.  Maybe later.  We are headed out to `be Jesus' to some folks today!

Mark says we can Skype, so if John can set it up we will try to talk to you on Wednesday night at 6:35.

Mike for the group!