a note from James and Christel
… para que la gracia que está alcanzando a más y más personas haga abundar la acción de gracias …so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow para la gloria de Dios. 16 Por tanto, no nos desanimamos. Al contrario, aunque por fuera nos vamos to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet desgastando, por dentro nos vamos renovando día tras día… Así que no nos fijamos en lo visible sino inwardly we are being renewed day by day… So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is en lo invisible, ya que lo que se ve es pasajero, mientras que lo que no se ve es eterno. unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Cor 4:13-18 2 Cor 4:13-18 As Christel and I begin our second full month in Panama, we have begun to reflect about similarities and differences between Panama and the U.S.A. Lots of things are similar, most of the food and products that we are accustomed to in the United States are available here, and with the exception of a few items (like bananas) things tend to cost about the same or a bit more than at home. Our water is clean from the tap, and there’s even a T.G.I.F and Bennigans here! If it weren’t for the lack of winter, we could almost be tricked into believing we were at home. Earlier last month we went to the village of Rio Rita, one of the first Lutheran Congregations in Panama, for a Reformation festival. There were two baptisms, communion, a guest preacher, a soccer tournament, a clothing sale, a big lunch, and lots of fun games. The following week I stayed home from our Spanish classes with diarrhea, the worst bout of vomiting in my life, and intense discomfort. The water I drank at Rio Rita wasn’t clean. I had completely forgotten that I was in a third world country. The average wages here in Panama are around $21 a day, though many make a $1.50 or less an hour. Compare that to the average U.S. income which is nearly 5 times as much, and remember that prices here are for the most part either equal or higher than at home, and you will begin to get a picture of what people have here. Seeing people without the material possessions that we have helps
us to be thankful for what we have in the United States, especially as we prepare for our national day of Thanksgiving. But what we are learning to be truly thankful for is what we have in common with our Panamanian brothers and sisters: “the grace that is reaching more and more people” every day! Our new citizenship in the kingdom of heaven is far more important than our material possessions. Even as the economy at home is on a downward slide, we do not lose heart, for even if outwardly we are wasting away, we are being renewed inwardly day by day! We have so much to be thankful for! It’s easy to gather around a big table with a turkey and be thankful for what we see spread before us, but some people can barely put food on their table every day. This doesn’t mean we should be ashamed of having material possessions, in fact we should be very thankful. But let us fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal! (2 Cor. 4:18) -James and Christel
Give thanks for the harvest in Panama! Pray that we will eventually be fully funded. Pray that we will continue to learn Spanish. Pray that leaders will arise in the church. Give thanks for the reformation, and the saving grace it revealed once again! Pray that we would continue to adjust to being away from home and our families.
Published on May 31, 2009