Thursday, April 12, 2012

All good things come to an end.

Michelle and I have had to move back to the States. We will leave the blog up for those that might want some information.

Update on David: As of March 1st, 2012 the David English group was formed into an English Congregation.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Watching it Grow!

Humble Beginnings

When we arrived in Panama seven months ago in the middle of June we had no idea we would end up where we are today. David was not even on our radar because no one had mentioned it, and it was not on the letter sent out by the Panama Branch as a place in need of English help. David was simply a section of the territory that the Volcan English Congregation covered. Every Wednesday they would drive down to David to preach in English here.

The branch wanted more detailed information about David and the need for English here. The Branch therefore selected two pioneer sisters and gave them a temporary Special Pioneer assignment in English in David.
Desiree and Angel
They found enough English in the territory that they decided to move to David even after their temporary assignment of 3 months was over. With the Circuit Overseer in English visiting them during our scouting trip (and being blocked from entering Changuinola) we decided to support his visit to David and work with him, his wife and Desiree and Angel. Of course that is when we were convinced to move to David and help out in the English field there.

Signs of Potential Growth

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Rumors of Our Demise are Greatly Exagerated

Wow! Over two months since our last post! Time here in Panama has a way of slipping by faster than anywhere else we have ever been. It seems like the simplest tasks take all day.

Well we have been very busy the last couple of months with Theocratic activities. We have also had my (tyler's) parents visit for a couple of weeks at the end of November. We were sick for over two weeks at the beginning of December and have been playing catch-up ever since. We have been adjusting our schedule to try and find one that will allow us to keep going and not wear down physically, and we think we have found one finally. We think this will also give us more opportunities to do things like update our blog here.

We hear that it is very cold and even snowing back in Kansas and Missouri lately. So we have decided that despite all of the difficulties of dealing with walking in the "summer" heat here, we will no longer complain about our sunny 85 to 90 degree weather we are having right now.

Rest assured that we are doing well here in David, Panama and are really enjoying our time here!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Day to Day

I thought I'd write a post explaining a little about our day to day life and some of the challenges it poses.  Our day usually starts around 6:00 am.  That's if the dogs in the neighborhood don't start barking at 5:30 and wake us up.  There is literally no insulation in the walls of these houses.  It's not necessary due to the weather.  However that means when the neighbors are outside talking, or the kids are in the house next door playing, or the dog 2 blocks over starts to bark, you hear it.  Because of that, Tyler and I are both trying to become morning people.  It's a slow, painful adjustment.

   One of the biggest challenges for me is preparing myself for the cold shower first thing in the morning. Sometimes I'm up and need to get in the shower but just cannot get my courage to do it.  When I finally do, I stand there testing the water every couple of minutes like it might actually warm up.  Finally you just have to take the plunge and try to get it over with as soon as possible.  Once we're ready, we either wait for the bus to come around or walk out to the main road where the buses pass much more often. If we wait for the bus to come around, we have to be ready to catch it at least an hour before the meeting for field service starts because there is no real schedule per say.  If we walk out we can usually leave the house 45 minutes before the meeting for field service, but we have to walk about 20 minutes to the main road.  Even at 8:15 in the morning that can work up quite a sweat.  Once we get into David, depending on how much time we have, we either catch a taxi or walk to the Kingdom Hall.  Walking I would say takes about 20 minutes.

After the meeting for field service we either walk to territory or take a bus.  The public transportation has been a real adjustment.  You never know exactly when the buses are going to come around, nor do you know how long it will take to get somewhere.  The buses will stop to pick people up anywhere along their route.  You can literally flag them just like a taxi.  Also you can tell them to stop anywhere along their route.  So sometimes the same route takes 15 minutes and sometimes it takes 30.  Also, sometimes you only have to wait 5 minutes for a bus, and sometimes you have to wait 40.  Because of this we have to allow an hour to get to a RV.  Also if we stop service at 3:00 it could be as late as 4:30 by the time we get home.

I have also had a big adjustment in a physical way.  I did not anticipate the toll that walking around all day in the heat takes on your body.  In the United States people don't usually walk more than a couple of blocks in service if the weather is hot, but here we walk miles everyday.  I have come home from service and been so sore and worn out that I couldn't stand the thought of standing long enough to make dinner.  Fortunately Tyler and I can both tell that are bodies are adjusting and getting stronger.  It's becoming much easier, for example to have two long days in service back to back.  Actually Tyler has almost flourished here in a physical way.  He has had almost no problem with the heat and really seems to enjoy walking all day in service.  I actually expected it to be the other way around.

All in all there have been a lot of adjustments, but I have to say I completely agree with all the experiences we read about in the publications.  It is ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT!!  This is by far one of the most treasurable experiences of my life.  The people here are spiritually hungry and so appreciative.  There was one man we talked to a couple of days ago for example, who wanted the Bible Teach book so badly and appreciated the value of it so much, he refused to take it until he could give us a donation.  The same day we talked to a man who didn't speak enough English for us to witness to him, but almost literally begged us for a Bible Teach book in Spanish.  We have turned that info over to the missionary couple in our congregation.  When we go back to RVs that we have placed the Bible Teach book with and ask them if they have their book with them, they almost always walk over to their bag and pull it out.  That's the case even if they are at work.  The people here do not "misplace" or lose the literature you give them.  They keep it with them and read it.  You can just feel the hunger they have to learn the truth.  We believe the fields are indeed "white for harvesting", and feel so privileged to be a part of it.

Tyler with some of the friends, preaching in Volcan.  The hat was to protect his face from sunburn.

Tyler preaching in a wealthy neighborhood in David.  Typically there are many English speaking people in these neighborhoods.  Probably as much as 1/3. Our experience has been that even in the wealthy areas we get very good response from English speaking Panamanians.  Notice the new service backpack.  Also the hat is no longer needed.

Michelle preaching in another wealthy neighborhood.  This was an exceptionally hot day.  A very kind person at one of the houses (who didn't speak English) gave us each a cold soda.  You know it's desperate when Michelle drinks pop and it tastes good!


Friday, October 1, 2010

David, Panama - Bus Terminal and surrounding area

The Bus Terminal in David, Panama

Because we mainly use public transportation to get around town (when we are not just walking) we spend a lot of time at the Terminal in David. When we first arrived we had no idea what was going on or where to go. Here are several pictures of the buses and the Terminal. We have basically 3 different types of buses depending on where you are going or coming from. The big blue bus runs from David to Panama City. The large yellow school bus is for going to Boquete. The little white bus goes everywhere around town and to other towns and cities, these are the ones we ride mostly. On the front window of the buses you can see the names of the town they each go to, thus you know what ones might be going your way.

This is the double decker version of the David-Panama bus. The view is awesome from the top in the front.
Here you can see several of the white buses and one of the Boquete buses in the back.

This is where the buses pull up to the terminal to pick up the passengers. Each route has a designated slot.
Inside the terminal where the buses are lined up. On the right are several shops and restaurants.
This is one of the women's bathrooms at the terminal.  I'm not sure where you have to pay to use this one, but as you can see bathrooms are not always free in Panama.
And neither is toilet paper.  The lady behind the desk (you can't see her well in this picture) is tearing off a few sheets from a roll of toilet paper and selling them for you to use in the bathroom down the stairs.  I have personally used this one, and I can say it is better than some others, and had soap the day I was there.  The bathroom, by the way, was free.

Some shops and stands around the Terminal

Some of the restaurants across from the terminal. Most restaurants have open air seating in David.
Another restaurant down the street with some other shops in the background.
There are a lot of street vendors. You can get your shoes shined or buy a new outfit. 
More street vendors and many also sell food. We are not sure why the car has cardboard on it.
Most of the lawyers and doctors keep their bared doors closed and locked, even during business hours.

This is one part of town we go to. Later we will show you some other areas. We have always felt safe and everyone is very friendly.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Stuck between a delivery time and a tile floor

After we rented the house in Los Algarrobos one of the first things we had to buy was appliances (our place is unfurnished so no stove or fridge). The place we bought our appliances and bed from deliver for a small fee so we decided that we would have them go ahead and do that for us. The problem is that they deliver from anywhere from 9 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon, and if you are not there when they try to deliver you have to pay again for them to come back another day.

At the time we lived in Volcan. There are no direct ways from Volcan to Algarrobos, you have to go from Volcan to David to Algarrobos. The bus from Volcan to David often takes over an hour and then from David to Algarrobos it is about 20-30 minutes depending on the number of stops made. The buses start running around 7:30 to 8:00 so this wouldn't give us enough time to get to Algarrobos if they were there at 9.

We didn't want to miss the delivery so we decided the only option was to stay overnight at the house in Nuevo Horizonte (New Horizon [our neighborhood]). The problem was we only had a comforter set we bought for the bed. All the floors here are tile or concrete, not exactly the softest flooring around. So to say the least it was not the most comfortable place I have ever slept.
Here is Michelle getting ready for bed.
Tyler trying to keep the bugs out.

The delivery was made the next morning, so we now have our; bed, stove, fridge, washer and dryer. Now we just have to start getting things arranged.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Our home

Here are several pictures of our place. We have been doing work on the place and buying furniture and appliances and we will send updates as we finish the house.

The house is a 2 bedroom 1 bath house. It is in a cute little neighborhood that is made up of mainly young families with little kids. The house has no hot water or air-conditioning, the AC is no problem because it is very nice here but the no hot water is difficult to get used to. We don't even have an electric shower head in our place so we just take cold showers. Anyway here are some more pictures.
Living room / front door
Dinning room (opposite living room) 
Hall leading to kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms 
Kitchen w/cabinets (unusual in this price range) 
1st bedroom - lots of work to do here! 

2nd bedroom 

We are going to be painting every room, the paint on the walls is a very cheap flat paint, so it shows every little mark and you can't clean it (we tried to wash a spot and the paint actually came off just from washing). The girls bedroom is painted pink and has "artwork" all over and stickers covering the door. In the bathroom there is no mirror they just have a little cabinet over the sink so we are going to have to change that. The other problem to figure out is what to do about laundry, everyone does their laundry outside and just bring their washer in and out but we don't want to do that so we are going to experiment with some options.