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!