There are so many memories I will treasure from my time spent in Boquete, Panama on the YES II Campaign in June 2018. On the morning of our first worship service on Sunday when we gathered with the local congregation, there was both singing songs of praise in English and some led in Spanish. When the locals began singing,“Our God, He is Alive,” we immediately recognized the tune and began singing the echo of the chorus in English as they sang in Spanish. It was so powerful, the way it represented how we spoke a different language but the same praise to the same God. I wept. I always knew there were Christians around the world who shared a common faith and that moment was such a powerful representation of that unity
There were seven U.S. congregations of the Lord’s Church represented on the campaign, totaling about 55 people plus an additional fifteen translators from native congregations. Each evangelism group consisted of one male who led the Bible study and one translator. Additionally, one or more women were placed in each group so that the men could enter the home. We also helped by playing with the children so that their mom could study the Bible uninterrupted. The ‘chicos’ and ‘chicas’ of Panama are just like our little ones here in the U.S., full of energy! Our goal each day would be to pass out invitations to the nightly meeting and offer a Bible study then or set up for later. My group studied with six different people over the course of several days and multiple times. I feel confident that with further study, they will obey the Gospel. Also, a daily VBS offered in one of the neighborhoods was led by a group of young women.
We formed lifelong friendships with members from the congregations that worked on this campaign. Free time was spent playing with the local children or a game of ball or cards. Even though we spoke different languages, we always found a way to laugh and play. Thanks to no WiFi and cell phone service, we were forced to sit around and talk. Such a simple thing, but it had a big impact. Relationships were created, bonds strengthened, and new ideas born. Parting at the end of the week left us all in tears.
One result of going on this YES II mission trip is a decision to start a ministry for young people...a weekend retreat to address what young Christians should consider when choosing a mate. Often I don’t have the time and mental energy to sit around and ask, “How can I use my talents and time for the Lord?” There are distractions at home, usually, but this was not the case while in Panama.
I was uplifted by the whole experience and appreciate the lessons I learned from the Panama brothers and sisters. It was encouraging to see the drastic change in the youth from the U.S. There was NO Facebook or Snapchat. Instead, I saw them lead songs and devotionals, and by the end of the week, our youth were making comments and suggesting verses during the home Bible studies.
Who wouldn’t want the opportunity to spend 24 hours a day with your brothers and sisters in Christ? Sing together. Pray together. Study together. We all walked away with a motivation to strive toward the prize. I am grateful for God’s blessings on this work. To God be the Glory!