I hope this entry finds everyone well and in good spirits. It´s hard to belive Thanksgiving has passed and Christmas is on its way. I´ve missed entirely the changing colors of the leaves, the family Thanksgiving dinner in Wausau, and the arrival of snow on the ground and christmas songs on the air. I´ll have to celebrate the season with you all via internet this year!
Since I wrote to you all last, I´ve spent a few more weeks working on site and also managed to attend a Thanksgiving celebration, both of which I´ll detail through words below and through pictures on the right margin.
1. Life on Site
Here are some tidbits that may give you a better idea of what I´ve been up to in my site lately.
House visits--drew maps of current water taps and latrines
English class--I´m teaching a class of about 20 students of mixed ages once a week. Topics this week included contractions, what is this?, and the numbers 1-10.
Church--I´ve attended church Saturdays between 9 and 12 in the morning. They´ve even asked me to help lead bible study and sing in a quartet!
Community Analysis--I´ve helped lead activities like gathering census data, writing down their community history and stories, community maps, and daily schedules.
Work days--I helped clean the cemetery before their Memorial Day and also helped clean the acueduct line with my good ole machete. They´ve told me that nothing is safe when a machete is in my hands, as I accidently chiopped down a neighbor´s bean plant.
Settlers of Catan--You read this right. I taught my counterpart how to play, so next is getting a full group of 4 to play.
Dominoes--My community gathers at my host family´s house to play dominoes a couple times a week. They better look out--I´m beginning to catch on to the strategies.
Sarah--We´ve been able to talk through a bible study chapter and a Sacred Marriage chapter every week. Phone calls to her are definitely a highlight of my day :)
Family--It was sad not to be with them on Thanksgiving, but I look forward to their visit next year. Emily comes back in less than a week, so at least they´ll have one more kid back in the house for Christmas!
Jon--We chatted over Skype--Panama to Uganda! I´m envious of his household internet connection.
Nate--Chatting with him brought back fond memories of late night conversations in Chadbourne 811 sophomore year.
Marcia--It was nice to chat with Marcia and remember Peter Bosscher together. Conversations at the Bosscher household are a big reason why I´m writing this blog post from Panama today.
Grandma Lorraine--She said, ¨Your voice is so clear it seems like you´re next door!¨I miss chatting with my grandma on a weekly basis!
Daily Study Material
David C. Cook Bible Lesson Commentary
Un Pueblo en Marcha: A Study of the Book of Numbers (Bible)
Ngabere Indiginous Language Training
ArcGIS Computer Program Training
Books I´ve Read Recently
Participatory Analysis for Community Action, Peace Corps
Classroom Management Idea Book, Peace Corps
A Handbook of Gravity Flow Water Systems, Thomas D. Jordan
The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios, Yann Martel
The Tailor of Panama, John LeCarre
Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas
up next: The White Man´s Burden, William Easterly
A group of veteran Peace Corps volunteers organized a group get-together for Thanksgiving in Cerro Punta, in the western mountains of Panama, north of David by about 2 hours. The air was fresh and cool--I finally got to use my treasured hooded sweatshirt. Strawberries, coffee, and stories were in abundance.
I was able to catch up with quite a few other volunteers about their first months on site and was comforted to know that our stories of adjusting to a new lifestyle, stomach pains included, were common to us all. I managed to fit in 3 games of Settlers of Catan in during the two day trip, somehow winning all 3.
After a morning hike and a reward of strawberries and whipped cream, the Thanksgiving dinner finally arrived at 4pm. There was much rejoicing. Thanks to the efforts of many volunteers, the meal included turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables, bread, butter, apple crisp, pumpkin pie, and more. I won´t say how much I ate, but if I was counting calories, it may have passed the 5000 mark. After eating rice three times a day for a month, I was definitely very thankful for a wonderful Thanksgiving meal among my Peace Corps family.
Things I´m Thankful For
An all-powerful God, who has done and will do more than I can ask or imagine
A wonderful, loving fiance
A caring, supportive family
Good health and sufficient food on site
Friends and family spread across the US
The ability to serve God through the Peace Corps
A great host family and training experience this past August through October
The ability to maintain contact to loved ones through cell phones, blogs, and pictures
A welcoming, eager group of people to work with on site for the next two years
A fellow Christian to study the Bible with during training
The ability to serve in the Peace Corps and get a Master´s degree, all the while enjoying the experience
A church to go to and Christians to support me on a daily basis
The ability to explore God´s creation here in Panama, the sunsets over the Pacific, the fresh taste of strawberries, the birds soaring overhead, the true joy and laughter of people living in material poverty
YOU, for supporting me in my journey
Luke 1:46-57 says
My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior
for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant...
His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down the rulers from their thrones, but he has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things, but he has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful
To Abraham and his descendents forever, just as he promised our ancestors.
Blessings to you this holiday season,