With the recent marriage date announcement, I didn´t include too many details other details from February. Here is a brief review of the month:
1. Sarah visited! (Host Family trip, On-Site, Beach Birthday)
Host Family Trip
We first went to my training host family´s house, where we spent two days in the hills near Panama City. From the airport to their house, we took an old school bus from the United States that was transformed with a lot of artistic expression into a ¨Diablo Rojo¨, filled with paintings of their family, Looney Toons charecters, or whatever else was on their mind. The bus was packed way beyond the limit, but we made it! My host family has two 3-year old twin daughters and an 8-year old son. They were nervous at first since they hadn´t seen me in over three months, but they warmed up quite quickly. On Sunday during our visit, we went to church and then went swimming in the afternoon, picking up oranges and grapefruit on the way back!
After two days with my host family, we took a bus ride west for six hours to my site. It was so wonderful for Sarah to see with her own eyes the people and places that I had been telling her about on the phone previously. Upon arriving, Sarah received a blue dress made by my host family called a nagwa, as well as a Ngabere name, Boja. She´s named after a hard-working woman of the community who always helped out without being asked. How appropriate!
The next day we took down an old house to make room for a new store. That night she learned how to play dominoes, even beating the locals in her second game! Later in the week we made a trip to town to get groceries, however that night she got sick! We learned together what it means to care for someone when there´s no electricity, no soft couch, no chicken noodle soup, and no car-ride to the doctor. It was great practice because one of us will surely be sick again.
She learned what it means to go to church (4 hours underneath a zinc roof!), go to a community meeting (5 hours long!), or go for a walk (¨These are mountains, not hills!¨). We also got to troubleshoot a clog in an aquaduct line, built a pit latrine, and rode a horse!
At the end of our trip, we went down to the beach for my birthday. How special to have my fiancee here to celebrate with me! We got to walk on the beach (getting sunburnt, of course!), swam in the ocean, had a pasta dinner, dodging crabs along the way.
It was sad to see her leave, but she´ll be back down once more before we get married this September!
2. Reconnect Inter-Service Training
After being at our sites for four months, we were able to come together for four days to get more technical training and share ideas and experiences. All 36 members of our group came together, enjoying training sessions during the day and walks to the beach and Settlers of Catan at night.
The first day we presented our community analysis (maps, daily schedules, yearly schedules) and transferred this into future community action steps, involving the community every step of the way and starting a smaller project to build confidence.
Other sessions included proposal writing, water seminar planning, springbox construction, aquaduct computer modeling, and training for building latrines.
I´ll be posting an update for March shortly.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)