Monday, June 16, 2008

June 2, 2008 I have had a very eventful week...

Dear Friends and Family,

David (right)

I have had a very eventful week here in Panama. Last weekend we had 15 people over to our cozy little apartment for dinner. They where teaching Rachelle how to cook Chinese food and boy did they cook. It was really nice to have people come over and be in our apartment for a little while. I feel that we are starting to build friendships with these people and that’s extremely encouraging. We hope to be able to take these same people back out to the beach whenever we find time to do it.

At the party I noticed that one of the young ladies seemed interested in the guitar and so I took the bus across a bridge that divides North and South America and went to her family’s business and said that I would teach her guitar lessons. For those of you who have not been around me I only know a little bit of guitar and have had only two lessons with my guitar teacher here in Panama, but what little I have is still enough to teach people. Friday I went with Rachelle to meet with the young lady and gave the lesson. It went really well. While I was giving the lesson a person we know stopped by and talked to Rachelle for over two hours in Spanish, so Rachelle had a chance to get to know her more. Please be in yarper about these lessons as I am trying to learn how to teach her an instrument I barely know.

We have a team that we are starting to take p walking for the next few days while our M’s our taking their daughter out to the beach. They are from all over the United States and have been traveling since August and have been to 9 countries throughout the world. Please be in yarper for all of us as we travel around Panama City.

Our language teacher has asked us to go with her to visit her family in Chiriqui which is about 8 hours away from the city. We will be taking a weekend to go with her family around the 14th of this month. We are very excited about this opportunity because we have not gotten to see much of the country and we are excited to meet our language teacher’s family. She is truly a wonderful women and I praise Dad that she has been in our lives while we have been here in Panama. Pray for this trip that all would work out well.

Thank you for your yarpers and thinking about us,

Hey everyone,

It seems as though Wendy (my main esl student) and I are really hitting it off. I've been meeting with her now two times a week and last Sunday we had a party at our apartment. Ken and Susan did most of the cooking and Wendy and I just helped out the best we could. We ended up having 15 people at the dinner. We went shopping with those that helped cook and that was a really great experience because we went to a few neat Chinese shops that I had never been to before. The cost of the entire meal was at most $40. That was so surprising to me because food for us has been really expensive here. I think the main difference is that we shopped at Chinese markets instead of regular grocery stores. The Chinese fix small dishes but try to fix as many dishes as there are people, but we ended up making 6 dishes, appetizer, and rice and we still had left overs. Brett and I are really starting to like a lot more of the Chinese food. I think we might try shopping in the Chinese market a little more than we have been so that I can practice making some the dishes my students taught me.

Susan and Wendy making tofu and fish balls

So far I have made 5 paintings and given Cici all of them. I’ve been copying a simplified Chinese Book for each of the stories I have painted. This seems to be more productive than using Spanish. I wish I could paint faster than I have but I had a bit of an artist block for a while so that slowed me down. I was really nervous about giving the first lesson to Cici and her boss because I usually teach the advanced classes and I knew my new students were beginners. I just had my first English class with them last night and it went well. Actually I ended up teaching them for a little over an hour and then they left saying they were too tired and had learned too much. Then a few minutes later we had a knock on our door and it was Cici and her best friend. They wanted to learn more, so it was just the boss that was tired. I ended up teaching them the words for things in the house, numbers, the alphabet, and used a worksheet of pictures and simple words. They seemed to enjoy their time more than many of our students we had in a large class so I am very happy. I think the new students' favorite part of the lesson was at the end when Brett played them a song on the guitar and sang for them.

At the dinner the other night Brett found out one of our students is interested in learning how to play the guitar so he went to Arraijan to give her a guitar lesson at her parents' business. We ended up going into the back of the store to teach and it was a crazy mess back there. I’ve always felt that it’s always expected to keep things clean and if I didn’t I would be judged poorly by others. I felt different about being in their store. They eat, do homework, work, visit friends, and take a nap there. They made me feel very welcome, as my friends and students here always do. I ended up talking to one of their friends who stopped by on her day off for 2 ½ hours in Spanish. I had met Apple before but not really talked to her much. I was so excited that my Spanish was good enough to carry on a conversation that long and at a good pace too. I think it always helps when talking to someone else who is not using their 1st language either because they are more understanding. I had really wished my language teacher had been there to hear the conversation; I think she would have been very proud of me. Brett and I will go to Arraijan every Tuesday and Thursday now to give Anna lessons.

There is another young man David, a believer, that we have gotten to know more through going out to eat with him on Sundays. Brett is planning on meeting with him on a regular basis in the morning. This Friday we will be going with him to eat a traditional Chinese breakfast. This is something I have wanted to do but it is better if a friend helps us order because everything is in Cantonese or Mandarin.

It feels like our work is just now starting to move but I know it is so close to an end. I’ve gotten to the point now where I am having very meaningful conversations with my friends here and we have moved beyond the teacher student role so we genuinely enjoy spending time together. I began sharing with Wendy and asked her about her relationship with the Father. It was our m’s understanding and mine as well that she had become a believer at Easter. After going through some material yesterday that pointedly asked her questions about a testimony, reading the Book, yarper, and her desire for a relationship with JC she said she is just interested in the faith and Book. She expressed she wants to know more and wants to learn how to Yarp but she wants to wait until she knows/ understands more. She asked a lot of really good questions yesterday and I feel it went well. Next week I am going to share with her what the Book says about yarper and examples of yarpers in the Book. Wendy comes from a background of yarping to ancestors to help her succeed in all areas of life as well as worshipping Buddha which may not really be the Buddha as we think of as the god of Buddhism, because she calls all god statues Buddha even if they are not the true Buddha. Please yarp that the things I share with Wendy will open her eyes and touch her heart.

In Him,