Being a Tourist

 

in Panama…
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Although our main purpose in visiting Panama was for the dedication ceremony of the Kuna Scriptures, we did have the opportunity to do some sightseeing as well…
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Casco Antiguo (Old Quarters, Panama City, Panama)

A glimpse of what you’ll find here: churches and partial buildings still standing from the mid 1600’s, the official residence of the President, enormous amounts of construction, loose cats and dogs, narrow sidewalks and streets, modern renovated buildings adjacent to run down residences…

 

Downtown Panama City, Panama
- a beautiful city-scape, bustling traffic, a large modern mall, sky scrapers, busses and taxis, side street vendors, etc.IMG_2635
RH City

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Panama Canal (100 year Anniversary!)
- Massive cargo ships containing hundreds of containers
- The Bridge of Americas
- Miraflores Locks

 

Nature
- palm trees, bamboo, tapirs, toucans, geckos, etc.

 

Notes on being a tourist
We are not world travelers, nor do we pretend to be.  This trip was a rarity for us and provided just one small glimpse into another country and culture. We are thankful for the short time God allowed us to experience in Panama!

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Here are some important things in regards to being ‘tourists’ that we want to remember…
- Pack lightly and re-wear clothing.
- Bring your backpack for day trips and pack sunscreen, a hat, a water bottle, a mini umbrella, a snack, a small package of facial tissues (for more than just for your nose), and just use your phone as a camera.
- Tag along with someone who speaks the language if you are going to be there for a very short time.
- Regardless, try to learn at least a few basic, necessary words. (I think I only learned ‘banos’ for ‘bathroom’, ‘gracias’ for ‘thank you’, and – through environmental print – ‘damas’ for ‘women’ as well as ‘alto’ for ‘stop’.  I’m a slow learner though, and it appears that none of my college Spanish coursework stuck with me.  =) )  
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- Find out about the cultural norms before you travel – reminding yourself that the way others do things are not wrong, just different than your own norm.
- Be gracious, patient, and put on a learner attitude.
- Wherever you are, take time to marvel in God’s beautiful creation!

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He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
~Psalm 46:10

God’s Word is for LIFE

For Life

While in Panama City, Panama for the Kuna Scripture Dedication, we were blessed to be able to be present for a traditional evening Kuna worship service as well as a Sunday morning service held at a local Spanish/English church that several missionaries (including Keith and Wilma Forster) attend.   On this particular Sunday morning, a Kuna choir led in worship, the Forsters were honored, the completed Kuna Bible was celebrated, and a sermon was taught on ‘What the Bible Tells Us.’

 
RH Choir

                       DS Flute player   IMG_4503 (2)

RH Choir Close up

Where would we be without God’s life giving Words as found in the Bible?  Would we be able to know who He is?  who we truly are?  that God loves us?  how we can love God?  how we can live to please Him?  and why we are here?  

The Bible reveals…

1) who God is.
     He is holy!

For this is what the high and lofty One says—
he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
“I live in a high and holy place,
but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
and to revive the heart of the contrite.
~Isaiah 57:15

2) who we are.
     We are sinners, separated from the Holy God.

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…
~ Romans 3:23

3) that God loves us. 
    
God loves us and made a way, through the death and resurrection of His One and Only Son Jesus, for us to be reconciled to Him.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
~ 1 John 4:9-10

4) how we can love God.
     We can show we love God by obeying His commands.

This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome…
~ 1 John 5:3

5) how we can live to please Him.
      We can please Him by living in faith!

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
~ Hebrews 11:6

6) why we are here.
     We were to created to glorify Christ!

“You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.”
~ Revelation 4:11

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
~ Colossians 1:16

 

One of the pastors emphasized…

Just having the Scriptures is not enough.  It is to be used.

CB Bible

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
~ 2 Timothy 3:17

Yes, God’s Word is for LIFE.

RH Families

But these are written that you may believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that by believing you may have life in his name.
~ John 20:31

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A Glimpse of Worship

Won’t you journey with me to Panama City, Panama
to catch a glimpse of a Kuna worship service?panama

Watch your step as we’ll be traveling down a steep hill,
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KH Hill 1

past closely lined homes with bright eyed youngsters peering out the windows,
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through the voices of children,
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beyond the gates,
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amidst welcoming youth,
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and into the church, ready to lift our voices alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ.
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With one heart and voice, a unity in Christ Jesus, we worship the One True God together…KF Kuna-Church

and hear His Word,
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spoken in their heart language ~ Kuna.
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In the middle of preaching on the importance of God’s Word, the electricity flickers out… but darkness does not deter this local pastor.

Light starts to shine forth…RH Preaching by Cell Phone Light

Accompanied only by the lights from cell phones,
he continues to preach (adjusting the symbolism to fit the situation at hand)– Psalm 119 105 ‘Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.’
(Scripture from Psalm 119:105, part of the Old Testament that has just recently been
translated, published, and dedicated for their people.)

Upon the end of the sermon, we are welcomed warmly by the body with hand shakes and hugs.
And the sweet, sweet Kuna greeting of “Bab be bendake”  – ‘God bless you.’
(You pronounce it somewhat like: bob bay ben dock ay.)

Then (while still surrounded by a physical darkness)
boxes that are filled with the completed Kuna BiblesIMG_4521

…are opened for the people.RH Bibles by Cell Phone Light

May God’s Holy Word shine brightly in the hearts and minds of the Kuna.
May His Word truly be a lamp to their feet and a light for their path!
Praise God that the Kuna now have the entirety of God’s Word in their own heart language!

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Did you know that Kuna is only the 531st language group (of close to 7,000)  with the blessing and privilege of having access to both the Old and New Testaments?   This particular Kuna congregation is just one of many in the Panama City area.  There are approximately an additional thirty Kuna churches on the nearby San Blas islands.  Kuna pastors, leaders, and families now have access to ALL of God’s Word in their heart language!   We look forward to hearing how God’s Holy Spirit will continue to work through His Word in the lives of the Kuna people.

Why is it so important to translate Scripture into all of these languages?
https://www.wycliffe.org/about/why

Bible Dedication Highlights

Waiting …
DS Waiting for the Kuna Bible   

no more!
RH Kuna Bible

… this is a historical day.
You’ve got the full counsel of God.

~Keith Forster (translator who worked on the Kuna Scriptures)

The Kuna people, along with translators Keith and Wilma Forster, recently celebrated the dedication of the entire Bible into their San Blas dialect.  Three Scripture dedications were held – two on the San Blas Islands and one in Panama City, Panama.  We were privileged to be able to attend the dedication celebration on the mainland with a handful of other stateside Wycliffe members and staff.

As I glanced around at the many Kuna in attendance, I noticed a large number of women and children.  Who could miss the women?  They were beautifully dressed in their lovely traditional clothing made with hues of red, yellow, orange, black, and white – some with their intricate handiwork ‘molas’ sewn on.  Many were also adorned with red head scarves and their delicately created bead bracelets on their arms and legs.  These were the mothers, grandmothers, (and future mothers) who would prepare the next generation to know Him. Women who, although live in another culture and speak a different language from me, are similar to me in that they now have all of God’s Word readily available to them to read, memorize, teach from, share, and pass on to their children!

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I found myself praying for the women and children surrounding me – that they would take the precious gift they have been given and use it, that their children would witness the change in their lives, and grow up knowing Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  (A prayer I’d pray for myself and other moms I know as well.)  Yes, the Kuna now have the full counsel of God.  May they (and we) pass it on to the next generation!

 

Here are a few highlights from the Bible Dedication.

The dedication began with worshipping Christ through singing! 
(We, surprisingly, recognized many of the tunes.  In Kuna, they sang ‘Amazing Grace’, ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness’, ‘How Great Thou Art’, etc.)

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Eagerness for the arrival and presentation of God’s Word…
(One Wycliffe attendee compared it to the anticipation felt by a groom awaiting to see his bride walk down the aisle.)

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Silence being broken with the sounding of a shofar and Scripture carried forth…
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Giving thanks to God and praying over His people and His Word…

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Children reading from the Scriptures in the Kuna language!
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The Kuna people now have access to  ALL of Scripture in their own heart language!

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Praising God for the Work of His Hand… 

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Keith and Wilma Forster
(Wycliffe missionaries who dedicated over 40 years in Panama
to revise an earlier New Testament translation and
to translate the Old Testament into the Kuna’s heart language!)

Keith’s thoughts on passing the torch to the Kuna and leaving it all in God’s powerful hands to work His Will…

… And I look around that crowd today and I see … the lives that have been touched and transformed by the Scriptures… And my prayer is ‘God, would You raise up sufficient leaders … shepherds to watch and minister to those flocks, to cause them to grow in Yourself, to keep them on track.’… My translation team – He who began a good work in them will complete it in their day.  You know, and that’s the big thing …The point is this – that God has raised up this thing. We’ve given them tools. We’ve given them the leadership… And so, we’re looking to God to carry it on.

Wilma’s reflections…

I think, today, for me, what was really amazing… When we first came here in 1971, the Kuna church was very, very small and there was only one of them. And as I looked around that huge group of people… just to see how God has been at workit feels like the time has come for the Kuna church to just explode

Prayers of the Forsters as expressed in their update to partners:

Now the Kuna have God’s Word in its entirety. Please pray earnestly that the initial enthusiasm for the coming of the Word will not peter out. Pray that Kuna hearts will grow deep in their knowledge of the Word and of God’s claim on their lives.

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Please continue to pray for the transforming power of the Word of God
in the lives of Kuna men, women, and children…

that pastors would use and handle Scripture correctly,
that hearts and minds would be changed,
that the next generation of Kuna would know Him,  
and that God would be glorified!

Building a Reader

Some think of the phase when their child learns to read as drudgery. 

It can be so hard for a mom to sit and hear their child painstakingly
   /s/ /ou/ /nd/        /ou/ /t/          /ea/ /ch/            /w/ /or/ /d/.

And, I know, it can be.

Our youngest son LOVES to build things…
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and, currently, has little interest in becoming a reader.  

The different things that our son constructs can be quite tall and detailed as well as functional to play with.  In the process of assembling structures, he has learned some crucial guidelines– like the value of constructing on a solid surface, the importance of adding supports in order to stack the blocks higher, and the necessity of following instructions.

This makes me think how learning to read is somewhat like stacking those blocks
that he spends so much time engaged with…

a strong foundation of being read to, followed by step by step building
   letter by letter, 
      sound by sound, 
         chunk by chunk,
             word by word, 
                 sentence upon sentence, 
                     paragraph upon paragraph
… carefully building until it reaches the peak – an entire book!

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I have been privileged to see the sheer joy in four of our five children’s faces as they progressed in their reading skills!  If we focus on just the individual building blocks, it can feel monotonous, repetitive, and overwhelmingly slow, but if we step back and look at the bigger picture … we will recognize it for what it truly is … a beautiful creation!  Learning to read opens up a new world of learning and exploration to our children.    There are so many ideas, discoveries, and concepts that I do not know or am unable to teach my children thoroughly.  However, when children can finally read, THEY become able to obtain knowledge so much more easily!  Reading is the foundation for a life time of learning.readingBible1

And, I can think of no greater aspiration or motivation for learning to read than God’s Holy Word.  Sure, our children memorize Scripture verses and listen to Bible stories before learning to read, but once they can read on their own, it opens them up to the whole knowledge of God – who He is, what He has done for us, and how we can live to bring Him glory.  And that is what we try to stress to our children and focus on throughout their journey of building those early literacy skills.
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My sweet little builder is progressively making connections between letters and sounds, enjoys listening to picture books and to his audio story Bible, and likes to sing Scripture verses and other songs.  These encouraging signs cause me to feel confident that he is steadily developing into a reader, one building block at a time, following in the steps of his four older siblings.  =) 

Building a reader takes a patient, loving, and encouraging hand.

Mamas, keep stacking and supporting those blocks with your little ones!

 

More on early literacy and learning to read…
A Love For Reading!
Spelling – When to Start
Hubbard’s Cupboard 
(free printable booklets, story lessons, hands on ideas for manipulating letters and sounds, etc.!)

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