I'll start with this super cute youth group that visited a few weeks ago:
My friend Cleide, on the left, was hosting this group for a week in Panama City. They were interested in seeing a local Panamanian school, so we thought it would be a great opportunity to come visit St. Christopher's where I teach to interact and just hang out with my students. They are all in high school, and since I teach high school, they thought it would be a cool opportunity for them to meet, talk about their lives and their faith, and hopefully make some new friends and connections! It was really fun and my students were super excited to meet people their age but also to skip a day of normal class. Here are a few more pictures!
|My 10th grade students|
|A group of 11th grade boys I taught last year|
|My 10th grade girls|
|Naturally they loved taking selfies together|
The next weekend, I had the amazing opportunity to visit the community of Machuca in Penonomé, Panama. The community is a place where a program called PROMESA is present. PROMESA is a program in the Episcopal Church of Panama that works with themes of self-sustainable agriculture, gender, and many others that help and promote the growth of people living in certain communities. In Machuca, they are working on self-sustainable agriculture with several local farmers.
I traveled with a group of young adults from the Episcopal Church of Panama in order to learn more about what PROMESA is doing in the community of Machuca, and we also helped to bring donations of clothing and footwear.
When we arrived, we were immediately split into two groups under two mentors and local farmers who showed us the kind of work they do in the community. My group was able to watch and learn about the work of a local woman who showed us what kind of work she does every single day. Here are some pictures. Also, I clearly cannot take credit for the pictures that say "PTY" in the corner. Two young adults that work for the Episocopal Church took these amazing photos, which is great considering I've given up on my photography:
|Learning about how to harvest Yucca|
|All of the plants we learned about: bananas, onions, yucca, sugar cane, and tomatoes|
|Teaching how to uproot Yucca|
|A device to help get the juice out of sugar cane|
|In the front yard of one of the locals! So beautiful|
While she taught us about her work, she also talked about daily life as well as daily struggles. She explained that community has several health problems and has a hard time getting regular health checkups. She also told us about the lack of water. In fact, during our visit there was no running water. Obviously the locals have experience with this, so there was no problem! We just had to get creative and even got some water from a river a few minutes away.
All this being said, this community is also very connected and supportive of one another. They are always willing to help when a helping hand is needed, and very generous and loving in general. The woman who we spent the afternoon explained several times that no matter what the circumstances are, the people are generally very happy and simple people. What really hit home for me was when she said, "I may have very little money, but I do have a lot of friends".
In the afternoon as well as the next day, the Episcopal group also led a form of a bible study which reminded me a lot of Vacation Bible School. The local kids came for a couple of hours to learn, play games, and spend time together. I helped lead a little, but I mainly got to watch our friends lead this, which was really fun to see!
|Discussing strategy for one of the games (I have an issue with getting sunburned no matter how much sunscreen I wear)|
|Showing off her artwork|
|Such a cutie! All ages were able to participate|
|Having some fun with games|
|The whole group!|
|We also got to learn how to make the bracelets that many of the women make by hand that they sell. So much harder than it looks!|
|What a fun group!|
|The team of young adults|
This experience was honestly something I never expected to learn so much from. It is such a cool program that the Episcopal Church of Panama has.