Thank you for joining us on this journey. What a blessing it is to know that so many are standing with us in prayer and support as we continue serving in Panama!
We were super excited to have the opportunity to travel back to Panama recently. Although we were only there for 10 days, it was such a blessing to reconnect with friends and ministry partners.
During our time here in the States, we have been investigating and praying about the possibility of providing water filters to each of our GlobalFingerprints families. Thanks to a great international program offered by Sawyer and the sweet help from our friends at Faith Church in Wisconsin, we were able to purchase and deliver the filters to Panama!
Did you know that this little filter pictured above can provide clean water for a family for up to 10 years? Isn’t that incredible! Something so small has made a huge difference to so many families in Panama. We had the pleasure of visiting over 20 of our GF families and demonstrating how to properly use the filter.
Many times we would fill a cup with the clean water for them to taste. During one of our visits, the mom made a strange face after tasting the water. Nervously, we asked her, “Is the water bad?” With tears in her eyes she replied, “No, the water is good. This is just the first time for me to taste the water clean with no dirt.” God is good!
As we were leaving one of the homes, Jesus, one of the GF kids that we have known for several years, wanted a picture with Matt. We are beyond grateful for the continued relationships. Jesus is an incredible kid with an infectious joy!
The purpose of the GF program is to transform lives. While physical things such as clean water are important, the program also focuses on transforming lives through the gospel. At the end of each visit, we spent time sharing and praying with the family. Also, thanks to our friends at The Springs Church in Missouri, each child is given a copy of The Jesus Storybook Bible. What a joy it was for the kids to receive their new Bibles and immediately want to read to us! Pray with us that the Word of God will transform the lives of these children and their families.
THANK YOU for helping give the gift of clean water. We are able to continue on with our ministry thanks to your giving and your prayers. We thank the Lord for your faithfulness in supporting our ministry.
And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.Matthew 10:42
WHEN WILL WE RETURN TO PANAMA?
Praise the Lord Angie has recovered well from her surgery. It was a long process, but the Lord is so faithful and she is healthy and feeling good. Thank you all for your prayers.
Matt had an x-ray about 3 weeks ago due to an ongoing pain in his neck and shoulder. It showed that he has some compressed discs that are pinching a nerve. He received an injection that we were hopeful would fix the problem. Unfortunately, it did not. He will have an MRI performed this week to determine what procedure needs to be done to alleviate the pain. Please pray with us for clear answers.
Our hope is that Matt can receive the care he needs quickly and adios USA! We are thankful for good medical care and God’s timing in revealing these issues during our time here. However, we are also ready to return to Panama.
Needless to say, 2020 has been a crazy year for all of us. I have heard some say, “I just want to forget that this year ever happened.” I pray that we don’t forget. Let us remember the fun times, the extra time with family, and all the good that was done. But also, let’s remember the hard times, the ways that God grew us, and the lessons that we have learned. I pray that we can take all of this and turn it into praise.
With that in mind, we thought we would do a quick wrap up of what 2020 has looked like for our family and our ministry.
FEBRUARY 1-8: A medical team from Springs Church came to serve with us in Panama. The team provided medical services and anti-parasite treatment to over 200 kids. The gospel was shared, and these kids were loved on and reminded that God has a purpose for their lives!
FEBRUARY 25: At 99 years old, Mama Tance went to be with Jesus. She was one of Angie’s heroes; she was determined, straight forward and loved the Lord. Thanks to a generous family member, we were able to fly home and celebrate the life of this sweet lady.
MARCH 13: The craziness begins. Corona hit Panama and Angie was sick for over a month. Panama enforced a strict quarantine and many families in Panama (especially in the GlobalFingerprints program) were without work, meaning they had no money for food. We put out a request for help, and praise the Lord, many of you stepped up! We were able to supply food to hundreds of families during this time. We could not have done this without your support and faithfulness. Thank you!
JUNE 18: As Panama continued the lockdown, our family, with the support of ReachGlobal leadership, made a decision to take a humanitarian flight back to the US. The next few months were full of Zoom meetings, hundreds of Whats App texts and a new form of ministry for us. We saw our partners back in Panama step up in an incredible way as they served their communities and were the hands and feet of Christ. Food deliveries continued as the pastors shared the hope of Christ with families.
OCTOBER 16: Surgery day for Angie. The doctors told her this would be a tough surgery to which she thought, “Surely it won’t be that bad.” She was wrong. After a 5 night stay, she was able to go home (pic below). Recovery was hard, but God is good. All the pathology came back clear- no cancer! We are still waiting for her to have complete medical clearance, but are so thankful for medical technology and the fact that the cyst was found so early. Did we mention… God is good!
NOVEMBER 6-13: Matt made a quick trip to Panama. Since we were not planning on staying for such an extended period when we left, there were several things that had to be taken care of back at home. Matt was able to connect with some of our team members and our pastors. It was a sweet time and we are so thankful for our friends who are checking up on our house, coordinating the gardener and sweeping up the critters that have made their way inside! We look forward to being back in Panama!
NOVEMBER 8: Norris Ferry Community Church spotlighted the GlobalFingerprints program on Orphan Sunday. With the difficult situation in Panama, 20 more children were identified as “at risk,” and praise the Lord every child received a sponsor. We now have 104 kiddos in the program. Thanks to generous sponsors, the GF kids have food on the table, medical care, and are learning about Jesus!
NOVEMBER 29: We received a call that Matt’s mom had a mild stroke. They said she was OK, but we chose to drive to Austin to check on her. When Matt arrived at the hospital on Monday morning, Nancy was unresponsive. Tests showed that she suffered a massive stroke during the night on Sunday. We are thankful that we were in the States to have some time to say goodbye to an incredible lady. Nancy went to see Jesus the morning of December 4th. She will be missed. While going through photos, we realized that Reeves looks SO much like her Nana. Below is a photo of Nancy as a child- Reeves actually thought it was a pic of herself “in weird clothes.”
So what are our major takeaways from 2020?
1) God is in control! While our lives have felt so chaotic this year, we have constantly been reminded of this. I think of Jesus sleeping during the storm. The disciples were stressed out and flat out scared (just as many have been this year). In Mark 4:39-40, Jesus got up and said “Quiet. Be still!” and there was calm. And then he said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid. Do you still have no faith?” It makes me think….How have we responded to the storms of 2020? Where is our faith?
2) Joy is a choice! Over the past months, the Lord has shown us that yes, the enemy will come to steal, kill and destroy…. but one thing about it, the enemy can’t take our joy. Now don’t get me wrong, there has been sadness and mourning and pleading with the Lord this year, but we have learned that we can still be joyful despite the circumstances. “The joy of the Lord WILL be our strength!”!
3) Our kids are awesome! We are not braggers, but we have been so thankful for our kids’ steadfastness and adaptability. We have lived in 3 different places since we arrived in the States, they really don’t have any of their “stuff”, and we have had some pretty significant life events this year. They have been leaders in their youth group, played with the band, sang at youth group, learned new instruments, and overall, had really great attitudes. Honestly, the way that the Lord has grown them can sometimes bring us to tears. As we’ve said… God is good.
4) We love hand me downs! We have been so thankful for hand me down vehicles and winter clothes during this time. Thank you to family members and friends that have loved us so well with these blessings!
I am a planner and like to have order to everything (obviously this is Angie writing and not Matt!). But despite all our planning, we don’t hold the future in our hands… and that is OK. Over the past few months, we have made a lot of plans- in fact, our plan was to return to Panama this week. However, we are learning that it is in the change of plans- the disruptions- the total loss of control- that God is growing our faith and trust in Him.
Our family has a saying, “We either trust God in everything or nothing.” So we are choosing to trust God during this trying season. Over the past few weeks, we have seen God work in some amazing ways. God is faithful! Dios es fiel! So, we will continue to trust Him in the unknowns and step forward in His grace.
- Matt was diagnosed with COVID-19. Praise the Lord it was a mild case. His quarantine ended this past weekend (and as he says Rapunzel was happy to be released from his tower). He has recovered well and no one else in our family tested positive. God is good.
- A few months back, during a CAT scan for some abdominal pain, the doctors found a cyst on my pancreas. After several procedures, they ruled it as benign- huge praise! However, based on the size and some abnormalities within the cyst, they deemed it as precancerous. SO… on Friday around 10 am, I will be having surgery. They will remove the tail end of my pancreas where the cyst is located and will also need to remove my spleen due to the nature and location of the cyst.
Am I nervous? Sure. Do I have complete confidence that God is in control? Definitely! As we have said so many times in the past months: God is not surprised by any of this! God is God and He is here even in the disruptions and unknowns.
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
God is quieting us with His love. He is assuring us that although we have some uncertainties in our future, He knows and holds the future. And that is enough!
LOVE FROM PANAMA…..
We have been SO thankful for technology. Despite being miles apart, we are still able to be a part of the ministry in Panama that is so close to our hearts.
Over the past few weeks, Panama has loosened restrictions, and our ministry partners are now able to meet with the kids and deliver food without boundary restrictions. The kids have been focusing on learning Bible verses; pray with us that these verses will penetrate their hearts and that they will grow into young men and women who fear and seek the Lord.
Coronavirus has had a huge impact on our families in Panama. Please pray for many in the country as they are looking for work so they can provide food for their families. Pray that people will turn to the the Lord- the one true hope in all of this darkness.
“You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word.”
WHEN WILL YOU GO BACK?…..
This is a question that we hear often. Panama is now allowing residents to return. Yay! Our hope was to return mid-September, but things look a little different. Since we had such an extended time here, we took advantage of that to have some medical checkups done. There are a few things that showed up that need further examination and clarification. We are thankful for good medical care and want to have all medical issues cleared up before we return. Will you please join us in praying for clear answers and good reports?
Although this was a bit of a surprise to us, we serve a God that is never surprised. We can rest in knowing He is in control and He is on His throne. Despite all the craziness and uncertainties that we have all seen, we have peace in knowing God’s promises are still the same and will never change. So, let us press on with perseverance trusting in the God who never changes!
Please continue to pray. Pray that we will be able to return home soon. Pray for a clear bill of health. Pray for provision and protection for our families and partners in Panama. Pray for our pastors as they are serving their congregations and communities. Pray that people will draw near to God and find their hope in Him.
Greetings from Panama! June has been quite a month for us. As you know, we have been under a strict quarantine since March 25th. On June 1, the government chose to lift the quarantine. However, the number of cases began to rise that same week and the government reenacted the quarantine on June 5 for Panama City and Panama Oeste, the provinces with the greatest number of coronavirus cases.
Thankfully, we were able to take advantage of that week and deliver a truck load of food to the Embera community. We are so thankful for those of you that have helped feed families. You are a blessing beyond what you can imagine.
Update for our family…..
After much prayer and discussion with our ReachGlobal leadership, we have made the decision to travel back to the States for home assignment. The US Embassy is offering humanitarian flights, and we will fly out today. It is hard to leave Panama right now, but we do feel that this is the best decision for our kids. Over the past 3 months (other that the photos above), we have only been able to work with our ministry partners through internet communication. We will continue working with them and are committed to helping feed and care for vulnerable kids and families during these difficult times.
Please continue to pray for Panama. Pray for provision and protection. Pray for our pastors as they are serving their congregations through food delivery. Pray that people will put their hope in Christ.
Hello from Panama! We just want to give a quick update and say thanks for your encouragement and prayers. Here is a glance at what our last month has looked like:
- We got a call on February 25th that Angie’s grandmother had passed away. Thanks to the gift of airline points from her aunt, we all were able to fly back and be with family. I returned the following Monday and Angie and the kids stayed an extra week and flew back on March 9th.
- March 9th was the first reported case of COVID-19 in Panama. Schools were closed within days and soon all bars, dance clubs and large gathering places were closed. All were encouraged to wash their hands and stay home if possible.
- On March 14th Angie began to feel pretty crummy. She immediately quarantined herself. After about a week she was still not well, so we called the Ministry of Health. Impressively, about 6 hours later they were at the house to test her. Thankfully, she was negative.
- March 18th a curfew was enacted.
- March 22nd all commercial flights in and out of Panama were suspended until further notice.
- March 25th Panama enacted a strict quarantine. You are only permitted outside of your home during a 2 hour time period that is determined based on the last number of your cedula (which is like a SS#). You may only leave to go to the grocery, pharmacy or doctor.
I ventured out to the grocery store today. There were masked police checking identification when I entered and then I received hand sanitizer to clean my hands. I must admit it is strange to see so many restaurants and businesses closed. This is honestly the first time that I have traveled through Panama with practically no one on the roads.
We were asked if we are trapped in Panama? I guess you could say the answer is yes, but we made the decision to stay. This is our home, and we know that this is where the Lord wants us. At times it is a troubling thought to know that we cannot get back to our family in the States if something were to happen, but we cast our cares on Him, knowing that He holds the answers to all the “what ifs.”
Here is how you can pray during this time:
- Pray for our GlobalFingerprints kids here in Panama. They are the most vulnerable, and with the strict quarantines we have no way to reach them or provide supplies. The government is forming a program that is targeted to care for the vulnerable here in the country. Pray that this would be successful and provide sustenance for these families.
- Pray that the Lord will show us opportunities where we can minister and serve. Everything is different right now, but we have no doubt that the Lord has a purpose and plan for it all. Pray that we will find creative ways to encourage and pour into the lives of others. Salt and light. (and FYI… we are praying this for our churches and all of our brothers and sisters in Christ back in the States!)
- Angie is feeling better, but is still not 100%. Please pray with us that the Lord will restore her health.
- Praise the Lord that He has given us peace. Pray that we will continue to put all our trust in Him. Different country, different culture, all communication in a different language, so many unknowns… it can become overwhelming at times. May we continue to be anxious for nothing and let the peace of God guard our hearts. (Phil. 4:6-8)
HOW CAN WE PRAY FOR YOU? Please email us and let us know how we can be praying specifically for you and your family. We thank the Lord for each of you. May we continue forward with confidence. God is good. All the time. Let us not forget…
We are praying that you have a blessed Christmas as you spend time with family and friends. I was reading a devotional this morning from Billy Graham’s God’s Blessings at Christmas and loved this paragraph:
“Those chubby little hands that clasped the straw in His manger crib were soon to open blinded eyes, unstop deaf ears, and still the troubled seas. That cooing voice was soon to be lifted to command demons to depart, to teach men of the Way, and to raise the dead. Those tiny feet were to take Him to the sick and needy and were finally to be pierced on Calvary’s Cross. That manger crib in remote Bethlehem became the link that bound a lost world to a loving God.”
As we celebrate the birth of Christ, I am so grateful that the manger is just the beginning of the story. Joy to the World... may all our hearts prepare Him room!
We can’t be with friends and family back at home… so we are working on building new traditions. Please enjoy the chaos of togetherness, give lots of grace and lots of hugs, and laugh big! Feliz Navidad and mucho amor!
“Many hands make light work.”
This was such a truth for us this summer as three different teams traveled here to serve alongside us. It was amazing to see the relationships that were formed and all of the work that was accomplished. God is so good!
When we are thirsty, most of us simply go to our faucet or fridge and fill a glass with water. We don’t have to stop and contemplate if the water is clean…. that is a privilege we take for granted!
The Embera-Drua are an indigenous group that live here in Panama. Over the past year, we have had the honor of getting to know Valerio, the pastor of one of the communities. During our visits, we learned that the community did not have clean water. This resulted in sickness for many of the kids and the adults as well. Something that we take for granted is the one thing that many in the village longed to have!
HUGE praise…. this summer we worked with Pathways Church and installed a clean water system in the village. This was not a small task. It was truly humbling to see how the Lord provided the means for this to happen: the funding, the team, the materials, the schematics, and even the weather. God is so faithful!
One mom from the village reported that for the first time in ages, her son woke in the morning and did not have diarrhea. I seriously had no words. It brought me to tears- tears that represented so many things- heartbreak, joy, surprise, but most of all, thankfulness. I thank the Lord for His goodness and His provision. Pray with me that the Lord will use this clean water to point people in this community to Jesus, the source of living water.
We were blessed to serve with Faith Church. It was a packed week working with the local church to help build relationships within the community of Lidice. We provided music, arts and crafts, snacks and Bible stories for the kids; served breakfast and gave out Bibles at the local health center; spent a morning worshipping and playing soccer at the rehab center; and taught English and played games at the schools.
On Sunday morning we had a time of dedication to celebrate the “breaking gound” for the new church kitchen. Part of the ceremony was to mix the concrete to put in the “cornerstone” of the kitchen. I must admit the locals were surprised when Matt grabbed the shovel and started the mixing process….they were even more surprised when he did it correctly!
NORRIS FERRY COMMUNITY CHURCH
The last group of the summer was Norris Ferry Community Church. It is always great to host groups, and it was super special to have our home church here. We began the week serving with the church in Nazareno. What a joy for the youth to lead worship, and Ian was happy to jump in on bass. The group had the opportunity to play soccer, hand out food bags, share the Gospel in the school and do some updates to the church building.
They finished their week in the Embera-Drua village. We provided a mini VBS for the kids, began work on the roof to cover the water tanks, and ended with a hot dog and movie night for the community. We look forward to seeing the Lord continue to grow these relationships and pray that He will use them to grow His Kingdom here in Panama.
Here are a few more pics from the summer. We were able to visit family and friends back in the States for a few weeks, rescued a sloth, got a new puppy, and Matt celebrated his 50th birthday (despite the fact that he neither looks or acts 50:). We are SO thankful for life and the opportunity to continue our ministry here. Thank you for your continued prayers and support!
We are sitting in the airport (after 3 security checks!) waiting to board our flight to the USA! We will head to Shreveport for a few days before we head out to Minnesota for a week of training and meetings for Global Fingerprints. We will then travel to Texas for a week to visit friends, family and our supporting churches before we head back to Louisiana.
We are so excited to see some friends and hug some necks! We love our home here, but are definitely looking forward to a few weeks in our other home!! Shoot us an email if you want to meet up while we are in. Blessings and see you soon!