Friday, July 29, 2011

The End

Dear Reader,

Today is my last day here in Panama. Feeling a bit sad, but mostly just so excited to be reunited with my friends and family. Wednesday Mark, Miriam, and I left Farallon for Panama City. I got up early Wednesday morning and stood awkwardly in front of the school in Farallon waiting for my little baby cuties to head in to learn so I could say goodbye. In my broken Spanish I tried to tell the kids I was leaving today and I didn't know when I would be back, also that I loved them and would miss them. I think I came out like this: "I she goes today...I love you...want to come year...possibly...I return United States...I have school university..." So anyhow, you get the idea. I hope the kids got the idea.
I cannot remember if I have written on this or not, nor do I want to read through my other posts to see if I have, but bear with me as I touch on how I am feeling now at the end of the summer.
I feel as though, because I have had to be so expressive with my Spanish speaking friends, I will be able to communicate so easily with everyone back in the states. Not only will I be able to communicate, but I feel as though I will have no inhibitions at all in communicating with everyone I meet. I like people, but now I think I will crave others. Here in Panama I just scream hello to everyone mostly because I really don't understand what they are saying back to me. 
Also, I am just praying I will have a significant change in the way I live my life when I return back to the United States. I hope that living around poverty has not some how desensitized me to the needy. I lived in a really poor area and because of that, poverty became somewhat of the norm, so I don't know. I just feel like coming back home is going to be weird. I need to debrief myself or something. 
Another wonderful aspect of my summer is the new family that I gained. I was able to spend the summer with two wonderful people, Mark and Miriam, and grow and bond together. They are so warm and loving and I feel so happy to say that I will have them in my lives forever.
I am so thankful for everyone who made this summer possible for me. I can't wait to be home with everyone I love!
Here are some pictures.
This is Maria and her husband. They are awesome.

This is Lis sitting on her brand new septic tank.

Tomasa came to say goodbye.

The Uptons and I with Raphael. Saying goodbye.
This is it! Thank you for following me this summer. 
Te amo,

Friday, July 15, 2011

Tamp On!

Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to help with the construction of the church building I worked on last year in El Cope. One year ago, as I was sweating over cinder block placement and concrete mixing, I never dreamed I would be back on the same soil filling the church building with dirt for a floor that would soon make the church complete. I was overwhelmed with the presence of our God as I reunited with Abel, Solomon, Peto, and Thelma. Working on the building last July, I never once dreamed I would be back in the same place, El Cope. I could not write my friends in El Cope, or simply send them an email or Facebook message, and for that lack of communication I never thought we would be reunited, nor would they even remember me. Of course, I was wrong. They knew instantly who I was, as well as my name, and that I was going to school to pursue my dreams of being a doctor. I'm pretty sure they all thought I had already become a doctor, but clearly, I have no medical license. I should have just gone along with their assumption and administered some treatment. I know that is illegal in the United States.
Anyhow, my job on the work site this past week was a little something I like to call "tamping." As we filled the church floor in with wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of dirt, it had to be compacted in order to make a sturdy foundation for the concrete that would later be poured on top. So I had one of the metal poles with a flat piece of something heavy strapped to the bottom of it and slammed it down over and over again on the dirt of the floor. My tamping team referred to me as the "Tamping Queen" (because I was the only person of the female persuasion tamping) and naturally I made a song out of my title. You may be familiar with ABBA's hit song "Dancing Queen," so envision the tune of that song beginning with the chorus in the following re-written verse.

You are the Tamping Queen, young and sweet, only nine-teen
Tamping Queen, feel the beat on the "tamporine", oh yeah
You can tamp you can die having the tamp of your life, ooooh
See that girl, watch her tamp, diggin' the Tamping Queen.

So not much creativity, really I just replaced dance with "tamp" every time, but it felt REALLY creative at the time. I sure sang it like I thought it was creative.

The Tamping Team

Me, tamping for Narnia

 The group that worked on the church this past week.

I also was able to do the zip line once more in El Valle. It was just as beautiful the second time!
After our last group left, we slept, a lot. Which was nice, because I was rather tired. And by rather tired I mean I could not have gone on one more day without a little sleepy sleep.
I bandaged that foot because I am a doctor.
I painted those nails.

So, thanks for your cute little eyeballs reading up on my activities.

Te Amo!

P.S. Today Miriam and I tried to figure out which use of "I love you" was correct for friendly use and which was more for a sexual use with our friend Josephine. We got some really strange looks every time we said "sexual."

Monday, July 4, 2011

Plenty of Fish

Que Pasa,

The phrase "que pasa" is actually used here to say "what is wrong," and I didn't really know that. So I was basically asking everyone "what is the matter," and was confused as to why everyone was responding shyly to me as they responded, usually, with "nada" or nothing. It probably didn't make a lot of sense for me to be assuming people had issues before I even began a conversation with them, but you live and you learn the correct way to speak a little Spanish. 
The poverty here in Farallon is different here, I think, than in most impoverished places. The village is a fishing community, and because of that, fish and rice is abundant and quite cheap. Families may not have nutritious foods, but their stomachs do get filled. The thing that really breaks this village apart is the alcohol. A can of beer here is only about $.50 compared to a $.90 soda. Naturally, if you were trying to pinch some pennies, you would choose the beer. So the adults here, especially the men and leaders of the community, are always a bit tipsy. Last night I went to invite Josephine and her family to a little house church we were having and a I came across a man who I believe was the local artist's, Joseph's, brother. I said hello, because I have no inhibitions with greeting people here, mainly because that is one of the things I know how to say in Spanish, and then he hugged me and was trying to kiss my face and talk to me all while holding me tight in an embrace. I was in front of some of my friends homes and just thought "Ok, someone help me out here." Luckily Saudia called me over for a question she had about her son Randy's homework.
So, I suppose I said all that to say, the children of this village don't have any positive examples. They see the adults abuse alcohol, and cock fight, and curse, and scream, and use violence, and negative thing after negative thing. At that point I get so frustrated with my language barrier and just want to hold these children in my arms and tell them there is so much more in this world than Farallon. I want them to receive and education. I want to tell them they can do anything they set their minds to and that they are so talented. I want Jefferson to put his menacing behavior behind him and use his skills as a natural leader for good rather than selfish gain. I want Yaireth to know I love her even when she is a brat and that she is a beautiful child of God with a precious voice for singing. I want Maria and Evelin to see how much their mother cares for them and to know that their diligence in school with pay off one day. When I see little babies like Daievis and Junior that do not know any better, I want to teach them what love really feels like. 
The following pictures may have been included in previous posts, but I have included them for examples of the people who I have writen about.
Evelin and Maria


Randy, Roseward, Yaireth, and Jefferson

Jefferson, Saudia, John, Sair, Roseward, Randy

Despite everything, there are people here in Farallon who have begun to respect me in way I never thought possible. I am just overwhelmed by the friendship I have been shown and pray that God continues to work here, and that his will be done, not my own. 
Nevertheless, I'm hurting for these kids right now. The future is in their hands and the change this community needs will start with them.
Keep Farallon in your prayers.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I am Sweating Buckets.

Hola Amigos,

Our second group from Greenville Oaks Church of Christ in Dallas, Texas is here and we are cooking. Literally cooking. The temperature right now is 92 degrees outside, but with the humidity (which is close to 87%) it is forecasted to feel like 119 degrees. Today was probably one of the hottest days I have felt since being here. I mean...119 degrees....seriously.
Check that out.
So anyhow. The group here now is smaller, only ten, and because of the small size we are all in the house together and bonding so much. We are hanging out and eating together and sharing laughs with one another. The adults are so sweet and the women are taking such good care of me, making sure I am wearing sunscreen and drinking water and what not. Really loving them.
This week things have begun  to really come together for me. I just feel as though I have been affirmed in the career choice I have chosen and been encouraged to continue to work hard in school so that one day I can earn the title of "Dr. Katelyn Jackson."
One of the days of our VBS, a group of older boys pulled up to the school where we were conducting the VBS. I was trying to talk with the boys, but they were mostly snickering and carrying on and wouldn't tell me what they thought was funny. So I called our translator Rodrigo over to help me communicate and the words just started pouring out of me. I couldn't stop myself from telling them that they were so important to the community and that they needed to be good examples for the younger kids and that I would love them to help out and on and on. I really freaked them out. I just couldn't help myself though. Hopefully some sort of good was done though.
Today a boy named Randy and his mother Saudia came over to see the nurse that traveled with the group here. He broke his wrist last year and had surgery, but has re-injured the previous break. Saudia had been putting ointment on the swollen area thinking that would help an internal injury, and of course she was told that would not work. Vivian, the nurse, just helped Saudia to understand she needed to take Randy for and x-ray and from there determine the best form of treatment. Saudia agreed and we found her a ride to the hospital, and gave her money for and x-ray (which is was only about $10 here. I said all that to say that I can't wait to get into the field of medicine and return to a place like Farallon, or maybe even Farallon. There is just such an overwhelming need for health care and health education here. I had to work really hard to keep myself together in order not to be sobbing over a simple wrist examination. I guess I was overwhelmed with how patient and gentle Vivian was and how she was truly able to help.

Like I said, things are just coming together here and I am seeing God's purpose for me in Panama every day.

Also, I learned to play spades. Super fun.

Thank you for reading. Vaya con Dios!

Friday, June 24, 2011

La Gloria de Dios!

Dear Reader,

I feel obligated to inform you all that I may have given a false sense of happiness in my past blogs thus far on my journey. I am happy, and loving being here, and having a once in a lifetime opportunity, but I have also recently been very homesick and longed to be home. This trip was blessed by God from the start, and that was so apparent to me in the way that I was able to raise my money so easily and how a number of other things seemed to fall into  place. So, I know Panama is where I am supposed to be. No doubt about that. Here is where I am though:
I think I tried to convince myself that I had no expectations for this trip. I think I planned to just come to Panama and live and love. However, if I am honest with myself I can see that I expected to make amazing relationships with tons of Panamanians and bring people to Christ and just exponentially improve upon their quality of living. Things have not been so, at least not as clearly as I would hope for it to have been.
Last week when the group from Memphis was here I was feeling unappreciated for whatever reason, and I really had no right to feel that way. Before this trip I wrote that I was going to seek praise only from God rather than from humans or any other source. I was using the verse "...a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people." from Romans as somewhat of a guide. Nevertheless, I found myself not being filled up the group around me and thus frustrated by my emptiness. Instead of seeking God I continued to look for an earthly praise. 
I broke out the funk I was in when I began to assimilate to the group a bit more. It wasn't until today as I flew down the side of a mountain in the beautiful rainforest of Panama and stopped in front of an enormous waterfall on a zip line that I had somewhat of a renewed gratification for our wonderful Creator. 
I just realized that although I may have a clouded view of the purpose or lesson that God is trying to send me in the moment of a situation, clarity can be reached once I can step back and look into what God's intentions were for me. 
So I am learning that following his call is not pleasant sometimes. It comes with sadness and needs to be done with a humble heart. Writing this out holds me accountable to my promise that I will seek praise from no one but Dios (God). Solo Dios!

Speaking of zip lining through the rainforest, you want to see some pictures?
getting ready to zip it up.

that's me zipping.
beautiful waterfall. Gloria de Dios!

Hasta Luego,

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

From El Valle, With Love

Dear Reader,
The Sycamore View group left on Monday and now I am in the beautiful El Valle once more. Our next group from Dallas will be here Saturday evening and until then, I am living it up in paradise. I am staying at the home of Aaron and Janet Chowing. They are wonderful.

Notice, the family is pictured here to the right.

Today we went to see something called "Piadro Pintada." It was this giant rock with ancient petroglyphs in the middle of Panamanian rain forest. It was so cool and beautiful. Hiking up to the carvings made me feel so out-doorsy and inspired to do some more hiking hopefully around the world. I will only wear pants that can double as a shelter/parachute/hammock/backpack, because I will just be hiking everywhere and only wearing the multi-purposed pants. The following is from my little hike today.

This is the rock with the ancient carvings. I am also pictured here in my skirt that I hiked in. Could have had a better choice in wardrobe on my part.


Hiked over this little bridge.

Just a waterfall. 
So, with the group, I left Farallon for Vista Allegre and did a series of VBS's and a carnival with the church there. The Sycamore crew was so wonderful and welcoming of me. We were all able to laugh together and enjoy the time we had. I was sad to let them go on Monday morning. The following are some photo highlights from my time with the group.

The yellow is my strange piece of artwork, and you can't really see it, but the other kids are drawing the same pac man/sun licking a cloud.

I told these girls that I knew Justin Beiber. They had a lot of questions for me, and also thought I was real cool. I think it was more because of the Beibs.

This is Jamal. Jamal knew the Clay face before I even said anything about it. 

Awkward picture with a giant gorilla.

Well those were my highlights! This Saturday our second of three groups arrives. They will also be focusing their efforts in Farallon. Keep us in your prayers!
Peace out!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Libre Almohadas


The group from Memphis is officially here and today was the second full day for them to be doing work in Farallon. They have done some amazing things like build septic tanks, parts of homes, repainted school buildings, and taught english. I am proud to be helping with such a hardworking group of young men and women.
Beginning to mix some concreto!

 Teaching a little english.

I also wanted to tell you bit about an incident that happened before the group got to Panama. Last Saturday we had a movie night for the community in our front yard. We set up a projector on the porch and told all the kids to bring something to sit on and they all filed in about 6:30 to begin watching the movie (we watched Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in Spanish). Some of the kids brought pillows to lay on and all was well. The next day we were cleaning up the house in prep for the team that would be arriving the next day and I spotted a pillow laying on the porch and realized that it must be one of the boys that were over at our house the night before during the movie. So there were some boys in the back yard chasing their chickens and I asked them who owned the pillow, one claimed it, and I also gave the boy a starfruit I had picked earlier that day in El Cope. Just a bit later our neighbor and mother of the boy I gave the fruit and pillow to came over and was asking me about the fruit I gave her son. I was just saying that I had picked two of the fruits in El Cope today and didn't need both and so on. She was agreeing with me all along and thanking me for it and on on. Then Miriam joined in to help me with the conversation, because my Spanish is somewhat lacking. I asked Saudia something along the lines of, was the fruit sweet? At that point she was very confused and it became clear that she was asking if we really meant to give them the pillow. I then realized that I had just given Miriam's pillow away to the neighbors. I was really embarrassed and it was just so funny that Saudia was talking about a pillow the whole time and I was saying I had gotten in a different city on a tree. So that was that.
Here are some photo highlights since my last blog!
I mean..this is so cute.

Doing some face masks with the girls, and that is me giving sweet lady kisses to my favorite John.

This is a craft I did with some of the kids. It is a shell with a twig weaved through a flower petal and attached together with a piece of clay to make a little sail boat.

I hope that you enjoyed! I miss you all and am so glad you are reading this! God is moving in big ways here.