I arrive back from 8 days on the mission field with a new and refreshed perspective. Amazed once again to see God working through and in the people we touched as well as within me and my teammates who made the trip, it is so hard to process and articulate completely what happened.

The journey to the northern border of Panama was a long one… 3 planes through 4 airports (yes you read that right!) and 3 shuttle buses. Getting there wasn’t so bad, only one minor glitch a flat tire on one of the buses that was quickly swapped out. Our journey home included a 6-hour delay in the Miami airport that turned an already long day into the longest – 24 hours from start to finish!

The first day in Panama set the tone for the rest of the trip. Our hosts, the folks at Faithful Servant Missions, organized a pastor’s conference. Everyone was invited and quite a few showed up! We welcomed them with communion and a foot wash. Then we asked about their needs. So many shared, and we took notes – following up as much as possible throughout the week.

While this was my first mission trip, many of our teammates who had been on trips previously all said this was no average trip. Our routine day was a long one…

“One thing we did every morning while on missions, was to spend 30 minutes reading the Word, a chapter a day, starting in 1 Peter. We would then spend 30 minutes in small group discussing it.” Doug Powell

FSM was awesome!! Great venue for a mission trip/adventure. They’re connected in the local community and with many local churches. Bonus: their facility is on the slope of a volcano! Excellent place to pick up a few rocks and ponder God’s creation :-). And that I did…

We often felt jealous of the locals and how they were connected with the Lord. We could see it in their bright faces as they worshiped in church. How they were excited to see us and hear our stories. How they prayed, wept and talked to God. We saw the Lord working in every nook and cranny. Our ventures into the community were heartwarming. Add into the mix a few projects at FSM and we were spent. Wiped out, giving it all to God and His mission to the point of exhaustion for 8 straight days. It was so overwhelming I went to bed every night with the thought “I don’t know how to process all of this…”

William's baptism. Photo courtesy of Clint Capps.

William’s baptism. Photo courtesy of Clint Capps.

Thirty-five people stepped out in faith on our trip. Several were baptized, along with local legend “William,” a Ngobe Bugle Indian. There is no way we could have imagined it would have been what it was. Thirty-five people brought together from all walks of life… every conceivable past situation… for some reason people felt safe in this rural setting of a foreign country. People shared their darkest secrets and as they did we all prayed for them… wept with them… and we compassionate for each other. Transparency was the norm on our trip. People felt safe. We were safe to share about ourselves and our past. It was raw. No matter how dark, we did not feel judged or condemned. That was awesome.

“I see your heart, and I see your soul, and I know who you really are.” Daryl Jones speaking of Ed Perez.

These are people to whom I feel well connected.

I arrive home with a renewed connection with the Holy Spirit. It’s been a few years since I felt so close… I must admit I miss that. But, who’s to blame? Only me and my acceptance of the distractions that take me away on a daily basis. So many of these distractions are choices that I make. I stay encouraged by the people who went on the trip and those we met and how they are molding to be more like Jesus… one day at a time…

This was real. Our people are real. I loved seeing that and God’s love in action.