by Bill Staggs
Next year’s trip to Panama will be a lot different than the past. It will not have a medical portion to it and we will be sleeping in hotels and eating in dining rooms.
The plans are tentative. There will be three different parts to the trip. We hope you can not only help us this year but go also and see what the work is about.
Part I will be the construction of a warehouse to put our extra drugs and supplies in after each trip. The warehouse will be 2400 to 3000 sq. ft. We will add it to the existing church building located on the school property. This will help cut down on our expenses year-after-year because we must leave everything we take into the country. (U.S. Law)
Part 2 will be an agriculture project. One problem they have is food. They have fertile soil but do not know how to tend a garden (soil is too acid, too compact, too dry, not enough sunlight; proper drainage and fertilizer). We do not want to make agriculturists out of our preachers, but help them provide for themselves and others in the villages. We are trying to get a tractor for the school (30 to 40 hp) to be used in this project. The home for children will be completed by this time and we will have a lot of other mouths to feed. We want to start an orchard and plant some trees on this hilltop to dress up the area.
The 3rd part is the most important. VBS is something we take for granted. Most brothers and sisters in Panama do not understand the concept. We need to teach them how to do this, how to prepare interesting lessons, crafts, stories, games, etc.
We want to start at Mt. Juliet and prepare a VBS for about 500 children. We want to invite and teach some native preachers and their wives to Panama City. They will be staying with us, and in the mornings, we will teach them how to do these lessons. In the evenings, we will let them give the lessons to the local children while the gospel meeting is going on in the auditorium. Sometimes it is best to separate the adults from the small children because of the distraction the small child can cause. Hopefully, there will be about 150 to 200 children at VBS in Panama City. After this week is over, we will give the left over lessons to each preacher and wife team to take back to their villages and have a VBS. We will need to furnish everything: paper materials, crayons, scissors, glue, snacks, everything. This is a project that will help the next generation to know Christ. We ‘will not see any results for years from this project but the future of the young church in Panama will rest in the hands of these we are teaching today.
The hotel accommodations will be nicer than what we have had in the past. We will eat breakfast at the hotel, with lunch and maybe supper provided by the single students. This eating with the students will draw them closer to us, and us to them! We will know their problems and see how they operate. I think you will be impressed by their knowledge and dedication.
Since this is in Panama City, we will gain 2 extra days. We will not have to travel to and from the location. For first-timers, there will be an opportunity to go to the countryside and help with the work in a small village outside Panama City. This, of course, is optional. There will also be one shopping and sightseeing day.
This trip will be easy on sleeping and eating end, but just as hard on the working end. We will need to raise the money to build the warehouse ($20,000) and pay all fees required (about $11,000). Individual expenses will run about $1,200 each.
This will be the best first-timers tri that we have ever had. I hope you will see if you can go or help someone else to go. We need your help and prayers.