Mission Trip 2009 Reflection — Stephany Lau

When the plane begins its descent into Panama City, the first things to catch attention are the new, tall skyscrapers built along the coastline. At first glance, the city looks beautiful and gives off the idea that this country is advancing: technologically, economically, socially, etc.  Yet once a closer look is taken, the burnt buildings, the slums, the muddy roads and the dirty market places (according to North American standards) would emerge. Most of all, Panama is a country of broken souls which even a fortress of enormous buildings cannot hide.

As our Panama Short Term Missions team embarked on our journey to a small town called Santiago, I had no idea what to expect. I wondered to myself, what great things will God do (through us) in these two weeks? However, in that short amount of time, I learned that God is already doing great things and we are honoured to be seeing it and being a part of it.

It was a Thursday afternoon after our VBS English lessons when I got to go around the town and visit some of the local Chinese immigrants there. With a local person who took us around, we went to see and visit my students, an elderly woman on her deathbed, and other people at their homes. I was most touched by the visitations of the students. Their parents are convenient store owners and their house is above their convenient store. When the kids go home, they actually go to their convenient stores and sit at the cashier all day. They eat, do their homework, sleep, and then start the next day. Life is routine and repetitive but they’re still obedient and would do what their parents say.

By the end of VBS, I could really see the potential in this group of young teenagers to be the pioneers of a Christian fellowship in their town. One of the students started a conversation with me by telling me she goes to a Catholic school, inferring that she knows a bit about this faith and religion. I could see in her eyes that she would like to know more and to understand the love of Christ which brought our group all the way to Panama. It was unfortunate that this mission trip was so short but I was assured that a seed has been planted there and God is continually working and is faithful to the town of Santiago.

There is still a lot of work to be done. God is faithful but are we faithful to Him? I cannot say I contributed much in that short amount of time but I know God has put a vision in the missionaries there to see God’s kingdom on earth, in Panama, as it is in heaven. The Panama ministry is not a one-time trip but in fact it is a long-term ministry our entire congregation can be involved in. The missionaries and churches need constant support and encouragement. As more members of Jaffray Alliance Church go to be a part of this exciting ministry, I hope that we can together catch the vision and bring glory to God in the country of Panama.