Sunday, June 1, 2014

Wed. May 28

May 28

Our last full day in Panama and it's time for some rest.  We headed out first thing in the morning to the Gunn's beach house for some ocean time, pool time, and some brats and burgers.  It was great to just relax, have some fun, take a nap, and eat (yes, they have Johnsonville brats in Panama, and Coach Jaderston even found some Mountain Dew!)

That evening we headed back for Crossfire.  The worship was amazing, and several of our players had the opportunity to share with the group.  It was a great way to finish the trip.

Tomorrow we eat breakfast and head to the airport!

Tuesday, May 27

Tuesday, May 27

Today started with some fun.  We went out on the Panama Canal and took a tour.  We got to see crocodiles, howler monkeys and cappuccino monkeys.  It was nice to relax and just be together.  After a little shopping we headed to our last clinic with several high schools.  The rain was so loud we couldn't hear, and the water blew through the windows and made it interesting for a while.  Things finally settled down, and Eddie was able to give a clear testimony to what God has done in his life.

That evening we played our last game.  We walked into the gym and to our surprise it turned out to be air-conditioned!  Who knew?  It was a fantastic game against the national 18 and under team!   The game was pretty physical, and Jak ended up with a nice shiner as a souvenir. Brandon Givens and Troy Smith sparked the Warriors and led us to a 103-94 victory.  Again, the sharing and singing after the game was powerful as Cecil shared his testimony and we sang "Eres Todo" for the last time.  After the game Josiah took Braden in for an X-ray since his foot was really turning a nice shade of black and blue.  He does have a fracture near his pinky toe, so to have watched him do clinics, climb a mountain, jump off a rock into a waterfall, and never once slow us down was pretty impressive.

Again God has been so good to us, and we're all looking forward to going to the beach tomorrow and just having some fun together.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Monday, May 26

Monday, May 26

"When it rains, it pours!"  While that is certainly true of Panama's rainy season, it's also true of our last few days.  That's why these posts are late, and that's also why we can say God is in control, because he's seen us through lots of challenges in the past few days!

This morning started with a couple of surprises as we prepared to spend the day up a river at an Embara village.  First, 5 members of the team were having significant gastrointestinal issues and ended up needing to stay back for a day.  Second, we went to get in the van and discovered someone had broke in and stole our radio.  Waiting for the Panamanian police took over an hour, (and was the first of 3 visits with the police plus a trip in the middle of the night downtown to file some paperwork) and we we got a late start with a much smaller team.  The good news was that our guide, the children's pastor at Crossroads brought extra translators with so we still had plenty of help.  After a long and interesting drive into the rain forest, a 15 minute dugout canoe ride (with a caiman on the bank), we finally arrived at a refreshing waterfall and water hole to go swimming in.  After a little rock jumping, we headed back to the canoes and to the Embara village where we met the villagers, ate lunch, then put on another clinic.  For a basket we took a rim they had (from an old basket we left there a few years ago and tied it to the top of a soccer goal!  Players took turns being backboards, and even the men of the village took turns shooting!  Grant shared his testimony and although we got a little sunburned it turned out to be one of our most memorable clinics of the trip.

As we returned we found out our evening game was moved, then cancelled.  While it was disappointing to not play, it did give us a little more time to enjoy the Miraflores Locks where we went for dinner, sitting outside and watching the ships come through the locks.

Updates will continue to come...internet has been off and on, and that has made it difficult to upload pics.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Saturday, May 24

This morning we headed out to Arraijan for a clinic.  This is one of my favorite clinics because we get to walk the town and invite kids, and also get to see Pastor Fedrico.  Getting there proved to be a little bit of a challenge since the roads have been changed, but stellar driving by Cecil on steep hills and narrow winding roads proved to be the difference and we finally made it (even if those in the back of the van felt a little sick to their stomach).  A little cloud cover helped cool things just a little which was huge since there isn't any shade (or bathrooms) there at the outdoor court we play at.  Both Troy and Emily shared powerful testimonies of what God has done in their lives, and many new friends were made.

After the clinic, we went to Diego's home to swim, eat, sleep and watch the Champions League soccer championship. It's amazing how much more you watch the game when you can't understand any of the commentary!  It's also fun to watch soccer with Panamanians because you realize how passionate they are!  Estephania, Diego's girlfriend is a huge Real Madrid fan, so she now gets to talk trash to him for a full year.

That evening we went back to Arraijan to join them for a church service.  We sang worship songs in Kuna and Spanish, Jake shared his testimony, and Coach Jaderston preached.  Many of the kids from the clinic came, and it was great to fellowship together regardless of ethnicity or language.

After dinner, Paulina (our translator) and her father treated us to dinner at the Gamboa Rain Forest Resort.  It was unbelievable!   We definitely are not starving on this trip!

Tomorrow is a day to rest.  We'll go to church at Crossroads, then eat and shop a little.  We're playing the men of the church and the high school team in a fun game in the afternoon, then everyone will enjoy a dinner with a different family from the church.  We need to rest because on Monday we're off at 7:00 to a dugout canoe ride up the river to an Embara village to do a clinic.  Keep praying for health, the ability to communicate clearly, and the group would continue to find ways to reflect Christ's love to all we come in contact with.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday, May 23

Where to begin...what an incredible day!.  We started out in Curundu, a community that has been completely transformed over the past 7 years.  When we first visited in 2007, we played with kids on a balcony outside an apartment because it was too dangerous to be out without a police escort.  Now, the school has pre-K through 3rd grade, the shanty town has been replaced by new apartments, and the streets and community are completely redone.  We joined the school for PE class and a clinic, then several players served as teacher's aides for the morning.  The response was incredible!  After the clinic we waited out a rainstorm and an amazing lightning show, waiting to find out about our afternoon clinic.  Finally the police got a bus to bus kids to another location so we could still do the clinic!  It was a small number of kids, but it was an amazing clinic where we once again got to share the gospel both as a group and individually.  Exhausted we headed back to Casa Paraiso for a quick nap and then to our next game.

We played the Jump Shoot Academy Elite team, a talented group that includes former US college players.  Looking back over the last 3 trips this was easily one of the best teams we've played.  Braden Thompson was spectacular in the first half, knocking down 3's and getting to the rim and free throw line consistently, and the Warrior squad built an eight point lead until he went down with an ankle sprain and was out for the rest of the game.  The Jump Shoot team went on a run to close the half, tying the score at 45 going into the break.

Without Braden in the second half it looked like the Warriors were going to struggle offensively, but Brandon Stacker and Brandon Givens stepped in to pick up the slack.  Trailing by 9 early in the fourth quarter, the Warriors roared back, taking a 78-76 lead with under a minute to go.  After both teams missed opportunities, the Jump Shoot team converted a 3 point play with 3 seconds to go.  After a timeout, the Warriors got a clean look at a 3, but were unable to capitalize and lost by a final score of 79-78.  It was a great basketball game, and afterwards both teams shared a few moments as Ted Dower gave a powerful testimony about what God  has done in his life in his time at Sterling College.

Tomorrow we leave bright and early for the Kuna community in Araiijan.  We'll do a clinic in the morning, then after an afternoon at Sterling alum Diego Ferro's house we'll return to do a church service in the evening with the youth band from Crossfire.  Please pray for the Holy Spirit to move powerfully in both the clinic and the service.  Also continue to pray for health.  After almost a week of clinics and games, we're starting to get a little run down...colds, aches, pain, maybe a little sunburn after today.  Sunday will be a much needed day of rest, but we have a big day tomorrow as well.  Also pray for Braden as he wrestles with being injured on a trip like this.  We'll know more tomorrow, but it certainly looks like his movement will be pretty limited for a while.

If you haven't checked out our Facebook page, you can see lots of pics there from the team.  Just  go to:

Thursday, May 22

Today started with something new:  an authentic Chinese breakfast.  We all ate things we've never eaten before, and it was delicious.  We enjoyed just talking, sampling lots of different dishes, and sharing food between the team.  Once we were full, we headed back to Crossroads Christian Academy for more morning PE classes.  It was a wonderful morning, with energetic kids and lots of games.  Afterwards, most went back to Casa Paraiso for a much needed nap, while a few headed down to the old French Quarter of Panama City for some site seeing.

After another great dinner of chicken and rice, we headed off to our first game vs. the University of Panama. After a rough shooting first quarter, we cut the lead to 3 with a beautiful 4 pass play that went the length of the court without touching the ground and Nate Sizemore finished with the basket at the buzzer. Our shooting didn't get better however, and the half ended with the Warrior squad down by 7.  After the half however, the team came out on fire, scoring the first 10 points in the half, and eventually scored 35 total points in the quarter.  Braden Thompson led the charge with a couple dunks and his perimeter shooting, and everyone contributed to expand the lead.  In the fourth quarter the Panamanian team mounted a comeback, cutting our lead to six, but the Warriors held on to win 67-61.

Friday, we spend the whole day in Curundu.  Two clinics, plus a game a night will make for an exhausting day.  Curundu is an impoverished area that the church has built a school in.  Please pray for energy, endurance, and that our players' eyes will be opened and they'll have a bigger view of the world and that their compassion for others will grow.

One final note:  we've experienced quite a bit of technical difficulties with our blog, so Eddie created a Facebook page the team can all post to.  For more pics and updates from team members, go to

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wednesday, May 21

Another great day in Panama.  This morning we started out helping with PE classes at Crossroads Christian Academy.  While some of the team played with kids on the playground, others conducted drills and played ball with older students at the high school.  This afternoon, several members of the CCA basketball team joined us for practice.  In the evening, we headed back to Crossroads for the junior high and senior high youth group.  What a great night celebrating and worshiping with them!  We'll have lots of pics tomorrow when we can get on a computer for a longer time and download them. For those who have been praying, all medical issues seem to have gone away and we are all healthy (except for a bee sting).  God is good!