10/10/2009: God’s Providential Leading in Panama

As a family we had been praying for God’s leading as we contemplated going to the mission field. Since we speak the Spanish language, we wanted to serve in Latin America. During a visit to Panama in 2007, the Lord impressed us with the need to have a mission outpost in this country. We took the time to look for property at that time, but we were not successful in securing property. As we returned to the United States, we continued to pray for an appropriate location. During that year, the lifestyle center where we worked closed. After its closure, our family continued to pray for guidance. Many friends were asking us about our plans. All we could say is that we were praying and looking for options.

Early in the year of 2008, I was talking with a good friend of the family, Dr. MaryAnn McNeilus. She knew that there was no work for us in the medical missionary lines where we were. She asked us about our plans. Again we mentioned that we were praying and that our hope was to go to Central America. She asked if we had looked into Panama. I mentioned that we wanted to go there, but so far we had not found property and that we were praying that God would open the way. She mentioned to me that she knew of a family in Panama that was selling some property. She had received an ad in the mail. She sent me the information, and I contacted the family. When I needed to visit our family in Panama, I took the time to visit the family that Dr. McNeilus had mentioned.

As I made plans to visit Panama, I decided to travel through San Jose, Costa Rica, since I had heard that flights to Costa Rica were cheaper than flying directly to Panama. As I contemplated the travel to San Jose, I decided to call the contact family in Panama, since I had heard that the wife was from Costa Rica. I wanted to know if she had any contacts in San Jose. During the course of the conversation she mentioned that the week I was flying to San Jose she was going to be in San Jose and that she was willing to pick me up at the airport. We were encouraged and very thankful for the way the Lord was leading.

During the visit to Panama I learned of other properties that were for sale. One property in particular belonged to an elderly couple that had moved to Panama two years earlier. They had had part of their property for sale for a year but had no buyers. The owners, especially the husband, had been praying that God would send a buyer that would be willing to use the property for missionary purposes. This couple were very missionary minded and were in need of help. My family and I became good friends with the gentleman and made plans to work together in the Lord’s vineyard. We were all sure God was leading. We left Panama very encouraged, knowing that God was in our plans.

We started to pack and plan for our move. As we contacted several shipping companies, there was an individual that was very helpful, giving us information about how to pack; and he was willing to do all of the paper work and get a container for our move. We gave notice to our landlord and notice at work that we were going to leave. The week that we were to get the container, the man that had been helping us had an emergency and had to be out of town. We were a little stressed since our landlord was requesting the house, and we could not stay in the area without work. We took our concerns to the Lord. It was after our prayer that I had a call from a friend in California. She wanted to know how our plans were progressing. We mentioned that we had to start again looking for a company to help us with the move since the person who had been helping us could not do it. She told us that a relative of hers had recently moved to Panama and had used a company who had done a very good job.

I contacted the company right away. This was a Wednesday. This company was able to get a container to our house by Friday of that same week. We were to have the container for two days only; but since they delivered the container late on Friday, the company left the container until Tuesday the following week. We had plenty of time to pack it. Another blessing that the Lord added was that we were able to have our belongings transported to Panama within five days. Other companies we had contacted had told us that it would take two weeks or more before they could deliver our belongings.

The Lord had more blessings in store for us as we arrived in Panama. We needed to find a house or storage container for our belongings until we could build our house. At first, all of the containers that were for sale were very expensive and in poor condition. The week that we needed to pick up the container at the port, we were able to buy a trailer that was for sale near the port. It was the right size for all of our belongings, plus it was just ten minutes from the port. Because it was nearby, we were able to save on the delivery of the container. We just transfered our belongings to the trailer and paid only for the transport of the belongings instead of having to pay to have the trailer and the container delivered to the house, a savings of about a thousand dollars. We had no problem getting the container out of the port. Also, the container was not inspected; so everything arrived as we had packed it.

The Lord has blessed us with many opportunities for service. The medical missionary work is very much needed in the area where we live. Many of the farmers and people in this area go to “witch doctors” or “curanderos” that prescribe strange concoctions to their clientele. For example, Sidia, a lady that came to us suffering from severe depression and asthma, told me that she had been told by the “doctor” to drink baby’s urine to relieve an asthma attack. On another occasion, she was told to get a small fish and dehydrate it. After it was dehydrated, she was to put it in a can of evaporated milk and bury it for twenty-one days. After this period of time, she was to drink this concoction to relieve her asthma. We have been working with Sidia and teaching her God’s methods of healing. After a week of treatments with God’s natural remedies, her depression had improved. We are continuing to work with her problem of asthma. Another group of people with whom we work are the native Indians. Because of their poor nutrition and poor hygiene, they have many health problems. Wilmer, an Indian boy, came to our Bible study one Sabbath morning suffering with a terrible skin infection on his scalp, neck and ears. He is one of ten children, so the infection quickly was passed to other siblings. Soon, instead of one patient, we had about four children that were treated for the skin infection.

We have been visiting the local Adventist church and participating in their different meetings. After a few weeks the pastor visited us with the elders of the church. After questioning us about different issues, he asked us to become regular members and to work together.

Please pray for us as we move forward in faith as the Lord leads.

By Zaida Acosta, Living Springs Ministry, Panama.