"As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him." - Psalm 18:30

Rio Oeste Campaign - Panama - July 2009

Rio Oeste, Panama - YES II - Evangelism/VBS/Youth Campaign, July 3-11, 2009

I first visited the village of Rio Oeste in 1996, at which time we had to go in by boat, then walk about a mile. There was no road even into the province of Bocas del Toro, as we had this time. And, other than cell phones, more church members, and a new church building, little else has changed in Rio Oeste since that time. Gilberto Blandford is the preacher there and has been since 2001.

YES II is the annual youth campaign sponsored by the Forrest Park Church of Christ. The team left Panama City for the 11 or so hour bus ride on Saturday morning of July 4. There was a total of 28 team members from Florida, Tennessee and Georgia, and at least that many from Panama. We all worked together and accomplished much for the Lord.

 

VBS: The VBS team was made up of Christians from the States, and there was an average of abut 75 children per day.

 

Teen Classes:

Since this was a youth campaign, we focused on the youth of Rio Oeste. Classes were conducted each day for both boys and girls. Separate classes for Sunday – Tuesday, taught by Alisa Leonard, for the girls, and Spen Broome, J.T. Brown, and Ryan Tuten for the boys. There was good participation and attendance. Most of the baptisms came from these groups.









 








Evangelism:

Teams were made up of both Panamanian and American Christians, all working together for the Lord. Some hiked up the mountains, others worked in the immediate area, and others on the fringes of the community. Both non-Christians and unfaithful members of the church were reached.

 

Preaching and evening worship:

The gospel of Christ was preached every night in the local church building (built by the local church). I preached Sunday morning but all other sermons were done by the Panamanian brethren. The singing was also really good!


Our Accommodations:

We slept cooked and ate and showered, etc. in the local school building. It was muddy at times, but we got used to it and the arrangements met all our needs.

 

Brother Gilberto is conducting special classes for all the new Christians. Please keep him and church in Rio Oeste in your prayers. (See the video link at the end of this report.)  - Roger

Campaign Report from Alisa Leonard 2009

 

What a once-in-a-lifetime experience!  The conditions were hard:  tromping up and down mountains, traversing treacherous muddy paths, slipping and sliding in mud to the stinky outhouse and cold showers, using Germ-X every few minutes to prevent sickness due to foreign germs, etc.  But the “positives” of the trip far overshadowed the difficult conditions!  It was such a joy to work with adults and teenagers who I’d just met, but who really felt like the family we truly are.  Everyone was friendly, cooperative, and positive during the whole campaign.  Everyone did their part to make it a great success for the Lord and His Church.

 

I helped in the kitchen the first few meals until the head cook didn’t need me anymore because Panamanian sisters came andAlisa in the Toyota truck worked with him every day.  My other work included teaming up with Roger for personal Bible studies in the homes of the local people.  On one day several young Christian Panamanian brothers went with us to learn and gain experience in conducting Bible studies themselves.  I don’t know how long they have been Christians, but I was able to help one find and write down the scripture references the preacher used in the study.  It was encouraging to me to see their desire to study and prepare so that they could one day serve God by teaching others also.  My other responsibility was teaching a teenage girls class three days.  Our topics were:  “What Does a Christian Young Lady Look Like?”, “A Christian Young Lady and Her Relationships” (example: with parents, friends, boyfriends, authority figures), and “Preparing For Service As a Christian Young Lady in the Church”.  Even though I had spent much study, time, and thought on these lessons before leaving the United States , I wasn’t totally prepared for what I encountered.  The culture of these people in Rio Oeste is so different from our American culture, or even the culture in the cities of Panama .  The females in Rio Oeste all wear skirts and dresses and do not cut their hair short.  They grow up, marry, have children, and stay there as mothers and homemakers.  Not knowing beforehand their culture, I had to re-think some of the content of my lessons to make them applicable to the teenagers I was addressing.  It was a bit strange for me teaching with a translator, and the first day the lesson seemed a bit awkward because of that.  The second day I was more comfortable working with my translator.  She did a great job!

 

There were 23 baptisms in the campaign and many of them were teenage girls and boys.  I don’t know, but I’d like to think, that the teenage classes had some small part in that. It was a great experience to go down to the river at night and with flashlights witness Christians being born!  There were also 12 restorations, so there was much rejoicing in Heaven.

 

There are so many special memories in my mind from this campaign I couldn’t begin to relate all of them here, but I’m so thankful for all the support and confidence you placed in me and my family to help us go work in Rio Oeste.  It was wonderful to be there as a whole family!  I appreciated being able to help Roger in his work “in the field”, not just by “keeping the home fires burning.”  Thanks also for keeping us in your prayers.  Please pray for the church in Rio Oeste, as you’ve had a part in helping it to grow and be stronger! - Alisa Leonard

Special event for the Leonard Family: Last year, four of us went to Nicaragua: Amanda, Clay, Ellie, and Roger. Five of us went on this trip: Alisa, Clay, Ellie, Will and Roger. Alisa taught teenage girls and helped with evangelism. Clay (below center) worked in evangelism and did some teaching without a translator, translated prayers, etc. Ellie worked daily in VBS. (She also celebrated her 12th birthday on this trip - photo below). Will helped in VBS and made some evangelism trips (below left). I am very proud of the way my family worked in this campaign. Many thanks to all who helped us go!

 Ellie's birthdau

Clay, Alisa, Will, Ellie and Roger at the Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal








Will, after a long dayClay talks with Sharon Hooker at the Bible School of the Americas