Mission Spotlight: Panama

Mission Spotlight: Panama

Kourtney & Katie looking at Panama City. Copyright 2015, used with permission by Laura Pitcher
Kourtney & Katie looking at Panama City. Copyright 2015, used with permission by Laura Pitcher

Panama is a Central American country located in between Costa Rica and the South American country, Colombia. Because of its location in between central and South America, as well as it’s control of the Panama Canal, it is a melting pot. With nearly every nationality and every language, the capital, Panama City is a fascinating place.

Walking through
Walking through “Old Town” Panama, in Panama City. Copyright 2015, used with permission by Laura Pitcher

Not only is there a great amount of international influence, Panama has maintained the influence of the native groups and culture. Some of the natives tribes of Panama include the Kunas, Ngobe Bugle (Guaymie), Chiriqui, Embera, and Wounan. You are will most likely meet someone from these tribes.

Embera woman. Copyright 2015, used with permission by Laura Pitcher
Embera woman. Copyright 2015, used with permission by Laura Pitcher

The country not only has beautiful people, but beautiful scenery as well. Fun fact about Panama: it is the only place you can see the sun rise on the Atlantic Ocean and set on the Pacific Ocean. Which is a lovely sight to see. The hills and mountains surrounding the city are actually part of the rainforest and are rich with tropical wildlife. It is the only city in the world that has  jungle within it’s city limits. This is part of the beauty of Panama, that you can be in the city, the ocean, the jungle or the river within an hour.

Panamanian jungle. Copyright 2015, used with permission by Laura Pitcher
Panamanian jungle. Copyright 2015, used with permission by Laura Pitcher

Visiting one of the native villages is a MUST when you are in Panama. We went to the Embera Village. It only took about an hour drive into the jungle, then you get on a motorized canoe.

Michael & Chris on the canoes. Copyright 2015, used with permission by Laura Pitcher
Michael & Chris on the canoes. Copyright 2015, used with permission by Laura Pitcher
The team on the motorized canoes. Copyright 2015, used with permission by Valerie Garza
The team on the motorized canoes. Copyright 2015, used with permission by Valerie Garza

The tour guides took us to a trail through the jungle that led us to a waterfall, were we got to swim and relax.

Waterfall in the jungle of Panama. Copyright 2015, used with permission by Laura Pitcher
Waterfall in the jungle of Panama. Copyright 2015, used with permission by Laura Pitcher

They then took us to there village, one of the many in the Embera tribe.

One of the Embera villages (which is along the Alajuela Lake in the Chagres National Park). Copyright 2015, used with permission by Laura Pitcher
One of the Embera villages (which is along the Alajuela Lake in the Chagres National Park). Copyright 2015, used with permission by Laura Pitcher

Greeted by some of the villagers with their handmade drums and flutes and dancing, it is an experience you will never forget. You can buy handmade gifts and jewelry and get a “henna tattoo.”

Kourtney getting a tribal henna tattoo. Copyright 2015, used with permission by Laura Pitcher
Kourtney getting a tribal henna tattoo. Copyright 2015, used with permission by Laura Pitcher

They also prepare fresh caught fish from the lake and dried plantains, that is possibly the best meal you will have in Panama.

Fresh fish and plantains from Embera village. Copyright 2015, used with permission by Valerie Garza
Fresh fish and plantains from Embera village. Copyright 2015, used with permission by Valerie Garza

Food in the city is very Americanized, so there is no need to worry about finding a KFC, Pizza Hut or McDonald’s. However, if you are adventurous, there is a surplus of ethnic foods and places to eat that are very good.

Throughout the week in Panama, we also got to visit Colon, a Caribbean side city. We worked at an orphanage for disabled children, helping with the construction process.

Orphanage for disabled children in Colon. Copyright 2015, used with permission by Laura Pitcher
Orphanage for disabled children in Colon. Copyright 2015, used with permission by Laura Pitcher

We also went to an orphanage near the Panama Canal, where we shared stories and talked to the children.

Orphanage in Panama. Copyright 2015, used with permission by Laura Pitcher
Orphanage in Panama. Copyright 2015, used with permission by Laura Pitcher

On our last day of ministry in Panama we went to Kuna Nega—the poorest area in Panama city— and we distributed bibles to the locals.

Kuna Nega
Kuna Nega “The Dump.” Copyright 2015, used with permission by Laura Pitcher

It was shocking how eager and accepting the people, who have nothing, are to receive something as basic as a bible. It was an eye opening experience, where we got to pray for adults and children who are living in card board boxes and struggling to find food.

Praying for someone in Kuna Nega. Copyright 2015, used with permission by Laura Pitcher
Praying for someone in Kuna Nega. Copyright 2015, used with permission by Laura Pitcher
Young boy who lived in Kuna Nega, Panama. Copyright 2015, used with permission by Laura Pitcher
Young boy who lives in Kuna Nega, Panama. Copyright 2015, used with permission by Laura Pitcher

We also went to see the canal, which is not exciting, but it is a huge part of the country and their history.

Panama Canal. Copyright 2015, used with permission by Laura Pitcher
Panama Canal. Copyright 2015, used with permission by Laura Pitcher

We also went shopping and  walked through “Old Town” Panama, which was a lot of fun.

Walking through
Walking through “Old Town” Panama. Copyright 2015, used with permission by Laura Pitcher
View of the city from
View of the city from “Old Town” Panama. Copyright 2015, used with permission by Laura Pitcher

Panama is a beautiful country, with so much life and adventure. Everything you could want to see or experience is in one place; jungle, ocean, mountains, city and interesting people.

_________________________________________________________________

During the trip we were connected with YWAM (Youth With A Mission) Panama City. If you are interested in taking a mission trip to Panama or for more information about YWAM Panama City go to http://www.ywampanamacity.com

For more information about the Embera Village Tour go to http://www.emberavillagetours.com

Check out more of Laura’s pictures, as well as her and her husband’s travel blog by going to http://www.thebucketlistnarratives.com

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Instagram: @justpassingthroughmissions

Twitter: @jptmissions

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