Mission Spotlight: Panama
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.
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.
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.
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.
The tour guides took us to a trail through the jungle that led us to a waterfall, were we got to swim and relax.
They then took us to there village, one of the many in the Embera tribe.
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.”
They also prepare fresh caught fish from the lake and dried plantains, that is possibly the best meal you will have in Panama.
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.
We also went to an orphanage near the Panama Canal, where we shared stories and talked to the children.
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.
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.
We also went to see the canal, which is not exciting, but it is a huge part of the country and their history.
We also went shopping and walked through “Old Town” Panama, which was a lot of fun.
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