Week one in Panama
After struggling again with getting signed into my blog I finally figured it out so I could write about my first week here in Panama City, Panama! I have been here now one week and one day. The time has gone by fast already! Bethany and I left last Saturday night and flew to Georgia and connected from there to Panama. We got in late. It is an hour earlier here so we were tired by the time we had arrived. When we first got into NY to leave for GA, I got to be the lucky one selected for a screening! I thought it was gonna be a whole long process then, but all they did was pull me to the side and wipe my hands with a wet napkin thing.
And we were off. Bet and I had some interesting people on the plane with us. It was nice that we could sit together for both flights. On our second flight there were some roudy people in the back of the plane with us. One man laughed suuuuper loud the entire flight. It just made me laugh every time. There was also missions group on the same flight. One man in front of us started witnessing to a Catholic lady as we were landing. It was neat to hear their conversation. While we didn't get to participate in the conversation, we were able to pray for the man as he shared with the lady.
We got in to Panama around 9:30/10. It felt like 11 to us, so we were tired. We probably could have napped on the plane, but I just read The Hunger Games the whole time. I read about 90% of it on the trip down and finished it my first week here. I have the second one to read too, but I'm saving it for our week off coming up!
My first couple of days transitioning to Panama were interesting. My birthday was on Sunday - the first full day we were there. I was with my host family the whole day and we went to breakfast in the morning. They ordered for me really because I hardly know any Spanish. I remember some things as we go because of the high school classes I took, but I don't know it conversationally. They ordered me eggs with tomatoes they said. It ended up being fried eggs with tomato sauce lathered allllll over it! It was interesting and I liked it enough to eat it all, but I don't know that I'd order it again. =)
After brunch we made our way to the mall. The family owns a little gift shop in the mall. We then went to the club they attend. We went swimming, had lunch and I played with the girls a lot. This family has triplet girls. They are so sweet and funny. It was a nice birthday, but very different. I was a little homesick through it and because my student teaching ended in my first placement on Friday and I was starting in a new country on Monday I had a hard time with that quick transition period.
School during the week helped me though. The students are so wonderful. Granted my class is high on energy and quite... boisterous, I still enjoyed being with them. The students are affectionate right away. I got hugs the second they saw me. They were the encouragement I needed to get me through the beginning of the week. Now, don't get me wrong... I am so excited about this opportunity and so thankful for it! I was just having a harder time transitioning right away. I had internet issues at my host family home which was hard for me because that was my link home, as well as my way of finding tools and things for lessons to teach. It took the whole week to work out the internet issue, as well as sort out other things. I am going to be staying at a new home soon and will have the internet to use there.
In spite of me missing home, struggling through the transitioning and finding my feet here in Panama, God already began teaching me, growing me and stretching me. I am using a journal devotional book called Jesus Calling that a great friend of mine gave me. The first day I was at the school, I read "Choose to trust me daily". I have known for a long time that I rely on and am often around people too much. I know that having friends and family who I can rely on is a great blessing that I am so thankful for. However, the beginning of this semester I was around people 24-7 and had become burnt out from it. I needed this trip. I have found that being away from the comfortable things, having to cling only to my God, and seeing more and more my need for Him has already strengthened my faith. If nothing else I am thankful that being here has grown me and will continue to grow me in that way.
I have such a great need for God. He has given me immense peace in times when I have felt the most out of place. He has answered prayers in the little things as well as the big since I have been here. He has given me comfort and strength in my weakness. He is ALL I need, and being here, He is often all I have. I am grateful to be able to have this time with Him. The pace here is also slower and I've had a lot more time on my own and alone with God, which was much needed in the craziness of my life schedule back home.
I pray as I continue the next 5 weeks here that God will continue to place challenges in my life that draw me tighter and tighter to Himself. I pray that He gives me a way to impact the people here, students, parents and staff at the school. I pray that He blesses the people I miss at home, and am so thankful to Him that He has allowed me to be here in a new world!