Posts Tagged ‘Panama’

Becky and I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We spent a few days in Amelia Island and had a bountiful feast with family in Jacksonville.

Here’s the November newsletter. Click on the images below to view the pdf files.




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Keith and Wilma Forster, translators with the Kuna in Panama

I spent the last week in Panama, where I met Keith and Wilma Forster. I first heard about the Forsters last year when we worked with Moody Radio to do a big Bible Translation fundraising campaign. I answered phones for donors from the Midwest, my only knowledge coming from a video I saw of the Fosters. So when I saw them, it was one of those times when you see someone and wonder where you’ve met them before… only to find out it was a one-way meeting, by video! Anyway, the Forsters will be finishing their translation of the entire Bible in two years, after decades of work.

Much of the translation and printing will have been paid for by donors in Illinois. I remember one of them: a woman from Chicago who had just found a job after a period of homelessness. She told me God was telling her to commit her firstfruits to Bible translation. I never tire of hearing how God calls people in one part of the world to match up with a need in another part of the world!

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Visiting the Canal

Panama Canal

The Panama Canal, looking south toward Panama City and the Pacific Ocean

A week ago in Panama City, our group paid a visit to the Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal. We visited the history museum, where we learned more about the incredible feats involved in digging the canal. One image sticks in my mind: a sepia image of a row of French men straddling a narrow ditch with shovels. The technology wasn’t there in the 1880s. But the biggest obstacle was malaria and yellow fever. 22,000 workers died in that decade alone.

When the Americans took over, they did it with typical brazenness. The Americans decided to get rid of mosquitos. They paved Panama City streets, put oil in all standing water, drained the swamps and fumigated every house in Panama. Within two years, yellow fever was gone from Panama, and the work began in earnest.

It means a lot to Panama to own and operate the canal. It’s about national pride. But it’s also about bringing money into the country. A ship like the one pictured here can bring tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees to pass through the canal. They’re now working (to the right of this picture) on a parallel set of locks that are much more efficient and allow wider ships to pass through. There can be quite a wait for a ship, as they wait their turn to pass through.

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Coaching in Panama

This week I’m in Panama… the one with the canal. I’m coaching three SIL members* who are beginning a process to develop themselves as leaders: a young leader new to the organization, a longtime member who isn’t sure why he’s participating, and a housewife wondering how to reengage now that the children are out of the house. I’m excited about what God’s going to do in the lives of all three.

On Thursday I’m facilitating a session on Leading Change. With big changes looming in SIL, this topic is going to be relevant, and I want to serve them well, equipping them to receive change and to lead it on a local level. Please pray that I’ll be sensitive to their needs and that the material I present will be applicable.


* SIL is our primary partner organization, through which Wycliffe staff are assigned to do Bible translation and linguistics work.

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Moody Radio

Over the last year, Wycliffe has taken Moody Radio along on trips to Uganda, Panama and Peru, resulting in some terrific stories on the radio and online. Moody got so excited about the work they were seeing that they invited Wycliffe to partner with them in their Fall Funding Campaign to unlock God’s Word for the Least, the Last and the Lost. We were featured in different parts of the country (plus Canada) for three weeks, and it was “all hands on deck” as over 100 of our staff volunteered to answer phones – even me. The results?

  • Over 3000 new donors gave over $550,000 to our work in Panama and Peru.
  • They helped sponsor 34 national translators and purchased over 25,000 Bibles.
  • In addition, matching funds of over $360,000 were given for mother tongue translators in Africa.

As I was volunteering in the Moody call center one morning, I spoke with a woman in Chicago who had been homeless for a while but had just found a job. She told me God was telling her to commit to 12 months of giving $30/month to mother tongue translators in Panama. But could we just hold off until the 20th of the month, when her first check came in? She wanted to give God her firstfruits.

Praise God “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us!” (Ephesians 3:20, NIV).


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