Landing in a Foreign Country
We landed in Panama City at around 10 pm Monday night and met up with our missionary contact Terry after customs (where they stamp your passport and make you feel important).
We loaded up a bus with luggage, supplies, and humans and rode to a nearby hotel for the night.
Tuesday we left the city hotel at 8 am and took a large bus to Santiago. We arrived at the Hotel Grand David by lunchtime.
Missionaries & Pizza
Missionary Terry’s wife Bridgett and their two kids brought us (homeland) Dominoes pizza. After lunch, the construction team went to mix concrete at the site where they’ll build the church.
My team walked from our hotel to a nearby village to handout fliers and personally invite the community to our soccer camp (the missionary kids spoke/translated for us). Before we divided up into smaller “advertising” groups, we asked God to help us be well received and benefit the community with our influence.
Talking to Locals
Even though I don’t speak more then three words of Spanish, talking to the locals is my favorite part. When you’re a foreigner, you get away with socially awkward, or even taboo, types of things. I love that.
Getting Away with Social Awkwardness
My group (about seven of us) stood outside the gates of several hut-shaped houses and yelled “buenas” (a greeting) until someone came out. I handed the missionary’s teen daughter Amber one of the camp fliers as she introduced us “gringos” (Americans who aren’t Hispanic / Latino) and invited the homeowners to our program.
I had no idea what was actually being said, but I pretended like I did. It’s just funny to me that the homeowners are cool with a bunch of strangers hollering at them to come to the door and chat. Everyone we talked to took the flier and seemed to respond positively.
Later in the night I joined my friend Jim (our group’s youth pastor) to “creatively” communicate with the workers at a super market.
Jim wanted to buy a water bottle/thermos, but we could only find toddler-sized bottles. So we pointed to the small bottle and said, “No niño” (No kid), “Si hombre” (Yes man), with even more clever hand gestures. The lady worker was very kind to us American idiots. She said, “Ah, si. Grande” (Ah, yes. Big), and walked us to the adult-sized water bottles. Sadly, Jim’s new bottle doesn’t work… But that’s another story.
I love being an American idiot.