Just a Little Pick-me-up

Good morning from Panama City (Panama). I promise a full exposition of my week hosting Concordia Seminary St. Louis (CSL) in time, but for now I'm stealing fleeting moments in which to organize myself for upcoming teams...and home service...as well as uphold my end of the blogging bargain. Today is a transitional day between reasons #1 (a regional meeting) and #2 (a FORO) that I'm here; 16 of us are off to the Panama Canal + lunch in the Casco Viejo in 28 minutes, so here we go. 

Monday of CSL's week was a planned beach day with the six young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities that live in the group home adjacent to our school/church/seminary property in Palmar Arriba. It's killing two birds with one stone for me: a chance to dive head-first into mercy work and a cultural excursion. 

Much to my dismay, it was raining when I got up. I HATE RAIN. Nonetheless, we forged ahead. I only had a vague backup plan, and my weather app made it look like it'd stop around midday and give way to clouds and wind. 

We made one stop on the way, about 2 min. from our turnoff, that coincided with the briefest of downpours, but a downpour nonetheless. Greeeeeaaaaaat. When we arrived, the beach was a disaster - nothing like it'd looked a week or so earlier when I'd taken Katie. I got us some beach chairs and wandered down to survey what we were up against for as long as we decided to stay. 

I commented aloud that I wished I had some trash bags...and then I wondered...could I buy some from the restaurant from which I planned to order lunch? Turns out there was no need; they gave them to me!

We proceeded to fight the wind and fill 10+ big black trash bags with non-biodegradable debris. One of the CSL team members: "I'm never buying Styrofoam again!" Lest you think this was forced slave labor, everyone pitched in joyfully. 

(including the group home contingent...for awhile, anyway!)

We even inspired others: the chair guy started raking a clear path to the water, a friend of someone from a nearby restaurant gave us some foodservice-grade gloves, and the Holy Spirit loosed our tongues to explain to numerous beachcombers who we were, why we were there, and what we were doing. And what were we doing? Something positive on a less-than-ideal beach day, making a difference however miniscule (c.f. the starfish story), caring for God's creation, and shining His light. 

We definitely earned our dinner at "Golgotha" (the single seminary student dorm on the hill behind the main building). Freddy - with a little help from fellow Bolivians Edwin & Edith - prepared a Cochabambino feast: Pique Macho. It was my first time eating Bolivian food!

Time to head downstairs so as not to make everyone late. I also have the keys to one of the rental cars :)

Until next time, blessings!

P.S. Perks of a trashed beach? Driftwood galore! Here's my haul.