***Originally posted on http://www.lacworldmissions.org/journal/2017/12/6/by-the-grace-of-god
Brooke Miller is an LAC missionary to Panama. She is currently in the middle of her first Missionary Associate term where she is working with the abused and marginalized children and youth of Panama City. Brooke ministers to students through school assemblies and an urban outreach center.
I grew up in a small town church in Indiana. We had missionaries visit pretty frequently and every single one became a hero to me. They had these amazing stories about bringing people to the Lord. Their lives were so exciting and that seemed foreign to me. Needless to say, when God called me to be a missionary it seemed like a pretty daunting task.
That, friends, is when I found out that missionaries are just normal people. My fellow missionaries are still my heroes and some of the best people I know. However, I realized that if God can use someone like me to bring people into the kingdom, then He can use anyone...
The past four months have been a whirlwind! I arrived in Panama over a month ago and am loving every second of it!
So far we have already hosted an event in the El Refuge ministry center, done some school programs and received our three Engage students/interns! Our official launch of the ministry center is in three weeks and we are itching to get there! We can’t wait to have students in the center taking classes and being discipled. To prepare for launch we are getting the classes ready for the students like English class, computers and some fun activities like movie nights.
Outside of the center launch we are also preparing for the Central America missionary field fellowship retreat in October. This retreat happens every few years and all the missionaries from across Central America come together to fellowship and grow together. This year it is in Panama so we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of all our friends serving in different countries.
I feel like a kid in kindergarten with a long paper chain spread across the room to countdown the days of school. But instead of using a paper chain I use a high tech countdown app.
95 days until Panama!
To think I have already been in Costa Rica longer than I’ve ever been in Panama at one time is crazy.
My first trimester was amazing. I love my teachers and classmates and had a great time exploring San Jose. And most importantly, I am learning so much!
Over the two week break between trimesters I was able to take a three day trip to Nicaragua. I visited all my old places of ministry and hang out spots. It is insane to see how much the kids have grown up since I’ve seen them last and especially since I first met a lot of them in 2011. I am so grateful I had this opportunity to check in on my niños and visit a country I love so much. It was a great time of fellowship with my Nica friends and fellow missionaries.
In Nicaragua I heard multiple times that my Spanish has improved so much (shou...
Last weekend all the students went to Panama for 3 days in order to renew our visas. This is a trip that happens roughly once every trimester is anxiously awaited by every student. Everyone gets all excited because we have no school or responsibilities all weekend. We don’t bring our homework and rarely venture away from the hotel pool. The pool isn’t fancy and the city is pretty small but any excuse to get away from schoolwork is a good one. The 10 hour bus ride is a cakewalk when that is all that stands between you and a weekend by the pool. We gathered early Friday morning with our phones loaded full of Netflix movies and were on our way. We crossed a river full of crocodiles, drove through the mountains of Costa Rica I had yet to see and after many hours finally stopped at the border. The bus was checked, our bags were checked, our fingerprints were scanned and the outside of the bus was disinfected. Another hour on the road and we made...
Since I started preparing for this adventure of life-long missions at 17 I have heard the word “network” countless times. If you are at all like me that word strikes fear into your heart.
To build a network is an idea that has been drilled into me as I started my career as a missionary. It is important in ministry to build a network of people that pour wisdom into you and mentor you, to connect with people that get your situation. We need community. I am 100% on board with this. It is oh so important.
But being the introvert that I am it has taken seven years to form even the smallest of networks. Going to networking events and trying to find other people in ministry to do life with is no fun for me. I hate when people tell me I need to network more and I hate that I am not good at it.
However, in the past six weeks in Costa Rica I have been learning something about networks. My network is so much wider than a group of colleagues and work connections. It is deeper than I ever realized....
Warning: Long drawn out story ahead. If you wish to hear the bullet points of what’s new skip to the last paragraph!
In case you were wondering what 'everything going wrong' looks like you could refer to my first five days on this adventure. My departure on January 4th began smoothly. I was fully packed in three suitcases, I had said my sad "see you later's" and I successfully convinced my parents to walk me into the airport from the parking garage.
While that last one might not seem too exciting to anyone else, if you have walked from the Indianapolis airport parking garage across the walkway you would understand. It is the single best part of the Indianapolis airport! It might even be the only good part about that airport! To those of you who are sadly unaware of this amazing experience, essentially it is a long hallway with moving walkways and neon lights all across the ceiling. These aren't just ordinary lights though. The lights follow yo...