Matt and Susi Lundquist, Campus Ambassadors
Panama Chronicles Part Two
What an amazing trip – what a diverse range of experiences! The best way to attempt to describe it is summed up in the word: “EXTREMES!”
– The Bus: Extreme Ride
– The Hotel Soloy: Extreme Comfort
– The Icebox: Extreme cold
– The River Boats: Extreme Transportation
– The Jungle Village: extremely “off the grid”
– The Canal: Extreme Shortcut
– The Performances: Extreme Venues
– The Skit: Extreme Drama
- BUS: When first we arrived in the Central American country of Panama, we collected our baggage and stepped out into 90 degree weather.
- Just off the curb we were introduced to our chartered bus, which I affectionately referred to as “The Party Bus.”
- The A/C was always blowing, there were plenty of empty seats and room for backpacks, the curtained windows were fringed with “dingle balls” creating the atmosphere of a latino Fiesta!
- This bus was to become our “home on the road.” We ate in it, sang in it, played games in it, and when we stumbled onto it worn out from the days performances, we even slept in it!
- HOTEL: I would say this was a “Five-Star” hotel, but I think it would be more appropriate to say that’s what it used to be.
- In spite of this we enjoyed soft beds, hot showers, great food and a swimming pool on the rooftop where we looked out at the ocean!
- The hotel restaurant always had our buffet breakfast ready and also provided a place for us to have morning devotionals as well as evening sharing times.
- ICEBOX: This is the name given to a small room in the hotel where we spent our first 2 days learning and practicing an evangelistic drama.
- The thermostat didn’t work so the A/C was either “on” or “off.” With it on we needed sweatshirts or sweaters, in stark contrast to later performances, which were all about the sweat.
- Our formula for preparing: One hour of practice for each minute of the skit = 15 hours!
- BOATS: I looked over at Cole, packed into a wooden dugout canoe with about 8 other team members and I yelled, “Who do you think will win: Suzuki or Yamaha?”
- It wasn’t a fair question, and the race up the river wasn’t fair either. The boat I was in was fiberglass and the engine had 3 times the horsepower!
- We left after they did but arrived at the village more than 10 minutes ahead of them. That night we went back out in the boat for a crocodile hunt!
- JUNGLE VILLAGE: At the end of the boat ride was our home in the jungle for 2 days. We all enjoyed communal living, meals of Sea Bass, and even good coffee!
- Upstairs in the thatched roof bungalow was a “sleeping porch” where we put up mosquito netting and laid down pads and sleeping bags side by side – close quarters!
- There were no roads or cars and they only used electricity a few hours each night by running generators.
- The toilet facilities were worse than any I’ve seen in Mexico – some preferred to use a tree or bush.
- CANAL: You just can’t go to Panama without visiting the famous canal – it wouldn’t be right! Did you know that the “world’s greatest shortcut” reduces a ship’s travel distance by 7,872 miles?!
- Another fun fact: the highest toll paid for a ship to pass through the canal was $800,000! I also discovered there are 2 sections of canal with a freshwater lake between them.
- And that there is a new canal which can handle even larger ships which are being made by modern shipbuilders.
- PRESENTATIONS: Our venues varied widely as we presented our drama and counseled those who responded to the gospel.
- Outdoors in a field, in an open-air market called “Cinco de Mayo,” in a soup kitchen where they served homeless refugees, in school assemblies, in churches, and even in a drug & alcohol rehab center!
- Always we were hot & sweaty and a bit cramped for space. It was a joy to see how our various audiences responded.
- SKIT: The drama itself was like “Sign Language in Large Print” and allowed us to use this awesome tool to communicate the gospel cross-culturally and overcome the language barrier.
- It depicts a man “The Traveler” (Joe Solem) who is asking “Who Am I? and Why Am I Here?” As he explores greed, power, pleasure & knowledge he also experiences guilt, symbolized by red gloves.
- The “Miracle Man” (Josh Tuckness) is throughout the story offering to help answer his questions.
- When he dies in the Traveler’s place, he then rises from the grave and removes the Traveler’s guilt, peeling off his red gloves and tossing them aside.
- It is a powerful depiction of our quest and the only answer that satisfies: Jesus!
Here is a picture of my small group members with 3 men who prayed to receive Christ after watching our Open-air Drama performance!
Thanks Again to those who prayed and gave and supported us on this Adventure!