I’ve often thought about the weather as I fly above it in a climate-controlled jetliner. The sun always shines at 30,000 feet. (Provided it’s not a night-flight…) Generally things are pretty calm, stable and predictable. It’s only when you get outside on the ground that you’re really affected by the weather. Hmmm….I bet there’s a sermon illustration in there somewhere. :-)

I recently returned from a week-long vacation on the USA’s East Coast. (My absence is why this blog has been so slow recently, but I’m about to fix that!) It struck me how significant the weather’s impact is on us. Myrtle Beach is a typical ‘snowbird’ destination for eastern Canadians, but to be honest, the temperatures there weren’t much different than seasonal expectations than here in the Lower Mainland. That is to say unpredictable, and often chilly. And yet there were several Canadians down on the beach, building sandcastles, playing sports, and even swimming in the ocean! The water temp was easily lower than our cold water tap at home…maybe people were confused by the Fahrenheit/Celsius conversion? Well, uh, not me! :-)

There are two stories that arrived in my inbox while I was gone that related to weather.

John and Naomi are missionary associates closely connected to Christian education in Panama. Their e-mail made it clear that it is hard not to gloat about their weather. It has been consistently hot, with very little rain, and there’s a cool enough breeze reaching their apartment to keep it comfortable. That’s a nice break for them, because I’ve heard often enough how mercilessly hot and humid Panama is. During the summer, you never dry. Even right out of the shower, you always sweat.

On the other hand, Norm and Michelle in Hungary, have been facing cold temperatures, and their house’s heating system isn’t working properly — they have to pick between heating the house, or the hot-water tank. And even if it was working properly, their gas prices prices have spiked to prohibitive levels. So in their words they “continue to layer”.

I’m grateful for all of our missionaries serving diligently and faithfully in whatever weather they’re facing. John and Naomi are working with school administration and teachers to improve their capacity and ability. Norm and Michelle liaise with a number of missionaries, and will be hosting a big conference in Hungary in August. As well, Michelle is fostering ministry among deaf people in Hungary which will participate in an upcoming drama club to sign a song. It’s humbling and uplifting to be working shoulder-to-shoulder with so many of such strong faith. Please remember to pray for their strength and stamina no matter what season they find themselves in.

The following comes from Steve, our Latin America Area Director:

Panama City, Panama and our Chinese EFC: What a moment of inspiration to walk into the large banquet hall and see the vast numbers of Chinese believers gathered for an Easter Weekend Spiritual Conference! Just a few years ago there was one church serving the large population of 150,000 Chinese in Panama City. One church with few members. Due to a concerted effort of many denominations there are now numerous churches with strong outreach! The weekend event drew at least 700 people!

We are so proud of our missionary couple, Sam & Betty, as they have been key servants during all these years of evangelism and church growth. Sam and Betty are involved in personal evangelism, in radio evangelism, in literature distribution evangelism and hours of time dedicated to the growth of the new believers in the church. They need people to join their Support Team.

If you would like to support the work of Sam and Betty in Panama, you can request more info by e-mailing us, or you can visit this page to donate online.

John and Naomi have returned to Panama to help with PCA (Panama Christian Academy). They are right back into hot weather (though they report it’s not too hot) and appliance trouble. Neither their air-conditioner nor their gas-powered stove work (insert wisecrack about being neither hot nor cold here -ed.). Mercifully the fridge does — I can only imagine how much use that gets!

Naomi has been given a long list of students’ issues to sort through, and John is concentrating on assisting the teachers. There are a number of complaints that have built up, some of them as old as the school itself. Their prayer is for wisdom; they want to be able to deal well with the challenges, so that they can so the school can be as effective as possible.

This update comes from John and Naomi, Mission Associates who do a significant chunk of work in Panama. Panama Christian Academy (PCA) is a school that they are working closely with, and it is currently renovating a new building to handle its recent rapid expansion.

There are still numerous legal and physical details to be worked out, but they are strongly hoping that the building will be ready for a March 12th start — a challenge as you can see by the recent picture. The school has been growing steadily and slowly over the last few years, but this year we are seeing enrollment jump from 200 to 300 students. This has required the greater space offered by this building, and bringing on new staff too (another process that is still underway).

Please pray for the transitions here, that teachers would feel settled and comfortable for the start of the year, and that the students’ education would not be adversely affected by the inevitable distractions. Pray also for John and Naomi as they train and work with the school’s teachers and staff, that they would be able to share solid leadership and principles with the school’s various leaders.