June 8, 2023

Spring Break in Panama

By Bro. Ben Drepaul, visiting Link Brother from Trinidad & Tobago

It was quite a pleasure to spend Spring Break 2023 in warm sunny Panama where the lowest temperature is in October 85 degrees! The Colon Ecclesia connects each week via GTM with the Panama City Ecclesia from each of their respective meeting rooms and on occasion a bus is rented and they have an in-person joint fellowship.  Such was the case on April 9th and it was such a delight to see so many faces we have been hearing about for quite some time.  Bro. Jose introduced us to his wife Sis. Lilana who a few years ago was given three months to live by the doctors since she was diagnosed with brain cancer. Today by God’s grace there is no sign of any such illness, a living miracle indeed.  Bro. Frank’s generation continues to grow with the addition of two grand babies Brittany and Joseph.  The lunch in between the two sessions was quite a treat, put together by the sisters of both meetings.

On the Monday, we were privileged to visit and break bread with Sis. Joann who is confined to a wheel chair.  Over the years she has lost her siblings and so is left all alone in her home. Wednesday, we made the trip via the autopista to the Colon Bible Class.  The building reminded us of our own meeting place in Brooklyn, an apartment building in the middle of the city. After finding a spot on the street to park near the building, a guy sitting by the door said to me in Spanish, “don’t worry I watch the cars out here!” at least I think that is what he is said! It is a good thing I could understand a few words as there are very few English speakers around. After the bible class there was no bus to take bro. Frank and family home, apparently after 5:00 pm there is no such service. So a taxi was summoned at the tune of $60 for a half hour ride.

In addition to assisting us with the translation of the various talks, Bro. Luis and Bro. William who have both since retired from the famous Panama Canal each took us to visit their side of the man-made wonder.  It is amazing that 40 vessels pass through the canal every 24 hours, and each ship passing thru the locks pays a fee, the largest of which can be $450,000 USD.  With an annual revenue of around $2B in tolls the country should be overflowing in capital, however with the current human rulers the wealth is not always evident in the streets. The subway however only costs 35 cents to get on and 50 to exit, the busses are 25 cents, so at least there is some government subsidy. With the massive construction underway of the third subway line extending to the outskirts by 2025, Bro. Frank and Sis. Regina will be more easily accessible. Visiting Sis. Joan would also be much easier.

Also similar to New York is the fact that much of the businesses are owned by Jews including the airline-Copa and since it was also Passover season quite a few of them were closed, glad the airline however was open for business. The support by so many members and friends from both meetings was truly encouraging.

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