Flying from El Salvador to Panama City, Bro. Don Luff and I were met by Bro. Luis Sobles of the Colón Ecclesia. The weather in tropical Panama was a bit rainy and saturated with high humidity, and quite different from the climate of California. Yet again the warm greetings of a brother in the one faith melts those differences, and we were welcomed into his and Sis. Vanessa’s home.
On Thursday, Bro. Luis took me to the Gatun Locks of the Panama Canal and we watched the tugs ready the ships to pass through the locks built in 1913. Six locomotives pull the ship ever so carefully through the locks as the ships move from the level of Gatun Lake down 87 feet to sea level. So tight is the clearance on either side that the huge ships are only 12-15 inches from the walls.
For this trip, the Colón Ecclesia had planned a special effort on Saturday featuring four classes. The activity was promoted in several ways, including placing 50 posters into local businesses, distributing 500 handbills, radio announcements, newspaper ads, and guests were personally invited. Distributing the handbills along the main street in town on Friday, we found that passersby were eager to take the handbills and all were distributed in less than an hour. An air-conditioned Banquet Hall had been secured, and Saturday morning all of the members of the Colón Ecclesia were readying the facility for the classes. Apparently true to the custom of Panamanians, no guests were in attendance at the 11:00 AM start time. By 11:45, however, the first wave had arrived, and guests were streaming in all day until there were 25 visitors, and 13 of their children. That was double the size of the 12 embers, and 6 of their children.
There were three classes on “The Messiah” given by Bro. Don and I wound up the day with the PowerPoint presentation “The Crossing of the Red Sea”.
The guests had so bonded with the members that they willingly participated in the group photo afterwards. Unlike guests to our own ecclesia in Simi Hills, California, this group found the literature table especially interesting and every piece of the 200 or so pamphlets sent down by Bro. and Sis. Jim and Jean Hunter were taken. Six of the guests returned on Sunday for Memorial Service, and stayed for the presentation on “The Miracle of Israel”. In our home ecclesia, guests are often quiet and reserved but here in Colón, the guests were talkative, participated in the activities, joined in the group picture, and actually made the day an enjoyable one for everyone.
Sunday night we moved to Gamboa and visited Bro. and Sis. Jay and Llori Gibson of the Panama City Ecclesia whose home is on the edge of Gatun Lake. We shared the classes with them, and the next day we watched the myriad of ships pass by just a stone’s throw from their patio. As our trip drew to a close, I thought of how wonderful it is to share fellowship with brethren and sisters I had not known before, but now have fond memories of, and wish us all to be together in the kingdom.
Bro. Doug Hawthorne, Simi Hills, CA