Panama Mission Trip - January 2023
1st Night in Panama -
Hi, Gayton Family —
We had a successful travel day and made it to Panama! We were warmly welcomed by our Panamanian friends at the airport and after many hugs and exclamations of excitement we loaded up into the van. We dropped off our suitcases full of craft supplies (thank you for the generous donations!) and our Bible gifts (to be presented later this week) at the church before heading to the hotel. We’re all going to sleep like rocks tonight in preparation of a full day tomorrow. We thank you for your continued prayers as we make new connections and allow God’s light to shine through us and in us this week.
Panama Day 2
Hello Gayton Family!
We had the wonderful privilege of attending church service Sunday morning with our Panamanian partners. It was moving, to put it simply. It was a message about timeliness, the importance of our time, and to make the most of it by following God's plan. We sang, prayed, and worshipped together. Jeff joined the worship team for the morning and we shared in communion. It was a beautiful time together and a reminder that our time here is a gift. Kevin presented our gift of the Spanish Bibles and they were so graciously received. Please know how mutually blessed we are to be here. Following the service we began organizing our crafts, ensuring our readiness for the kids coming tomorrow while the construction crew got their project plan solidified for the week. They’ll be adding a bathroom to a mission home, making it more hospitable for visiting missionaries.
In the late afternoon we were treated to a scenic drive into Panama City by Pastor Rodolfo where we had dinner and saw the Panama Canal. We spent time getting to know one another, both practicing Spanish and English together and playing Ninja! If you haven’t played, it’s a lot of fun! After dinner we headed back to the hotel for some craft prep before bed. Tomorrow the real fun begins! VBS for Dale, Sami, Katie, Ellie, and Vivian while Pastor Bryon, Mike, Kevin, and Jeff begin construction.
Please pray for the Gayton Team, the Panama leaders, and the children visiting. May we be the hands and feet of Jesus this week and make an impression on everyone we encounter.
Panama Day 3
Greetings Gayton family!
We started off our morning with a devotion from the book of John. Pastor Bryon reminded us to not get so caught up in the work that we forget the why. As we went off to start our day, we were all reminded that there is work being done by us and in us during our time here. The work is important but the why is utmost.
VBS day 1 was a hit! We served over 65 children today between First Baptist Church and their mission church, New Hope. There was singing, there was dancing, there were games, and, of course, crafts! The faith being nurtured in the kids coming through First Baptist is something to be witnessed and we are blessed to be a small part of what is happening here.
The guys broke ground on digging a trench for plumbing and had an opportunity to connect with the neighbors of the missionary house. Tomorrow cement is being delivered. Prayers for endurance and strength are appreciated.
Everyone we meet and talk with has shown us so much love. What unites is our love and devotion to the Lord and that has shined through immensely already. There have been fellowship opportunities through games like Crazy Ball (invented by one of our Panamanian friends), during our van rides, and while working in the classrooms, and on the construction site. We pray that relationships continue to blossom and lives continue to be touched this week.
Panama Day 4
Hello from Panama!
Today during VBS at First Baptist Church and Nueva Esperanza, the mission church, we served close to 140 kids! We made a flying dove craft and focused on Acts 2. It was a joy to watch them flying their doves around once they were complete. The scripture today is a good reminder to focus on the now, how precious time is and that no day is ever the same again, so take the opportunities for connection as they come. There were many today and for that we are grateful.
Afterwards, the team tried duros - a sweet popsicle-like dessert common in Panama. Our friends were so excited to share these with us, they were great!
Over at the construction site, cinder blocks arrived, and the guys were able to unload bags of aggregate. Another big day of fun, fellowship, and discipleship was had by all. We continue to covet your prayers.
Panama Day 5
Hello Gayton Church family!
Over at VBS, the number of children has increased each day, even despite a torrential downpour today, and that’s saying something given that the majority of VBS is held outside at the mission church and many kids walk to church! We are extremely blessed to serve all of the kids who have come through this week. We were also able to meet a need by replacing a broken basketball net at First Baptist which has been appreciated by many during recess time.
At the construction site there is progress being made on the foundation of the new bathroom at Pastor Rodolfo’s house. We are being prayerful in asking to be reminded that our work is not to necessarily complete the project but to continue the good works that are being done. We won’t see a finished bathroom while we’re here but our contribution and time here is meaningful in many ways. A big win for the construction team was experienced when one of the neighbors who’s been invited to church showed up!
On Wednesday night the team attended a very powerful, church-wide prayer service where some of us were even able to share testimonies. Thank you to Pastor Jeff and Ellie for sharing your hearts with us all.
On Thursday night we spent some time with Pastor Rodolfo and his wife, Vivianna, at dinner where we shared stories of our experiences here thus far and expressed our appreciation for being welcomed here, into their church and into their families.
We ask for your prayers as we finish out our week here in Panama: to be reenergized daily, to be intentional in our interactions, to be present and eternally grateful for each day as it comes.
Panama Day 7
Today was the last day of Bible school and was filled with many emotions. After connecting with the kids and other VBS leaders this week it was hard to say Hasta Luego, “see you later”! We know that our time here is short but the work is eternal. After the much loved lantern crafts yesterday, we made the bead crosses today. We had a huge turnout and everyone had a great time.
The construction crew has been going strong with the beginning foundations of the bathroom expansion. The house will be so much better equipped to serve the missionaries staying there once this is complete! The guys have been connecting with their compadre, Ernesto and learning more about him and his family.
Our youth was invited to join the youth VBS class today during lunch and connected with the students and leaders their age which was a special experience. We were able to donate a size able amount of craft supplies to the school run by the church. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your donations! Our friends here are so grateful .
Heartfelt thanks were profusely expressed from our team to the First Baptist Team and vice versa. Our time here has been amazing. We’ve seen God working in many ways, externally and internally. The First Baptist youth and young adults surprised the Gayton VBS team with beautiful sentiments of our time together and thoughtful gifts. The Gayton team had planned the same for them! It was a teary exchange and straight from the heart.
The day ended with what we’ve learned is a trip tradition, Casa de Halado: homemade ice cream! And a surprise from our Panamá friends who met us at the mall for dinner! We pushed tables together and hung out until closing time, talking and playing games. Our Panamanian friends know a lot of fun group games and songs that we’ll have to share with you when we return!
Please pray for our team as we prepare for travel on Sunday, for our friends at First Baptist Church and New Hope, and for Pastor Bryon and his family.
Panama Day 7 and 8
This Saturday in Panama, the whole team woke up early and drove out to the beach with Pastor Rodolfo and other friends where they surprised us with a homemade lunch. It was wonderful! We also got to visit the Panama Canal for some great views and to learn more about the inner workings of the canal. It was a great day of bonding with everyone.
Sunday is departure day; We left early for our flight back into town, but not before saying goodbye to all of our friends. We were sent off with lots of hugs, love and prayer.
We’ve been receiving messages throughout the day today reinforcing the importance of our time here and we are all so grateful for what we have experienced during this trip. Thank you so much for your prayers and support of this mission. See you soon!
Gayton Baptist works closely with the Pedregal Baptist Church in Panama City, Panama to support their annual Vacation Bible School and its outreach ministries. Currently there are no trips being planned until after the Covid-19 pandemic.
For the past eight years, we have been engaged in a ministry in Panama. It started as a partnership with the Panamanian Baptist Convention and the Virginia Baptist Mission Board. The partnership has officially ended, however, significant relationships have developed with the Pedregal Baptist Church, and we continue to send teams to lead Vacation Bible Schools and construction projects.
- Personal Involvement: International mission teams from Gayton travel to Panama in partnership with Primera Iglesia Bautista de Pedregal, a local church, to assist with its outreach efforts.
- Financial Involvement: Explore funds provide craft materials for VBS and team members assistance with travel costs.
Are you interested in being a part of this mission?