In 2006, First Evangelical Free Church of Onalaska, Wisconsin offered the first short-term mission trip to Panama. During this trip our group was able to experience MANY areas of Panama and minister to a host of people through the assistance of Youth With a Mission (YWAM) in Panama City. We presented wordless dramas to school children, prisoners, Kuna Indians and others. A few weeks after returning from that trip, God spoke to Scott in a dream. God showed him a group of white buildings and a cemetery in the mountains. God also told him to return to Panama to find the blind pastor, Aniseto. We heard about while we were there but did not have the time to meet him. God made it clear that this mission endeavor was for First Free to pursue. As you can imagine, this dream shook Scott and he immediately discussed it with various church leaders and asked for their blessing to return to Panama in August 2006. While there, he was escorted to the mountains of Chirique in western Panama by our new friends from YWAM. This was just the beginning of God’s faithfulness.
Fall 2010 our church learned about an opportunity to become involved with building a new YWAM base in north-west Panama in the Chirique region (8 hours from Panama City by bus). A group of 31 from First Free answered God’s call to go in March 2011. This was an answer to the YWAM directors’ (Rich & Debbie Tracy) prayers. While there, it was evident that this is what God shared with Scott in his dream. We had the privilege of pouring the footings for the 1st YWAM building of Chirique. The YWAM director’s vision is to additionally build 10 homes that would each have house parents taking care of up to 10 orphan children as well as build a trade school to teach skills so the people can better their lives.
During our mission trip in March 2011, we felt God calling us to much more than short-term missions. He was asking us to help with the work that is going on in Potrerillos Arriba, Panama as full-time missionaries. With our background in nursing and construction, we feel that God wants to use us to help with the projects as well as minister to the local people by sharing God’s love.
The significance of this calling meant that we were being asked to giving up our American way of life with its comforts and the ability to see our 7 kids and soon to be 7 grandkids.
From April to the end of August, we sold many things and gave away even more to our family, friends, and Good Will. Vickie quit her job at the end of July and Scott quit his at the end of August. We packed 4 bags and put some items in storage and left on September 9, 2011 for our own 5-month Discipleship Training School in Costa Rica en route to Panama as our final destination.
Let the adventure begin…