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Spring Break: Panama

The support from many members and friends from both meetings was truly encouraging.
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It was quite a pleasure to spend Spring Break 2023 in warm sunny Panama, where the lowest temperature in October is 85 degrees! The Colon Ecclesia connects each week 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 9, and it was 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 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. 

The Colon Ecclesia in Panama

On Monday, we were privileged to visit and break bread with Sis. Joann who is confined to a wheelchair. Over the years, she has lost her siblings and is left alone in her home. We traveled via the Autopista to the Colon Bible Class on Wednesday. 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 said! It is a good thing I could understand a few words as very few English speakers are 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 to the tune of $60 for a half-hour ride. 

In addition to assisting us with translating the various talks, Bro. Luis and Bro. William, who have both since retired from employment on the famous Panama Canal, each took us to visit their side of the man-made wonder. Amazingly, 40 vessels pass through the canal every 24 hours, and each ship passing through the locks pays a fee, the largest of which can be USD $450,000.

With an annual revenue of around $2 billion in tolls, the country should be overflowing with capital; however, the current human ruler’s wealth is not always evident on the streets. The subway, however, only costs 35 cents to get on and 50 to exit; the buses 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 many 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. I was glad the airline, however, was open for business. The support from many members and friends from both meetings was truly encouraging.

Ben Drepaul,
CBMC Link for Trinidad & Tobago

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