Sunday, April 29, 2007

Panamanian Hospitality

From David in northern Panama - hello! The walk continues for the unity of Christians & what a week it's been. Panama is beautiful in both landscape and people. Since the last entry I've walked 369km including 106km over the final 2 days! It feels like another year has gone by this week. In the city of Santiago, after 5hours of following misleading information on where I could sleep I was finally assisted by two students from Europe who came to my aid & shuffled me off to a cheap backpackers hostel on the other side of town - they even bought me dinner! On the road to David I've stayed at a missionary boarding school in Tole, with a wonderful Padre in San Lorenzo and in a family hostel in Divisa at no charge, but the highlight was my stay in El Higo. I'd walked 45km and arrived just after sunset in the tiny town on the edge edge of the mountains to find there was no church & no hotel. A local guided me to the only shop in town where I could buy my dinner & then through chatting with the other locals was invited to put my hammock up at the home of one of the young men. His name was Adolfo. I followed him & his little daughter down a steep, unlit path through Banana trees & across a small stream to his home on the other side - a one room tin shed no more than 2m x 2m, no running water, no electricity. His wife was waiting for him & he explained who I was & what I was doing & she welcomed me with a smile. I set my hammock up under the make-shift verandah & then sat with Adolfo under the star-lit night & slowly chatted about everything from Australia, to how he likes to cook rabbits, to how far down the mountain the coyotes come! Late in the evening he retired inside & I rested in my hammock with his guard dog beside me. Swinging gently I gazed up at the stars until eventually falling asleep. In the morning, just before sunrise, Adolfo cut some lemon grass & boiled it. For breakfast we sat & shared his lemon grass tea & ate a bread bun each. He shared that his family was 250km away in Panama City & that he was travelling back to them the next day without his wife & daughter. With a great deal of anguish he told me that he couldn't find work in the local area & so had no option but to leave for some time to earn money. After a moment of silence he said he wanted to give me something & he popped inside & came back out with his daughters old minature plush Dino toy (from the Flintstones) and placed a small cross around its neck. He handed it to me and said, "Remember me". I placed the Dino toy on my pack & gave him my one photo of home & asked him to pray for me & unity. He placed the photo up on his wall next to his small collection of photos someone had taken of his daughter for him. We shook hands & as I left he quickly cut a section of suger cane for me to eat as I walked. The 53km walk that day was a filled with mixed emotions - sadness at his plight & yet overwhelmed by his generosity. Please remember him in your prayers! Other points of interest from this week include walking past a 'sound off' between a pack of coyotes and a family of Baboons - I decided not to get involved... and I also lost a little more of my already dented smile when a truck flicked a rock up off the road just as I was smiling, remembering Rob Stich's impersonation of Bruce McAvenney on the Late Show many years ago. Two chipped teeth for my efforts. If I was more aware I could have caught the 100km/hr stone between my teeth and spat it back out. Obviously caught off-guard... Tomorrow is Christmas for me as I get to pick up my brand new boots! The hole in the sole was getting mighty big to, so just in time. Please continue to pray for unity & if you haven't already, please set your alarm for 4:01! God bless, Sam of the Jungle.


Martin, Lisa, Olivia, Emily & Julian Pannell said...

Hi jungle-man-sam, Just to let you know I had *Tajana Marusic over on the weekend & showed her your site & shared the news about 4.01pm - you've got another supporter & pray-er Sam! God Bless, MP (PS: I wonder how many nicknames you'll have by the end of your trip?)
*(formerly of Marcellin College, Melbourne, now at Syd Uni Catholic Chaplaincy)

Kristen Toohey said...

Hi Sam & everyone praying for Unity,
Thought I'd take this chance to let any Sydney siders know about a great event, signifying Unity that's happening this Sunday May 6. A number of Christian Churches have combined including Catholic, Vineyard, Uniting, Pentecostal, Anglican, Baptist, Presbyterian, Salvation Army and more to organise the 'La Vida Grande Festival' (Spanish for Life to the Full, John 10:10) at Dunningham Park, Cronulla Beach from 9.30am til 4pm. Designed as an outreach it will include an open air Church service from 9.30 til 10.30, Christian bands, entertainment for families and the Jesus ProAm - which is a professional surf comp organised by Christian Surfers Australia. Everyone is welcome, and if you can't be there in the flesh, know that your 4.01pm daily prayers for Unity are indeed bearing fruit! God is good.

Damien said...


You are doing an awesome Job for Christian Unity! Keep it up!

I am Damien Burger from Melbourne. I am living in San Jose Costa Rica. My wife and I would like to invite you to stay at our home when you are in San Jose. Also to give a talk on Christian unity to our youth group on your rest day, then we would like to Walk with you for a day.

God Bless,
Damien Burger