The dry season in Chiriqui Province, Panama is just about past and the “rainy” season is almost upon us! It is quite refreshing to see the grass on the hillsides and mountains turn green again as trees and flowering plants all begin to thrive!

The seasons allow our ministry to shift gears and focus on future projects. We want to bring you up to date on the Ministry Outreaches while making use of the dry weather.

January was a busy planning month for the outreach at Pastor Manuel’s church at San Felix. Numerous years ago Villa Bethel, a church in the Boquete community, began a ministry for feeding the children there, and as noted previously Cleft Of  The Rock Ministries has taken on the responsibility for them temporarily, for the Children’s Feeding Shelter. Previously the food staples were taken to the pastor’s home about a half mile up the remote road and then transported down to the Feeding Shelter at the church. This had become quite a chore! for the Ngobe church people who were doing the cooking for the children.

Upon surveying skill sets of some men and ladies from the Christian Community of Boquete and Volcan, we were able to get a team together and build a Food Pantry under the church annex. With the use of an interpreter, we were able to order materials and have them delivered to the job site. A trailer, kindly loaned to us by our neighbor “Bubba”, was packed with necessary equipment; cement mixer, generator and numerous power and hand tools. Our team traveled to San Felix which was about a two hour drive south east of Boquete on February 22nd to begin our building project. Not only did we build the Food Pantry, but two of our ladies conducted a (2) day mini Bible School while the guys were busy with the project. We were able to eliminate daily travel by lodging at the Fundacion Nuestra Senora Del Camino in San Felix. February 25th we traveled back to Boquete.

The first week of April our friend Matthew Carbone and a group of his friends from Volcan returned to the site at the Food Pantry at San Felix to plaster the outside of the Food Pantry…shout out to you guys – a big Thank you!! It really means a lot to our ministry to have other “Mission Minded” individuals and groups join in, with the purpose of meeting the needs of people where they are; whether physical, material or spiritual.

Jane Ruth and Pam VanEss planned the mini-Bible School and managed to conduct the Bible School in the church building. They also provided “crafts” for the Ngabe children in the Annex where the Food Pantry project was on going -without incident! The theme of the Bible School was “Fishers Of Men.” Our total attendance was approximately 60-70 children-two days with different age groups each day. Of course, some Mom’s and babies came also! Amelkin Silas Giron, the young man that Jane & I are sponsoring to attend a private university, Opteima, in the city of David, served as on the site interpreter. His studies in English were definitely a big plus! Thank you, Amelkin! Amelkin is a Ngabe fron the San Felix church.

All of the activities at San Felix were a great eye opener that presented more needs! The building project magnified and brought us to focus on the need for water. Before embarking on the building project we sent (2) 50 gallon drums in advance in which to store water. The problem is that in the dry season, water is not readily available and we noted a man, one of Pastor Manuel’s congregants, carrying a “nap sack” with a plastic 5 gallon can in it. He had filled it with water and placed the water into the (2) drums – he walked from a distance of about 1 mile we think. He made a return trip several times! Also, children would carry water in gallon jugs to place into the storage drum. It was quite a challenge to be able to get water for use for the building project needs, not to mention that they do this as part of their every day living activities. Then there is the river which is several miles away and this presents the problem of polluted water manifesting with much sickness and health issues. In assessing this need, we were able to talk with Matthew Carbone regarding the drilling of a well. He recently took several guys to San Felix with him to complete the outside wall plastering. The terrain is rough as you can imagine, however, Matthew assures us he can get into the area close to the Feeding Shelter and drill a water well! We know that this will change the community as there will be access to sufficient water.

Our challenge to you our friends – to drill a water well there and compliment the Feeding Shelter and the Community. Water has to be carried for the ladies to be able to cook the rice and beans for the Children’s Shelter. They feed the children 5 days a week. They collect and use rain water sometimes to cook. It is known that when wells are drilled and put into operation, a transformation takes place within the community as one of the basics of life is met.

Presently we are actively trying to raise funds for this need! Several friends have made contributions toward this project already and we thank them so much. Now we present this challenge to you! We are projecting the costs to be about $ 8500.00. We would appreciate any donations towards this project – God bless you in advance for your help financially.

We have more people on board with COTRM! Keith & Pam Van Ess, and Matthew Carbone and group, have voiced joining with our effort for ministering with the Ngabe and Panamanian people. We welcome such talented, servant minded people. Pam is a teacher and has worked with the mission up the road from us – as a dental assistant – she & Keith are multi-talented.

Matthew is going to drill the well for us – and it looks like they have many talents also! We are so blessed – this aspect of COTRM – we didn’t think about, but are so pleased God sent us more hands to do His work! He must have lots more for us to do and is getting us ready in advance! Isn’t it marvelous how God works!!! We had 11 people on our mission trip to San Felix for the food Pantry project. Matthew may have more people interested in mission trips in the future. We welcome them.

Ordinary people living and working with the Ngabe’s / Panamanians  of Chiriqui Province, Panama. God Bless! We are definitely growing!

A local Christian doctor had requested if someone could help sponsor and buy some school supplies for a 10 year old child in David. His father had had surgery and had an amputation-his Mom was out of work.

He would not be able to attend school if he did not have uniforms etc. We were so happy to help them. They lived in a one room area with tarps for a door. They were Panamanian. They were so thankful! The little boy had a sign for us when we got to the store to meet them. “God Bless You” was the sign, and he profusely said over and over – thank you, thank you, thank you! And he tried to speak English! We had a lot of fun with both of our limited English and Spanish languages, but the needs are common and known by us all and go beyond language difficulties- there is a oneness in the human spirit.

We take so much for granted! An education is not a given in some poor countries.
God Bless everyone,
Sam & Jane Ruth – COTRM

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