Milo Students Take Mission Trip to Panama

June 24, 2015 | Kathy Hernandez

During Spring Break, March 12–25, 20 students and six adult volunteers, staff and parents from Milo Adventist Academy in Days Creek traveled to Panama for their 2015 mission project with Maranatha Volunteers International.

Their first project was preparing the ground, which included digging 16 holes and filling them with cement, and building a One-Day Church at La Alameda. “The One-Day Church actually took us two days," explains Dustin Portra, a Milo senior. "We worked on it on Friday and Sunday. We put the trusses on, and the local kids would come and watch us work.”

The team also constructed a One-Day Classroom at La Chererra Adventist School. In addition to the building projects, they spent four and a half days painting La Omar Torijos and El Cristal Adventist churches. 

Evangelism was another important part of the group’s mission experience. They presented an assembly program at Chumical Public School. Junior Catherine Harwood reports there were 150–200 first-graders and kindergartners present. “It was super cute to hear them try to sing in English, and they sang to us in Spanish too," she says. "We told them stories, and we gave them each a little gift. When we were about to leave, all the children had gone back to their classrooms, and we were taking a tour. Somehow I got in the back of the group, and we walked by a classroom. One of the girls saw me and ran and gave me a hug. Then all her friends followed, and they all hugged me.”

In addition, the team provided music and the sermon for the Wednesday evening service at Capira Adventist Church. On Sabbath they did door-to-door visitation, witnessed baptisms and participated in an afternoon program in San Carlos, where they want to open a new Adventist church. On Sunday, they visited children at the Assembly of God Orphanage in La Chererra.

Although there was a lot of hard work for the volunteers, they also had a chance to enjoy some sightseeing. Senior Quiely Miranda reports, “On our day off, we visited the Panama Canal. We got to see crocodiles and monkeys. There was a moment when we stopped just to listen to nature, and we could hear the birds singing.” 

Senior Asha Moturi adds, “My favorite part was when we got to feed the monkeys. We gave them bananas and oranges, and sometimes they would eat right from our hands. Some had their babies hanging on to them.”

Evelyn Driver, Milo parent and volunteer, reports that she was touched by the spirit of the people in Panama. “They are on fire for Christ, and to see how they opened their churches to us, brought bedding for a sick student while working on their church and took the time to make food to share with our large group was so rewarding. The first Sabbath we were there, we could not really communicate as our student translators had not arrived yet. However, we found ways to communicate and had an amazing Sabbath. When church was over, each member young and old lined up outside the church to shake our hands and wish us a happy Sabbath.”

Driver, a registered nurse, also had the opportunity to take care of the injuries and illnesses in the trip. A prior mission group that visited Panama had left medical supplies, which were very useful. Driver had such a positive experience in Panama that she says, “I plan to help every chance I get with future mission trips.”