So I really have to start with this before I get into anything else. Two trips now and it's official, the people of Panama have set up shop and now have a permanent address in my heart. Including one little girl in particular who, moving forward, will be a major part of my life. Her name is Krislyn. She is 7 years old and was clearly the reason I was meant to go back to Panama. Let's start with her, and then I'll take you through the rest of the trip.
So if you ever go on the Panama trip with Eleven22, you'll get to participate in the Manos De Fe Family Assistance Outreach. Manos De Fe translates, "Hands of Faith" and it is a Christian ministry based in Caisan, Panama founded in 2008 by Julie and Gary Proctor from Jacksonville, FL. (To keep things simple, I'll refer to Manos De Fe as the "Mission House" or "Mission Partner" from here on.) The program involves bringing things like food, soap, toothpaste and medical supplies to families in the area that are in pretty desperate need. The program helps to get them back on their feet and as families graduate out of the assistance program and become self-sufficient, they have the opportunity to transfer services to another local family.
When I went to Panama the first time in 2016, one of the first homes that I visited on the program was Krislyn's. (Although on that trip I never learned her name or went inside the home.) I remember seeing her for the first time as she curiously peeked her head out through the front door. Once she worked up a bit more courage, she stepped all the way out and I got this picture of her. We dropped off the food, said a prayer for the family and then left. I truly thought that was probably the last time I would ever see her again.
Of all the images I got during that trip, this one by far left the biggest impact on me. Probably due to the fact it was my first trip after becoming a parent myself and I have two daughters of my own. But it just stuck with me in a way I am not real sure I have words for. It's almost like it's been imprinted on my soul.