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After spending nearly 3 weeks in Panama on 3 different occasions and on my second trip there, I had the privilege of going to the top of "Cerro Ancon" a look out mountain for the city of Panama and the canal. That afternoon as I looked over the city and since then, as we are beginning to do business there, I always get the same sad, lonely feeling, a feeling difficult to express or put into words. Last week as we were there again, (this time to import the first direct shipment of MZL literature into the country) one evening as I was standing on an overpass, trying to sort out the thoughts or feelings I wish to put into words. I concluded I was searching for descriptions to describe the indescribable. Suddenly, as light at times comes through the fog, this title kind of wraps around what I've been feeling. As you have already noticed, I am a "feeler" person. :) Panama City, Two Different World Views, One Hard Master!

 

 

A poor, long and straggly haired man sitting on an old rubber tire, smoke rolling up across his expressionless, tattooed face, staring unrecognizing at the graffiti and mud streaked walls of one of the many 5-8 story apartment buildings in what is called the "casco viejo" literally translated "the old horse shoe" of Panama city. His ambience made all the more dismal by the swarms of mosquito's that are constantly and daily reproducing, product of his own stench.

 

Each draw on the little white stick in his mouth takes him further and further away from his miserable reality and he dreams of the beautiful, and the wild!He is totally oblivious to his trash littered surroundings, oblivious to the noise, the roaring of a city on the move yet going no where, oblivious to the banging, thundering noise of loud speakers competing against each other, oblivious to the swarms of miserable companions and neighbors who share the same fate in life.

Less than half a mile away, a fellow neighbor pulls back a full glass door, steps out of his plush, air conditioned high rise condo and walks out on his balcony over looking the beautiful pacific coast line. He has opportunities, and views, and money and a life style that millions die for.

But He does not feel the caress of the ocean breezes on this pleasant evening, he does not even notice the brand new out door furniture, he derives no pleasure from seeing the 80 story Trump Tower his company is constructing, highlighting the modern cities' sky line, nor does it mean a thing to him that with each passing year he is becoming more financially successful. Life for him has lost its meaning.

He flops down on his glider and stares unseeingly into space. For a fault of his own the wife of his youth no longer cares for him. He has no children to live for. No friend left to impress. No one has ever told (shown) him that there is something better to live for. He lights the wicked little white stick,,, the delicious smoke is inhaled, internalized and slowly exhaled as he journeys off into a briefly exciting, ecstasy world. For all he knows the only thing, purpose and person he has to live for is himself. This should give him lasting pleasure, but it does not. He feels abandoned and forlorn. He is alone.

The casual observer sees two different men in two complete different worlds, the child of God sees two lonely men in the same wretched world.

Both of these poor souls before God are in the same condition. Both are hallucinating in a fantasy world of immorality, self interest, and prepotency.

Malcolm Margaret penned it well nearly 30 years ago when he wrote; it is difficult to resist the conclusion that 20th century man has decided to abolish himself. Tired of the struggle to be himself, he has created boredom out of his own affluence, impotence out of his own erotomania, and vulnerability out of his own strength. He himself blows the trumpet that brings the walls of his own cities crashing down, until at last having educated himself into invacility, having drugged and polluted himself into stupor faction, he keels over, a weary battered old brontosaurus and becomes extinct.

Now, I know this is the typical scenario in many cities around the world, but in Panama City the raw "closeness" of these two worlds is nauseating. It is so obvious that it hurts your eyes.


Is it because we live on a lower level than the second man that we feel he can buy his own way, earn his own points, (Master card his way out) or find his own answers for his desperate soul?Is it because we live on a higher level than the first man that we feel compelled to compassion and mercy and a sense of urgency?


Our mission to Panama last year has been and will be this year to go to the most remote, hardest to reach areas and places in the jungles of the country. This has led us many kilometers way back, into the Comarca region, with thousands of Bible Story Books for the Indian children. This method of reaching out is very noble and would seem to be a "safe" work for our own spiritual welfare. Our version of remote and hard to reach has typically been to go as far as the 4x4 goes and then donkey the rest of the way. But in this modern world, maybe it is time we redefine what is remote, and hard to reach?

Tonight,,,, as it often does, my heart aches for all the poor souls, lost in the jungle of the cities' sky scrapers. Who can reach them? Who can risk it? It is unsafe! Who then will go?


Nat Yoder


P.S. If this has sparked any interest in someone out there, (Please let me know This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) I will try in the near future to write of a man of God, in Panama, who is reaching into the “jungles” of the City in a very effective way.



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