2015: Year in Review

Laura's Life and Ministry in Panama City, Panama

God is Good!

2015 has been a year of incredible and abundant blessing from the Lord. Your prayers have been answered in mighty and specific ways, and God is continuing to work in the lives of my students here in Panama City, Panama.

Some highlights include:

-Discipling Students

-Selling a Car

-Buying a Car

-Connecting with a Church Community

-Meeting Jovanni

Read more below!

Discipling Students

God is continuing to work amidst many obstacles at Crossroads Christian Academy (CCA), where I teach. This year, I am teaching 6th-8th grade Social Studies and 9th grade Speech. Everyday I have the opportunity to share Christ and the truths of Scripture with the students, and this year, every week, I would challenge students to memorize a verse. It was amazing to see how these verses spoke to the students, as well as to me!

My Monday lunch Bible study continued with a group of all girls (6th and 8th graders) that faithfully attended and actively participated. This semester, we dove into the book of Daniel, examining how he was a man of principle, how God set him apart and spoke to him. It was a privilege as their history teacher to help these girls make the historical connections with the prophecy and kingdoms, and I saw their eyes widen as they realized how God fulfilled His promises exactly as He said it would happen. Next semester, we'll be studying Proverbs!

Selling My Car

It was around a month long process of advertising and showing off my car, and in the midst of my despair, God surprised me with the perfect buyer!

My Honda CRV has been tried and true for the past three years, just until this August, when the A/C quit, and other important parts began to have problems as well. The car was 13 years old. However, here in Panama, cars don't last more than ten years without major maintenance because of the humidity and the road conditions.

It came down to one decision: invest money to fix the car or sell it for a cheaper price. After much deliberation and prayer, I decided to drop the price, praying in faith that the car would bless someone and that God would somehow provide the money for a new car.

It turns out the people wanting to buy the car wanted to give it to their mom who did church planting here in Panama! Their mom had been praying for a white, Honda CRV, but they had not found one they could afford. When I dropped the price, the buyers knew God was answering their mom's prayers exactly.

The Lord truly goes ahead of us and prepares these meetings ahead of time. How incredible to have this connection! The car will continue to be used for ministry!!

Buying a Car

Looking for a car in Panama is an interesting process. I knew my next car needed to have certain qualities: to be higher up off the ground to be able to traverse the pothole filled puddles and flooding of the rainy season, be a reliable brand, as well as be a very common car here in Panama so it's less likely to get stolen. I settled on getting a Toyota RAV4.

When I found my Honda years earlier, the Lord miraculously and specifically provided the money and the exact owner to buy it from. I was praying for the same.

And God continued to exceed my expectations and in his perfect timing! A long story short, I found a practically new Toyota RAV4 in pristine condition with only 34k kilometers. The owner (bilingual!) wasn't compromising much on the price, but I knew that in order to get a car that would last, I needed to invest more money.

My friend (at the time) Jovanni who was advising me and helping me through the whole selling/buying a car experience, encouraged me to have faith. We prayed together that God would provide.

Astoundingly, through generous donations of Church family members like you, God provided the rest of the amount and, with God's perfect timing, the money was wired to Panama just a day before the owner needed the official paperwork. The process could not have been smoother!

God is phenomenally good!

Now I have a beautiful, reliable Toyota RAV4 that will serve me well for my extended time in Panama.

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Connecting with a Church Community

Back in January of this year, I started attending Panama International Church (PAINT Church). I desired to get to know people outside of my school community and connect with more Latinos to improve my Spanish. But I was completely unaware how PAINT church would bless me!

A smaller congregation where you automatically feel like family, PAINT Church was a perfect place to connect! I attended different ministry events with the Women's Ministry, retreats out of the city with both the Women's Ministry and Inflexxion (the post-college singles group), and attended the Inflexion Bible studies, and saw how this church serves and loves and celebrates with each other. So many people came around me for prayer and encouragement at various points in the year, and I witnessed firsthand how a church body can truly be the hands and feet of Christ. I'm looking forward to getting to know this unique church family more and get involved with the hospitality ministry next year!

Meeting Jovanni

At the beginning of 2015, the Lord told me that this would be a year of "intimacy." I thought that meant becoming closer to the Lord, which it did and God's continuing to reveal himself in new and fresh ways to me. But the word also signified something I'd been longing for and dreaming of for a long time: a relationship with a Godly man.

Jovanni entered my life at the end of May. Jovanni and I were both leaders for a youth group retreat of multiple churches in Panama City. It was an incredible weekend of discipling and challenging the youth and being encouraged and challenged ourselves.

Jovanni and I started talking while waiting to do a slack line challenge activity. Our first conversation was in Spanish, and immediately I felt comfortable with him, that maybe we had been friends for a long time, even though we had just met. We shared a little about our backgrounds and stories, and, as he shared about his love for serving others, I could tell there was something special about Jovanni's character, that he was a faithful friend and a man of integrity.

Our first date was a run in the park, and we talked the entire time about how God had worked in our lives and how He had answered prayer in miraculous and specific ways. Those topics of conversation are near and dear to my heart, and there were many words that we exchanged in the next few weeks that resonated deeply with who I am, my passions, and my dreams. Jovanni and I prayed together about what the future might hold.

And did God answer!

Jovanni was able to join the missions team and I going to Ecuador in July, and, as we dug ditches to provide clean water to this mountain village and led VBS, we learned how we both thrived in ministry and serving others.

In October, my parents came to visit me, and they were able to meet Jovanni. For me, my parent's support in the relationship was crucial, and I had prayed for weeks prior about this first face-to-face meeting. It couldn't have gone better! We spent the entire week together, and on Friday, I was able to take a personal day and spend time at the beach with them.

It was there on that October 9th, beach day that Jovanni asked me to be his girlfriend. We had gone on a walk together, to talk, laugh, take pictures together, when we stopped to sit down awhile. He told me to close my eyes, and, when I opened them, I saw Jovanni had written in the sand, "Will you be my girlfriend?"

Of course, we had been praying about this for several months, as our friendship had deepened, and we saw the ways we complemented each other and brought each other closer to Christ. I was overjoyed with his question and said "yes!", and we drew a circle in the sand and prayed together, dedicating our relationship to the Lord and for His glory.

Recently, we celebrated our two monthiversary of officially dating, and it has been a whirlwind journey of learning from each other and about each other. We love each other, and we can see different ways where God's love is made perfect in us, though it may come through the need for humility and forgiveness. God is faithful, and Jovanni and I can't wait to see what God has in store for us!

Other Adventures This Year

Follow Me!

Interested in supporting God's work in Panama City, Panama?:

Donate Online: http://www.rce-international.org

Missionary Number: 23905


Make checks out to RCE International, write Laura Diaz and #23905 on the memo line.

Mail to:

RCE International

P.O. Box 4528

Wheaton, IL 60189