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LACC

Latin America Resource
and Training Center
 

NE Region Pathfinders Build Church on Playon Chico
By Rod Boyd

Playon ChicoFourteen men from four northeastern States built the Playon Chico “La Nueva Jerusalén” (New Jerusalem) church in just five days. These men, under the leadership of Herman Geesaman, represented the “Colonial” region of Pathfinders from the Frontiersmen Camping Fellowship—Royal Ranger leaders who build where no one else will. We were also privileged to have Mike Baldree, national coordinator, with the team. The Pathfinder team arrived to the island in two groups over two days. Travel is difficult to Playon Chico, especially for a larger group, since only smaller planes can land on the short airstrip.

Playon ChicoPlayon Chico is a remote island village located off the east coast of Panama, a dense jungle region. Nearly 4,000 Kuna Indians inhabit this small island, measuring no more than 600 by 1,200 feet.

The island is located just 600 feet from the mainland and is connected by a land bridge that was finished the end of 2002. Although no inhabitants live on the mainland, the public school was built there several years ago. The airstrip is also located on the mainland.

Playon ChicoIt was a challenge getting construction materials to the island. Boats travel to Playon Chico infrequently in the dry “summer” months of January, February and March due to the higher winds. And when they travel they have to limit their cargo.

The church congregation was in charge of gathering the necessary sand, rock and water for concrete, block and mortar. It was impressive to see them haul sand and rock in their dug-out canoes. The church made 2,500 blocks by hand before the group arrived, using 3 single block molds. They also completed most of the foundation, including the pedestals of the 10 columns.

The final boat that would carry the remaining 60 sacks of cement arrived three days late. Pastor Reynaldo went door-to-door asking to borrow sacks of cement. The community council called the Saihla and several families were gracious to loan the church 30 sacks of cement that made the difference until the shipment arrived on the boat.

Playon ChicoThe team set up their tents in an open area next to the building site. The Pathfinders came “self-sufficient,” bringing their own food and water filtration system. They enjoyed interaction with the unique Kuna culture, including taking time to play with the children of the community. Near the end of their time on the island the ladies of the church brought “molas” to sell.  Before long, several other ladies brought their “molas” as well. It was pure pandemonium!

Playon ChicoIn just 5 days the team built the 10 columns, laid the block walls, built and placed the 5 wood trusses, laid the roofing sheets and ridge cap, patched the floor, tripled the size of the platform and built a pulpit for the pastor. Pastor Reynaldo was overwhelmed with the progress of construction. There was a constant parade of Kuna that came to visit and watch. One older lady that came by to visit said that the Kuna would have taken 3 or 4 months to finish the building.

Playon Chico

The farewell service was very special. The team was given the seats of honor as different families brought their plastic chairs that were lined up front for team members. Pastor Reynaldo led the inspiring service. The service was conducted primarily in Spanish, but was translated into English for the team and into Kuna for the majority of the church that understands Kuna better.

 

Playon ChicoMike Baldree challenged the Kuna congregation to give their lives to the Lord as a living temple. At the end of the service the team and congregation laid hands on the walls to dedicate the building to the service of the Lord. The team presented Pastor Reynaldo with an offering as well as an offering to help finish the church—stucco, paint and benches. And the church presented each team member with a "mola" as a remembrance.

 

Farewell service

Thank you, Colonial Territory Pathfinders, for your investment in the good things that God is doing in Playon Chico. You have encouraged a pastor and a people that often feel abandoned. God will use your good work to win many to him!

 

 

 

 

Kuna boys

Kuna kids

Pathfinder team

Pathfinder team