‘Building’ Relationships With Ngobes

The Discipleship Training School outreach team from Port YWAM left Kona for Panama in April with a clear mission.

“Our main goal was to develop relationships with different villages and kind of open doors for more ministry when the other teams come,” Kathlene Soo, a 28-year-old DTS student from New Zealand, said.

One might also say the team “built relationships” in Panama by helping build homes. The objects of this social-construction project were the Ngobe Indians who live on the islands off of the Caribbean coast. One of the houses the team helped build was on Isla Tigre (“Tiger Island”), about an hour away from Outpost Panama, the YWAM Ships base on Bastimentos Island. There, they were able to help a young-in-the-faith Christian named Candido to construct his home.Ngobe building 3

“He was short of wood, so we sailed to this swampy area and got wood,” DTS student Coleman Farris, of Oklahoma, said. “He had the foundation done, so we helped him put up framing for the walls and roof.”

The team spent two days with Candido — one day collecting the wood and one day building. The team loaded its panga boat with the wood needed for the project. The team also was able to help a Ngobe man in the Bastimentos village of Bahia Roja with his home construction. They assisted with the floor boards and one side of the wall.

“We got to know him pretty quick — he was a cool guy,” Farris, 18, said. “After working with him, we just sat at the marina with some sodas and hung out together.”

Farris said the Bastimentos man was thrilled with the team’s acts of service.

Ngobe building“With the Ngobes, you build your own home and nobody helps each other. So, he was really happy when we came to help him and couldn’t believe it.”

Greg Murphy, 56, who co-led the team, said there are many outreach opportunities in the Ngobe villages related not only to construction, but to the transfer of building materials.

“The opportunities are endless. We heard a chainsaw in the jungle above” Outpost Panama “and went outside to investigate. It turned out we met a guy who became an incredible friend,” said Murphy, of Washington state. “We helped him work for a couple of days and carry his lumber down the hill and bring it down to the boat. You just have to keep open for the opportunities.”

Farris said practical activities such as building projects are a great means of helping missionaries connect with the Ngobe people

“It proves your motives when you give your physical labor to it,” he said. “This is a great opportunity for outreach. The Ngobes really need people to go and show love to them.”

By: Raymond Billy