March 2013 — Fifty-seven SVA students, including ten GHRoW scholars, returned late March from their spring break on a mission trip to Panama. Pastor Tim Harley, SVA Chaplain and Religion Teacher, organized this year’s trip to the northwest mountains of Panama and home of the Ngobe-Buble people.

Each student was responsible for raising the funds necessary to participate in the mission trip. For most, including the 14 adults on the trip, this was their first mission trip. And once they arrived they quickly learned about hard work without the conveniences of home.

Projects included tearing down a termite infested church made of bamboo, pouring a concrete floor and building the walls of a new church and a kitchen addition to the Escuela Adventista Ismael Ellis school. With temperatures and humidity both near 100 coupled with the remote location everything was more difficult than one would normally expect. For example, the water necessary for cooking and mixing mortar had to be carried up a steep mountain path from a spring 400 meters below the school. The SVA students joined right in to make the countless trips for water.

Students also worked in the medical and dental clinics, led out in Vacation Bible School, taught the local students English and helped paint the school. Some students worked in different areas and could have been seen pulling a tooth one day and mixing mortar by hand the next day.

The Panama mission trip truly touched the lives of all those who were involved.