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Tennessee Pathfinders Build Kuna Church on Rio Tigre
By Rod Boyd

Tenn Pathfinders on Rio TigreThey were God’s Storm Troopers… 15 men on a mission from God. Only He knows the eternal impact of their brief 5 days on the island of Rio Tigre. Ten of the men were from Trinity Temple in Crossville, TN. We were privileged to have Pastor Gary Hanson along. The sanctuary was destroyed over time by severe tropical storms that hit the islands. A group of nationals worked to rebuild the island a couple of years ago. But the didn’t complete the project and their work didn’t last. The island had no church building of any kind.

Tenn Pathfinders on Rio TigreTeam leader Mike King contacted us several months ago about the possibility of returning to Panama. The team had built classrooms for the Indian mountain school located in the community of Duima.

The logistics were challenging. We had to work far in advance to guarantee that all building supplies would arrive to the island in time. After several attempts, it became impossible to get cinder blocks to the island due to the severe “summer” winds that begin in December and last through March. We ended up having to make our own block on the island.

Tenn Pathfinders on Rio TigreThe team arrived by jet to Panama City at night and traveled the next day by small plane to the island. The group was surprised at the small size of the island—about ¼ mile wide and ½ mile long.

The Kuna helped carry bags and equipment the length of the island. The team spent the afternoon setting up camp in the park (yellow circle) on the other end of the island. After a quick look at the project site (white circle) and an MRE (Meal Ready to Eat), we were summoned to the congress hut. We greeted the island chiefs, called “Saihala.” They were happy that we were there to help the community.

Tenn Pathfinders on Rio TigreThe workdays were long. We ate breakfast and had devotions while it was still dark. We arrived to the worksite as dawn was breaking. Three members of the team, lead by Dr. James Johnson, attended to the medical needs of the community in the local health center. They brought thousands of dollars of medication to use and leave with the clinic. We worked until dark each day and a couple of hours into the dark two days to get the job done.

Tenn Pathfinders on Rio TigreWe had a great service on the first Sunday night. The roof wasn’t up yet, but the walls were well on their way. The dedication service was held on Wednesday night. The team had finished roofing the sanctuary and pastoral house. They would have finished blocking the pastoral house if we hadn’t run out of block. It started with a lobster banquet Wednesday afternoon. The men planned a program for the children after the banquet. The dedication service was a marathon. We started about 7:00 PM and ended with a bonfire at about 11:00 PM. About 400, one third of the island’s population, attended the service. The two other congregations—Baptist and Church of God—joined with us for the celebration. It was standing room only, with many listening from outside the building. Interestingly, we had a 4.6 earthquake during the service. The building rode the quake well.

God used these Pathfinders to bless the community of Rio Tigre. Thank you, Pastor Gary, Mike, Greg, Tim, Bubba, Keith, Ernie, Tony, Steve, James, Danny, Hershel, Ted, Bill and Rich, for your obedience to the Lord of the Harvest. You helped to breathe life into the community of Rio Tigre. The group is talking about the possibility of returning next year to do the same on the island of Nargana.

Tenn Pathfinders on Rio Tigre

Tenn Pathfinders on Rio Tigre

Tenn Pathfinders on Rio Tigre

Tenn Pathfinders on Rio Tigre

Tenn Pathfinders on Rio Tigre

Tenn Pathfinders on Rio Tigre