Cayucos, Canoas, Aqua, Iglesias, Iguanas, Muchas Cosas!

Well its been almost a month since our last blog posting, needless to say things have been quite busy around here.  ;)

We have been working on improving, repairing, remodeling and revamping the property here with the help of many local Ngobe and Afro-Caribbean – its been awesome!  We hear countless stories of people being ripped off, stolen from, poor workmanship, etc., in fact this is the norm here in Panama. But, our God is greater than that!  He has brought us people who have been wonderful, people who know Him and people who don’t know Him.  One thing is for certain, there is a hunger for God here, a great hunger for God’s word and a hunger for real relationships built on trust and love.  Our projects here have been diverse and complicated, a 5 water tank storage platform on the side of a steep hill, moving tanks from under the house, redoing much of the plumbing, new gutters on the main house which in some places looks to be 30′ up in the air, dock rebuilding, electrical, planting, garbage cleanup, boat repair and some good old fashioned digging – we have done quite a bit and have a little ways to go.  God has really used this construction time as ministry time.

We have really tried to get to know our neighbors in the two closest Ngobe villages and of course Gene and the guys from Tierra Oscura.  We typically eat together for dinner 1 or 2 nights a week and Gene will typically have a fellowship time each Wednesday evening, which is attended quite well.  Singing hymns and teaching on subjects like love and marriage straight out of the Bible to a group of about 30 people men, women and children and the occasional dog or two.  I personally love to hear God’s word in Spanish, and to hear perfect truth spoken to a group of people, some who have never heard, its awesome!

Let the photo journal begin:

I mentioned to Gene that Ellie has saved up some money and would like to buy a cayuco.  Two days later I found Gene and Alex using my baby (my Stihl chainsaw) to shape a log.








Talking with Gene he said he would build the girls a cayuco out of a piece of scrap Balsa we had cut down the week before.  I asked him how long it takes.  He said if he worked until dark he could have it pretty much finished.  A few days later, in his spare time he had it finished and ready to go.  We’re drying it out now and will probably fiberglass it so it will last a long time, since Balsa isn’t know for its durability.  ;)





Bella collecting Balsa seeds which are surrounded by super soft hair-like material.  The locals will collect large amounts of Balsa seeds and fill pillows with them, making the most amazingly soft pillow ever known to man.






Ethan loves drinking and eating all of the crazy tropical fruits we have here.




The water tank platform, almost done, we had 2,600 gallons of capacity before and now we have 6,200 gallons.  Gene and the guys dug out a large section of the hillside and poured concrete creating the new water tank platform.  This also gave us good pressure in the house and all over the property.  We use a little 24V RV water pump for the house and all other locations only need gravity now.  Bring on the people!

Typically we have dinner with Gene and some locals a couple times a week.  Its a lot of fun and great to get to know the guys better.


Gene is learning how to play the guitar.  He’s pretty good already playing the very typical latin-country style of the area.

The girls are quite the hard workers.  They like getting dirty and using tools whenever possible.




Ethan is for sure our most messy eater.  Sometimes I wonder how he gets food where food shows up.  I can remember when Ellie was a baby and she would stay perfectly clean while eating.  He’s a wild man.









The girls love to run / slide down a very steep hill behind the house in between the pineapple plants (which are super prickly).  Well apparently while running down Bella did an end over end flip, summersault, slide combination.  She came up to the how not so happy to take a shower – she doesn’t like to be dirty.  Upon entry to the shower she discovered all cracks and crevasses had been filled with dirt, she was not happy about that either.  We captured her feelings pretty accurately.

Ellie opted for no combination on the hill and strictly went for a slide.

Scorpion in the kitchen one morning.  He looked fairly sickly so we put him out of his misery.


We made a trip over to Los Secretos for dinner one evening.  They make the best clay oven pizza we have ever had.  They had been closed for a while and reopened.

Ellie does a great job letting me know when there is coral, rocks, jelly fish, star fish, or pretty much anything in the water.  She is quite a first mate.

The kids at Los Secretos watching people swim in the pool.



From Los Secretos you can see our house across the bay.

Closer view.


Local Ngobe baseball team heading home after a game.

Let the painting begin.  We removed the fake stone from the walls which was made from mud covered styrofoam.








12′ ceilings feel really high when painting.




Shirlene did awesome picking the colors!  Total Caribbean now.





I love finding these random photos on the camera from the kids taking photos.  I also love the fact the explained what they were doing.  Ellie stated very matter of fact, “they’re mating, the boy is on top of the girl and he is giving her a seed… daddy where does he get the seed?  where does she put it?”


Gene up on the scaffolding putting on the new gutters and facia.





Coco roaring.



Bella the dog loving her new inside / outside dog life.  She is a great dog, seriously the best dog we have ever had.



The kids found this crab off of our dock.  Pretty good size.


We traveled to Gene’s church in Bocatorito on the island of San Cristobal, about 25 minutes away from us.  The church building was 25 years old and housed not only us but about 3.7 million termites.  The people of Bocatorito are trying to raise money for a new building, not only because of the termites but each year during the highest tide in December, the floor is covered with about a foot of seawater.


Gene’s dad.  I love this guy!  During the whole church service he would share stories, ask questions and sing from the pew.  Interesting thing is he mainly speaks English.  He knows some Spanish and no Ngobe but he is Ngobe.  He was raised by an Englishman from the age of 6.  This is why Gene and his siblings speak English, they speak English with their dad and Spanish with their mom (who also speaks Ngobe).

Ethan seemed to like the service.


The after service meal at Gene’s church was great!  Gene’s family raised, butchered and cooked the chicken, local rice and local salad – mmmmm good.

Our friend Isaac arrives after a long journey from Washington through Costa Rica.  He came bearing gifts, three suitcases of items we ordered in the states and had shipped to him along with great gifts from friends and family.  Thank you!

Oh how I missed my sawsall and hole saws.  Off camera I shed a tear upon their arrival.

Ethan LOVES his new shoes!


And Ethan LOVES his new superman underwear.

Bella loves all of her gifts too and went right to dressing up.

Ellie loves all of her gifts too and went right to building with her new Legos.

Dinner time with Isaac and our local friends.


Snorkling at a mangrove island near our house.

Ellie has become quite the great swimmer and snorkeler.


Bella loves playing with Ethan and does a great job keeping him company.  Here they’re playing night night.


Ethan loves to wrestle, give hugs and play night night – this is a combination move of all three.



Ethan loves his mommy.

Isaac cutting off some of the rebar from the house that was used for scaffolding during its construction.


Isaac going for Coco with the grinder.  Coco is about to strike…

Home made playdoh time with Liz.



Isaac on Skype for the first time with his wife.

Heading to Red Frog to show Isaac the beach.  We came across a sloth along the trail.



Ethan loves playing with coconuts and sand.  So its double fun if we add those together.







We have two waterproof cameras here but with the high humidity, salt water and kid abuse sometimes they don’t quite work right.  Throughout the day the lens started fogging, from the inside.

From Red Frog beach we took the jungle walk to Kayukos to get a bite to eat.  This is where the competition got heated – ping pong.


Isaac was here for his 9th birthday (that’s the only candle we had).  Feliz cumpleanos Issac!

The kids love when someone has a birthday… not sure why…



Sugar makes me hyper.






Isaac sporting his birthday gift, a Panamanian man purse.

Of course Ethan had to get his out and his new shoes.


The morning Isaac leaves (yes I’m wearing a man purse).  We’ll see you and your family soon – wink, wink.  ;)



Its hard to tell from the picture but it was quite stormy.

Shirlene caught a picture of us leaving in the boat.

The kids caught a photo of this little guy.

Bella has been working on her strength training.  She is up to one Ethan right now.




Shirlene went to the man cave (storage room on the first floor of the house) and heard some loud hissing right next to her as she climbed up to get a bucket.  She didn’t know what it was and then spotted this tail…

This guy was huge!  The bucket on the left is a 5-gallon bucket.  The locals eat these and say they are delicious.

Mmmmm good.

This is Porfilio, our Ngobe neighbor.  We’ve become really good friends with him.  He loves to listen to the audible Ngobe Bible we have here.

Tibu on the left and Porfilio on the right helping me with the dock rebuild.

The dock is made out of Nispero, this wood is incredibly hard.  I burned up the skilsaw on this dock project.

This is Luis, another one of our Ngobe neighbors.

Ellie loves cleaning the boats.  She is cleaning Liz and Terry’s boat here.


Ellie just cleaned our boat.  Great job Ellie!

Bella gave moral support.

Ethan gave downward dog lessons.







Judy (on the right) came to visit from Bocas.  She is a sweet and fun-loving friend of ours.

Judy loves our kids and our kids love her.

Working with the guys during a downpour.  Porfilio, Tibu, Luis and Obondo.

Eating cucumbers and one got stuck.

Ethan had the same problem.

Thanks for checking in on us.  ;)



  1. Diane Hanson
    Jul 22, 2012

    Soooo good to get this update on you guys. Just love reading what you have to say and then of course, the pictures are great. Such an adorable family you have. Hmmmm, those kids or yours are pretty adorable. Just wait until they are teenagers. ha Sounds like you are settling in really well with not only the area, but with the people. I know you are a blessing to all who live there. God’s blessings to you as you continue on.

  2. Jon Davis Jr.
    Jul 22, 2012

    I wasn’t able to read the whole article but I enjoyed scanning through the pictures. It looks absolutely beautiful there!


  3. Mom - Nancy Wood
    Jul 22, 2012

    So happy to see another update. I always LOVE reading them and seeing all the pics. Bella has bangs again! Cute! Bobby you look thin… your Mom notices these things…. eat more! Love & miss you all terribly. Those critters are creepy.. scorpions on your kitchen floor!!! Gigantic lizards in your closet!!!! I’d be screaming! Glad you guys are brave about bugs. How sweet and talented for the guys to carve a cayuco for Ellie!!! Amazing!!! Love the paint colors, Shirlene! Love & hugs! o x o x OOOOOOOO

  4. Seth
    Jul 22, 2012

    So so wonderful to get to talk with you today, even with the not so good connection. Always blessed and encouraged by you. God is good, all the time, God is good.
    Loved the post.

  5. Alice Mathis
    Jul 22, 2012

    I LOVE YOUR PICTURES! Keep up the good work. I’m so proud of you guys.

  6. Selim
    Jul 23, 2012

    This made up for 1 week of the 5 weeks of absenteeism because of all the photos.

    Next post should be within 2 days and include more stories.


  7. Jennifer
    Jul 24, 2012

    Thank you for taking so much time from your family and all the work you have going on to feed our Woodupdate addiction! I really appreciate all the efforts you make to keep us updated and entertained! I love all the pictures and stories. Please tell me Shirlene screamed (at least a little) when she saw that ginormous lizard! And that one guy…who had the birthday there…he’s kinda cute!
    Love you guys!

  8. Brettitto
    Jul 26, 2012

    This last week someone asked, “Who would you take if you had to spend 6 months on a desert island?”
    Bobby, of course.
    “And who is the funniest person you know?”
    I am sticking with my answers for now.

    • Bobby
      Jul 28, 2012

      When do we leave? I’ll bring Bella too. ;)

  9. Bon
    Jul 26, 2012

    Finally got to read through the entire post and digest the previously devoured photos!! :) Love your update… and your Carribbean style home! Amazing is everything you invest and touch! Thank you for sharing details on all youve been investing in, those working along with you, and everything that’s been going on at the new Woodlandia. :) Happy to see Isaac arrived in one piece with all the baggage! Wish we could be there to support you, so it’s wonderful to know how we can continue praying. Love you mucho! oxox

  10. hvac leads
    Jul 14, 2013

    These are actually great ideas in on the topic of blogging.
    You have touched some pleasant points here. Any way keep up wrinting.


  1. Water, Iguanas, and other exciting things « bolts2panama - [...] We still do not have reliable internet so cannot upload pictures. However, Shirlene and Bobby have many on their …

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