Our Mission
Unexpected Moments of Magic Panama is dedicated to empowering individuals worldwide through the encouragement of self-exploration through social entrepreneurship, volunteerism, philanthropy and education as powerful forces for worldwide change. Be the change!

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Experience

Unexpected Moments of Magic Panama (UMMP) was launched in September 2005 by Kaytee Hoverson, its Founder & Executive Director, after a life-changing volunteer experience in Indonesia the day after the Indian Ocean Tsunami. This was her unexpected moment of magic. It is this experience that empowers her to motivate others to experience the power of international volunteering.

Kaytee Hoverson has extensive volunteer experience within Panama and around the globe. She has been blessed with the opportunity to travel in over 30 countries sharing her time, talents, and knowledge with others. She holds a Bachelors of Science in Family Studies & Human Development and a Masters Degree in International Nonprofit Studies. She has been working in the area of social services since the age of 16 when she worked with children with disabilities and later with the homeless population in the United States. She is American born, and has been residing in Boquete, Panama since February 2006.

Over the past 6 years Unexpected Moments of Magic has worked with thousands of volunteers on a variety of humanitarian projects including literacy, art therapy, environmental programs, and worked with the teenage population in Panama. United UMMP has made a positive impact for the community of Boquete and to the lives of many volunteers.

My Moment of Magic

We all have key events that happen throughout our lifetime that change the direction of our path and open our eyes beyond our current reality. It is interesting to me how we have so many of these life changing moments, but at the time of these moments, we have no idea what kind of magic they possess and how they can change our lives and guide us to finding our passions and ultimately our life calling. It was these magical moments that influenced me to start Unexpected Moments of Magic. It was these moments that inspired me to take a leap of faith. I quit my job, sold my house, and decided to dedicate my life to empowering others in need to take their leap of faith and follow their passions in life.

It was my leap of faith that taught me when you put positive intensions out into the universe, they manifest. I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to travel, learn & explore in over 30 countries. The knowledge I have gained, the realizations I have come to & moments of magic I felt in this time of exploration, education, and personal & spiritual growth are indescribable. I saw, heard, touched, learned & felt things I never could have imagined before. I came to realize the magnitude of beauty and diversity that God has given to this world, at the same time realizing the severity of human suffering and inequality that is taking place around the globe. It is the beauty and diversity that I celebrate and appreciate everyday and the inequality and suffering that I will fight to minimize.

By the time you finish reading about my moment of magic, my goal is to plant a few seeds of desire in your hearts. First, I want provoke a desire that may lay within you to travel and volunteer internationally to experience having your hearts broken open by getting to know a different culture. And secondly, I want to inspire you to be open to listening to that little voice inside of you and be willing to take a leap of faith in your own life if you are called to do so.

I would like to start by telling you a story I once heard about a young prince named Gautama who lived in India. His father had a great desire to protect his son, so he kept him secluded inside the walls of the beautiful castle they called home. Once day, curious Gautama managed to seek outside the castle walls without his father knowing. What he experienced in this day outside the confining walls of beauty and perfection broke open Gautama’s heart. What he experienced and saw this day was suffering. Suffering he never even knew existed because of the blessed life that he had lived.

I am telling the story of Gautama because I feel that we as American’s (and other developed nations) are living inside of a castle, a castle we call the United States of America. We are secluded from the degree of suffering that is taking place in less developed countries. On my travels, I, like Gautama, felt my heart breaking open and at times wanting to break down. I saw a degree of suffering that I did not know still existed. In Kenya, I saw a women lying in a straw bed that had been there for 6 months with two broken legs that were double in size and infected beyond imagination, unable to have castes put on because her family did not have the $285 for the surgery. In Rwanda, I met a group of 16 boys that had been living on the streets together as a family for the past 12 years whose parents were murdered in the ethnic cleansing genocide that took place in 1994 when over a million people were killed. In Uganda, I met a 14-year-old girl who was positive with HIV and yet still she was selling her body for money for food to eat to survive. I met a sweet 5-year-old boy named Moses who had scares all over his body from the abuse he had taken from his own aunt. I went to orphanage and saw an 11-year-old girl nurse her baby that was conceived by being raped by her own father. And these are only but a few stories in millions who are struggling to survive on a daily basis.

To witness suffering is heartbreaking, at the same time heart expanding. It is my hope that we all open our hearts a little wider to those that are suffering around the world. It was not until I was welcomed to the cruel world that I found my passion and my calling. It is my desire to be an advocate to open the hearts of others around me by exposing them to the realities of life outside the United States and educating people on issues effecting people worldwide.

As I write this with tears in my eyes, I want you to know that they are both tears of sadness and tears of gratitude. I am deeply saddened by the reality some people are facing and my heart is filled with gratitude because of the blessed life God gave me that enables me to give back to others. It is my hope that each of us always remember that we are blessed, not for the sake of ourselves, but for the sake of others less fortunate than ourselves.

I would like share with you a few valuable lessons that I learned through my interaction with other cultures. Throughout my adventures I gained a whole new level of respect for human diversity and the innumerable ways of being, doing, thinking, & living. It is this new awareness of human diversity that has led me to conclude that we are all just trying to survive, feel peace & happiness within our hearts, and gain a closer relationship with our Creator (whoever that may be for you). We just go about it in different ways.

Some of us get water from a facet and others walk for miles to get it from the village well. Some of us get food from the grocery store, while others from the garbage cans. Some of us have several pairs of shoes, while others walk barefoot. Some of us are blessed with the means to proper nutrition, while others are dying everyday from starvation & malnutrition. Some of us live in an area where we can walk around worry free of harm or danger and others in areas where war is all around and you are constantly looking behind your back. Some of us have loved ones all around us, while others have no one. Some of us spend $30 on a single meal and others live off of $30 for one month. Some of us have well paid jobs, while others educate themselves for years just to realize that there are no job opportunities. Some of us have to force or children to go to school, while others pray everyday that maybe one day they will be able to go to school. Some of us live in areas of opportunities. Others live in areas of absent of opportunities. We all do things differently, that is what diversity is all about, but the reality of this world is, no matter how differently we do things, we all have the same needs. We all have the need to nourish our bodies with food and water. We all have the desire to feel love, a sense of belonging and safety. We all have the desire to learn and grow and follow are passions in life. And the most beautiful thing of all is that we are all one, a united human race.

Throughout this letter I have been talking about the suffering that is taking place outside the United States and now I would like to briefly talk about the suffering that is taking place within the United States. The reality is that we are a blessed nation when it comes to our standard of living. We have a governing body that protects us, we have good schools, nice roads, there are jobs available, there are government programs, foundations & nonprofit organizations to help those in need. We may have crime, but overall live in a safe environment comparatively speaking. We truly are the land of opportunity. On the flip side, because of these opportunities we have many pressures put on us. We are all supposed to be successful, look great, be highly educated, and always be moving forward. We are supposed to gradually have bigger homes and nicer cars, and stay fit in the process. All of these material pressures can blur our vision of what is truly important. We are so driven to get more more more, we forget in the process, what for? Nothing will come with us when we die. We are here to live NOW, for this very moment, not to plan for the future we may not have. We have to remember what is important. And that is relationship. Relationship with God and with one another. We need to slow down and prioritize our loved ones, not our work or things.

I recall one beautiful morning when I was going for a hike with a group of children in Panama around 9 am; we walked passed by a few people sitting outside on their patio chatting. When we returned 5 hours later, the same people were still sitting in the same place, chatting the day away. I hate to have to admit this, but my first reaction was, what are these people doing? Get up and get something accomplished!

Well, a few months later, I found myself sitting on the patio chatting with a friend, it was around 12 in the afternoon and a friend of ours stopped by to say hello on her way to work. Five hours later when she returned, we were still sitting on the patio chatting away. At first I thought, oh no, I have become one of those lazy people who get nothing accomplished. But when the true realization sunk into my heart, I felt proud to be a patio dweller. I realized that finally, I had learned how to relax and enjoy other peoples company. I was prioritizing relationships with others in my life instead of constantly seeking ways to improve myself. I was able to be there for my friend when she needed me and that is a greater accomplishment than anything I could have done for myself.

Please do not let the beauty, opportunity & superficiality around you cloud what is truly important. Take time to love one another and be there for one another. I want you to remember this the next time someone requests your company. You may have a million things to do, but you always will have a million things to do. Do not forget what we are here for. We are here to grow to be the best person we can be, to learn together and to serve others. This is something that I learned when I was around people whom we may say, have nothing. I met so many people who had nothing to eat but a piece of fruit they had harvested, but if I walked into their hut to say hello, they would be offended if I did not take the only gift they had to offer me. People who have experienced suffering know what it means to be selfless. They know how to give and to share. They work together and help one another. They truly value their relationship with one another. I truly believe that God gave each culture a special blessing. For this, it is important that we take the time to get to know other cultures, to travel and experience new ways of being human. So, get out there, it is a big world and much work needs to be done. Take a leap of faith and know that God will manifest your dreams if you put your intensions out there. Listen to the voice of your heart, that is the voice that is always telling the truth.

~Kaytee Hoverson