Welp, somehow, I was convinced into going back up to Paraiso (Paradise)--remember? the 2.5 hour hike up the mountain? yeah...haha fun stuff. I figured, I found it discouraging all of the times people say that they cant come to your dorm room because "its cold outside....i cant walk 20 yards from my building to yours" or "your room is on the 3rd floor"....then i thought, "think about how many MORE people refuse to go up to visit the people of Paraiso just because the hike is too difficult"...thus, i sucked it up so that i wouldnt dissapoint them--especially for how much they do for us and for how often they walk down the mountain to see others and back up in the night time.
Poor Dr. D hurt his back, so he couldnt go up, so we went with Brad (who works on the farm for the hospital) and Seth, a Dr. from the US who is coming down to Honduras to see what long term missions is all about. THEREFORE, there were 7 of us: Brad, Seth, Bekah, Will, me, and 2 guys from the NJ group: Aaron and Drew. Good news was that Brad's pace up the mountain was not nearly as fast as the last time we went, so it was challenging just because of the hills, but it was not that painful! When we were about 1/3 of the way up, Fredi (a friend from paradise--19 years old) met us there with 2 horses: Grano de Oro (Piece of Gold) y Intocable (Untouchable). It was so sweet of him to bring them down. To add to that, he told me that he started walking back from Lucinda (where we live) the night before at 11 pm. He climbed up to Paraiso at night. I asked if he had a light, and he replied, "Solamente la luna" (ONLY THE MOON!) haha. SO....he got up to Paradise around 1 am or later, then he came back down in the morning to meet us with horses. How kind and what a sacrifice!
All of the guys refused the horses because they wanted to be men haha, so bekah and i took them for the middle part of the trail--why would we take it on the flatter part beats me...but we did (stupid! haha). We then walked the last part--or the part dr. d always says "you gotta go through hell to get to paradise"--the steep switchbacks.
When we made it to the top, the kids were standing there waiting, and when they saw us, they ran to us. How precious! We all ran back to their house and surprised everyone because they didnt know if we'd actually come. The smiles on their faces are incredible--they all are so full of joy and their laughter is so rich. One of the guys who is a teacher at a school in Paradise, Ever, took us up to the highest area near the house so we could look down on the mountain and the carribean. I wish i had brought a camera, but 1. i didnt wanna be too touristy & wanted to give them my undivided attention, and 2. i decided that i had to carry as little weight as possible up because, well, it's a tough'n.
We then ran through the rocks and mud and some animal poo poo where one of the boys, Albaro, got up in the tree about 30 feet in the air and was catapulting oranges down to us so they could make some fresh juice! We then went back up and sang through the Bible songs, while Brad and Seth installed the solar panels that they earned in the Olympics.
Of course, after that, they had a meal for us. SO KIND. there were 7 of us and they gave us SO MUCH FOOD (rice, beans, corn tortillas, bananas (they call these ones "manzanas" or "apples" because they taste like an apple!)--brad got 3 because he's "guapo" (handsome) and i got 2 because im "bonita" haha hey, whatever gets you more food ha ha jk--fried plantains, orange juice, carrots, oranges--YOU NAME IT. Only Brad and Will were able to finish their plates--THATS how much food they gave us. They then cut down sugar cane and we ate it (not a huge fan--its like chewing on a stick that just happens to be sweet haha). We then went up on the high point and played soccer...literally like 14 people on a maybe 10 by 10 field with rocks to mark goals. there was barely room to move...but i'll tell ya, for the entire time we played, there was constant laughter. Loud, genuine, rich laughter. Everyone was happy. Everyone was happy to be together to be enjoying each other's presence. That rich laughter is what everyone needs to hear. Every time that we complain that things didnt turn out the way we wanted them to....every time we say life is boring...every time we think we're "poor"...that laughter would be the cure to all of that. Poor? Only being poor in spirit will make you truly poor. These people are part of a small village--in fact, most of the village is this one family--2 parents, 6 kids, 1 grand kid all under a roof better defined as a 2, maybe 3, room mud hut. What we would define as impoverished, they would define as their everyday life. When we think that we're running low on cash, they think, "we have more than enough food to feed visitors, even if we know they have a lot more than us". Again, like i said last time i went to paradise, we tend to see poverty as lack of material possessions. Other see it as presence of things: loneliness, hopelessness, etc. These people might be "impoverished" by our definition, but they are not impoverished by their definition. They are rich in life and the Spirit of God. They're servants of God. It reminds me of this passage in Mark 12:41-44:
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”Would you be willing to give all you had? I know I'd struggle with that, and I'm sure most people would, too. Perhaps that's the key, though. Why have I not heard laughter more pure than up on that mountain. What they lack in possessions, they are overflowing with eternal richness. Think about how you're living then think about how they're living. Do you feel any guilt? Don't feel guilty for having money because you have been blessed..but have you been using that money for the wrong purpose? How much is used for God or serving others compared to serving your material desires? How much money do you use in place of giving others your time, attention, love, or laughter? If I had it my way, I'd have everyone visit Paradise.