Everyone has collapsed into bed after a long day. There was a lot of anticipation building up to our first trip up the mountain. We have been preparing for three days. The main event this morning was making 25 gallons of soup, which meant chopping and cooking 8 chickens, 6 huge cabbages, 5 lbs of guiscil (looks like squash), a dozen carrots the size of my forearm, and bowls full of tomatoes, onions, garlic, and cilantro. To that we add bags of vitamin-fortified soup mix with rice. The soup is cooked in giant pots, outside on propane burners, and then loaded into 5-gallon buckets for transport.
We thought we were heading straight to El Mirador, but we ended up stopping at El Chico first and a beautiful little girl named Alva came right up and gave me a hug. We pulled out our colorful parachutes and the kids’ eyes got huge – they’ve never seen anything like them before. And once we started playing games with the parachutes, they were laughing and shouting and SO excited! More and more kids arrived.
After about 45 minutes of playing, we gathered in the toys and had the kids sit on the ground for our presentation, beginning with a simple song that we will repeat throughout the week. Our bible story today was Jesus calms the storm, and the kids loved making the sounds of the wind and the thunder. After the story we did another song, and once they learned it we split the group in half and had them do parts and see who could be the loudest. They loved it!
We made a simple ball-and-cup toy with them today, using plastic 5oz cups and large wood beads, connected by a few inches of colorful string. I think this craft was our biggest hit yet – everywhere I looked, kids were swinging those beads and trying to catch them in their cups.
After we passed out the soup and collected the bowls and supplies, we left El Chico and drove further up the mountain to El Mirador, which is close to the summit. We didn’t see anybody on the way in, so we parked the truck and split up into two groups to walk through the village and invite people to come play and have soup with us. Going house to house was a new experience and it was heartbreaking to see the poverty. One little girl named Juliana became our town crier, spreading word to her neighbors far faster than we could.
By the time we got back to our truck, a crowd had gathered and the kids jumped right in to play. We did our presentation once more and fed them the rest of the soup.
At the end of our day, we sat down to a delicious meal Glenda had ready for us. We lit a few candles and held hands around the table sang “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow”. What a blessing it is that we get to do it again tomorrow!