After a great deal of planning and after two garage sales to raise money, we finally took some kids from Huejotzingo to the Parque Ecológico. Abraham and I left home at 7:30 in order to pass by Puebla Christian School to pick up some things for games and then get to the church by 9. Janelle, another missionary, had agreed to drive us in her van, since the church van still had not been returned from impound after the accident in the summer. We set out for Huejotzingo, arriving a little after the time that we had told the children. How exciting to see that the six children and one adult were outside, waiting impatiently, ready to go for their first time to the park.
Abraham and I visited a few other people that we had invited to see if they could come, but no one else could join us. Zalma, Naty, Cris, Pedro, Liz, and Wendy along with their mother, Imelda, climbed into the van, and off we went.
It was noon by the time we reached the park, and the children immediately scattered. We had to hurry to gather them again. They are accustomed to taking care of themselves and wandering where they will in Huejotzingo, but in the enormous park, it isn't safe to let them. We split into small groups, and I accompanied four of the kids to the playground for awhile.
We gathered back together for lunch, and then transported the various paraphernalia nearer the park's lake, where a young man was renting time in Zorb balls. At first the children were wary, eager to try out the floating balls, but anxious over whether they really would stay closed and float on the lake's surface. Finally my brother-in-law Ken had to go first to prove the balls were safe, and then the kids were ready to take their turns too. They had a marvelous time, all but one boy who couldn't overcome his fear and sat teary-eyed, watching everyone else have fun.
Ken felt badly for the boy, so when we all finished playing in the zorb balls, Ken paid for almost everyone to go on the lake's paddle boats. Soon the boy was laughing and shouting again, enjoying the paddle on the lake with his friends and family.
When we first arrived at the park, the kids' attention had been riveted by a gigantic slide. They had to wait to go on it, however, since it wasn't open in the morning. After finishing the time on the paddle boats, they ran to the slide to check; it was open! They abandoned themselves to flying down the undulating slide on cushions, squealing and laughing the whole time.
By the time they ended with the slide, it was after four o'clock, and Janelle was on her way to pick us up. Even as everyone piled into the van, they began asking, "When are we coming back?" "Where are we going next time?" Maybe ice skating? To a pool? To another park? We'll have to decide.
Please pray that next time even more children and adults come. Pray that the parents will have confidence in us, that we aren't trying to kidnap their children, and also that through outings like this the people can learn that God loves to give us joyful time together.