That was the name of the first village we went to in Chiapas. It was a little different than I had imagined Paradise to be, but it was quaint, and honestly larger than most of the villages we visited. Upon arrival, Jonathan asked where the streets of gold were, to which Inmer replied : "Somebody stole them." I think that pretty much explains it. The people there were very hospitable; the church members were waiting for us when we arrived. We spent the night at Reina's house, a young lady from the church, on an air mattress we had just purchased from Wal-mart in the last large town. Having been warned that we may end up sleeping on the floors of churches, we decided this minor purchase could make the trip much more enjoyable. It also kept our hosts from offering their own beds and in turn, them sleeping on the floor. All in all, a decent purchase. We should have, however, sprung for the electric air pump because it took Jonathan, Inmer and Bradley 30 minutes each night to blow the thing up with a bicycle pump. Who knew?
The next morning we went to the church; Jonathan shared a short message and then we gave bags to the children. It is really remarkable - children who have so little, are pleased with so little. All the older boys received soccer balls, which made then indescribably happy.
(A sweet little girl with her pink goodie bag)
The bags are all filled by churches in the States and brought down by Phil and Marianne - the American couple we are working with down here. For girls, the bags consisted of anything from clothes, Lip Smackers, crayons and coloring books, to soap, shampoo, lotion, toothbrushes & toothpaste, hair accessories, flip flops, dolls, Barbies, stuffed animals etc...
For boys, the bags typically included a soccer ball, pencils and paper or coloring books, yoyos, socks, again hygiene items, calculators, frisbees, toy trucks and so on.
What a joy it was to see the smiles on the children's faces when they opened their bags. Some of the children were so sweet, they would just sit there until finally one of us realized they weren't going to open their bags until we told them they could. You would've thought it was Christmas. Really, it was like Christmas to these children. And the farther we got up into the mountains, the less the people had and the more excited the children got!
(Bradley, myself and Inmer in Paradise. I didn't want to show them up with my massive muscles, so I kept my arms hidden.)
P.S. If you are interested in filling any of the bags with treats, please contact us. We can always use more!