Twice this week we filled our pickup well beyond maximum capacity and drove 30 minutes cross-country with the kids from Armenia Bonito and the short-term missionaries from Houston Lake Presbyterian Church in Warner Robins, GA and Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church in Douglasville, GA. We took everyone to a swimming hole called tres piedras (three rocks) on the Rio Bonito (beautiful river).
This is a beautiful location inside the Pico Bonito National Forrest. A crystal clear river flows past three large boulders. The thick, lush rain forest is in the foreground and gorgeous mist covered mountains are in the background. It is a place few outsiders ever see and is reminiscent of a Hollywood production.
It is a refreshing break from the stifling heat and humidity, but the real treat is the blessing for the kids. Many of these children live in one-parent homes and most do not have examples of strong male role models. Our teams play with the kids and laugh with the kids and have a great time. These kids, all of whom live in abject poverty, don’t get many treats. This location and an experience like this is going to be an event that most will remember for life. As the local kids coax every last gringo to leap from the 25-foot rock into the river they are being baptized into a fraternity that has very few members.
As Mike stands on the far bank of the river and yells “Vamos!” (let’s go) the kid’s shoulders drop and audible groans are heard. They do not want to leave the experience. It is a temporary escape. The children know that by leaving the swimming hole they are walking away from fun and returning to a harsh reality that includes broken homes, dilapidated houses and poverty.
Even if only for a couple hours we were able to provide a mental vacation for the kids.