Yesterday, Don and I volunteered all day at a fundraiser for Kids Matter International Roatan held at the magnificent Gumbalimba Park. We were there on time, but early by Roatan standards, and so we got the plum job assignment, to man the table at the entrance to the park. Those of you who know me well know I'm a dedicated people-watcher, so I loved this assignment. We got to see everyone arrive and then leave hours later with happy faces. Our table was in the shade and we had wonderful breezes all day - another plus. An unexpected blessing came from spending the day with and getting to know Ruth and Rick, pictured with us in the above photo. Ruth is from Spain, a 20 year veteran missionary, who has recently arrived here to work with the home for abused girls being built by Kids Matter. Rick also has years of summertime mission work under his belt. He's retired now and he and his wife will be moving here soon to work with the girls' home. Wonderful, godly people.
Gumbalimba is home to 19 macaws and numerous parrots. They are allowed out of their cages daily for free flight time around the park. They almost always come back. A few have not, but they are now busy repopulating the island - a very good thing. Some of them are brought out to interact with the visitors, sitting on an arm or a shoulder, posing for photos. The parrots share in this adventure...one of the parrots ate the little button off the top of Dennis' cap yesterday.
They're not nearly as mischevious as the assorted monkeys.
Here are volunteers setting up the stage for the Willie Nelson impersonator who flew in from Texas for an afternoon concert at the park.
Don's holding a small plastic bag of water - the only drink available yesterday, and not particularly cold. I had never seen this before, but our new friend, Rick, said that's about all you see on the mainland, no bottled water. You have to tear off a corner with your teeth - a small hole - and suck or squeeze the water out. And you can't set the bag down and sip it now and then...it's a plastic bag and it falls over, spilling the water inside.
Lining up for the canopy tour - zipline. There were about 800 people in the park yesterday, far exceeding a normal day. They could not do the full canopy experience, too time consuming, so offered just a 3-stop experience. The island kids have never had such a thrill!
A big exciting end to the day was this helicopter, piloted by Kids Matter friend, Ron, who gave free rides to 8 people at a time and made about 5 or 6 trips. Obviously, not everyone got a ride, but all who were near the beach when he landed got sandblasted and it was still very exciting just to witness him landing and taking off. Most kids here have never seen a real helicopter.
What kid doesn't love playing in a swimming pool! The island kids may be used to swimming in the ocean, but a beautiful swimming pool with lounge chairs was a whole new experience for them.
Here's a family crossing the long suspension bridge over the lake. Don is almost visible at the rear, wearing his red volunteer shirt. Entire families turned out for this event. Of course, local people can't afford the admission price...they don't make that much money in an entire week! The tickets were sold to a number of employers or individuals who in turn gave the tickets to employees...a two-fold purpose: money for the girls' home was raised from the sale of the tickets and the local people were given the opportunity to come out and have an unusual treat, free of charge. They were given family passes, which you may think of as being 2 adults and 2 children - not in Honduras! We had trucks drive up, packed inside the cab and out in the bed with people - up to 18 people - a family! Most families were somewhere in between. We also had entire mission teams turn out as well as our neighbors and many people from our church.
Here's one of the cute little white-faced monkeys sitting on my arm eating corn. The park management was discouraging very young children from visiting the monkeys - too volatile. I don't know how well that worked yesterday. Too many families had already entered the park before we got that word.
It was a very long day but a very rewarding day as well.