In two days, ten of us will head off to El Salvador to celebrate the quinceañera of our sister church relationship.  For the majority, this will be the first time they will visit our sister church community.  There is a lot of excitement and anticipation floating through the air!

The last days of packing before a delegation trip always seem like a bit of a rush.  Today was errand day - a day to get all of the finances, paperwork and stuff ready for the trip.  At my feet, sits a great big suitcase with donated yarn and fabric and crayons spilling out beyond the zippers.  Behind me, the kitchen table holds a giant celebration card made from foam board and filled with signatures and messages from congregation members written in shades of pink and purple.  When the glitter paint is dry, the card will hopefully go into the suitcase.  What else is on the kitchen table?  Letters!  Stacks of envelopes of all sizes which contain letters and a few small gifts for children and youth.  Tonight will include a little bit of late-night translating, I think.  There is one more thing on the kitchen table - a big box of photos.  One of today's tasks was to upload almost 400 photos which I took during my last visit to our sister church and to get prints made.

There are photos of cute babies, photos of the Sunday School class, photos taken during worship, photos of families, photos of all of us together.  I took them over the course of a month, capturing daily life and daily love.

A few months ago, Javier asked me if I would take a picture of him with his mom, and "be sure to bring a copy of it" for him when I returned.  I ordered an 8 by 10 enlargement of the special photo: Javier standing close to his mom, a small smile on her face, a big smile on his.  He towers over her.  His arm is around her shoulders.
Our sister pastor wrote to us.  Javier's mother died.  Her death was sudden.  Perhaps she knew she was sick, yet as a quiet and humble person she did not go to the hospital until it was too late. It is hard to believe.  I will give this 8 by 10 photo to Javier.  I expect we will cry.

The young woman who processed my photos paused before handing me the boxes. "These photos are really touching," she said.  "Did you go on a mission trip?"  I explained that the photos were taken during the last visit we had with our sister church in El Salvador and I would be handing them out to the families later this week when we are together again.  "The faces, there is something about them.  They are just so precious and touching," she said.

We all have photos we treasure.  They touch us, in a way, when in-person hugs are not possible.

When I looked at the receipt for the photos tonight, I noticed that the young woman had written some words at the top:  "Touching photos.  Thanks for helping."


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