Savor the Moment

Silver Anniversary bells will be showing up throughout the year.
Today's little notebook (2001-2004)

This is a silver anniversary year.  It has been almost 25 years since our 3 churches formally became iglesias hermanas - sister churches. We have shared more than 25 years of wild adventures and everyday life. 

We are 3 congregations: one congregation of the Salvadoran Lutheran Church, and an urban church and a suburban church in the Greater Milwaukee Synod ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America). Over the years our congregations have changed and so have our communities.  We have suffered great losses. We have celebrated great joys. Parents have become grandparents, and many children in our memories now have children of their own.

During the 15th year of our partnership, we celebrated with big quinceañera parties in Los Héroes and in Milwaukee, complete with lots of poofy pink dresses and fancy cakes. Now, ten years later, we are ready for another year of celebration. 2023 is the year of the Silver Wedding Anniversary of the Three Churches. Naturally, we are stocking up on silver glitter.

Quinceañera for the three sister churches, 2013 in El Salvador

Quinceañera for the three sister churches, 2013 in Wisconsin

Anniversary years call us to remember and to organize our memories. Let's face it, after 25 years, we have shelves full of albums, plastic bins full of recuerdos, and baskets full of diaries. Back in the day, one week in El Salvador at a time, we kept small journals close at hand. We jotted down names and descriptions so that once we developed our rolls of photo film, we could identify the people and places and moments we had captured. Sometimes we wrote late at night, processing our thoughts from one day before filling our hearts and minds with the experiences of another.

I pulled out one of those tiny notebooks today and found lists from home visits that my friend Vonda and I made in Los Héroes in 2002. Before I could type up the lists for the historic record, I was distracted by a random reflection I had written, simply entitled Saturday.

During the dry season in El Salvador, it is dusty. Really dusty. Gray feet. Gray clothes. Gray backpack. Grit in your eyes. Dusty. Then you sweat. And the dust sticks. Sticky and dusty.

The kids are like that - sticky and dusty. I spend a good part of most days holding hands with children. Sometimes it feels like I am wearing a hoop skirt made of children, everyone grabbing onto someone. We trudge awkwardly up and down the pathways, leaving a jumble of footprints and a cloud of dust.

Personally, I do not enjoy being dusty. Before I crawl into my sleep-sack at night, I wash my feet. Wet wipes are a little luxury. I wipe my feet and drop the wipe into my zipper sandwich bag that I keep for trash. I slip my clean feet deep into my sleep sack. Sometimes, I stand up on the bed, pull the sleep sack all the way up over my head, and then gently plop back down onto the bed. I look like a caterpillar. Then I sleep. OK, no, first there is a lot of laughing, and then I sleep.

If you've seen the Disney movie 101 Dalmatians, then you know about "the barking chain" and the "all dog alert." These. Are. Real. So is the ALL ROOSTER ALERT.

I strategically locate my water bottle, my glasses, my alarm clock and my flash light in my sleep sack. That way when the rooster crows, I can check the time. Usually it's about midnight which means there are just 6 more hours to go.

I can absolutely imagine Jesus enjoying a good foot-washing at the end of a long day. Maybe it helped him to sleep. Washing someone else's dirty feet is a special kind of caring. When Jesus washed the disciples' feet, it was most certainly not a pretty task, but was just so very kind. That sort of humble kindness is hard to give and hard to receive. The disciples probably felt pretty good with their clean feet. Micah 6:8.

That's the reflection. And even though it is only identified by the word "Saturday," I know exactly when I wrote this.

During the 2005 Mission of Healing in Los Héroes, Chrissy, Vonda and I stayed with a family in the community. They gave us their biggest bed, and the three of us caterpillered ourselves into position at night after sundown. Bedtime was pretty early, because the house did not have lights. I remember a late night conversation that went something like this:

"Did you feel that?"

"What? No."

"That tickling. Are you tickling me?"

"No, why would I tickle you?"

"There, there it is."

Flashlight on. Mouse scurries across all 3 of our sleep sacks. 

"OK, everyone to the middle. Don't touch the walls."  (The bed just fit into the small room, and all 4 sides of the mattress basically touched the walls.)

"Is it time to get up yet?"

Chrissy walking with a buddy, 2005

I'm not sure if this is exactly a Silver Wedding Anniversary story, but that night sticks in my head just like it happened yesterday. Over 25 years, we have lived hundreds of these moments, and the ones that stick are typically just everyday events that took a turn toward the humorous. 

Going through the little notebooks is fun and confusing. A blank page in the midst of one visit or one year some time later became the recipient of notes from a completely different adventure. It made sense at the time not to waste paper. Now it's a Silver Wedding Anniversary scavenger hunt of memorable and forgotten moments. 

Back to the lists from 2002. On the page following the lists there is only one thing written: "Phrase to remember - saborea el momento - savor the moment."


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