Two weeks ago, an acquaintance from church "inboxed" me on Facebook: John is looking for you. He has letters from the children of Honduras.
My countenance brightened! For the past few Sundays I had either been out of town or ill and had missed, without knowing it, a delivery of letters from the people I had befriended while in Honduras last summer. The children always send me pictures that they have drawn or pages they have taken from coloring books. Every letter ends in "Dios te bendiga" and "I love you". The rest write me lengthy letters folded into pretty cards, which they also write in.
Since August, I've received three letter deliveries. I have to wait for a living, breathing mailbox, otherwise known as a missionary, to return from Honduras to receive them. Often, taking possession of the letters is a process that only builds up the excitement. During a church service, I pinpoint the missionaries location: Left hand side of the church, 8th row back, middle of the pew. He will probably be stuck there for a while after the service, speaking with people in the pews around him. That will give me a chance to leave my spot at the end of the pew, across the sanctuary, to cut through row 4 on the right hand side, gracefully sidestepping children on the way. As I approach the aisle I will hug, hug, hug my way through relatives and mumble "I'll be right baaaack....letters!" and make my way over to row 7 on the left hand side of the church where I will quietly wait for the missionary to pause in his conversation to look at me. "I heard you have letters?" While I wait for the missionary to dig through his backpack to find the bundle of letters I remain outwardly composed yet visibly happy. On the inside I am bouncing up and down, clapping my hands, clicking my heels and doing cartwheels in excited anticipation. He hands me the letters, "They all say to tell you that they love you." And that's when I always cry. It sneaks up on me in the midst of excitement and strategery (ha ha...gotta love a good SNL/Bush reference).
I receive letters from various people and all of them mean everything to me. I keep them in a safe and easily accesible spot so that I can read them over and over and over. I hang the pictures in my office at work, and I carry one of the cards with me at all times because the words in it remind keep me humble and motivate me to be better.
There is one little girl who never misses an opportunity to send a letter with a missionary. Angelica (Angie) is about 10 years old, quiet, beautiful, and openly loving. We used to spend our early mornings together last summer. Every morning, Angie would walk from her home to the molino to grind up corn for tortillas. On her way back home she would stop at our house. She would hug everyone upon arrival, ask for a drink of water, and listen to us converse. She would only speak when spoken to; and it seemed she preferred to observe. On our last morning in Honduras, Angie stopped by like usual. We were in the midst of doing our final packing and the inside and outside of the house were filled with people waiting to say good-bye. She gently made her way through the pockets of people to where I was finishing up eating breakfast. A normally meek Angie, sat on my lap, wrapped her arms around my neck and cried, "I just love you."
Her letters and cards are simple: I love you. I wish you would come back. God bless you. The thought she puts into her cards and letters is anything but simple. Her pictures are detailed, the cards are colorful, the stickers and stamps strategically placed. Her latest card pops up when you open it. The effort she puts into the cards say much much more than her words. Just by looking at them I can feel how much love she put into them, almost as if she's hugging me tight again.