A few days before my departure, Felix slipped a farewell card in my door. I pushed the door open to go to bed and the card fell on the floor. I picked it up, noting the recycled Christmas card which had a new, hand-written message glued over the type-written one which made the back of the card a bit bubbly.
I read his words silently and let the tears flow as I sat on my bed.
Felix wrote that I was a "persona muy linda" in every sense of the word "linda" - basically a very lovely person. He called me his sister and said that he loved me. He asked repeatedly that I not forget him or Bolivia and hoped that I'd come back soon because he's going to miss me. He told me to share with my family in Oregon that they have a very sensational brother in Bolivia.
He asked me the next afternoon if I had found his card. I thanked him for it and told him it made me cry because of his kind words. He asked me if I thought the words came from his heart, to which I replied "absolutely!"
"Did you hear that, mom?" Felix exclaimed. "The words came from my heart!"
Shirley knocked on my door the last night. I invited her in and she handed me a handmade card and asked me not to read it until after she left. She called me an angel that God had sent to her family.
Saying goodbye to the Bolivian workers at La Casa de Esperanza was especially special - and difficult. Each woman shared about our presence over the last 4 months and how difficult it would be not to have us around anymore. Eli and Alicia both commented on my "corazon muy grande" - my big heart. Eli had seen me sob after my first visit to the brothels. Alicia commented on how happy her 2 year old son, Oscar, was whenever I'd come over to visit.
I got to present the photo album to Eli, filled with a couple hundred pictures from the last 3 years at La Casa. I personalized the album cover and drew a picture on the inside page. She was pleased with my contribution, and I loved watching the women flip through the pages as I ate lunch in their presence for the last time.
Eli and the other workers laid hands on us and prayed over our journey home, focusing on our ability to share our experiences with our friends, churches, and family back home.