Jose stepped aside and the members of the youth group walked in, carrying a stack of envelops. Each student got one with their name on it. Inside, they found pictures of themselves, working and laughing. There were copies of a group shot that had been taken at the party on Friday.
Also inside were invitations to visit again the following summer. All expenses paid on a charter bus—a donation from one of the church members. They had also included their addresses, asking their new friends to write.
The service was full of joy. Despite the loss of the church, it could have been much worse. They would rebuild. The entire community was behind them. Ridding the town of Ramon and his flunkies was a great service.
After church, they had a delicious brunch courtesy of the church ladies. They packed their bags and gathered for another group shot. Dressed in their traveling cloths, they lined up with their New Mexico friends and posed for several pictures.
Hugs and kisses all around, the promise to write and call, they piled into the cars. This time, they didn’t have a girl car and a boy car. Polly drove Brad, Beverly, Denise and Richard. Craig had Clayton, Maddie, Daniel and Patti. The trip to Denver flew by. They stopped again with Reverend Davis’ group. They regaled the Colorado contingent with their stories of their trip to New Mexico.
“That didn’t really happen, did it?” Dora asked, wide eyed.
“It sure did!” Maddie declared emphatically.
“Wow, we never had anything that exciting happen when we went on a trip,” Beef said with a pout. “Guess we went to the wrong place, huh?”
“Some excitement I could have done without,” Clayton said. “But mostly it was pretty cool.”
The next morning, they had another delicious breakfast and loaded up. The drive home seemed to take no time at all. By mid afternoon, they were back at the church and unloading the cars. Their parents arrived shortly after and bundled their wayward children into the cars. They had heard Claire and Jane’s version of the events. All of them wanted details about the trip.
“I knew I shouldn’t have let you go,” Maddie’s mother said for the sixth time. “What was I thinking?”
“You were thinking what a great experience it would be for her,” Mr. Reynolds said calmly. “And it was. Yes, it was scary and dangerous, but our daughter learned that she can handle herself.”
“I suppose you’re right,” her mother replied. “But it makes me leery of letting you go back next summer.”
“It will be better, Mom. Ramon and his men will be locked up for a very long time. We have to go. They’re going to dedicate their new church to us and put in a time capsule.”
Mrs. Reynolds reluctantly agreed.
After dinner, the phone rang. Maddie’s younger brother answered. “Madison, it’s for yoo-ou!” he called down the stairs.