We were young and had two, (soon-to-be) three small children. Our church was young as well. We had left a large mega church in order to plant, with our young couples’ pastor, a church to discover New Testament reality. We didn’t know what it would look like, but we were excited to find out.
The year was 1985.
Tom was asked to lead a small group from the start. On Sunday morning after the service, each small group leader would set up a table with sign-up information to join their group.
The first couple to approach us was what we thought, an “older” couple. Lester and Dolores lived in our area and wanted to come to our group. They were one of many, but soon we would discover they were one-of-a-kind.
Lester and Dolores had the gift of hospitality. The rest of our group consisted of young, eager parents wanting to serve the Lord. What we lacked in wisdom, we excelled in enthusiasm.
Our first group dinner was Chinese themed. Poor Lester and Dolores. When they saw that some couples idea of bringing a dish was a pint of stir-fried rice to feed 12, they realized they needed to step in.
Our next dinner was held at their home where they served us the entire meal. They made so much food we had leftovers, and not only that…Dolores decorated the tables to go with the theme of the night, e.g fish fry, Italian, potato, or Christmas. it was always amazing. I’ll have to post about those nights later. We felt welcomed, spoiled and satisfied. But what we didn’t realize was how they were redefining for us what hospitality looked like.
I share this story with you because this dear couple is finally reunited in Heaven.
Lester died 16 years ago after an unsuccessful surgery that took his life too soon. Dolores was never the same without him. They were in love and loved life together. She lived like an amputee after his death, for part of her heart had been cut away and she hurt, understandably so.
Years later she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and moved close to one of their four children in a memory care facility. We lost touch with her from that point on…that is until today. We heard that Dolores died early this morning the day after Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day. They knew how to bring out the best of any holiday, and this one was no exception.
Our group was invited to their home for a romantic dinner. Lester had given all the husbands a Valentine card unbeknownst to the wives. It was the same on the outside and blank on the inside. They were instructed to write their wife a love letter, omitting pet names or anything that would give away who had written it, but to make it romantic and sincere.
The guys had no idea what Lester had planned. The wives knew nothing of it. But after dinner we were about to find out. They gathered us together in their family room.
Lester read each Valentine love letter one at a time. The wives had to guess which one was written by their husband. It may sound easy, but it wasn’t.
One Valentine stood out to all of us. It was signed, “Honey, you’re all the woman I’ll ever need!” So romantic. Every wife wanted it to be from their husband, but there was only one wife to be so honored—Dolores.
Although they were the oldest couple in our small group, their love was fresh and worth emulating.
It was fitting that Dolores died the day following Valentine’s Day. It was time for them to be reunited with each other as they worship the truest love of their lives, Christ Jesus.
We are grateful for their example that has left an indelible mark on all that we do. It makes us wonder what example we’re setting for those watching us. Not to bring us glory, but to draw others to True Love, to the One who never fails to exhibit real and lasting love—for eternity!
Thank you Lester and Dolores. We will see you again. Until then, enjoy your long-awaited reunion.