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“Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore, comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18 NIV).

Recently, I attended a gathering in our village to remember the life of a church member who died unexpectedly. Arriving late, I sat in the back. Everyone wore black and wiped tears that fell profusely. The lady was a friend of mine also––my husband and I bought land from her.

Everyone in the crowd hailed from our village or nearby––all friends and neighbors. We sat on wooden benches and huddled together as the winds whipped around us; our winter was near. The sound of children playing in the distance soothed our hurting hearts.

After the ceremony, we sipped hot soup to warm our bones. The aroma of wood burning in a mud oven and the chicken baking in it filled the air. Then, the delicious chicken dinner arrived on clay plates served by beautiful Quechua ladies dressed in their typical polleras (skirts.) We talked, laughed, ate, and enjoyed being together. There was sadness—but joy also because of the hope we have in Christ that we will be reunited one day.

Visiting a cemetery anywhere gives the impression that all ended for the people buried in the graves. But, for those who trust Jesus as Savior, there is hope beyond the grave because we have eternal life. Whether we are dead or alive when Christ returns, we will all rise to be with Him forever.

Peggy Cunningham and her husband are missionaries in Bolivia, South America. They work with the Quechua people and have a children’s ministry. Peggy is also an author of children’s books and devotionals for women, including her latest book, Shape Your Soul, 31 Exercises for Faith that Moves Mountains. www.PeggyCunningham.com

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