This is a report for Mission 396 by Grace on Wings.
Departure: Baltimore, Maryland
Arrival: Parsons, Tennessee
Date: April 18, 2016
Jim and Annette have been in a Baltimore hospital and away from their home in Tennessee for nearly 2 months. They traveled there for Jim to have surgery related to some cancer that he had many years ago.
The surgery went very well, unfortunately after a procedure following the surgery his hospital stay was unexpectantly extended. They would like to get him back home and so they contacted us to set that in motion.
Upon our arrival we find Jim very ready to make the flight. He is dressed in a black long sleeve thermal, some red and black plaid flannel pants and his slippers.
He looks very comfortable. His wife Annette, a retired nurse has everything packed and ready to go. She has been at his bedside constantly since his admission helping to care for him. Jim and Annette have been married 35 years.
They met several years ago when Jim, living Colorado at the time had taken a 4 week job assignment in Tampa. As Annette tells it, “he never went back.” He met both she and her sister at a church he was attending while he was there. Annette told us that Jim had asked God, “why am I here, what is it you want me to do?” Annette’s sister who had cancer was living with her at the time. With Jim’s history of cancer himself he began visiting Annette’s sister at their home on a regular basis. It was during this time that the 2 became close. Jim clearly saw this as God’s answer to the question he had recently asked. They were married shortly thereafter.
Between the 2 of them they have 6 children. Jim has held multiple jobs from land surveyor, chemistry / math teacher, he taught aviation, photography, snow skiing, piloted a cessna and drove an ambulance to mention just a few. He also holds an olympic silver medal for whitewater kayaking. But most importantly Jim is a Godly man. While living in Florida they enjoyed civil war enactments as a family in full costume. Annette made most of the costumes. They enjoyed this so much that they began volunteering at local schools sharing this part of history with the children.
They retired about 10 years ago and moved from Florida to a small town in Tennessee with a population of only 2,300. Prior to their move hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans where Jim’s brother, Claude (a navy seal) and his wife live. So they found themselves in Louisiana for 3 months once again volunteering to help those in need. It was during this time that stumbled upon something called “zydeco” dancing which is a continuous syncopated movement popular with the creole people of Louisiana. (I share this because I was not familiar with it and had to look it up.) Annette says that Jim is very good at it and as soon as she sits down someone else is pulling him onto the dance floor. They love it.
I asked them why they chose to retire in such a small town especially when they already lived in Florida where it seems everyone thinks they should retire to. They began to tell us about what a “giving” little town this was. About every weekend there is some sort of benefit for someone in need and everyone pulls together whatever resources they have to help one another. There is a gentleman who was born and raised there who has become done very well for himself.
He choose to still live there and pour into his community. Among many other things he offers incentives to any high school student and helps to fund their college education. (In just 2 years they have gone from 30 to 81 of the 125 seniors pursuing a college education.) Jim and Annette have 15 acres a large vegetable garden, many fruit trees and several chickens. They donate all this to their community. It was evident how thankful they are to be a part of this community and it made total sense that these 2 people who themselves are so giving would chose to be a part of such a place.
JOHN 13:14 15
NOW THAT I, YOUR LORD AND TEACHER, HAVE WASHED YOUR FEET, YOU ALSO SHOULD WASH ONE ANOTHER’S FEET. I HAVE SET YOU AN EXAMPLE THAT YOU SHOULD DO AS I HAVE DONE FOR YOU.
Jim did great during the flight. Hal left the headsets on in the back so that Jim could hear the air traffic control conversations during flight since he too used pilot. He really enjoyed that. Once we landed and were headed to the hospital I was ready to call to let them know we were enroute as I always do.
Before I could our ambulance crew (who were fantastic) said, “don’t worry about it they are expecting us, it’s a very small hospital with only 1 nurses station.” Sure enough they were absolutely correct we were greeted by Jim and Annette’s pastor, several friends and even the hospital administrator who personally escorted us himself. Everyone was offering to take us to lunch or wherever we may need to go.
I could definitely see why they chose to live here. It was so great to be reminded that with all the “bad” that goes on in the world today, places like this, “people helping and loving people” still exist. A few days after our mission we were notified that the ambulance crew in Parson’s were also donating their services to “one of their own.” Despite not being born and raised there, this community has adopted Jim and Annette into their family.
1 JOHN 4:16 AND SO WE KNOW AND RELY ON THE LOVE GOD HAS FOR US. GOD IS LOVE. WHOEVER LIVES IN LOVE LIVES IN GOD AND GOD IN THEM.
Thank you to Hal and Danny for sharing this mission with me.
Many Blessings and may the God of peace and grace be with each of you. Shelli Engle RN