61 year old Jeff is the youngest of 12 children. He lost his father when he was only 9 years old.
He and Pam have been married for 42 years and have 3 children. 2 daughters and 1 son along with 12 grandchildren ranging in age from 5 months to 22 years.
Jeff served in United States Army for 10 years and was stationed in Germany for 3 years, in Korea and also served in Desert Storm.
It was after Desert Storm while the family was living in Georgia that he and Pam decided they would leave the service at his 10 year mark. Just 2 weeks prior to that 10 year mark, Jeff had a stroke at the age of only 36. Now, not only was he 36 years old but their son was 9. (Yes, the same age as Jeff was when he lost his own father.)
The stroke affected his left side and he was not expected to make it. With Pam by his side and by God’s grace he did. It took several years of rehab but eventually Jeff was back to living a normal life with some small changes. Previously he spent a lot of time running and lifting weights and was able to replace those activities with swimming and bicycling.
During that time Pam spent a lot of time journaling. This past winter they decided they would make their first attempt at “snowbirding” and they chose McAllen, Texas which is on the border of Mexico. Jeff’s sister and brother-in-law agreed to go along with them. (They themselves have been missionaries in Venezuela for many years and are fluent in Spanish which is a definite requirement along the border.) Along with relaxing and enjoying the warm weather, Jeff took his bike and was spending time reflecting on God’s word.
Pam had traveled back to Illinois temporarily to take care of some things after she recently lost her father. While she was away, every morning Jeff was checking with his sister until one morning when she did not hear from him on 2/13/17.
She went to check on him and found he had had another stroke. He was rushed to the hospital with a stroke that this time affected his right side.
This one seems to be more severe than the one he had 25 years ago. Now once again with Pam at his side she is doing all she can to get him back home.
She contacted us and as I listened to their story I could hear her desperation through the crackling in her voice as she struggled to fight back tears.
My heart went out to her. We told her we would do everything in our ability to help her and her husband. We spoke multiple times on the phone over several days and each and every time she was very gracious. She is definitely a rock and a woman of great faith in God.
We arrive bedside anxious to meet Jeff. Jeff’s sister and brother-in-law are there along with Pam. They have been by their side from the start. I immediately rush over to meet Jeff who is lying in bed with his eyes closed tightly.
Although he was unable to respond I told him how nice it was to meet him. Clyde his brother-in-law jokingly said, “now don’t spoil him too much.” It was evident they were as close as brothers and share a wonderfully close relationship. Along with the staff we moved Jeff and said our bittersweet good-byes and headed to the airport.
After Hal prayed over Jeff we all boarded Abe. Jeff seemed to do well during his flight and we had wonderful conversation with Pam. Several times she would say, ” I love you, Jeffery.” She has a very positive outlook and knows that God is in control.
We arrive in Iowa with the weather quite a bit colder that what we left in south Texas. We kept Jeff covered with the blanket Pam had packed along with a special quilt from the “Quilts on Wings” ladies.
As we exit Abe he has another sister and brother-in-law waiting on the tarmac. His sister rushes over to kiss him and they followed us to the rehab facility. Upon our arrival at the facility in Iowa we are greeted at the door by the staff when I asked what room we were going to, we were told room #1.
I said, “perfect, because Jeff is number 1.” The staff was very attentive. After placing him into be his sister affectionately dotes over him. As she is gently cradling his face in her hands, Jeff’s eyes are open wide as she speaks and he is definitely attempting to smile. It was a great moment.
We all laid hands on Jeff and thanked God for his life and prayed for his recovery. After hugging everyone good-bye we exited the building. As we were loading the gurney back into the ambulance I looked over and Pam was standing in the doorway holding it open.
She asked if we were leaving and when I responded, “yes”, she said, “well I need one last hug.” That made my day and I was thrilled to cash in on one more. As we hugged tightly I asked her to please keep in touch.
LET THE NAME OF THE LORD BE PRAISED, BOTH NOW AND FOREVERMORE. FROM THE RISING OF THE SUN TO THE PLACE WHERE IT SETS, THE NAME OF THE LORD IS TO BE PRAISED.
Thank you to Hal and Zac for sharing this mission with me.