Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Jantsen's Gift by Pam Cope with Aimee Molloy

Nine years ago, Pam Cope owned a cozy hair salon in the tiny town of Neosho, Missouri, and her life revolved around her son's baseball games, her daughter's dance lessons, and family trips to places like Disney World. She had never been out of the country, nor had she any desire to travel far from home.

Then, on June 16th, 1999, her life changed forever with the death of her 15-year-old son from an undiagnosed heart ailment.

Needing to get as far away as possible from everything that reminded her of her loss, she accepted a friend's invitation to travel to Vietnam, and, from the moment she stepped off the plane, everything she had been feeling since her son's death began to shift. By the time she returned home, she had a new mission: to use her pain to change the world, one small step at a time, one child at a time. Today, she is the mother of two children adopted from Vietnam. More than that, she and her husband have created a foundation called "Touch A Life," dedicated to helping desperate children in countries as far-flung as Vietnam, Cambodia and Ghana.

Pam Cope's story is on one level a moving, personal account of loss and recovery, but on a deeper level, it offers inspiration to anyone who has ever suffered great personal tragedy or those of us who dream about making a difference in the world.

In 2000, Pam Cope founded Touch A Life Foundation by establishing a shelter in Saigon for homeless children. Touch A Life now supports 224 children in Vietnam and helps fund the Place of Rescue in Cambodia, a safe haven for famillies who have been stricken with the AIDS virus. Pam is now working to raise funds to build a center for children in northern Ghana who have been rescued from slavery. Pam lives in Joplin, Missouri with her husband, Randy, and her children, Van and Tatum. Her older daughter, Crista, attends college.

Aimee Molloy is a freelance journalist and the co-author, with Senator John Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry, of This Moment on Earth: Today's New Environmentalists and Their Vision for The Future; and For God and Country: Faith and Patriotism Under Fire with James Yee. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

There are certain books that, upon reading the description, you know you just HAVE to read.  For me, Jantsen's Gift was one such book.  Those of you who know me and/or have been following my blog for some time, would have probably thought of me when reading the book's description.  There's just something about it that says "Heidi should read this!"  And so, when the opportunity presented itself to read and review this book on my blog, I jumped at the chance.  It was with a company I haven't reviewed for in the past (Hachette Book Group); working with new companies and seeing new books is always exciting.

I really enjoyed this book and I'd definitely recommend it.  Pam's story reminded me much of my own in some ways - she had one child and turned to adoption for her second.  I was saddened when I read of the sudden death of her 15-year-old son, Jantsen.  I cannot even fathom walking through that valley.  Though Pam definitely struggled with depression and questioning God, she stepped out of that and has since gone on to do some amazing things with her life!

By using the donations that were received "in leiu of flowers", she and her husband have been able to rescue and help street children in Vietnam and trafficked children in both Cambodia and Ghana.  These stories are powerful and heart-wrenching at the same time.  Upon reading Pam's story, you may even decide that you'd like to donate to this ministry.

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