With a gleam in her eye, this month’s featured Peace member is a woman of many interests and talents. She has given of her time in the church kitchen, has slept in a snow cave and a cardboard box, rings her bells in the Peace hand-bell choir, and has even played the part of a pregnant “woman of a certain age” for our Peace Christmas Pageant. This month we are happy to feature Pam Hughes, a woman who is living her vocation in ways large and small.

Pam and her husband, Tim, have lived in Hamel since 1976 and have attended Peace since 2007. She is currently working on completing a degree from the University of Minnesota in Diversity and Language Learning. You’ve heard of “fifth year seniors?” Pam says she is a “50th year senior.” Before retirement, she worked at a number of companies and held various positions in customer service, HR, sales, purchasing, accounting, and as an office manager. Before retirement, her most recent employment was at Loram, a railroad maintenance company in Medina.

Pam sees her vocation as being a good team player in her various jobs and activities. “Every team has a different makeup – it needs leaders and followers, teachers and students, idea generators and program implementers and people to fill all the other important positions between, and I’ve played them all,” she tells us. “Whether it is a leader in my family or on a work project, the clean-up person for a fiasco at my job or in the church kitchen, student, teacher or volunteer at school – these are all important team positions. Fulfilling each of these roles with integrity, humility and a joy of participation has become my vocation.” Pam finds joy in working together with a group to see positive results, be it a great dinner, seeing her children succeed in life, or knowing that the hand-bell choir has played beautifully at worship. “The camaraderie of working together to accomplish these things is a joy,” she says. Of course, there are complex parts to all of this. She admits that sometimes she would have preferred to be home in bed rather than on an air mattress overnight, or sleeping-in rather than getting to church for an early bell choir rehearsal but, “in the long run being part of the team has been worth it.”

Pam could be the poster child for volunteering and helping others. Some of her favorites are: sleeping in a cardboard box or snow cave to support Interfaith Outreach, delivering Meals on Wheels, supporting her children’s activities, and serving as a precinct caucus chair during election seasons. At Peace, she’s worked with Sunday School, the nursery, Families Moving Forward, Tree House, Wednesday night suppers and continues to be active as a lector, Christmas pageant participant, and bell choir member. Her newest effort is being one of Peace’s leaders with the Yara’s, the Afghanistan refugee family our church is sponsoring. She has worked to collect materials for the family, has moved furniture, and continues to reach out to help them transition to life in the United States.

When asked what thriving looks like, Pam says it is “a gleam in the eye.” Even when the body and/or mind are not at 100%, she says that a gleam in the eye indicates that something is still thriving inside. She believes thriving has to do with rooting and sprouting. “A continuous strengthening of my roots, allowing new growth and sprouts that turn into new knowledge, new friends and new experiences would be my definition of thriving,” she explains.

Pam says she firmly believes that faith in God is an intensely personal thing that can be shared but not given or forced. “Teaching by doing and showing my family and other young people that there is a grounding, soul soothing foundation soul-soothing of life” has been important to Pam, who says that she has found this in the Lutheran Church. Even if not regular churchgoers, she hopes those who have been given that foundation of faith when young will know that they can turn to the church when their roots need nurturing, “because I know in every life no matter how great it seems, there are always times that life seems overwhelming and the individual seems weak and the soul needs nourishment. I have found mine in the Bible and the church and friendships I have made there.” 

When talking about how her faith connects with her vocation, she goes back to the idea of roots. Her faith is what sustains and nurtures these roots so that new growth can happen. “Whether it is looking to a scripture passage, hearing a beautiful melody from a hymn of old, seeing the beauty of creation in a neon sunset or having a coffee or beer with close friends that share common core Christian beliefs – these are all the ways my connections to God and the church get revitalized,” she explains. 

What will she do next? She will do whatever it is with her typical gusto and love of life, rooting and sprouting wherever she is planted. Just look for that gleam in her eye!

Pam Hughes with
Grandchildren, clockwise starting at the
back: Max, Lucie, Sonja, Cecilia, and Vivian.

Photo Pam Hughes