Charter Peace Lutheran members Harry and Elaine Dahl moved to Plymouth in 1963 with a
young, growing family. They bought a house with a big yard and a big garden. Their oldest
daughter, Pam, remembers that the four children were expected to help with the garden. Harry
believed this would build character and would teach his children a life lesson about faith: give
the vegetables their water, nurture them with fertilizer, and watch the plants grow. Pam Dahl
is now Pam Johnson, and she is this month’s featured member as a person who lives her
Pam and her husband, Steve, met at Peace during a smorgasbord held after a church
Christmas concert. Steve knew Peace member Kathie Kolbjornsen from his hometown church,
Vangen Lutheran, in Mission Hill, South Dakota. Kathie’s simple invitation to a church function
led to a 37-year marriage for Pam and Steve. Pam and Steve have two children, both of whom
were married in 2020. Amid the Covid pandemic, plans were adjusted for these weddings with
lots of faith and lots of prayers: dates changed, guest lists changed, and venues changed.
Both weddings were wonderful, at beautiful outdoor sites.
After 25 years working as a dental assistant, the dentist Pam worked for decided to retire,
and Pam felt it was time for a career change. She turned to her father, who told her that
something would turn up if she had a little faith. He suggested she look into the Wayzata school district, and there she found her
new vocation, as a “lunch lady” at Wayzata West Middle School. In her role as a dental assistant, Pam would calm nerves, hold hands with frightened children, and do what she could to make the experience in a dentist’s chair less scary. She loved the job and felt that it was where she needed to be. Now she was moving into new, unchartered territory: middle school! She says that it wasn’t hard to prep, cook, and serve the students, but it was hard to get these adolescents to take and eat the healthy choices
that had been put before them. She learned to greet them by name and let them know they were important to her. She would remember what items they wanted from her à la carte line and tried to connect with them. She knew she had found another true vocation when the students began greeting her back and when she began receiving positive notes from the kids. The students voted G.O.A.T. (“Greatest of All Time”) (” Greatest of All Time “). “That leap of faith, becoming a lunch lady, paid off,” she tells us.
She still sees “her kids” as she drives her John Deere lawn tractor around the neighborhood mowing lawns (her new career, after retiring from Wayzata Schools). They still will holler, “Hey, hey, Mrs. J!” Clearly, she had found another place where her vocation led her to nurture, care and connect.
Pam remembers when the ground was broken for Peace Lutheran. “We broke the soil with a lot of other members, we helped the church grow, and we nurtured it so it could stay here.” Pam has been a Sunday School teacher and a confirmation mentor in her time at Peace. She has been on the church council, the altar guild, has made and changed banners (one time, she forgot to change them and went up to church late at night in her pajamas to get them changed). She has played in the bell choir, has helped with Peaceful Nights, helped with Vacation Bible School, has organized and helped with Welcome Back picnics at Lake Independence, has taught many church kids how to ski, and has gone on ski trips as a chaperone. She’s been a reader, a greeter, a communion assistant, and an usher and is still involved in the kitchen for Peaceful Nights. “You have to be strong in your faith to put yourself out there to do this,” she believes. Her daughter has a tattoo that says, “Give me strength when I’m standing and faith when I fall.” This is a saying that means a lot to Pam. Her father passed away quickly; her mother did not. Pam has relied on faith to get her through changes and losses, and Peace has been the place she has turned to have that faith nurtured. In turn, Pam’s vocations as a volunteer at church, as a lunch lady, and as a dental assistant have nurtured countless others. Thank you, Pam!