Salem St. James is a Medic who recently returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. She is the recipient of a hand made quilt while serving in Afghanistan. Three ladies, two from Atlanta and one from Fredericktown made the quilt.
Shirley Ruth of Atlanta, Georgia, designed and pieced the quilt top (Shirley is retired from The Coca-Cola Company).
Pam Matheny Wallace, of Atlanta, embroidered the heart blocks of the quilt.
Pam said, “I was born in Fredericktown, Missouri, but now live and work in Atlanta.”
Pam’s mom, Laverne Thorsrud of Fredericktown, provided the backing and batting, and quilted the quilt….making the dream real.
Pam said, “What amazes me is that a little quilt, designed and pieced in Atlanta, and quilted in Fredericktown, MO…could end up blessing someone serving our Country in Afghanistan. I’ve always had a heart for our soldiers, as my brother served in Desert Storm and is retired military. Shirley’s son-in-law is currently serving as a Military Chaplain in Germany. My mother, Laverne, is married to a retired military man, Robert Thorsrud, so our love for our soldiers runs deep.”The love of quilting has been passed down through the family.
Pam said, “Laverne quilts every Tuesday at Rhodes Chapel Church, following the tradition of her late mother Lola Ellen Dowd, who also lived in Fredericktown, Missouri. I would imagine that there are HUNDREDS of quilts that were quilted by the hands of my mother and grandmother. So, the SQLQ blessing ripple began MANY years ago.”
Pam said the ladies had no idea the quilt would end up with a medic. “We had no idea when we designed the quilt that it would be going to a medic…and the design is the same as the red cross emblem. It brought tears to my eyes and I was SO blessed when I saw the photos, I wanted to share the blessing with you.”
Salem St. James was also very happy with the quilt. She sent a thank you e-mail to us: “I received a quilt from you guys yesterday…and was spellbound. It is beautiful, and I love it. Thank you so much!”
She went on to say, “It was definitely a treat to receive mail, and to get such an amazing gift from good people, it really brought a smile to my face. And I can tell you…the boys were a little jealous.”
“I am at the END of my deployment here in Afghanistan, and am hopping a plane tomorrow morning in fact. I can’t wait to be back home, and snuggle up on the sofa with my new quilt! Have no fear that I will put it to good use. Me and those lady bugs are in for some long overdue naps. From the heart, I am grateful for all your efforts… I wish you all the best.”
Pam returned the e-mail with a story of how the quilt came to be;
“Thank you for the kind note and photo that you sent to us about the quilt you received while in Afghanistan. This is the story about YOUR quilt and how the idea to make a quilt for YOU began. Your photo is a treasured reminder to us of our mission, which we will call…A Soldier-Quilt-Love-Quest!”
Pam went on saying, “Last year, a friend of my family went to Afghanistan, and I kept up with him on Facebook. He would put photos of himself standing in front of a sand colored building, surrounded by sand. While I realize that the camouflage is all about protecting you from the enemy, the absence of color made me sad…and I thought how much more sad it must be for him to live surrounded by sand…not to mention enemies! My co-worker and friend (Shirley) and I started talking about sending a colorful quilt to him. She had heard of a program that sends quilts to soldiers in conflict, but we wanted this experience to be a little more personal and send our quilt to someone we knew, and so our quest began.”
Pam continued, “My mother (Laverne), who lives in the little town of Fredericktown, MO spends her days quilting, so I called her and asked her if she had any extra colorful quilts she would like to part with…and so the story began with her. She sent me a colorful quilt to send to that soldier that was my friend serving in Afghanistan. We mailed the quilt to him, and he mailed my mother back a thank-you note…along with the Army medallion that he was given to remind him of why he was there. She was (and still is) so proud of that Army Medallion. She carries it with her everywhere and shows it to everyone! He just recently returned home, and is still so proud of that quilt and the comfort that it gave him while he was serving in Afghanistan.”
Pam went on to say, “Seeing how happy that Army Medallion made my mother…and how happy the quilt that we gave to my soldier friend that was stationed in Afghanistan made my friend feel…made Shirley and I to begin plotting another quilt for another soldier…only this time we wanted to send it to a woman soldier…someone that needed to feel a special love from God. That person was YOU! We could only imagine how awful it must be to be a woman surrounded by a sea of sand and men…(awful unless you are on a tropical beach near an ocean) so we began our quilt-love-quest again! You should know that…we are souls squeezing the days, and trying to spread a little joy where we can, while we can!”
Pam explained, “I had embroidered four heart blocks, but four blocks isn’t enough to make a very large quilt top. I had used them and put together the UGLIEST top with those four blocks and some red and white fabric…but it was just horrid! Shirley and I worked together in Atlanta, GA, so I brought that ugly top that I had made into work for her to see. I KNEW that top was ugly! Thankfully, Shirley is very artistic and saw potential in that horrid quilt top that I had pieced together! She took it home, took it apart and redesigned the top with the cheery red/white and blue lady-bug fabric, into the cross with the heart in the middle. I mailed the redesigned quilt top to my mother to hand quilt. You should know that the whole time my mother was quilting that quilt, she was praying for you. When she finished quilting it, she mailed it back to me, and then Shirley and I mailed it to you! So, I embroidered the squares, Shirley pieced the top, and Laverne quilted the whole thing together!
“We had no idea that the design would resemble that of the red-cross design on the medic helicopter, but when you sent us your photo….we were stunned. I am still stunned. It is truly amazing to me to see God’s hand at work. That quilt landing in your arms in Afghanistan was truly a God-thing that was a year in the making. If you have never seen God at work in your life before, you can rest assured that HE is.”
In response to Salem’s question about how they found her, Pam said, “You asked how we found you…a friend of a friend of a friend…is all we can say. We just asked people if they knew of someone that needed to see love from God…and God sent us your name. My prayer is that you feel the love that went into that quilt and know that every time that you are under that quilt you are covered in God’s love, and our thoughts and prayers of thanksgiving for soldiers like you…and the thankfulness we feel for the freedom we enjoy because of hundreds of soldiers like you.”
The ladies all shared the same sentiment: “Thank you for serving our great Country, and thank you for being willing to lay down your life for our freedom. We send much love to you, and are so thankful to add your name to our soldier-quilt-love-quest recipient list. We hope you are welcomed home openly and are proud of your service to America, as you should be! We would love it if you would like to keep in touch with us. We are just three silver-haired souls on a secret mission of love.
“We are once again plotting another secret quilt mission…so the (SQLQ) Soldier-Quilt-Love-Quest continues…”