Jantsen's Gift: A True Story of Grief, Rescue, and Grace

Jantsen's Gift: A True Story of Grief, Rescue, and Grace

by Pam Cope, Aimee Molloy

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446551465
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 04/16/2009
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 1,044,901
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

In 2000, Pam Cope founded Touch A Life Foundation by establishing a shelter in Saigon for homeless children. Touch A Life now supportsover 200 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 lives in Texas with her family.

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.

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Jantsen's Gift: A True Story of Grief, Rescue, and Grace 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
WisteriaLeigh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
JANTSEN¿S GIFTA True Story of Grief, Rescue and Graceby Pam Cope, with Aimee MolloyGrand Central PublishingHachette Book GroupApril 2009978-0-446-19969-8If you have ever wondered if one person can really make a difference, then you have not read Jantsen¿s Gift by Pam Cope. After the tragic death of her son, Pam, a self described hairdresser, wife and soccer mom was unsure how she was going to live through each day. She was desperate, full of self-loathing, her grief was so enormous, she had no idea how she would ever get out of bed to carry on life without him. One day, desperate, unable to cope, desolate with grief she has a chat with God, ¿I cannot do this anymore. I cannot live this life....I cannot forge a life of meaning from this sorrow. Please, just take me. Or at least tell me: What do you want from me.¿Having learned from her husband Randy that the memorial fund established in her son¿s name had grown to twenty five thousand, Pam decides to take a trip to Vietnam with a friend in order to visit orphanages. This initial leap of courage to take a trip that required traveling across the globe away from the comfort zone of Neosho, Missouri was the impetuous that Pam needed to begin her healing. On her visit she met Vinh Thien a small infant boy, who had been abandoned by his mother. Despite all the many children Pam and Randy had met during their visit, Vinh stood out and without any explanation, she just knew she wanted to take him home. He would ultimately become Van Alan Cope. It was a long arduous process complete with red tape and bureaucratic double talk, but one that would help to show Pam what her path in life was to be. She was never, or seemingly never daunted by the insurmountable odds against everything she tried to implement. Her tenacious will seemed to be driven by a purpose unseen until her son¿s death. Through Jantsen¿s spirit she learned to live differently, perhaps that was his gift. Throwing all her energy into saving children, Pam took on nascent roles of speaker, fund-raiser, administrator, Mom Pam (adopted mother), politician, and social worker and director to defend, protect and rescue neglected and abandoned children. She saved hundreds of children from the streets of Vietnam by providing shelter, basic needs and an education. Pam founded the Touch A Life organization, it¿s mission to help save at-risk youths globally. After reading an article in The New York Times in 2006, Pam headed to Northern Ghana to help save children forced into hard labor as slaves. Even though laws against child trafficking are in place, the practice continues without interference from authorities. Brutally honest, inspirational without preaching, you feel the author¿s pain and anguish, you feel her surrender and release, you feel her acceptance and grace. In her words, ¿I never thought that Jantsen¿s death would lead me to grace, and it is my hope that nobody ever has to go through what I went through to arrive there. Even writing this book feels like another step away from Jantsen. I do take comfort in the idea that even one more person will et to know a little about him, but the fact that I can write about his death without crawling to my bed and staying there, curled up in my grief for weeks, shows how far I¿ve come.¿Highly moving and emotional story of one woman¿s struggle to endure loss. Pam Cope¿s story is gut wrenching and sad yet offers hope for all of us who look for life¿s purpose and what truly matters. Jantsen¿s Gift should be on everyone¿s wish list.
CarolynSchroeder on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a remarkable story about a woman who is changing the world, one child at a time, when at many points in her life, she never thought she had the power to even change herself. It is also a story about no matter how dark and confused life may seem, there is a way out, to step outside ourselves and do real good in the small time we may have on this planet. Ms. Cope's story is nothing short of mindblowing (and the death of her son is so incredibly sad), a woman, like you and me, who finally believed she could make a difference (despite being perceived as the "crazy lady from Missouri") and did just that. I sort of hate when anyone says "everyone should read this book" but, everyone should read this book. I recently traveled to Africa (Tanzania/Arusha and not Ghana, where the author does her work), but boy, she put me right back there. The work Touch a Life does is outstanding - rescuing children from slavery/trafficking/sex trade(s) - and the work continues. There are some very difficult parts, e.g., the reality that white American men (college age up to grown men) are actually the ones in Vietman/Cambodia keeping the market for child sex alive, was a sickening reality. The slavery/trafficking is shocking. No matter how many times one might read about it, it's quite different to experience it "first hand" with Cope (being a mother, she brought a very passionate, caring focus to her reporting, each child had a name and/or story). Anyway, the book is outstanding, the topic one of the most important ones from a humanity and future of our world, perspective. This is one of those life-changing books because you simply cannot go back to naivete after you read it. Highly recommended.
JoyfullyRetired on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Pam Cope is a wife and mother from Neosho, Missouri. She lived through, barely, a parent's worst nightmare - her son Jantsen's sudden death at the age of fifteen. Prior to her son's death, Pam had been searching for something to give her life meaning. She tried excessive shopping, numerous self-help books and so forth. Nothing helped. The grief from her son's death overwhelmed her and added to her feelings of aimlessness. Within the year following his death Pam had no desire to eat, leave the house or do anything but curl up and cry. She sunk into a life-threatening depression.Many things came together to help Pam climb out of the black hole. One of them was the reassuring voice of God in the quiet of her bedroom. She also had an extremely supportive husband, daughter, other family members, friends and a good doctor.Once she was back on the road to recovery one of her tasks was to decide how to spend the money given in memory of her son. She searched many charitable projects. She and her husband felt the need to do something for children. Close friends were working with an orphanage in Vietnam so the family traveled to the orphanage to see if this was the right place for the money - Jantsen's gift.Not only was it the right place for Jantsen's gift but they met a baby there who captured their hearts. This trip was the beginning of a whole new way of life for Pam and her husband Randy. They went on to establish an organization, Touch A Life Foundation, that has also changed the lives of many children.In addition to Vietnam, they have helped children in Cambodia and Ghana in West Africa. As they say on their website, "The focus of the organization is to stand in the gap for hurting and exploited children." The help they have given children is both financial and personal. They've been able to rescue children caught in life-threatening situations. Many others have joined in with the Copes to help Touch A Life. To learn more about the organization, go here. I'm very honored to have had the opportunity to read this book. It's one of those books everyone should read.
whitreidtan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
To an outsider, Pam Cope's life looked pretty darn perfect until her 15 year old son collapsed and died unexpectedly. This devastating blow sent Pam into a downward spiral that she couldn't pull out of and which made a mockery of her previous life. Her husband held their family together, waiting for the day that Pam decided to face life again. And that day did eventually come, but her priorities had shifted. She knew that she needed to honor Jantsen's memory and to make a difference in the world. This awakening gelled on a trip to Vietnam that she, husband Randy, and daughter Crista took to visit an orphanage started by a friend and to try and escape some of the suffocating grief they felt at home. Not only did the Copes come home determined to adopt the little boy they met in Vietnam who was an immediate part of their hearts, but they had found a purpose for some of the money collected in Jantsen's name after his death: to care for and make a difference in the lives of children who had few others to care for or about them. This wasn't the end of the grief at losing Jantsen or a cure-all for their family but it became a guiding principle that helped them get over the hurdles still in their path (Randy's chance to grieve properly, disappointments over the dispersal of some of the funds, the challenges of starting a non-profit, etc.). Their story is still a work in process. Jantsen's absence will always be a gaping hole but the creation of their foundation Touch a Life is a testament to the great love they bore their son and continue to bear for children of the world.Each chapter after Jantsen's death starts with the recounting of a short letter to Jantsen from the journal Pam continues to keep years after his death. Cope and Molloy have juxtaposed the grief of losing a child with the admirable and inspiring story of one family who has taken that sorrow and channeled it into something beautiful and full of grace. This is not an easy book to read, dealing as it does with the loss of a child and the horrible conditions, including slavery in which other children continue to live even today. But it is ultimately a hopeful book. If such a sad event can lead to even the smallest spark of hope, it will not be dismissed as simply another tragedy to avoid in conversation. It's hard to critique the writing when the topic is so very personal (I wept copiously as I read) but there were a few bits in the book that made me roll my eyes or wish the narrative line would speed up. These bits were not overwhelming though and so didn't overpower my general feeling about the book which was that this was a moving book that deserves a wide audience. Inspiring and heart breaking, I hope the publicity from the book makes it possible for more children to be saved. Jantsen's life might have been a gift to the Cope family but his family's gift will be an enduring one to the wider world.
BellaFoxx on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jantsen's Gift by Pam CopeThe cover states this is a true story of grief, rescue and grace. The grief began on June 16, 1999 when Pam Cope's fifteen-year-old son, Jantsen, died. The rescue is her account of her work to save at-risk children, and the grace is how she has emerged, not fully whole, but in a much better place and as a better person.This is very honest account, Pam Cope details the horrible grief she felt, the debilitating depression she suffered after the death of her son, but some of the reasons she started doing the work she did was she saw how many people her son had helped in his short life.In retelling her efforts to help children around the world, innocent victims of war and human trafficking, she is unstinting in her praise for those who helped her. People who also wanted to help and more importantly, were familiar with the situations and knew the best way to help these children. She is also candid about some mistakes she made along the way, how she learned from them and included some travel tips. Such as, if you are in Ghana and see a man with a string around his waist, he is going to try to urinate on you. (I just couldn't resist telling that)In short, this is an extraordinary well written account of one woman's efforts to change things for the better. Included is a website to visit to learn more about the charity she and her husband started.I recommend this book.
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WinterWitch More than 1 year ago
Jantsen's Gift is the best book I've read in a long time. The author Pam Cope and her story of heartache and healing is a story worth reading. This book is worth every penny paid. Jantsen's Gift is well written with Aimee Molloy and you can't help but empathize with the Cope family.
Alipet813 More than 1 year ago
This novel touched me so deeply, and when I finished I had "that feeling" in my chest. The feeling of completeness and hope and a bit of yearning for more. Pam Cope was a woman that those on the outside thought had it all. She grew up in a wonderful family, married a wonderful man, and had wonderful children -a boy and a girl-one adopted. However, on the inside she always felt like her life wasn't complete. She could never quite place it, and felt guilty that her "perfect" life wasn't enough. Fast forward several years and perfection turns to tragedy. Pam's son Jantsen dies suddenly from an unrealized heart defect. This part of the novel is told with such clarity and reflection of the incidence that I sobbed. I felt my heart breaking while reading it. I am not exaggerating when I say it made me feel like my heart was ripped to shreds. When she spoke of her depression and not wanting to go on I was feeling it with her while reading. Unable to cope with the loss of her son over the holidays Pam decided to travel to Vietnam. She had been interested since friends had adopted a child from the country and thought it would be a chance to get away from the sadness. She also had money from a trust set up after Jantsen's death that she wanted to donate to a worthy cause and thought this might be it. Pam, her husband Randy and her daughter Crista made the trip that changed their lives in November 2000. This trip to Vietnam changed the Cope family forever. In this trip Pam found the piece of herself that had been missing and the family found a son to bring home and love. The rest of the novel focuses on the family's different journeys to improve the lives of children in other countries. They travel to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Ghana. They develop homes, education centers,medical treatment and safety for hundreds of children. Children sold into slavery, children orphaned by poverty and illness, and children who feel life has nothing to offer them. It is a touching story of what faith and asking for help can do. They adopt another daughter along the way and many friends become involved in the foundation they developed and others adopt children. Each chapter after Jantsen's death begins with a short letter to him from Pam. As the novel progresses you can see the growth she has gone through. You don't see the sadness completely leave and she never stops loving or missing him, but she picks herself back up and lives again through his memory. This isn't to suggest that the trip to Vietnam took away all the depression and longing for her son. This was a long process. It involved a hospitalization for her depression, and a confrontation with her faith. In this novel, Pam Cope realizes that although she has attended and been active in church she has never really known God and begins an actual relationship with him. Her faith in God led her through many difficult through many difficult days. Jantsen's Gift tells of Pam's life, but it also provides facts about the lives of the children she is helping and the states of their countries. It was very educational. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone and everyone. Warning: when you are done reading you will begin to question what you are doing in your life to help the less fortunate. You may even want to start planning your first trip abroad. For more information on Pam's foundation Touch A Life please visit www.touchalifekids.org
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shelseker More than 1 year ago
This book had a powerful effect on me. It illustrates what one plain, ordinary person can do when they just get up and go after an idea or a dream. Pam Cope and her family did not simply donate their son's memorial money to some organization that did good things; they went out and saved children themselves. I was absolutely awed and impressed at their willingness to go and experience for themselves what is happening in Vietnam, Ghana, and Cambodia. I did not know about these atrocities, so the book was a real eye-opener for me. Their son Jantsen would be so proud of them and what they have done as a memorial to him and his life.
KerryDawn More than 1 year ago
A beautifully written book by two amazing women! Pam and her family have survived a personal tragedy and managed to change the destiny of many impoverished children worldwide. I read the entire book in one sitting on a flight to CA from NY- laughing & crying the entire way- completely immersed in their story. THANK YOU, Pam for sharing those moments with your readers & inspiring me!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A riveting story that will bring you courage and peace.