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Pam Martinez and her mom on a post at www.susangaddis.com

How to Set an Atmosphere For a Simple Legacy


Recently while on vacation, Tom and I ran into Pam Martinez and her husband, Joe. They walked into the cafe’ where we were having lunch. Once members of the church we pastor, I’d missed them since they moved away some years ago.

Of course we all ended up having lunch together to catch up on our lives. Pam’s mom passed away recently at the age of 89. She was an amazing woman. As Pam talked about her mother’s recent memorial service, I knew I wanted her to share her mom’s simple legacy with you …

… because her mother’s legacy isn’t big and bold, but simple and daily … like most of us.

So from me to you, a very warm welcome to Pam Martinez, my guest blogger this week:

A simple legacy of hospitality

Mom went to Africa in the mid-1950’s with three children. I was born soon afterwards … followed by three more children born in the next eight years.

A missionary for 35 years in the Congo/Zaire/Republic of the Congo, Mom’s gift of hospitality impacted her world the most. She made daily choices to have time for people and interruptions.

We were constantly feeding extra mouths at our table, so stretching a meal was a way of life. Mom taught me to make many, many dishes with one pound of hamburger. She adapted to her environment by using whatever she could to make a meal appealing.

I have an odd memory of opening cans of pears, which we got in food orders from Denmark, and grating cheese over the pear halves for a lovely dessert dish! Mom was the master of quick cakes (Crazy Cake!) and would have one ready for people dropping by for coffee.

When George Foreman, the boxer, and his team of helpers arrived in Kinshasa for the “Rumble in the Jungle,” Mom organized a barbecue for them. They were so happy to be fed “American” food. Nothing seemed to limit my mom.

A simple legacy of listening

My mother was also a listener. Many stories were told at her memorial of kids whose parents were far away on mission stations coming by to talk to “Aunt Lee”. In Africa, all adults on the mission station were called “Aunt” or “Uncle” … this seemed to be the best way to describe their relation to us.

Many a girl processed her boy troubles with Mom. And she was candid with the boys about what “knuckleheads” they were in the relationship realm. If one of these kids didn’t have a place to stay for a year while his or her parents were “up country” or out of the country for some reason, my parents would invite them to live with us. I never remember being crowded in our home, only pleasantly part of a pack.

A simple legacy of prayer

My mother was a prayer warrior—though she would laugh at that description. She had prayer meetings at our house. She prayed with my dad each night before they went to sleep. But most of her prayers were said in the context of her day.

Being a missionary is not easy. Mom had to deal with people she often didn’t like. Some days she woke up wishing she wasn’t a missionary. She worried about us kids as we made stupid choices and grew in our own directions.

Prayer was Mom’s go-to daily. I know that I’m following the Lord today because of my mom and dad’s prayers. Asking God to do what she couldn’t possibly do was the stability Mom needed to live life.

A simple legacy that set an atmosphere for others

In the big picture of my mother’s life, it wasn’t where she was or what she did that was the big deal. It was who she was and God’s work in her life that made her a world-changer.

My brother called my mom a thermostat instead of a thermometer. She set the atmosphere for her part of the world and it was set with acceptance and love, qualities Jesus championed.

A simple legacy of faith

Someone asked me if my parents left us any inheritance. Actually, yes!

They left us their faith and their everyday lives lived with Jesus as an example to follow. No riches can compete with such a priceless inheritance.

– Pam Martinez

I never did catch Pam’s mother’s name. And I’m not sure I’d remember it even if Pam told me. But I’ll remember her story. How she set an atmosphere for those around her to be changed by Jesus. That’s a legacy of faith that I want to leave with people too.

How about you? What did you relate to in Pam’s post? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Have a great weekend. Susan

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Rusty Weaver

    I know that lady! She was my mom longer than she was for anyone else, so I benefited most 🙂

  2. Susan Gaddis

    Well, you had a amazing mother, Rusty. I finally learned her name … and Lillian Lee Weaver is someone I’m looking forward to getting to know in eternity future.

  3. Gloria Marshall

    From a different perspective from the Weaver kids (all of them, now amazing and contributing adults)I was the receiver of Lee’s warm and caring friendship. As a newer and very green missionary, she mentored me, encouraged me, fed me (both spiritually and practically). If I ever needed advice about how to live in Africa, appreciate its people or stretch one can of tuna to feed 10 people, she was the go-to person.
    Gloria Marshall

    1. Susan Gaddis

      And I’ll bet she never realized she was leaving a legacy within you that has helped shaped your life, Gloria. Lillian was just being who she was in Jesus.

      I find it so exciting that if we just do what Jesus sets before us, we can make a difference in people’s lives.

      Thank you for sharing your part of her story with us, Gloria. 🙂


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