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  • Writer's pictureNeil Allen

When I grow up I want to be like Patty

My dear friend and team member of the 2021 Portland Convention recently lost everything in one of the wildfires that ripped through her Ottis, Oregon hometown.

Patty's house was totally destroyed, and it was a real treasure of home. Tucked away in the Douglas firs of the PNW, just a few miles east of Lincoln City, Oregon, Patty lived a quiet life of sewing, reading and pitching in at her Lutheran Church.

Naturally, we made contact to see if Patty was okay, "Yes, I'm fine, but I'm am afraid the banner we were working on for the convention was destroyed along with my collection."

Her voice never wavered, her faith never faltered, "I'm so blessed to have so many people reaching out to check on me." (paraphrased). Patty's first thoughts were to those who looked to her for leadership and her tenants who rented from her (30+). Her heart was thinking of all of us, instead of what she lost.

"It's keeping things in perspective." Said Patty. "Nativities, and houses can be replaced, but people can not."

Of course, I asked her if I could contribute to her needs, but she assured me she had the things she needed, and that helping others who have little or nothing would please her more.

My immediate appreciation for her perspective can not be understated. She had the correct response of a faithful steward of blessings that filled her life. I thought to myself, "I hope and pray I would be so stable if I were to lose our home and collection of 30 years."

I'd like to think I would.....and I've been tested a number of times on the same issues, and was surprised how quickly I put things into perspective.

One year as we set up my collection on the church chancel, a friend brought some sets and objects to show with mine. She showed me a candle holder (three tiers) she found in a local thrift store. It was magnificent on its own, but I suggested we add some ribbon and some dripless candles. Which we did. and set it near the back of the collection.

It was absolutely beautiful until the front candle burned down below the ribbon on the top candle and set the whole thing ablaze. I recall diving under the display and crawling 6 feet faster than a marine in a war zone, and popped up behind the blaze which had ignited the sheets covering the structure.

With nothing at my disposal except my hands, I began to beat the flames down, and nearly had them out when I heard commotion come through the display and people yelling, "Pastor, watch out." Keeping on my mission of beating the flames back I was struck with a blast from a fire extinguisher.

The fire was out, but I was still in a state of shock, and could not speak to anyone about it, for many hours.

I kept envisioning the whole of my collection going up in flames, along with the church I served and the people who looked to me for leadership. It's a memory that stays with me till this day, and one I reflect upon often.

10 years later when a whole table filled with nativities collapsed and fell to the ground with me on it, I bounced up to make sure no one else was hurt and continue to pick up the broken pieces and continue our display.

Neither fire, nor damage, or even the thought of lost ability has dissuaded me from continuing the idea of collecting and sharing nativities....and I am closer to being like Patty than I can be.

(The set shown above is a creation made by Morart in Lincoln City - Friends of Patty she helped create for my personal collection. This set will be returned to Patty once she is settled, thus starting a new collection!. We hope to show it to you when you visit the Portland Convention in November 2021)

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