I would never marry you!”
Those piercing words not only halted Christopher Amonson’s search for a wedding ring, but the devastating news also led him away from Spokane to live in the Nevada desert for two years.
The young man, however, could not get Crystal Parmer out of his mind, so he returned to the city in the U.S. state of Washington to be with her. When she realized that the man she had been with for nearly five years could not live without her, she seriously reconsidered the notion of marriage.
Not sure if Amonson would broach the idea of matrimony again, Parmer decided to propose to him. But they faced a challenge: They were not sure how they could afford a wedding since they were both between jobs.
Seeking assistance for some health needs, the duo went to the Your Better Pathway to Health mega-clinic this week at the Spokane County Fairgrounds. Amonson, 33, gained a new pair of eyeglasses while Parmer, 31, enjoyed a massage.
A volunteer learned that the couple was planning to get married and directed them to a trailer where suits and wedding dresses were being given away for free.
Parmer was given a wedding dress, and Amonson received a tuxedo.
“I started crying,” Parmer said about the moment she was given a wedding dress. “There was no way I could ever afford one.”
“This is a blessing, a gift from God,” she added. “Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve dreamed of how my wedding would be. Now we just need to find the perfect place.”
The duo has been directed to contact a local Seventh-day Adventist church for assistance in planning their special day.
“I was amazed,” Amonson said about the tuxedo gift. “It made me kind of nervous because it made getting married more of a reality.”
The big date will be set In the not too distant future, and wedding dreams will soon come true.
Although Your Best Pathway to Health’s mega-clinics largely focus on medical services, Seventh-day Adventists agree that treating the whole person is vital for lasting physical, mental, and spiritual health.
Including hair care? Yes.
Since Scripture notes in Luke 12:7 that “the very hairs of your head are all numbered,” God definitely cares for such detail. And a vital part of a person’s sense of well-being involves a modest, well-kept appearance — including the hair.
One powerful example of the importance of personal care came from a young Spokane resident who, after surgery late last year, was bedridden and could not keep up with caring for her lengthy, reddish-brown locks.
After eight months of not being able to brush through her hair, Nicole (who preferred not to share her last name) had a mass of matted tangles that she said was very difficult to try to keep clean.
“It will be nice to be able to wash my hair again,” she said, adding that dry shampoo did not work and getting her hair wet made it moldy.
The 31-year-old sewing instructor and costume seamstress said she learned about the Pathway to Health services via a letter she received from a home health worker. Even with state health care assistance, there was no way to get help caring for personal needs like her hair.
Hairstylist Jody Meyer of Spokane spent about eight hours working to untangle and comb through the hair, a few strands at a time. She said Nicole was brave to endure the pain from all of the tugging.
“It’s like having your hair caught in a car door and being dragged down the road,” Nicole said.
Although the sensitive nerve endings on her head became tender and enflamed during the delicate hair-care process, Nicole found great relief in receiving a physical therapy treatment for her stomach area. Ever since her surgery, she had found it difficult to keep food down and was entitled to no further physical therapy assistance from the state for the rest of this year.
Suffering from pain that radiated to her back and other parts of her body, Nicole said the physical therapy treatment that she received at Pathway to Health made the pain go away for the first time since her surgery.
“It was awesome. If I had not been laying down, my jaw would have hit the floor,” she said.
Nicole also received blood tests, a massage, and care for skin issues. When asked if anyone had prayed at the mega-clinic, she replied that at least eight people prayed for her, which, she added, “will have an affect in time.”
As crowds waned on the afternoon of the first day of the mega-clinic, volunteer chaplain Paul Pitts and his wife, Karyl, of Kingman, Arizona, decided to head out into the Spokane community to hand out more Pathway to Health brochures on the free health services being offered at the fairgrounds.
At the bus station downtown, they happened upon a young man who was interested in coming to the event. His challenge: He needed to catch a bus at 5 p.m. to return to Miami, Florida.
When the college student, Kerwin Foster, asked for a ride, the couple did not hesitate to whisk him straight to the Spokane County Fairgrounds. Foster called the invitation “divine intervention.”
“I thought I should take the opportunity to receive a blessing,” he said. “This is all very gracious.”
After riding the bus to Spokane a week earlier to attend a convention of independent business owners association, the aspiring children’s story writer hardly thought he would be receiving free healthcare services before returning home.
Foster, who doesn’t have insurance, said he needed some dental care. But since that department was maxed out with patients, he was ushered by the Pitts to a variety of other stations: a health assessment, a blood draw, a physical exam, massage therapy, lifestyle counseling, and chaplaincy services. Arrangements were made for Foster’s blood test results to be shipped to Florida.
“This is not a one-day thing,” Paul Pitts explained to Foster as he waited for care between stations. “We’re going to be staying in touch.”
Before the couple took Foster out to lunch on their way back to the bus station, the grateful young man said he was convicted that services like Pathway to Health are “a very needed thing in the world.”
“This should become the norm,” said Foster, who was raised a Methodist. “Health is for the whole vessel including the spiritual. I don’t believe in coincidences. This is divine intervention.”
After their meal together, Foster told the Pitts: “Words cannot express my appreciation. I must now pay it forward and do something to help someone else.”
Tom Ish is editor of the magazine Creation Illustrated.
"Extreme Makeover: Pathway to Health Edition": A homeless man is transformed with a haircut and a men's suit