RISING SUN, Ind. (BP)–Since the brutal drive-by shootings of my sister, Jean Dover Elliott, and her husband, Larry, and two of their co-workers in Mosul, Iraq, on March 15, I have spent much time reflecting on my memories of two wonderful people I was blessed to have in my life.
Our mother told us that our grandfather prayed for his grandchildren before they were ever born. I am the fifth child and Jean was the sixth of seven children. Being only two years and nine months apart, we were always very close. I have always known that Jean was very, very special. She always had a gentle, quiet spirit and was extraordinarily loving, caring and thoughtful of others, putting others before herself.
My husband, Ron, pastor of First Baptist Church in Rising Sun, Ind., and Larry answered their callings to the Gospel ministry at about the same time, which added a special dimension to the close relationship we already had.
Larry was a hard worker, liked to help people, was energetic and a joy to be around. He was a great sports enthusiast, especially during March Madness. Larry had an unforgettable laugh that was filled with gusto. Larry and Jean had a way about them which made people feel special, and one could feel at ease around them. I will definitely miss their wonderful sense of humor and the laughter we shared.
Jean and Larry loved Jesus Christ with all their heart, mind and soul and were obedient in doing His will, whatever it involved regardless of the risks. They often quoted Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness: and all these things shall be added unto you.” They lived their lives by this verse.
A shining example of Jean’s love and thoughtfulness is shown in the last gift I received from her, which I’ll always cherish. In an e-mail from Jean dated l-29-04, she wrote: … What I have to do between now and July is overwhelming … decide on every item in my house … what to sell, give away, or store since we will be taking only what we can get into our suitcases to Iraq. The hard part will be putting prices on what we plan to sell … It’s going to be a job.”
I talked with Jean and Larry on the phone on 2-15-04 and talked with Jean on 2-16-04, the same day they flew to Amman, Jordan, on the way to Baghdad, and I could hear the joyous anticipation in their voices as they related that their call had been confirmed.
Two days later, I received in the mail an envelope containing an old Coke tin in the shape of a Coke bottle with a note from Jean which read, “Dear Joyce, So wonderful to talk with you this morning on the phone. Thank you for calling. This is a little addition to your COKE collection. Hope you will like it! Maybe I can find an ARABIC Coke for you in Iraq. Give our love to Ron and all your family. I love you so very much! Love and Thanks, Jean.”
Jean had told me two and a half years earlier that she had an old Coke tin she’d like for me to have. My first thought after reading her note was that Jean wanted to be sure I received the Coke tin in the event something would happen to her. In the midst of all they had to do to prepare for a preliminary trip to Baghdad, then the awesome task of returning to Honduras to sort through 25 years’ accumulation in preparation for an anticipated move to Iraq in July, Jean was thinking of me! With all she had on her mind to do, she was thinking of me! That’s the kind of person my sister Jean was — full of love and always thinking of others.
To know Jean and Larry was to love them. In an e-mail from Baghdad, Jean wrote lovingly of a mother and her small son and daughter. It’s amazing what smiles and laughter can do. Please pray that we can be a light to these people and that they will come to know the True Light.