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Mother & daughter buoy troops during family visit to Germany

POMPANO, Fla. (BP)–Beverly Cooley and her daughter, Nancy Sparkman, traveled to Germany to see their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. As long as they were making the trip, they decided also to serve as Christian ambassadors to U.S. soldiers and airmen stationed there.

Cooley, whose husband, Walter, was assistant pastor of First Baptist Church in Pompano, Fla., before his death in 1996, asked the congregation to contribute toward an array of items that would make a soldier feel more at home. Her daughter’s husband, Stan Sparkman, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Sebastian, Fla., also encouraged his congregation to contribute toward the mission.

The two churches amassed enough funds to purchase dozens of Christian DVDs and CDs, Play Station 2 games, Christian booklets, decks of cards and board games, copies of “Chicken Soup for the Soul” and microwave popcorn.

The mother-daughter team also took 203 letters from church members and from Nancy’s first-grade students at Fellsmere Elementary, which they distributed to the soldiers.

The boxes of gifts were labeled “Love to our troops from First Baptist Church, Pompano Beach and Cornerstone Baptist Church, Sebastian.”

During the April trip, Cooley and Sparkman also carried homemade brownies to patients at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. In a visit at Fisher House, where patients’ families reside, they were able to plant trays of pansies.

“This really touched my heart,” Cooley said. “It thrilled me to death.”

Cooley, who says “missions is my life since Walter has been gone,” recently spent six months as an International Mission Board volunteer teaching English as a Second Language at Hodeidah University in Yemen. In all, she has participated in 16 mission trips since her husband’s death.

And, of course, the mother-daughter team spent time with Kori Chin, their granddaughter and daughter. Chin’s husband, Michael, is an assistant chaplain in the Air Force. They were introduced for the first time to 2-year-old Mikie and reacquainted with 4-year-old Morgan, whom Cooley had seen as an infant.

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  • Carolyn Nichols