Skip to main content

Helene's Homegoing

One of our colleagues in Niger, Helene Zoolkoski, went to be with Jesus Sunday morning, about 3:15 a.m. Niger time.

Our SIM director in Niger wrote:

"Helene Zoolkoski went to be with her Savior this morning at 3:15 am. She passed away at their home in Galmi. Helene had been diagnosed with metastatic melanoma over 16 months ago. Upon receiving this news it was Helene and Chris's desire to return to Galmi and continue to work as long as they could, knowing that Helene may live out the rest of her days here in the country where they had invested so much of their lives already.

"Last Wednesday Chris and Helene quietly celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary. Though very weak Helene's thoughts were clear and she still had her pretty smile.

"One of Helene's favorite hymns is 'O Sacred Head, Now Wounded'. The last verse reads:

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,

For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?

O make me Thine forever; and should I fainting be,

Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

"When Mikki and I had the privilege of seeing Helene last week, she repeated several times, 'God is good...all the time!' Despite her suffering, her love for the Lord Jesus remained strong and unshakable until the end." (Steve Schmidt)

John and Suzanne were on their way back to Niger when Helene was ushered into her Saviour's presence so they did not hear the news until they landed in Niger early Monday morning. Many, many missionaries from Niamey drove the 6-7 hour trip east to Galmi and John and Suzanne were able to join the convoy to Galmi. John said the funeral was beautifully simple and glorifying to God. I don't have any other details at this time. You can also look at my friend Cindy's blog for more details:; Rachel's blog:; or Steven's blog:

Helene and I were kids together at boarding school back in the 60's, though I don't remember her very well from those days. Before Helene and Chris were married, and before John and I had kids, she and I taught together at Sahel was the 2nd year of the school which is now 20 years old. I always appreciated Helene's honesty, her professionalism, and her no-nonsense approach to life. Even though we seldom got to see each other due to the distance between our stations, we always enjoyed chatting when we were together. She often helped me gain a fresh perspective on things I was struggling with. (This picture of Helene is from one of their prayer letters.)

Please pray for her husband Chris and their three children, Elisheva, Zeb, and Joel. Helene's mom has been with them since about the end of January.


Palmer said…
When Chris and Helene left Klamath Falls for Niger, I told them and others that I loved the fact that our church was seeing our "best and brightest" go off to the mission field. It sure is hard to understand why God has chosen to take Helene from this earth. Frankly, it's impossible for me to understand, but I trust that we will know why someday. Thanks for sharing this update. Since we're out of touch with everyone back in Oregon, it might have been awhile before we learned these details.
Dusty Penguin said…
It's always hard to hear of one of God's faithful going home to Him. Beautiful for them and sad for those who miss them. Thank you for sharing about her.
Grace said…
I met Helene at Briercrest Bible College via a wall switch. I could hear her singing in Housa (sp?) on the other side of the wall and wondered who was this beautiful songstress?! Although she was a no-nonsense kind of girl, she also had that wonderful quirky sense of humor.

Helena-pina, I miss you very much and look forward to a good long chat in glory!

Popular posts from this blog

Practice Hospitality

My mother-in-law, Jean, is an amazing person with many gifts.  One of the first things I noticed about her when I was but a young bride, was her gift of hospitality.  It was nothing for her to invite a large group of people over, make each one feel welcome, cook a big meal,and seemingly do it without stressing herself out.  I don't know if hospitality just came naturally to her or if she learned it.  In this picture you can see Jean throwing a party for a class she taught in Nigeria.  

I believe that for me it has been a learned skill.  My parents were hospitable and it wasn't unusual for us to have guests over (though usually not as many at a time as my mother-in-law would do!).  But when I started living on my own, I had to learn hospitality.  The first time I invited somebody over for a meal, the lid got stuck on the pot of vegetables, I put too much salt or soda or something in the muffins, and I forgot to serve milk and sugar with the hot drinks.  I've gotten much bett…

Graduation Season

It's the season for graduations!  Yesterday I attended two graduations.  Thankfully one was in the morning and one was in the evening.  There were differences and similarities.  

The morning graduation was at the flight controller and meteorologist training school.  Six of the graduates attended our Bible study regularly and a seventh came occasionally.  We grew to dearly love this group.  

The evening ceremony was at our MK school and all of the graduates this year were missionary kids and one pastor's kids; the majority of the missionary kids were from our mission.  So I've known most of these kids since they were little. 

The similarities were:
1.  Both groups were fairly small (30 for the flight controller school and 13 for our mission school).  Both groups were very close to each other; at the flight controller school they have all classes together and live in dorms together for 14 months with only a few days off and no real vacations; at the mission school the kids have …

Beyond Our Ability to Endure

I've been working on our home assignment audio-visual presentation.  It's been a lot of work, especially since it requires sorting through hundreds of pictures to choose the ones we want to use.  I was hoping to put together something that would be really "Wow!"  Well, in the end it's just a power point with some music and a few slides coming in with a fancy spin.  But it's our story, and our story is nothing more than God's story when it comes right down to it.  In fact, I have used Big Daddy Weave's song, My Story in part of the presentation.  If you're not familiar with the song, you can listen to it here
As I looked over the past four years of this term there were days that we felt we had reached our ability to endure.  We started the term in July 2013 and we were still recovering from the flood of 2012.  We have all of our "normal" stresses such as living in an extremely hot climate, living in the poorest country of the world, livi…