"We're the paramedics, ma'am," Teri Jendusa-Nicolai remembers hearing.
A member of Norway Lutheran Church, Wind Lake, Wis., Jendusa-Nicolai spoke with The Lutheran on Ash Wednesday at Lutheran General Hospital, Park Ridge, Ill. More than three weeks had passed since Feb. 1 when those paramedics and police found her beaten and duct-taped inside a garbage can in a freezing storage locker in Wheeling, Ill.
Jendusa-Nicolai had been missing since Jan. 31 when she went to pick up her daughters, Amanda, 6, and Holly, 4, from ex-husband David Larsen's home. At presstime, Larsen was in federal custody, indicted on kidnapping, domestic violence and attempted homicide charges.
Jendusa-Nicolai suffered a miscarriage, hypothermia and lost her toes from frostbite. But she and her husband, Nick Nicolai, seem at peace. "Our faith is helping us to not be frantic but to work through this, keep things in perspective and look at how we can create a positive out of the shambles," said Nicolai, a member of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Menomonee Falls, Wis.
Their congregations are tremendously supportive. "My church has always been there for me," Jendusa-Nicolai said. "It's where I know most of my friends." When she left her ex-husband because of domestic violence, the congregation helped with money for a lawyer and food pantry donations.
"God may have saved me to be a spokesperson against domestic violence, so I can do something to help other people. Coming out of this, I'm just thankful to God I'm here for Nick and my kids. How can I not be happy?"
© 2013 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers