Sanchez couple experiences trip of a lifetime during Operation Heal our Patriots

Published 9:03 am Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Bainbridge couple, Jacob and Amethyste Sanchez recently returned from Alaska, where they partook in Samaritan’s Purse Operation Heal Our Patriots.

Operation Heal Our Patriots is a ministry project of Samaritan’s Purse that focuses on bringing spiritual refreshment, physical renewal and marriage enrichment to wounded and injured U.S. Military service members and their spouses.

Jacob and Amethyste were one of four couples at the retreat who were dual enlisted, meaning both spouses were enlisted in the service. Jacob was a former Marine, while Amethyste served in the Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Jacob explained that they had previously applied to take part in the project in 2016 and were accepted. However, during the time the couple was supposed to attend, Jacob was sent to the Republican National Convention for security.

However, it was all a part of God’s greater plan, as the couple was approved again for 2022, which is their 10-year anniversary.

Jacob shared that the couples attending the retreat were all at different stages in their marriage, but the week gave them the opportunity to learn and reconnect with their partner. One of the first things Jacob noticed when he arrived was a chance to re-dedicate yourself to your spouse, so he signed up himself and Amethyste.

“I was never able to give Amethyste the wedding she deserved,” he explained. “We actually had a double proxy marriage. We had two people sitting in for us.”

Jacob never had any doubt he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Amethyste.

“We were dancing in Kuwait and that’s when I knew that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life without this person,” he said.

Their double proxy marriage took place 10 years ago in January, so the opportunity to rededicate themselves in Alaska seemed surreal.

To add to the excitement of the rededication, Samaritan’s Purse surprised everyone with two special guests, former Vice-President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen.

The Pences spent one-on-one time with each couple throughout the week, and spent time with Jacob and Amethyste the day of their rededication.

“I felt undeserving of the blessings that just kept piling on day after day,” Jacob said.

Jacob said daily they would have a class at the beginning of the day, followed by an activity, before another class at the end of the day.

He shared what their week-long activities consisted of, beginning with a trip on a sea plane to Lake Clark National Park and Reserve. There, Jacob said he and his wife saw tons of Sockeye Salmon and went bear viewing, seeing cubs who were only 1-years-old.

The following afternoon, the couple enjoyed a hike up to the waterfalls.

The rest of the week afforded the couple more afternoons outside, trying their hand at fly-fishing and rafting.

The final day they traveled to Pronneke’s Cabin, which was constructed in 1967-1968 by Richard Proenneke, a former Naval shipman who was medically discharged due to rheumatic fever. Once finished exploring the cabin, Jacob and Amethyste were picked up by a sea plane and flown back to the campsite where they rededicated themselves to each other.

“I enjoyed the entire experience,” Jacob said. “I could tell the hand of God was there. While I was physically exhausted, I was spiritually fulfilled.”

Jacob concluded by highly encouraging any patriot who needs to work on anything to consider applying for the program, as it is truly a life-changing experience.