Vera Pember just turned 85 this year. In her lifetime, she's seen quite a change. She saw transportation go from teams of horses and wagons to automobiles to airplanes to rockets that took people to the moon. She's seen her five sons grow up and become successful fathers and businessmen. She's enjoyed a good life in the Midwest. And at this past convention she celebrated one more milestone that few people ever achieve - becoming completely debt-free.
Vera's path to financial freedom began in the spring of 1991. Her husband had passed away four months before, and she was living on her social security check of about $300 a month. "I remember Dad being so concerned before he passed away about how Mom would make it financially," says Merrill Pember, her son. "He would tell her to be careful of what she bought at the store. When I talked to Mom about joining Melaleuca, she said, 'I'm 74 years old, I just lost Dad, and I don't see how I could do it.' But she joined for my benefit, to be my eighth customer. Then two months later she made Director and never once had to pay money out of her pocket for her products."
Melaleuca really became a family affair for the Pembers. "Merrill enrolled Vyrl," explains Vera. "He put me under Vyrl, then I enrolled Arlyn, then enrolled Larry and put him under Arlyn. Our son Marvin has also been enrolled. I wasn't doing anything else at the time, so I just talked to people who were handy and started building a business right away. I became a Senior Director in July of 1992 and Executive Director a couple years later."
"Melaleuca is fantastic for her," says Vera's daughter-in-law, Vicki. "I don't know of anything else that she could have done. She was able to do this business because it didn't involve delivering or carrying inventory like other home-based businesses do." Vera's Melaleuca business provides her with a great income, too. Her last check was over $6,300, which represents a typical month.
With her income, Vera was able to enjoy more blessings in life. In 1994 Vera was living in a house that was over 100 years old. Then she decided to buy a brand new, modest but beautiful home just down the street from her son Arlyn. In August she went to the bank for a mortgage. "The bank gave her the 30-year loan just on the strength of her Melaleuca business report," says daughter-in-law Vicki. "The home was worth more than $100,000."
Six and a half years later, her mortgage was completely paid off. "I'd been making pretty good income and paying $1,000 a month on the mortgage," says Vera. "I wanted to get it paid off while I'm still here. I was really thrilled when I got it down to where I could make one regular payment and have it paid off."
Vera loves her home. "It has three bedrooms with a master bedroom and bath. It has a dining room, front room, kitchen and laundry. It has a deck out back with shrubbery in the yard and lots of room behind the house. It's on the end of a street so I don't have to worry about cars whizzing by. It really feels great to know it's mine." Now instead of paying her mortgage, Vera plans to double what she donates to missionary efforts.
At Melaleuca's national Convention in August, Vera and her family members came up on stage to participate in a mortgage burning ceremony with Pres. Frank VanderSloot and the management team. "I hardly knew what to think," says Vera. "I can't tell you how if feels. People came up to me by the dozens to shake my hand and take pictures. They told me how I had been an inspiration to them since I had become an Executive Director, and that had helped build their organization."
"It was wonderful to see how many people have a dream to do the same thing," says Vicki. "The crowd gave her a standing ovation, and many people came up afterwards saying how happy they were to be able to celebrate with us the burning of the mortgage at Convention. It was so nice for them to honor her there."
"It was one of the proudest moments in my life," says Merrill. "Melaleuca has been such a blessing to her. It has really put all the concerns that my father had to rest. It's significant that this new house has been paid for entirely with Melaleuca money. Melaleuca has really blessed the matriarch of our family and all us siblings as well."
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