Westmont Magazine Two Generations of Westmont Women
When her husband died in a plane crash after only eight years of marriage, Luci Oberst Meissner ’55 was left with two small daughters. Major Rudy Meissner, an Air Force electronic warfare officer stationed in Alaska, survived a tour of duty in Vietnam only to disappear over the Bering Sea.
Moving her girls to a one-acre farm in Santa Ynez, Calif., Luci gave them a country childhood complete with horses, sheep, chickens, ducks and pigs. Living close to Westmont helped her keep in touch with college friends, and her daughters grew up going to Homecoming events.
An elementary education major, Luci taught at Cold Spring School for four years after graduation — she still stays in touch with several students. She then served in Okinawa with Far Eastern Broadcasting Co., where she met her husband.
During 33 years in Santa Ynez, she has worked as a substitute teacher, sold antiques and bred Shelties. She has also been actively involved in Santa Ynez Presbyterian Church. Her daughters have inherited her love for Westmont, her interest in education and her passion for ministry.
Kristi Meissner Nay ’83 and Jani Meissner-Frisk ’85 followed their mother’s example and enrolled at Westmont.
An English major, Kristi helped start a speech team on campus and enjoyed competing in tournaments. During the summers, she worked as a camp counselor at Hume Lake, where she met her husband, Stephen. After graduating and earning an elementary credential from Westmont, she spent several years teaching at Santa Ynez Valley Christian Academy. Stephen is a technical writer, which gives him the flexibility to telecommute.
Working at a Christian school put Kristi in touch with people in the ministry. “I saw a need for husbands and wives in Christian service to have a place to go on vacation that didn’t cost very much,” she says. “My husband and I had a dream of running a bed-and-breakfast place that would be free for pastors, so we started the Shepherd’s Keep ministry in Solvang.”
For more than 10 years, the Nays invited couples into their home to enjoy a time of rest. When they moved to the Yosemite area and later relocated to Woodland Park, Colo., they continued the outreach.
In Colorado, their ministry expanded when they helped start a church, which Stephen served as an associate pastor while continuing to work as a technical writer. Kristi taught junior high Sunday school and did some writing of her own.
She entered and won a contest to compose the best chapter for “Chicken Soup for the College Soul.” Drawing on her Westmont experience, Kristi recounted the kindness and compassion she received from philosophy Professor Bob Wennberg. Not only did she receive $2,500, but her essay appears in the book. The prize money funded a trip to Germany for Kristi, Stephen and Jani.
The Nays now live in Cimarron, Colo., where Kristi hopes to continue writing. She is particularly interested in telling Old Testament stories through historical fiction.
A biology major at Westmont, Jani got interested in medicine as a co-leader for the Potter’s Clay medical team. After graduating with a B.A., she earned a B.S. in biochemistry at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and then completed an M.S. in nutritional biochemistry at Cal Poly Pomona. After working as a chemist for the California Air Resources Board, she decided she wanted to help people through nutrition. But she soon realized she needed a medical degree to make a difference. So she attended the University of Health Sciences in Kansas City, Mo.
As a medical student, she spent a month ministering in a Kenyan hospital, and as a resident she taught at a medical school in Kazakstan. These experiences have increased her interest in medical missions, which she hopes to pursue in the future. She is involved in the Christian Medical and Dental Association, which encourages doctors to spend time overseas in ministry.
Jani lives with her husband and two children in Mt. Juliet, Tenn., where she has a private family practice that employs nine people. Her husband runs the business side of the clinic. After the premature birth of her son this year, she is working part time. Her miracle baby, born three months premature, has survived with no permanent problems.
“The practice is a ministry for us, as we pray for every patient,” she says. “We have seen really neat things happen, including miracles and salvation. People rarely say no when I ask to pray with them. There is a whole lot of research on prayer and how well it works, so I think there is more openness to prayer and to receiving the gospel. Most people appreciate it whether they believe in it or not.”
Jani has drawn on her mother’s Westmont connections in launching a new product. Tong Joe Lin ’56, a friend of Luci’s, has developed a lotion for women going through menopause, which is named for Jani. Dr. Lin, who earned a Ph.D. in cosmetology from Texas A & M, consults with cosmetic companies worldwide. The new treatment for hot flashes, Dr. Jani’s HFB Serum, reportedly cools the skin without causing side effects or health risks. It is available in parts of Tennessee and through several catalogs.
“Westmont gave me a great start,” Jani says. “The emphasis on research and the wonderful professors and curriculum in the sciences gave me a good foundation, which I really appreciate.”