Hood County resident Victoria Coutts is happy to reel off an extensive list of activities and adventures from her life. Then again, she’s happy most of the time.
From performing as a dancer with a professional Flamenco dancing troupe in Barcelona, Spain, to sky diving to earning a second-degree black belt in Taekwondo, her resume is amazing. Some might call it overwhelming. But she said one of her favorite memories is being a smuggler – a Bible smuggler.
I met Coutts by pure chance when I was covering a major accident, where she stopped along with others to offer help. After it was clear one of the drivers didn’t survive, this normally talkative woman became silent. I noticed a teardrop was rolling down her right cheek. I was trying my best not to let the thought of the death affect me. But her sensitive spirit was obviously caught up in that moment while I was clumsily trying to deflect it.
She said later she tried to calm the other driver, and that he seemed to be in shock. When the elderly mother of the other driver showed up, walking slowly and using a cane, Coutts took her by the arm to help her walk through a ditch to where the officers and her physically uninjured son were.
She believes she is given opportunities to assist or comfort people. It’s not only about caring and kindness, but also “representing” Christian life to others. Coutts doesn’t claim to be special, but senses that God provides such opportunities.
“I praise God for putting me at the right place at the right time,” said Coutts, 51, who moved to a Granbury subdivision from Weatherford in 2010.
That concept – “representing” – was also a key element in the 21 years she was the wife of an Air Force F-16 fighter pilot who became a wing commander. While her then-husband was based in Hahn Air Base in Germany, word was getting out about orphans in need after mass killings in Romania under infamous dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. A pastor who worked with some of the orphans visited the base, seeking assistance.
Coutts said she came up with the idea of starting something she called the Romanian Relief Project, and got permission from the base to go forward with the effort. She and some friends raised money and packed clothing, food and hygiene items – plus 200 well-hidden Romanian-language Bibles printed by the Lighthouse Foundation – into a large truck.
Two friends of hers from the air base – Mike and Debbie Wermuth – set out in the winter of 1990 on what turned out to be a 14-hour journey to a soccer arena on the northern border of Romania. Coutts was nursing her newborn son at the time, and the Wermuths insisted she stay at the base.
“I was a smuggler,” Coutts said with a mischievous grin. “I smuggled Bibles into a communist country. I was the mastermind. We really could have caused an international incident. I thought they were very brave to go, just the two of them.”
Coutts was born in southern Louisiana. Her family lived in Puerto Rico for a while when her father, a commercial pilot, was based there. She spent several summers back in Louisiana’s Cajun country with her grandparents. She was 8 when they moved to Miami, where she finished school. After that she married and lived in Germany, followed by England, Arizona, Alabama, South Korea, Virginia, Utah, California, Florida, Aledo and Weatherford before landing in Granbury.
Coutts said she not only speaks fluent Spanish, but also some conversational French and German. She’s also had exposure to the Korean language.
She said she and her former husband were in Germany when the Berlin wall was brought down, although she was too far away to make the trip there for that historic event.
Coutts said she has been involved in wildlife rescue and a children’s Christian ministry in South Korea, taught Sunday school, modeled clothing, learned to scuba dive, taught aerobics and was a flight attendant. She worked as a volunteer at a pregnancy crisis center for 18 months in Glendale, Ariz. Now she’s assisting a local Taekwondo instructor and intends to become a certified instructor.
“She brings a joyful presence here,” said her instructor, Josh Poland. “She always has a smile on her face, and she also has been a big help to me here.”
Coutts said she has “joie de vie” – a Cajun phrase she said loosely translate to “joy of living.”
“That’s just my personality, too – a joyful disposition God gave me. A joyful spirit,” said Coutts, whose son David, now 24, lives in Denver.
She went through a series of events that temporarily muted that joy, including the death of her mother and a friend, plus her divorce and her son leaving “the nest.” She called it “a season in the wilderness” that lasted for about 3-1/2 years, through 2011. But, Coutts said, “my hope remained steadfast in my faith.”
Coutts learned key spiritual values from her maternal grandmother, who came to live with them while her mother was suffering from an extended illness. She explained that “she taught me what it meant to accept Christ as my Lord and savior. It was the three best years of my childhood.”
Coutts told me about her church family, at StoneWater Church of Granbury. She’s one of several “Small Group” volunteer leaders, assigned to work with seventh-grade girls.
Karen Golba, student ministry director at StoneWater, said Coutts is “a committed champion for showing students who Jesus is.”
It was through the international relief organization Samaritan’s Purse that she and other local volunteers assisted victims of the May 15 tornado in the Rancho Brazos subdivision. Many of the volunteers helped move storm debris in wheelbarrows, as well as praying with and comforting residents.
Strangely enough, Coutts said she’s in between jobs, having worked most recently as an administrative assistant. But it’s not a case of having too much time on her hands.
“My business is ministry right now,” she said. “What grounded me here was my Christian family here at StoneWater.”
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