Volunteers have a Servant’s Heart

By Ruth Brown*

A Volunteers in Mission (VIM) team of 15 people from both the East Ohio and West Ohio conferences, and led by Tammy Kuntz, was blessed to spend a week volunteering at Midwest Mission Distribution Center.  Located in Chatham, Illinois south of Springfield, the Center does amazing work. Our team’s work was centered on varied tasks with four projects.

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Every day a group assembled personal dignity kits that included a hand towel, wash cloth, comb, nail clippers, toothbrush, shampoo w/conditioner, deodorant, bar of soap, razor, and toothpaste. These items were wrapped in the towel and it was fitted into a zip lock bag. Boxes were made and kits were packed in them. Over five days 3,454 personal dignity kits were assembled! As team members assembled the kits our thoughts were on the homeless people in Haiti who will receive them.

Since many cleaning buckets have been sent to areas that experienced flooding there is an ongoing need to replenish them so that a large supply can be on hand at the Center for any upcoming disasters that might occur. Incoming buckets were broken down to make sure they contained the correct items. The items were then sorted into bins and counted. Before the buckets could be assembled one of the main tasks was rolling garbage bags into rolls of 12. An assembly line was formed to put the buckets together. A total of 414 buckets were assembled. As this work was being done thoughts were on how glad the people who would receive the buckets would be to have the supplies to help with their clean-up work.

The Center has a woodworking shop where school desks are made, and during the week we put together the 15 pieces that form each desk to make sure that the parts fit together.  We then disassembled the desk, sanded and applied a coat of polyurethane to each piece twice, and then put all the parts inside the desk top and wrapped it in plastic wrap. The desks will be shipped out of the country and the recipients will be able to construct them using the numbered parts.  While we were completing the 18 desks we worked on during our visit, team members were thinking of children who would sit at the desks and have new opportunities to learn.

One of our team members worked all week with another volunteer in the sewing machine shop repairing old treadle machines which will be sent to Africa, Haiti, Panama, etc. where people can use them to make a living.

The Center staff and volunteer coordinators start their day with a meeting and prayer. The Holy Spirit flows all through the center as all are fully engaged in the Lord’s work.  When we began our trip only a few team members knew each other, but as the week progressed we developed a feeling of community, bonded with a group of women from Minnesota, and worked well together as a team.  We laughed, talked, and fellowshipped with one another, and we were energized spiritually with daily evening devotions. Team members took turns cooking each day so we were extremely spoiled with scrumptious meals.

EOC volunteers

At the conclusion of our time together everyone left with positive memories of a spirit-filled mission trip, during which we accomplished much, and the hope of one day returning to MMDC.

*Ruth Brown is a member of Norwalk First United Methodist Church (Firelands District).