April 12, 2023
Easter hope in Florida: “MDS changed the course of our future”
Glorious. Life-changing. Inspiring.
The words Amber Scott uses to describe MDS volunteers deeply resonate with the hope of Easter. The first time volunteers visited her home, in North Port, Florida—just after Hurricane Ian devastated the southeast portion of the state in September 2022—an Early Response Team arrived to remove downed trees and repair some fencing.
Hurricane Ian also ripped the siding from the home, punched holes in the walls, and shattered the windows.
“The volunteers came back—and they did it in a big way,” said Amber, referring to a second wave of MDS volunteers who returned to repair her home, which was dedicated on March 24.
Spending time with the volunteers was, Amber said, “a life-changing experience.”
The week that the second wave of volunteers arrived, her husband, Joe, was recovering from the effects of his last cancer treatments, and Amber, a teacher, was working every day. Both were caring for their children, ages 16, 13, and 10.
“The integrity of these volunteers is astonishing,” said Amber Scott. “They were the most kind people—the most hardworking.”
The volunteers did far more than repair a home, she added. “They changed our lives and inspired my children,” she said. “They showed all of us what’s possible when God stands as the foundation.”
Even though Joe responded well to cancer treatments, he still suffers nerve damage, Amber explained. “You hear people survive cancer but you don’t hear about what life looks like after,” she said. “You truly have to redefine what life looks like.”
Joe lost his salivary glands so he has to hydrate almost constantly. “Eating for him is painful,” said Amber. “It was so special for him to be with these people through the week.”
“They changed our lives and inspired my children,”
— Amber Scott, Homeowner
Her husband has been through a lot, she added. “I think men tend to place value based on how well they provide for their families,” she said. “He had to go through a lot and and lay himself at the feet of God.”
As her husband was going through what she calls “this torment,” MDS volunteers helped ease both the physical and mental load. “It’s been a beautiful blessing,” she said. “They repaired our home and our hearts. They planted seeds in my family that will certainly change the course of our future.”
Amber found herself having difficulty processing how people could extend such love. “They will live forever in our hearts and our home, always,” she said. “I love them all dearly.”
As MDS seeks volunteers to repair more homes in Florida—now extending a travel reimbursement during the month of April as an incentive—Amber wants to remind people that we are a collective humanity. “The volunteers showed me that—just the magnitude of it it all, and the glory of God,” she said.
Many of the more than 25 volunteers who worked on the Scott’s home also described a life-changing experience.
Ezra Byler, who served on both the MDS Early Response Team as well as the crew who later repaired the Scott’s home, said it was one of the most moving volunteer experiences he’s ever had.
“We were all moved,” Byler said, particularly a group of 25 people ages 17-20 from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, many of whom had never been to Florida. “Everybody who was there had a change of heart.”
Many young people in Byler’s group said they had never experienced anything like it. “A lot of them made the remark, when they got home to their parents, that they’d never experienced something like that and it was the best week they’ve ever had in their lives—in their lives!” he exclaimed.
Byler added that he was particularly moved by Joe Scott’s positive spirit. “He was very thankful to be alive—just a very grateful person,” said Byler. “I thought: how can this guy be so upbeat?”
During a group prayer, Byler overheard Joe Scott ask God for 10 more years of life so he could see his young daughter graduate from high school. “I thought: wow, he’s not asking for a lot,” said Byler. “Volunteering was just a great experience—and it’s all for the honor and glory of God.”
Susan Kim, MDS writer.