July 23, 2022
For youth, MDS service is “a way to unplug”
Gavin Hadley likes to change things up sometimes.
As the 15-year-old from Faith Mennonite Church in Newton, Kansas helped a crew build a new home in Welsh, Louisiana as part of a Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) Summer Youth Project, he reflected that this is a great way to do just that.
Hadley traveled with his youth group and chaperones from the church to help hurricane survivors in this small Louisiana town—hit hard by Hurricane Delta in October 2020—recover from the storm.
“I’ve learned to properly sand drywall, and to use a few different tools,” said Hadley, who added that he was pleasantly surprised by the organized structure of the MDS project site.
“MDS sets things up really well, and the work is really streamlined,” he said. “There’s a definite schedule, good food, and a lot of structure. It’s a way to unplug, and a good way to change things up.”
For 14-year-old Adam Scheffler, from the same youth group, “base camp” is a lot nicer than he thought it would be. Volunteers are staying in bunk rooms and eating breakfast and dinner at the Jennings Church of Christ.
“The food is pretty nice, and when you make your lunch, you can pick what you want,” said Scheffler, who helped install a new floor at a home in Jennings.
"You come out of your bubble into a community, you build the relationships, and you find God in people.”
— Michele WhiteEagle, MDS Region 4 board chair
“I hadn’t done flooring before, and now I’d feel comfortable putting a floor down in our house,” he said.
Shari Scheffler, Adam’s mother, said she remembers doing mission trips as teenager herself.
“I want my kids to experience this as teenagers, too,” she said. “I want them to develop an attitude of service to others and, rather than focusing on what they don’t have, I want them to see how good they really have it.”
Michele WhiteEagle, MDS Region 4 board chair, said Adam was an exemplary volunteer.
“He’s enthusiastic and excited, ready to participate and do anything,” she said.
WhiteEagle served as a project director in Jennings for a month. During her last week in Louisiana, she reflected on why it’s so meaningful to serve as an MDS leadership volunteer.
“You connect with the volunteers and with the people you’re serving,” she said. “You come out of your bubble into a community, you build the relationships, and you find God in people.”