February 14, 2022
Kansas sisters get ready to learn and serve in McAllen, Texas
Valetta Seymour and Wanda Knight—two widowed sisters who grew up on their family farm in Moundridge, Kansas—are ready to embark on a Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) service-and-learning trip to McAllen, Texas, with 13 other volunteers.
While there, the two volunteers will be part of an effort to repair homes damaged in June 2018 flooding and build three homes for La Posada Providencia, a local ministry that offers hospitality to asylum seekers who have begun the legal immigration process and are in need of shelter.
MDS is describing their trip as a service-and-learning experience since volunteers set time aside each week for learning about immigration and the U.S. border from service providers, immigrants, and local churches.
Seymour, who lives in North Newton, Kansas, said she first heard about the trip—which runs from Feb. 19-25—from Knight, who serves on the board of the MDS Kansas Unit.
“I was immediately interested,” said Seymour. “I have been concerned about the treatment of immigrants in the U.S., especially with regards to those who are seeking safety from violence in their home countries.”
Seymour said she is eager to learn more about what is happening at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“The learning aspect of this trip is very appealing to me,” she said. “And since I enjoy service work, I look forward to offering some help to those who suffered loss of their homes due to flooding in 2018.”
Seymour has volunteered for MDS once before, with her late husband, Miner Seymour, in western Louisiana following hurricane damage there. Miner, who passed away in July 2021, also served for MDS in Arkansas, Missouri, and Louisiana. MDS received the proceeds from a memorial fund in his name.
“He found doing MDS service to be very gratifying,” said Seymour of her husband. “He was a carpenter, so he had some skills to offer. He enjoyed the process of seeing the progress made on a project, and he enjoyed meeting other volunteers.”
For Knight, this is her fourth MDS trip—made more special by going with her sister.
“The three previous trips have been very rewarding and inspiring, so I am looking forward to serving again. I look forward to helping victims of the 2018 flood and hearing their stories. I also hope to learn about the immigration concerns.”
— Wanda Knight
“The three previous trips have been very rewarding and inspiring, so I am looking forward to serving again,” she said. “I look forward to helping victims of the 2018 flood and hearing their stories. I also hope to learn about the immigration concerns.”
A memorial fund for Knight’s late husband, Howard, was also sent to MDS.
“Howard and I went on two MDS trips together,” Knight recalled. “One trip was to New Iberia, Louisiana, another to Diamond, Louisiana, where we worked on houses on the bayou.”
The only way the Knights could get to the homes on which they were working was by boat.
Knight also recalled another MDS trip she made with the Eden Mennonite youth group.
“We went to New Orleans, Louisiana, where we stayed at Annunciation Mission,” she said. “That was a good experience for the youth and me.”
Knight added that all MDS trips have been inspiring and rewarding, especially when she hears the hurricane survivors’ stories.
“They were so appreciative of MDS coming to help them,” she said. “One, Ms. Woogie, said she felt like God was sending angels. How can one not feel inspired!”