April 12, 2023
MDS RV program a way to help others “in their time of need”
James and Linda Showalter serving in Welsh, La.
Linda Showalter of Indianapolis, Ind. always enjoyed being around construction. Through the Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) Recreational Vehicle (RV) program, she now gets to do it while being “the hands and feet of Jesus.”
Although she has worked on both new builds and repairs, “I like doing the home repairs because you often get to know the owners better and can see the difference you make,” she said.
Linda, 70, and her husband, Jim, also 70, served with MDS in Welsh, Louisiana for the month of February to help people impacted by hurricanes Laura and Delta, which hit the area in 2020.
Before serving with MDS, Linda worked as an elementary school library assistant while Jim was an automation engineer designing industrial control systems for various companies in the U.S. Members of the Shalom Mennonite Church in Indianapolis, they travel in a Grand Design Imagine 26-foot travel trailer.
Jim also likes construction, having been involved in housing building with his dad at an early age, along with other projects.
They like the RV program for several reasons.
“The shorter work day and work week is welcome,” said Linda of how volunteers work six hours a day, four days a week.
They also like the minimum one month commitment, since it “gives us more time to become a more cohesive group and is helpful in making new, long-lasting friendships.”
Jim felt the same way, adding “we like it because we have our own living space, and a bed that we like for resting our aching bones every night.”
The couple typically serves for two months each year; they’ve been to Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas before coming to Louisiana.
Of their time doing service through the program, “I continue to be amazed at what can be accomplished with a team dedicated to a project, even we seniors with our shorter work weeks!” exclaimed Linda.
Being part of the RV program is also a way “for folks living in the colder climates to travel to a warmer area south for a few months during the winter and serve God by sharing their talents,
helping those in need who don’t have the means to fix their damaged or destroyed homes,” said Jim.
For both, serving with the RV program “is a way to demonstrate our belief in Jesus as helping the poor and needy in their time of need.”
The MDS RV program is designed for older adults who want to serve in the southern U.S. during the winter. More laid-back in nature than traditional projects, volunteers work four days a week, six hours a day, usually on lighter repair projects. The term of service is one month or more. Hookups are provided in local campgrounds.
For more information about the MDS RV program, visit https://mdsorg.wpenginepowered.com/rv-volunteer
John Longhurst, MDS Canada Communications