April 12, 2023
MDS RV program “like a family”
Duane and Jean Anderson serving in Welsh, La.
Service and sun—those are two things Duane and Jean Anderson of Lakeville, Ind. like about the Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) Recreational Vehicle (RV) program.
“It’s a great way to be of help to others in the wintertime,” said Duane, 72, a retired heavy truck diesel mechanic.
“It’s a great experience being with others, being active and physical and developing new friendships,” added Jean, 71, who worked in education for a career.
The two, members of the County Line Brethren Church in Lakeville, lived in their 30-foot Flagstaff Forest River trailer while at the project site from October, last year, to March. This is the sixth time they’ve done service with MDS.
“I feel good about how I can work for others to fix up their damaged house,” said Duane. “It’s good to see them get back up after a disaster and get going again.”
For Jean, it’s also a way to “pay it forward” to help others from when volunteers came to her community in the mid-1960s to clean up and rebuild after a tornado hit. “That left a lasting impression on me,” she said.
For both, service with MDS is a way to live out their faith.
“Through MDS, we can be the hands and feet of Jesus for those who have limited incomes or other reasons why it’s hard for them to repair their homes,” Duane said.
“We feel called by God to do this,” said Jean. “He knows where we are needed.”
The RV program is a “chance to get out of the cold for a bit,” Duane said. “Working in the sun in winter is nice,” added Jean.
They also really enjoy the friendships they make with the other MDS volunteers.
“We’ve made friends from all over the U.S. and Canada,” Jean said. “We stay in touch and share the ups and downs of life. We’re like a real family.”
Becoming friends with the homeowners they are helping also is a blessing.
“We end up sharing our life journeys with each other,” Duane said. “For them, it’s important to talk about how the disaster impacted them, the trauma it caused. We can be a listening ear.”
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