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Group photo in front of large signGroup photo in front of large sign

Alvin, third from left, back row, with other volunteers in Monte Lake.

I thank God for the opportunities I’ve had to serve with Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS), most recently last October in Monte Lake, B.C. What I experienced there is hard to put into words, but I will try.

At that project, I had the privilege of leading a team that worked, for the most part, on the last home to be built. For all of us, the greatest joy was working with the homeowners, the Eager family, and getting to know them first-hand.

Their lives had been so tough since the fire, which hit in summer, 2021. It took their house and everything they owned—including the 60 chickens they had just processed and put into their freezer for the winter meals.

When I arrived, I could sense they were a bit skeptical that we could finish on time before winter came.

Over the two and a half weeks I was there, trust between us grew as we developed a relationship and were able to check more things off the completed list each day. And since we knew time was of the essence, we also worked one Saturday—traditionally a day off for volunteers—to do the siding.

In ways such as that, the family saw we were invested in making sure this home was completed. Over time, I saw them grow more confident that they would be in their new house by Christmas—just as MDS had promised.

Over my time in Monte Lake, we grew close as friends. On my last day, Tammy, the mother told me: “You can’t go!” It was then I realized what God does in lives of people when acts of service are done for them with love.

“My heart is always moved by the stories I am privileged to hear”

On my last day, we prayed for them and they prayed for us. It was hard to say good-bye. But the friendship we developed, both with the family and also with the other volunteers, was carried home in my heart. And when I got home, I followed the progress with joy as I saw things get completed in their new home. I was so excited for them!

I have to say that I was so proud to serve with MDS in Monte Lake. It’s an organization that, like someone said to me, completes what they say and set out to do. That’s why I love to serve with it.

In addition to the homes we can build or repair, my heart is always moved by the stories I am privileged to hear. When I come home from my time with MDS I always share the stories with my wife. It is often hard to relate them without some tears rolling down my cheeks.

At Christmas, my wife and I decided to bless the family with some gifts of games for their kids, to replace things lost in the fire. They sent their thanks with some pictures and wished us a Merry Christmas from their new home—just as they were promised!

I am thankful that I am able to use my skills to help others in the name of Jesus in Monte Lake. The memories of the family we served and the people I served with there will forever be etched into my heart.

Alvin Klassen lives in Winnipeg, Man. He also recently served in Princeton, B.C.

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