VOLUNTEERING WITH MDS: My Experiences And Highlights At Monte Lake
When I look back to the beginning of May before I left to work with MDS, I remember being slightly nervous because I did not know what to expect.
Now, after having served for two months with MDS the only word that I can think of to describe my experience is “blessing.” The Mennonite Disaster Service is an organization that truly embodies the love of Christ in a very practical way; they are the hands and feet of Jesus to those who are in need.
From my first day to my last, I was mentored by great leaders that showed integrity, commitment, and excellence in everything they did. I was especially impacted by my project directors: Dave, John, and Roman, who modeled servant leadership and taught us how to see God in the ordinary.
During my first weeks, Dave taught me and the other volunteers how to use power tools and he also spent some time teaching us about construction. He saw potential in each of us and invested in preparing us for the upcoming phases of the project at Monte Lake.
Afterward, John came into leadership and taught us the value of relationships. John was an extremely caring leader, I got to witness how he poured love and hope into the lives of the various homeowners in the Monte Lake area. He knew each of the homeowners really well and tried to care for their needs as much as possible.
Later, when Roman came to lead the project, I learned a lot about how to balance my leadership with amiability and assertiveness. Of all the leaders I would say that Roman impacted me the most; he is a visionary man that takes action and makes things happen, all this without compromising his relationships and caring for all volunteers.
I remember that there was a 79-year-old lady that some crew leaders dismissed or considered incapable of performing well at the worksites, but one day when Roman was working with her I was able to witness how he empowered her and used her skillset to contribute to the project that we were working on that day. Rather than dismissing her (like other crew leaders), he actually made her feel valued and an important part of the team. I also noticed how he did that with every single volunteer. On the other hand, he was also a great teacher, he was very patient when he was teaching me to do layouts and later empowered me to do it by myself. On top of all that, he was a leader that was extremely devoted to God and to serving others. Serving under his leadership was a blessing, and he is a leader that I would happily follow without hesitating. ____________________________________
“I got to meet other volunteers that impacted me with their lives and stories; people that are passionately driven to help others and make a difference in this world. Inspiring people that embody love in a world of chaos.”
Another aspect that was a highlight of my experience with MDS was the people that I got to meet. MDS not only taught me practical skills but also gave me life-long friendships. Shannon and Lindsay are the other two long-term volunteers that I got to live with during my time at Monte Lake. After spending two months with them and growing together in so many areas of our lives; I can confidently say that I have gained two sisters.
In addition, I got to meet other volunteers that impacted me with their lives and stories; people that are passionately driven to help others and make a difference in this world. Inspiring people that embody love in a world of chaos.
Overall, MDS has given me a life-changing experience that has shed light and perspective on my own journey with Christ. A motto that I have adopted throughout my walk as a Christian is “Lex Orandi, lex Credendi, lex Vivendi,” which translates to “As we worship, so we believe, so we live.”
This motto refers to the relationship between worship, belief, and the result of that which translates to an action (living). I think that MDS is an organization that models “lex Vivendi (so we live)” beautifully, by becoming the hands and feet of Jesus to those who cannot see hope. As their slogan says: “Respond, Rebuild, Restore;” but more than just caring for the practical need caused by a natural disaster, MDS also cares for the souls of those who were affected.
As I process everything that I experienced during my time serving at the Mennonite Disaster Service, one thing becomes clear to me, I want to continue volunteering with this amazing organization that rebuilds hope and loves their neighbor. It was a blessing.
Betty Valdes Ramones
Betty is heading into her 3rd year of studies at SBC, and is in the Bachelor of Arts Ministry Leadership program with a Pastoral focus. She volunteered with Mennonite Disaster Service as a recipient of the MDS Sheep and Goat Bursary.