Giving in the Doing
A story about Our UMCOR Team's Trip to Sager Brown
Originally published in The First Edition, June 2015 Issue
In April, a group of nine travelled from our church to the Sager Brown Depot in Baldwin, Louisiana to dedicate some time to serving others. Sager Brown is the UMCOR headquarters for relief-supply operations; and each year, over 2000 volunteers from across the country prepare millions of dollars of relief kits to help victims of natural disasters. Our team members helped in various stages of relief operations during their week there:
- Updated cleaning buckets
- Verified health kit contents
- Sewed layettes for birthing kits
- Helped to load a cargo container with 47 pallets of birthing kits for Angola (over 30K birthing kits!)
The Sager Brown depot also helps those locally in various capacities, so our team members also contributed their efforts for people in the local area:
- Helped to distribute 549 boxes of USDA food to those families who are eligible according to age and financial qualifications.
- Helped to construct a bathroom in a local shelter for battered women.
This year two of the couples on our team experienced this trip for the very first time . For them, it was eye-opening to see these efforts first-hand and to work with others from across the country toward the same goal.
Linda McCarthy worked in the sewing room with Mary Klute, making baby clothes for tiny ones they would never see. Linda described her experience beautifully by saying, “I prayed over every layette I made, prayed for the little baby who would eventually be wearing it.”
Linda and Mary also participated in the big activity of loading a cargo container with over 30,000 birthing kits. The various teams of volunteers took turns unloading a palette of boxes each. Every palette contained 27 boxes and inside each box were 24 birthing kits. Linda added “To know that the efforts of so many different churches come together here to help people who are in need is SO touching. I feel God has blessed me through this trip. I would go back again.”
Mike McCarthy wasn’t sure what to expect at Sager Brown. He was assigned the job of opening and repacking disaster relief cleaning cans that had become unusable due to outdated cleaning supplies. What he found, as he worked on this project, was a new understanding and “awareness for others” as he dedicated himself 100% to doing this essential repackaging work for someone else. It was a God-given “selflessness” that poured over him during this week as he worked.
Mark Klute has a passion and a gift for construction and found himself assigned to work on a bathroom at a local shelter for battered women. While he was working there, the director was called away to bring a mother of five to safety. Seeing this firsthand really brought home to Mark the importance of something as seemingly insignificant as installing plumbing for a bathroom.
Our team members began each day with a devotional; and at the end of each day, they held vespers and spent time in prayer. Our discipleship process requires an intentional approach to prayer and worship like this. Out of this comes the sharing of what God has given us in abundance.
“Even if you didn’t know who would eventually receive the things you made, the giving was in ‘the doing’,” Mary said as she reflected on the team’s sharing of God’s grace.