Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ordinary to Extraordinary: Reflections on UMCOR West Office and Depot

Volunteers from Christ United Methodist Church in Salt Lake City, Utah, offered their help during UMCOR West Depot's official opening in June.

It is 8:30am on a Monday morning. Jamie and I pull up to the front of the new UMCOR West Office and Depot in Salt Lake City and hurriedly prepare the building for a new group of volunteers who will be arriving all the way from Emmett, Idaho. I always look forward to meeting new people and hearing their stories.

The Emmett group is wonderful and consists of one couple that has done extensive mission work in Africa, a pair of teenage brothers full of life, a second career pastor and her husband, and a woman who has been faithful to the Church for decades. They have come to make a difference!

For two and a half months now, UMCOR West Depot has been welcoming volunteers from all over the Western Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church. They have come to participate in UMCOR’s disaster relief ministry. While at the depot, volunteers have been busy putting together relief kits that will aid vulnerable people around the world.

Our volunteers are “ordinary” United Methodists who have heard the call of Jesus upon their lives and because of the grace of God, they are doing “extraordinary” things! The school bags they have created will soon find their way into the hands of children who would otherwise not have access to simple supplies like paper, pencils, crayons, and scissors. The health kits they have built will soon provide a measure of much needed relief for people who don’t have access to basic health care products like toothpaste, soap, and bandages. And, the cleaning buckets UMCOR West volunteers have built will go a long way in allowing folks to begin reconstructing their lives after a natural disaster. UMCOR West is a great place to be in service to the most vulnerable of people around the world.

In two days Jamie, our US-2 Young Adult Missionary, will be leaving to begin seminary and she will be missed. However, a new crop of long term volunteers will be coming in to take her place. They too have heard the call of Christ and will further the work of UMCOR. . . a car just pulled up. It is Marci and Virginia from southern California. I’ve been expecting them. They are elderly women who have just driven 13 hours to bring several boxes of sewing kits and to see the new Depot in Utah. They stay for a while to tour the facility, ask a few questions about how their churches might get even more involved, and to leave us with a check for our ministry. Then it is back in the car to head home.

The faithfulness of ordinary people like Marci, Virginia, the group from Emmett, and Jamie is so amazing. Together, and by the grace of God, we can become an “extraordinary” people.

By Brian Diggs, director UMCOR West Office and Depot

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