Offering a Helping Hand in Salem, MaineBy Holly Lovgren
When asked by Joan and Howard McGlauflin to go to Salem, Maine, to help with the United Methodist Economic Mission, my husband, Gary, and I said yes, because of the strong testimony of need they shared. As we listened, I wanted to give of myself and to do something for others.
Based on other experiences of giving, I have learned that I always receive more than I give while working with others. This is a wonderful feeling. This trip to Salem was different from any other experience I have had before. Helping the families and church was hard work, but what I gained from it was so heart warming that I will hold this week with fondest memories for the rest of my life.
The families and church congregation we helped entered into our lives once we had the personal contact. They learned to trust the mission team and we began to have a special place in our hearts for them. It was a "rainbow relationship" in that they live in Maine and we in New Hampshire. The glorious bright colors of Christ's Love will always be in the sky for me.
The well that needed to be repaired entailed lowering an outtake pipe and insulating the springhouse. This well provided water (gravity-fed) to the home of a father and daughter. The girl will be in the eighth grade. Last winter the pipes froze and the girl had to climb the steep hill to the spring house each day to chip away at the ice, thus trying to free the waterflow to the house. Despite placing a kerosene heater in the springhouse, the ice was too thick and the family did without running water for 2 weeks. The girl stayed with the work team the entire time, sharing stories of life in the mountains and just being our friend. Both the father and daughter were pleased when the pipes were lowered and insulation installed. The water should run free through future winters. Their gratitude extended beyond the work accomplished. They had the chance to meet new friends and to share in the joy of working together.
A mother of two had a mobile home that needed to be fixed and painted. This was a newly purchased "previously owned" home. The conditions of the older mobile home they were moving out of were poor to say the least. The "new" home was such a joy to this family. Their appreciation was shown in their eyes and hearts.
Towards the end of the week, we undertook painting the local United Methodist Church. The structure was a steepled "New England" style church but without running water. The congregation is celebrating their centennial this year. The church was so thankful to have a fresh coat of paint that they supplied the work team with gifts of food and refreshments each day. These were so appreciated to help break the heat of the summer's first heat wave. The team felt they were giving but also receiving so much from the congregation.
The greatest experience of all was in helping the local families. The Northern New Hampshire District team and the staff of the United Methodist Economic Mission, Salem, Maine, bonded and looked to meet real needs within the community. The strong Christ-like relationship we built and blessings shared were more valuable than the gifts and time alone we spent.
God showed us all his graciousness and wonders through loving one another here on Earth. The experiences of sharing and helping, while praising God is sure to be but a glimpse of what we all have ahead of us when we meet again in the house the Lord has prepared for us in Heaven.