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Rocky Mountain Conference members serve through Volunteers in Mission

By Betsy Keyack and Ann Fort, Rocky Mountain Conference UMVIM Coordinators
(from the Western Jurisdiction UMVIM website; photos added)

Rocky MThey came from all over Wyoming, Utah and Colorado. They ministered to sick people, gleaned potato fields for food banks, played with orphans, repaired and built homes, churches and a medical clinic, readied Buckhorn Camp for the season and served in many other ways. They fostered relationships with people in 19 US states and 7 international countries. They came in teams from individual churches and multiple churches - about 60 congregations were represented. There were volunteers of all ages, from grade school to senior citizens.

These were the United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) teams of 2007! There were reported 90 UMVIM teams from the Rocky Mountain Conference last year, with a total of 1464 team members. These groups served for 6772 work days! Value of monetary and in-kind donations to the ministries served was $263, 586. Including the team member costs, total monetary investment in UMVIM was $1,188,118!

Rocky Mtn Conf-two women workingThe team members returned from their mission trips with changed lives and stories to tell. A team from Utah who went to McCurdy School in Espanola, New Mexico, got the school ready for the upcoming academic year. They were impressed by both the quality of education and the hope the school provides to many less fortunate children. All the team members felt they had made a difference in the lives of young people.

There were three medical teams from the RMC in 2007. They were all a tremendous blessing. A Conference-wide team went on a medical mission to Cambodia. Led by June Essing, RMC UMVIM Coordinator for Health Care Volunteers (marv4june@aol.com), the team worked in 6 villages and saw 1620 patients, who were diagnosed with a variety of illnesses. The dentists saw over 280 patients, many requiring multiple extractions. Village people were measured and fitted with prescription eyeglasses. The physical therapist helped children who were unable to walk.

One patient, Chan, was very sick due to a snake bite. Due to the team's efforts, he is now hospitalized and on medication. Chan expressed his appreciation as follows: "I am very thankful and grateful to the Rocky Mountain team for their great help to me and my family. Please kindly continue to help the poor Cambodians who cannot meet their basic needs. Now, I understand how God's love gives me new hope in life."

Rocky Mtn Conf-McCurdy SchoolJeanette Augenstein from Colorado Springs returned to Uruguay to teach quilting techniques and be in fellowship with other United Methodist women. She reported, "We strengthened the relationships more and made even more new friends.We come from the same Methodist faith that helps us know the unconditional love of our God and the Wesleyan roots to `do all we can, as long as we can, for as many as we can!'"

There were 21 teams who went to the Gulf Coast to help with the long term hurricane recovery effort, in addition to many groups who traveled to Holly, Colorado and Greensburg, Kansas to help with tornado recovery. In September, we led a team from four United Methodist churches to Dulac, Louisiana, to help a wonderful family repair their home damaged by Hurricane Rita.

We learned much about the Houma Native Americans, learned some construction skills and shared life and food with the neighborhood people. One night we participated in the blessing of a newly-rebuilt house. The homeowners were thrilled that Bishop Warner Brown was on our team and that they had a Bishop to offer the special prayer!

Rocky Mtn Conf-youthIn 2007, there were mission teams hosted by churches in the Rocky Mountain Conference, too. For example, a team of youth from Louisiana came to Monte Vista UMC, restored the 75-year-old church doors and enjoyed worship, music, food and fellowship with the San Luis Valley UMC congregations.

The UMVIM program is a great way to put our faith into action - the very heart of our Christian calling. There are hundreds of projects in the Rocky Mountain Conference, the USA and around the world, at which you can serve for 1 day to 1 week or more. The UMVIM program offers comprehensive team leader training, host site support and projects that have been established as invitational, valid and priority for the United Methodist Church. We also provide small scholarships to people who would like to serve but need financial help. The benefits of a mission experience can be enormous, especially the relationships, the learning and the simple pleasures of serving.

Feel free to contact us if you would like to take an UMVIM mission trip! If you are already planning a trip for 2008, please let us know. We can advertise your trip if needed, share your stories when you return and include your trip in our annual data.

Rocky Mtn Conf-children & womanA Volunteer in Mission team member from Utah reflected "The feeling of satisfaction and doing God's work was uplifting both spiritually and physically. I can't remember three days of my life better spent. I encourage everyone to treat yourself to a glorious experience with God and your fellow Christians."

Another team leader who went to Guatemala to help build a medical clinic summed it up as follows: "We all experienced God's blessing - it is not possible to out-give the Master Giver."

Rocky Mtn Conf-girl in redRocky Mtn Conf-woman & potato

Photo credits: Betsy Keyack