How would you describe people like this? People who would drive from their home in Newcastle, Texas, 50 miles south of Wichita Falls, to Pawnee Oklahoma--at their own expense--and spend their summer vacation working 10 to 14 hours a day in 105+ temperatures to put a new roof on a building for people they will never see again?
What can you say about them? Crazy comes to mind.
But on the Dancing Bean, we know them as the people from the Newcastle United Methodist Church on their annual Volunteers in Mission (VIM) trip.
VIM is a program of the United Methodist Church, affording people the opportunity to be a missionary for a little while. The Oklahoma Conference of the denomination coordinates projects in, logically, Oklahoma. The Indian Methodist church, part of the Oklahoma Indian Conference (OIMC) needed a new roof on their old parsonage as a first step in their plan to convert it to the fellowship hall the church desperately needs. The Newcastle UMC needed a project for the summer. The conference VIM office played matchmaker and, Bob's your uncle, our Texas UM brothers and sisters were on their way north.
Mr. Dancing Bean and I, with our creaky old joints, have never felt up to a VIM trip but always wanted to contribute. Through a stroke of good luck, Debbie Whitely, one of the volunteers, called the 'Bean to inquire about lodging for 4 nights. As she explained how many would be in their party, my brain starting calculating. Can I accommodate 14 people? And what would I charge? Then Debbie said the magic words: we're up there to do some work on a Methodist church. "Well, why didn't you say that before?" was my answer.
While I was working with Debbie, our pastor, Susan Ross, was working her end. By the time we were done, all 14 people were having lunch at our church, Pawnee First UMC, where a few of them also took a well-earned siesta. At night they had dinner at the 'Bee and slept in the Bunkhouse. It was a little crowded, but nice and cool and, equally important, equipped with showers.
Left side, Pastor David Ray. One year out of seminary. Newcastle UMC breaks their preacher in hard.