Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021
In the Spring of 2020, the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the shutdown of all MDS projects in North America. In 2021, MDS in the US started some projects, but due to the lockdowns in Canada and the border restrictions with the US, MDS Canada ( https://mds.mennonite.net ) recommended against travel from Canada to the US projects. A few projects did start up in Canada, but they were generally supported by small limited groups, consisting mostly of volunteers that lived near each of the project sites, in order to comply with the Covid-19 regulations.
Due to the continuation of travel limitations caused by the fourth wave of the pandemic, I had not planned to volunteer for an MDS project in the fall of 2021, however, I was not aware of how easily my plans would be changed.
In early October, I received a text from Cheryl Mast, a friend whom I had worked with on several MDS projects. She asked me whether I had any plans to volunteer for disaster relief with MDS in the Fall and whether I would consider volunteering at ” Amigo Centre “, ( https://www.amigocentre.org ) the Christian camp where she works as a ” Coordinator of Outdoor Environmental Education “. The camp had sustained extensive damage to the woods and to 14 of their buildings due to fallen trees caused by sustained winds of 110 km/h ( 70+ mph ) in early August.
At the time, the travel restrictions made driving to Michigan impossible and flying there was impractical. Since there were rumours that some of the land border restrictions might be lifted by early November, we decided to wait until the restrictions were lifted before making any plans.
Wieland Hamm, who had served with me on an MDS project in West Virginia during the American Thanksgiving of 2019, knew that I usually volunteered at that time of the year due to the need for volunteers during the holidays. Near the end of October he asked me if I was going to volunteer with MDS during Thanksgiving, so I told him that there was a possibility of going to Michigan and that I would check into it.
In early November, when I heard that some of the land border restrictions would be removed, I contacted Cheryl to coordinate a trip for us to help out. In order for the staff at Amigo Centre to be able to spend time with their families during Thanksgiving, I suggested to Cheryl that Wieland and I would volunteer the week after Thanksgiving and that we would leave on Monday morning so that we could hopefully arrive during daylight hours. MDS Canada was very supportive and quickly prepared the border crossing letters for us.
The drive to Amigo Center is 8 hours depending on road conditions, traffic, stops along the way and border delays.
The cleanup and repair work at Amigo Centre has been ongoing since August and information about the damage and the work being done can be viewed on the MDS website at: https://mds.mennonite.net/volunteers-at-amigo-centre-grow-a-spirit-of-thanksgiving/ .