More than 1,000 Mennonite Disaster Service volunteers, donors and partners attended the MDS Annual Celebration Feb. 10-11 at The Worship Center in Lancaster, Pa.
Exploring the theme “The Joy of Serving,” they prayed, sang, shared ideas and collectively ate more than 1,220 pounds of potatoes prepared by Storm Aid, who hosted the event with the Lancaster MDS Unit.
Executive director Kevin King reflected during the celebration dinner that this gathering strengthens the bonds of the relationships central to the spirit of MDS.
During 2022, 6,495 volunteers from across Canada and the United States gave their time, skills and compassion to build 57 new homes, complete 302 repairs, finish 281 cleanups and build three new bridges. This volunteer labor has a value of $9.39 million.
“I want MDS to continually be in a posture of listening, learning and evaluating our efforts,” King said.
A silent auction for a wood footstool made by John Zuck from reclaimed, flood-damaged wood drew contributions of $3,700.
Keynote speaker Marcus T. Coleman Jr., director of the Department of Homeland Security Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, spoke about what it means to choose joy, particularly when serving people suffering from loss and grief.
He expressed admiration for the way MDS comes alongside people and organizations with a spirit of saying “yes” to serving.
As she oversaw five cooks from Storm Aid preparing potatoes — an operation that took seven hours — cook Ruthie Stoltzfus expressed her own joy of serving.
“If it’s good, it’s because God made it good,” she said. “He gives us his blessings.”