Young Adults 'Come Back a Different Way' From UMCOR West

January 26, 2011

By Delilah Fakalata
Centennial UMC, Sacramento

A United Methodist Volunteers-in-Mission (UMVIM) team, made up of young adults from four congregations and led by Mary and Giles Popish, took a faith journey this month to serve at the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) depot in Salt Lake City, Utah. The team – from Elk Grove UMC, Point Pleasant UMC, Centennial UMC and the Tongan UM Fellowship– headed to "UMCOR West" on Monday, Jan. 3 and returned on Friday (Jan. 7).
 
The VIM team worked at the depot to make and verify school kits and cleaning buckets. The school kits are made up of specific school supplies that go into a book bag for children. The cleaning buckets have items such as trash bags, work gloves, sponges, and a clothes line, along with other items. Altogether, the young adults made 3,756 school kits (which will be shipped to Palestinian children on the Gaza Strip) and 481 cleaning buckets which will remain in the U.S. for those affected by man-made and natural disasters.
 
UMCOR West Depot has two staff, but is mostly run by volunteers. The winter months are when they need (brave) volunteers the most, because of the snow in that area. Whether you are a team of five people or 15, UMCOR West Depot needs you!
 
At first, I wasn't sure how helpful our team would be, with the short timeframe available for us to work. However, "a pallet prayer" inside of the depot reminded us that we are only "one," but "one" of the "multitude" which ALL belongs to God. This meant that every little bit counts – every sharpener, every pallet, every person, every prayer is important, not only to the vision and mission of the Church, but to God and His kingdom. Our work (and the work of all the churches which donated items and money) was going to help bring a sense of normalcy to people suffering from different disasters, including war. And that struck our team in a way only the Holy Spirit could. It was inspiring. It made us work harder, more efficiently, and we had more fun because God made Himself known as we worked.
 
The Rev. Brian Diggs, the executive director at UMCOR West, closed our work week with Holy Communion and a short message about Epiphany and the wise men. Rev. Diggs talked about the wise men going back a different way, and encouraged us to go back a different way, too. Not a different route home, but in a different state of mind.
 
We are trying. We are thankful for the community we created, the new friends we encountered, and the support we have from the Church and each other as we move into a new state of mind on how we can make disciples for the transformation of our world.