Nomads found boredom cure

Published 12:22 am Saturday, May 7, 2011

In June 1994, when my husband retired from the ministry the first time, we rolled into a beachfront military campground towing our travel trailer. We pretty much had it all to ourselves. The view was spectacular. Every afternoon, I kicked back in my favorite canvas recliner under our awning and read. In the late afternoon, we took long strolls on the beach.

The third day I noticed my husband getting restless. He had read a little and tended to some maintenance jobs with the travel trailer during our stay. He also spent some time playing his favorite musical instrument, the dulcimer. When he pulled out his shoe shine kit and hunted up the few shoes we had brought along, I knew he was bored. On most camping trips, we attended dulcimer festivals, where there were plenty of people circulating in the campground.

After a few more days in that quiet, but to my husband boring beachfront atmosphere, we packed up and headed home. I thought about that experience as I looked over the Methodist NOMADS website. This wonderful all-volunteer organization is composed of people with RVs (some of them full-timers) who travel across the country to use their skills to help others. It all began when, like my husband, some Methodists from several states camping in the Texas Rio Grande Valley got bored. One suggested there ought to be some good they could do. They approached Methodist churches and offered their services. The first year they completed five projects. Their mission is to rebuild lives, homes, and facilities with God’s love and their hands.

Methodist NOMADS, consisting of five couples, arrived at Blue Lake Camp in Andalusia this spring, brought out their own tools, and got right to work. Blue Lake executive director Phyllis Murray told me one of the men was a chimney sweep, who cleaned all the chimneys and fireplaces at the camp. Others worked on handicap access and safety features. Some trimmed trees. One lady made tablecloths; another one baked cookies. Whatever she asked, they were willing to do.

Director Murray said she was anticipating campers’ reaction this summer to the Pinewood Camp dining room which the NOMADS painted a happy sunshine yellow. “They were very resourceful. They created stuff out of nothing and knew how to stretch a dollar. They work a four-day week, six hours a day. It’s amazing how much they get done in that time.” The NOMADS stayed three weeks. They took group trips to familiarize themselves with the area and attended several Florida churches and First United Methodist Church in Andalusia.

NOMADS stands for Nomads on a Mission Active in Divine Service, offering four types of projects: Three Weeks Projects, Revolving Team Projects, Drop-In Projects, and Disaster Response Projects. In light of the tornados that caused so much devastation in Alabama and other states, it looks like there will be plenty of work ahead for these Christian RV volunteers who have conquered boredom and dedicated themselves to serving others.