volunteer experience

The whole world seemed right

Paul Miller, a carpenter from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, penned these reflections two weeks after returning from Paradise, California, where he served March 15 through April 15, 2023. What a great fulfilling month! Working on a project that life prepared just for me, or so it seemed! I was breathing, living, and working in my comfort zone on this MDS assignment. When I left Lancaster, Pennsylvania, bound for the Paradise, California, project, I was more than a little apprehensive about fitting into rigid California building practices and also frankly, the MDS standards of operations. However, two days into my role of Construction Supervisor, I called home to my very supportive wife Patricia to say: ”I got this, babe…the work is right in my wheelhouse!” I relished the role, working on four houses that were in various stages of completion. In spirit, I was reliving a life from 30 years ago, scrambling around in my pick-up, going from job to job, answering questions, solving problems and fetching supplies. The whole world seemed right! Paradise, California, was a personal affirmation, reminding me of who I was and maybe more important… who I am! I am a product of a distinct Amish/Mennonite culture, a culture so embodied by the many hard-working, fascinating people I encountered during the month. In summary, at age 70, the month was a life-giving and rich experience, affirming the value of vibrant shared community! Thirty days spent on a mountain ridge in Northern California, receiving much more than I spent.

“The work is right in my wheelhouse!”


behind the hammer 11

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