1.UMVIM is an approved United Methodist ministry.

2. The mission projects are vetted and screened.

3. Volunteer teams can continue their relationship with the project site they served at via The Advance and missionaries.

4. All are welcome to serve.

5. Training, forms, insurance, etc. available

6. It's simple. Contact umvimwj@hotmail.com to get started!

Faith in Action

Faith in Action

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Photos: Volunteers serving in Guatamala, courtesy J. Grant Weins. For more information see their story below under "Stories from the Ground: Guatamala"

Thank you so very much for spreading the word about the opportunity and great need for volunteers to serve in Alaska in rebuilding homes. If you are interested in serving and/or know someone that is please contact me with their names and contact information as I am creating a database of persons/teams available to serve.

Wanted to correct you on the name of one of the villages that I gave you in my previous email. The village is not "Canana" but "Tanana". Please forgive me for any confusion here. Again, the three villages are EAGLE, TANANA, AND STEVENS VILLAGE. As it stands now, volunteers DO NOT need to bring tools. Tools will be provided/donated some by Samaritan's Purse and the Mennonites. Individuals are welcome to bring their favorite hammer but the bulk of the tools will be provided to them at the site.

Since it is customary for volunteer teams to bring an amount money that can be used for a donation/love offering, we are awaiting news as to what is culturally appropriate with the residents in the villages of Eagle, Tanana, and Stevens Village for bringing in money and/or leaving it behind. Once I receive word of this, I will pass this information on.

Safe Sanctuary training and background checks (especially of teams leaders) is encouraged to be done PRIOR to arrival at the site. If you have any further questions about this please contact me.

In addition, the village of Eagle seems to be serviced thus far through the Mennonites and as such we've been asked as the UMC to first direct our efforts towards the village of Tanana where there is a place for volunteers to stay and we are awaiting news as to how and if meals will be provided there as they will be in Eagle. I am still awaiting news on Stevens Village.

The greatest cost for volunteers will be for them to get from their homes to Fairbanks, where volunteers are encouraged to fly into. Fairbanks is the preferred place for teams to fly into but teams may also fly to Anchorage as well. Then Holland America will transport them most likely by boat to the village of Tanana. So far, Holland America is offering to do this as a courtesy for volunteers helping in this recovery effort.

Please note that hotel accommodations are available for those teams that need overnight stays in Fairbanks/Anchorage as a result of airline/flight schedules. Thank you again. I will continue to update you as further details develop.


Birchwood Camp of the Alaska United Methodist Missionary Conference is building a new log building on our camp and we are in need of willing workers. Due to the national cancellation of a scheduled MDA camps, we have a week of camp space available from July 31 to August 6 this summer. We need a variety of workers and abilities during this time. If enough people are available we will do some log building. We also need those skilled in carpentry and basic repairs as well as those of you who just enjoy working in yard.

Ever dream of going to Alaska but don’t want to be just a tourist? (Or if you want to tour after work we can supply information)

Perhaps you have been to camp at Birchwood and want to give back.

Perhaps you live near by and would love to be part of a giving group.

Maybe you’ve been a part of other volunteer in mission work teams and are ready for another experience.

This week may be for you. We can promise meaningful work, great meals, and warm hospitality, awesome scenery, and perhaps campfire sharing and singing.

The Details:

Your biggest expense (if you live outside Alaska) will be your transportation). You would fly into and out of the Anchorage airport. Cars are expensive to rent but are available. If we know your arrival time we may be able to facilitate transportation to camp. You will need to bring bedding or a sleeping bag, pillow, only casual clothes (Jeans long and short sleeve shirts, raingear, close toed shoes. Layered works well in Alaska)

We can feed and house you that week for $20 per day. There will be parking available for those who want to bring an RV. Go on our website http://www.birchwoodcamp.org/ for an VIM application, health form, and voluntary disclosure form. We do require that you have health insurance and can facilitate short term insurance for you at a low cost if needed. Fax it to us at 907-688-2734. If these times don’t work for you but you want to help, e-mail us at Director@birchwoodcamp.org and tell us of your interest and availability.


We were in Guatemala from May 18-27. We flew into Guatemala City and got thereon the evening of the 18th and stayed there for the night. The next day westarted our drive to the city of Quetzeltenango (also known as Xela), which iswhere we did our work. We got to Xela on the 19th after going to Lake Atitlanand Santiago.

In Xela we stayed at the VIM headquarters There they have amedical clinic and some dorm style rooms for volunteers to stay in. There weresome rooms that weren't finished and needed some work done on them. The wallsand ceilings needed some spackling and cementing work done, so that's what wespent most of our time doing.

We had to do everything by hand. We had to siftthe sand into a wheelbarrow then take it to another part of the compound wherewe mixed the cement/spackle with shovels. After we mixed the sand there withthe mix to get what we wanted, we carried it with buckets to the walls andceilings we were working on. We had to use trowels to get it on the walls andceilings with trowels. We had a plumb line that we had to get to and wouldsmooth out our work with boards every now and then to see how close we were togetting to that line. We covered multiple walls and ceilings while we worked.

In addition to all that, we also built some scaffolding and unloaded a truckfull of bricks, both of which will be used for future projects there. Weusually worked from about 8:00 in the morning to 4:00 in the afternoon with acouple of half days. In addition to all that we had the opportunity to takesome school supplies, which can be a real luxury in Guatemala, to a school there in Xela.

When we weren't working we got to see some of the sites therein Xela, as well as some Mayan ruins and sites in Antigua. The trip was veryrewarding for all of us. We got to work and interact directly with some of thelocals and hear their stories, and really got to make an impact by helping them.We also got to bond with each other, see the sites of Guatemala and makememories that will last a lifetime.