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MDS is all about volunteers
You, the volunteers, are the most important people in the MDS network. Without you, MDS would not exist. Through you, the love of Christ can be expressed. These guidelines are designed to aid you in relating to the disaster situation in a redemptive way.
Relationships begin with respect
Do everything you can to preserve the sufferer's dignity and sense of worth. Remember the truth, "it is easier to give than to receive." Respect personal property and rights of ownership.
Be a sensitive listener. Don't be judgmental. Grief is a natural reaction to loss, even the loss of possessions. Be friendly and optimistic, but not so lighthearted as to imply the situation is not serious. Be careful about giving simple answers to the very complex confusion and grief that follow disaster. Treat the disaster victims as equals.
Taking direction from the project leader
MDS project site leaders want to arrange meaningful work assignments. Respect the authority of project leaders' cooperate in every way possible. Pass suggestions on to the leader, but remember leaders face pressure in disaster situations. Give your best to the work; be prepared to do any job requested with patience and love. Disaster situations mean work and living conditions will not be "like home."
Showing an interest in MDS
Disaster situations draw media attention and proper reporting of disaster news can be valuable for all. Inappropriate media contact can further hurt disaster victims. MDS does not seek publicity for itself. Refer reporters to MDS leaders when possible and if you do offer information, make sure you represent MDS and the situation accurately. Respect those you photograph by requesting permission before taking pictures. Get to know the people you photograph. Share your story in your church and encourage others to get involved.
You are a witness
Promote safety in travel and work. Maintain good driving habits at all times. Dress appropriately for the work you will be doing. Proper footwear and clothing can be important for your safety and health.
Respect the modesty of dress that MDS embraces. Do not use alcoholic beverages or tobacco.
Let your conversation be suitable for a Christian, so that the name of Christ not be brought to disfavor.
You are a witness for Jesus Christ as well as a representative of the church. May our efforts together be examples of "bearing each others burdens" and through the leading of God's Spirit be a channel bringing God's love to all.
Responding, Rebuilding, Restoring
Mennonite Disaster Service is the organized response of our churches to the needs of "neighbors" in time of disaster. We endeavor, in the spirit of Christian love, to follow Christ's example by giving time, talents, and energies to help relieve suffering caused by disasters. We understand the ministries of listening, cleanup, repair, reconstruction to be examples of "the cup of cold water" given to those in need "in the name of Christ."
MDS volunteers are known for repairing and rebuilding homes damaged by disasters. But it takes more than construction skills to serve with MDS. During the time that you serve as a volunteer, you will learn that MDS also restores lives.
Your contribution will help to connect volunteers with disaster survivors who need assistance on their path to recovery. MDS depends on the support of people who believe that disaster response is an important part of helping those who are in need.
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