Home Features Spiritual GEORGE AND LUCY GILCHRIST FIND FUN, FULFILLING WAY TO SERVE GOD, OTHERS IN THEIR MOTOR HOME AS...SOW
GEORGE AND LUCY GILCHRIST FIND FUN, FULFILLING WAY TO SERVE GOD, OTHERS IN THEIR MOTOR HOME AS...SOW
When George and Lucy Gilchrist take off for the winter in their 31-foot motor home, they're not planning to play golf in Califor-nia or park their recreational vehicle in a retirement village in Arizona where they can sip coffee and visit with the neighbors.
The La Grande couple is expecting to do the work of the Lord through an organization for service-minded Christian RVers called Sowers.
The Gilchrists joined Sowers, based in Lindale, Texas, last year. Their volunteer work took them to Christian camps in Western Oregon, Western Washington and to Mexico.
Their first outing with Sowers in November was at the Aldersgate Conference Center near Salem.
The Gilchrists joined five Sower RVers at the Free Methodist camp, where George did general maintenance and cooking.
Among her duties, Lucy pressed cabin curtains on a mangle iron and helped in the kitchen on weekends.
The couple enjoyed the friendships they developed with the other Sower volunteers.
The group had devotions (Bible readings and discussions) every morning, played music together and had a potluck each week, the Gilchrists said.
North to Washington
In December, the couple pointed their motor home north to the Warm Beach Conference Center, northwest of Everett, Wash., where they volunteered to work at the center's Lights of Christmas.
The annual extravaganza includes thousands of Christmas lights on trees and buildings, entertainment, a dinner-theater, a Santa Claus workshop, a large nativity scene, a petting zoo and a bed-and-breakfast.
Sower volunteers filled a dozen sites at the conference center's RV camp.
Lucy Gilchrist helped with the petting zoo, greeted visitors, collected admissions and worked in the cafeteria.
George drove a golf cart, leading visitors to the bed-and-breakfast. He also drove a courtesy car and was dispatched by a two-way radio to assist disabled people or help others find their parking spaces.
The Gilchrists did some sightseeing in their motor home in January and February. In March, they reported to their third Sower assignment Â— at Rancho Betania, a Free Methodist camp in Santa Ana, Mexico.
The full-service camp in the desert, 70 miles from Nogalez, Mexico, included trails, soccer and baseball fields, a swimming pool and cafeteria.
The Gilchrists had full-hookups at the camp's RV park.
Lucy, who was able to use her Spanish in translation work, did an assortment of odd jobs. She washed windows, picked up trash on the grounds, scraped up gum from the auditorium floor and helped clean mud from the brick walls of a new cabin.
Meanwhile, George repaired foosball tables, assisted in building a small duplex for campers, fabricated parts in the shop and did several small repair jobs.
The Gilchrists said they had to go through an application process before being accepted by Sowers, which is an acronym for Servants On Wheels Ever Ready.
"You have to get letters of recommendation from people who have known you, and a letter from your pastor," George said.
"We had to sign a contract," he added. Sower volunteers come from a number of church backgrounds and organizers don't want that to be an issue.
"We had to agree to not discuss doctrinal issues," he said.
In a newsletter, Sower volunteers learn about projects in 49 states. They apply for the ones that interest them.
The volunteers agree to work on each Sower project for three weeks for no pay. They work six hours a day and four days a week. In return, they are given an RV site and can eat in the cafeteria.
"Most Sowers make a modest contribution to the camp to offset their utility expenses," George said.
While some Sowers are involved in projects 12 months a year, the Gilchrists will balance their volunteer work with their life in La Grande. They are looking forward to participating in another Sower project, possibly this fall.
"The Lord has blessed us over our life," said George, who retired in 1998 as co-owner of a La Grande insurance agency.
Sowers, he said, "is a way to give back in a very practical manner. It's a way to be associated with people of like-values and interests."
Â— Story by Dave Stave