First United members set for Sager Brown mission

Published 10:13 am Friday, January 11, 2013

Emma Gordon, center, helps serve on a past Sager Brown mission trip in Louisiana. -- Photo provided

Not often do good acts become habits, but they do for people at First United Methodist Church in Austin.

Gary Billings, from Dekalb, Ill., works on a building during a past Sager Brown mission trip in Louisiana. -- Photo provided

Take Dick and Linda McIntosh, for example. Dick started doing mission work many years ago, and now his wife, Linda, is following in those footsteps.

“The camaraderie of those coming to offer assistance, just the selflessness was something that touched me down in Des Moines,” Dick said about when he helped with a devastating flood in the 1990s.

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Now Dick and Linda will lead several members from First United and some of their relatives — 12 in all — in the upcoming Sager Brown mission trip to Louisiana where they will pack supplies to be sent around the world, build a dormitory and help at a women’s shelter.

Dick first went on the trip right after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area and has participated several times. Linda will participate in her second mission when the group leaves for Baldwin, La., on Jan. 26 for a week’s worth of work.

Linda said her first experience was humbling, as she saw people truly appreciating life’s simplest necessities.

The UMCOR Sager Brown Depot in Baldwin is the headquarters for the United Methodist Committee on Relief’s relief-supply operations. More than 2,000 volunteers prepare $4 million in supplies to be shipped around the world every year, according to UMCOR. But it keeps its efforts local, as well, and continues to help the families who were devastated in that region.

That’s where people like those from First United come in.

“I’m very proud to say I’m a member of First United Methodist Church because we are a very mission oriented church,” Linda said.

UMCOR Sager Brown serves Baldwin residents through food distribution, housing projects, and urging volunteers to help those in need in the community.

According to the UMCOR website, these are some of this year’s focal points:

—Construct a new 24-bed dorm to house volunteers in mission by Feb. 2013.

—Replace existing storage and tools sheds with a more functional maintenance building and workshop that will support facility maintenance and mission volunteers working on construction projects.

—Create a reflection garden in a serene setting that will encourage mission volunteers to set aside time with their Creator during their busy work schedule.

Dick enjoys working side-by-side with fellow Christians from around the nation.

“That’s really a lot of fun because each group brings different gifts,” Dick said.

Even Dick’s 82-year-old mother will drive all the way from Florida to participate.

“She’s quite a lady,” he added.

While First United Methodist doesn’t serve the Sager Brown mission every year, it has been doing so intermittently for several decades. Once again, First United members will also leave in February to serve a mission in Haiti.