I have always heard of the classic “southern hospitality,” but never lived anywhere long enough…
We retired from our full-time jobs in 2001. We were grateful to God for our marriage, three healthy children and seven grandchildren, good jobs and housing, so we decided to give back some dedicated time to God. As we looked for ways to serve we fortunately came across Mercy Volunteer Corps. We volunteered and from 2006 to 2007 we served in Savannah, Georgia at Candler SOURCE.
Of the many, many good and spiritually maturing experiences we had in that year one experience we especially remember involved a 50-some-year-old man who had lost contact with his family, had cerebral palsy and other physical, speech and hearing disabilities. He was from a town in Charleston, S.C., but was raised in Savannah. When his parents and brother died, he had no one in Savannah and had by then lost all connection with relatives in South Carolina. He was truly alone and lived in a much-worn trailer home. Months and scores of dead-end phone calls later, we finally located a relative in northern South Carolina and arranged for him to visit them and reacquaint. He called us when he was there and wanted to stay longer, and they wanted him to stay longer, but he had to come back because of medications. The delight and joy in his face and heart at being loved and wanted by relatives was truly awesome and worth the search. We later learned he moved back to live with family.
As a result of our opportunities with Mercy Volunteer Corps, we are now more aware of those around us who have need of someone to “be present and patiently listen to them” as a worthy human being. People we missed ‘seeing’ in church and in the community, for example, we are now more alert to their loneliness, grief, and sadness than we were before MVC.
We visit people in their homes who because of serious illness, cancer, or other reasons can’t or do not want to get out, or feel they would burden someone if they asked them to come and help them; we now are more comfortable going to them and hopefully by our presence make them feel still part of our community and not a burden.
Though it is still hard at times, because of our time with MVC and being introduced at MVC to the song “The Summons”, we continue to try to answer the Lord’s questions in that song: “Will you come and follow me If I but call your name; Will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?”. What an awesome and blessed year!
Thanks for the opportunity MVC!
Sherman and Gisela Otto ’06: Savannah