Blessings overflow for roving retirees in Natchez

Published 12:23 am Wednesday, May 12, 2010

NATCHEZ — If you drive by the Natchez Children’s Home this month, you might see three couples sharpening a few pencils outside the Union Street house.

To the average passerby it might look like the Wyeths, Morenos and Smelsers are scraping and painting windows, screens and shutters. But that is not the way Keith and Linda Wyeth see their work.

The three couples are part of a national organization called the Roving Volunteers in Christ’s Service. They and other Christian retirees load up their recreational vehicles and travel across the country to do organized volunteer work for non-profit Christian colleges, schools and other organizations like the Natchez Children’s Home.

The couples stay for three- and four-week stints to provide maintenance work and other skills for these organizations. In Linda’s mind, providing volunteer labor allows the non-profits to spend their money and resources on their missions, not maintenance.

“It’s kind of like the janitor who sharpens the pencils for the minister that writes the sermon,” Linda said. “Our work allows places like the Natchez Children’s Home to focus on their ministry.”

And even though they are doing the behind the scenes work, the couples know that their ministry is vitally important.

“We help free up time for these organizations so that they can do the work of God,” Linda said.

Linda and Keith had worked as RVICS members in Natchez before and liked the place so much that they returned to head up this team of three couples this year.

Each couple that participates donates 33 hours of labor each week. None of the work they do is paid.

“But we do get free meals and many blessing from God,” Tim Smelser said.

Tim and Donna Smelser have been RVICS members for three years. This year they have been volunteering in Texas, slowly making their way to Natchez. They have been working for RVICS since January.

Mo and Leona Moreno have also been working for RVICS for several months. Both retired school teachers from Michigan, they have been volunteering for RVICS for five years. Their travels this year have ranged from Phoenix to Tall Timbers, La. Natchez is their last stop before going home.

“I can’t imagine playing golf and shuffleboard all day,” Mo said.

“You have to have a purpose in life,” Leona said.

All the couples agreed that other than being away from home, volunteering for RVICS and provided them much more than they ever thought they would get out of the program.

“I used to think I would do a little work and do a whole of touring and traveling,” Linda Wyeth said. “But I soon found out that is wasn’t about all about the traveling.”

“We are here not to be served, but to serve the Lord.”