NOMADS help out at Albright Camp

HERSEY — When the Michigan NOMADS came to Albright Camp a short time back, they did so planning to build 75 bunk beds. They figured with the 18 members that showed up, they could do that in just a couple of days. They had plenty of volunteer people-power and an assortment of power tools. No problem.

Then they discovered there was a greater need for a different project. Albright needed the cabins cleared of mattresses and things, cleaned out, and the insides painted.

They never hesitated. They were there to help people and serve God.

The Michigan NOMADS are but a small part of a much larger organization that finds Methodists traveling together to help others. Most are retired or close to it. But they are certainly not willing to sit back in an easy chair and let “others” do it.

NOMADS is an acronym for Nomads On a Mission Active in Divine Service. One of the Michigan members had a humorous slant to the name, saying, “Actually, we’re just Nice Old Methodists Avoiding Deep Snow.”

However it’s said, it’s a fact that they are into mission work, and will help others be it raising funds for replacing a church’s old worn out electric wiring, putting up a new roof, or in this case slipping from one need to another, from bunk beds to painting at Albright.

Gary and Joan Melvin of Allegan/Lake Placid, depending on the season of the year, were quick to point out that the Michigan workbee is always like a min-reunion. Usually there are only three to five couples. Sometimes there are more, but regardless, they come as missionaries.

The word is put out giving the location, the dates, the amount of time needed, and what the work will be, and the NOMADS sign in and show up.

There is a time for work and a time for play. A time for gathering and a time alone.

They travel together at times. Other times they just meet.

They often take on work that needs up to three weeks of their efforts, and they work on the projects from Monday through Thursday, each person putting in six hours a day. All they ask in return is a place to park their rigs during the mission opportunity.

The NOMADS “apply” for the projects that become available during the winter months, and they are selected in a lottery manner. That way no one really knows which one they’ll end up with, “and it’s fun,” one man explained, “because when you pick, say, a first, second and third choice, sometimes God says you get that first one.

“Other times it seems there’s a reason we didn’t get our first or even second choice. For some reason when we get down to that third one, it turns out it was a real blessing for them and for us in the long run.”

It was apparent that the Michigan group likes the time they spend together, and they claim it is always that way “when you join with people who determined to help others, and not expect anything in return. Well, except a real sense of satisfaction when you know you’re that tired out that night because you helped someone else.”

Would they come back next year? To Albright? Already a given. There’s electric to be done, and they plan to stay longer. The bunk beds will be built and had a summer season with campers snuggled in them. The cabins may need a new paint job, and these folks would do that.

But they have this new request. They intend to answer it. “That’s how God’s people work,” Gary Melvin said. “I just tell them I’m just a nomad, and God put us together here to help. This group is so incredible to work with. We’ll be back. We’ll be back and once others hear about the needs here and the lives they change here, I bet there’ll be more of us from other areas.”

They’ll live up to the Nice Old Methodists Avoiding Deep Snow during the winter, for sure, doing mission work in warmer locations, but come next summer the Nomads On a Mission Active in Divine Service will be back in action right out here at Albright.