People come to Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) as volunteers in different ways—they hear about it at church, visit the MDS website, learn about it on social media, or are invited by a friend.
For Rudy Martens of Vancouver, it was because of a snowmobile rescue.
Martens, 69, was at a remote cabin in the Okanagan in interior B.C. in 2020 with a friend when they were trapped by fallen logs on the main road in.
“We have a pine beetle problem in B.C., and trees had fallen on the road,” he said.
The two parked their car and walked six kilometres into the cabin through the snow. When it came time to go back, his friend didn’t feel well enough to make the trek.
Cell phone signals were weak, but they managed to text a friend about their dilemma. The friend alerted Mark Rempel, a member of the MDS B.C. Unit and an avid snowmobiler, asking if he would come along to help.
“We loaded up my snowmobiles and headed towards Kelowna and then into the wilderness,” Rempel remembers. “It was quite an adventure with a number of challenges.”
Fortunately, Rempel knew of a new road into the area, and was able to get to the cabin to rescue Martens and his friend.
When they brought the two back to where Rempel had parked his truck, he jokingly put his MDS door magnet on the door and said the rescue was now an MDS disaster response—since Martens and his friend were facing a disaster.
Martens responded: “I’ve been looking to meet someone from MDS. Call me when you need help.”
Since that time, the semi-retired contractor and developer has volunteered three times with MDS in B.C., and also once in Newfoundland.
“Rudy and his skill set have been invaluable on our MDS projects,” said Rempel of Marten’s quiet competence, leadership and skill.
Martens, a widower who is a member of the North Langley Mennonite Brethren Church, is glad to be part of the organization.
“It’s a way for me to use my skills and experience,” he said between sips of coffee after supper at the Monte Lake, B.C. project site where volunteers are rebuilding four homes lost to the White Rock Lake fire in 2021.
“I can really identify with the homeowners and their need for a home. Everyone needs a good home.”
MDS Canada needs more weekly volunteers in Monte Lake. If you can help, go to https://mds.org/response/monte-lake-b-c/ to sign up.