Serving God takes a variety of talents and abilities. Volunteers are a key component of our ministry here within the Red Bird Missionary
Conference. Dale Haggard and Miriam Miller are two long time volunteers that have faithfully served in the conference office for over 20 years.
The Red Bird Missionary Conference staff is very appreciative of their help and dedication. In an interview they were asked why the work at Red
Bird was so important to their hearts and what it means to be a volunteer. Here is an excerpt, the entire articles can be found on our website
at www.redbirdconference.org. We hope that as you read about these two long time faithful volunteers that you too will think about making a
trip the Red Bird Missionary Conference in order to experience first hand the amazing ministry that God has taking place here in the heart
Dale Haggard's Volunteer Story
Dale Haggard is a longtime volunteer. He has been coming to the Red Bird Missionary Conference for 20 years. He describes his experiences. "I view
my time at Red Bird as a time to help the conference staff fulfill their ministry in any way that I can. At times that has meant typing, filing,
collating and cleaning. At other times, that has meant leading 20+ Mission Encounters and Jonah Journeys, developing a donor database for The Bennett
Center and helping during Annual Conference sessions in May."
Dale came to the Red Bird Missionary Conference because, "Growing up in The Methodist Church, I had heard about Henderson Settlement. When the Red
Bird Missionary Conference was formed after the merger of The Methodist Church and the EUB, I began hearing about other ministries of the church in
the area. After a number of years, I had the opportunity to attend a Mission Encounter (a week-long mission centered event held by the conference
for persons throughout the country to come and witness the Red Bird Missionary Conference mission work first hand). The following summer, I
volunteered in the conference office."
He continues to serve here because of the people. "Over the years that I have been coming to Red Bird, I have connected with many, many persons
who are committed to being "a witness for Christ in the heart of Appalachia". Each one has been an inspiration to me." He comes back year after
year because of the people and the need.
His advice to others that may be thinking about coming to volunteer is in three fold
a. Definitely come and experience what God is doing through Red Bird.
b. Be open to what God wants to teach you through your time at Red Bird.
c. Don't come just to work. Learn about missions. Make connections. Enjoy!
Dale feels that it is important to volunteer because of limited resources in finances and staff, Red Bird needs persons who not only can give financially
to the work of God through its ministries, but also needs persons who can give their time to go to Red Bird and volunteer. Red Bird Missionary
Conference is one of the three missionary conferences in The United Methodist Church. Its ministry is "connected" to the ministry of my local church.
"In a real sense, God's work in and through the conference is my work.
Often we think we have to go oversees to be in mission for God. In fact, we have a number of great missionary opportunities nearby. The Red Bird
Missionary Conference is the most comprehensive mission of the United Methodist Church in the United States."
Miriam Miller's Volunteer Story
Miriam Miller's first trip to Red Bird was in July 1996 helping to celebrate Red Bird Mission's 75 years of service and what an introduction .
"WOW!!!! I was blown away with the love, people and their gratitude of our coming and what Red Bird means to them."
Miriam has made 22 trips since 1996- working 4 weeks at a time, except for twice when she stayed for six weeks. Her first trip was with her
parents in 1949 to see Red Bird, while she was in college. In 1956, her husband Don and she came because he wanted to see the Mission she
had talked so fondly about. They were married and in Nebraska serving churches. It was not till 1992 that she returned for an Elderhostel
that AL Zunk was leading and fell in love with the area and people she met. Miriam's husband passed away in 1971 leaving her to raise four
children. She retired in 1995 and with her children raised and educated, the way was open for her to come.
Miriam describes her passion for coming to Red Bird Missionary Conference. "Why? The beauty, the people, the NEED, that now I was free to
come. I have many memories which would fill many pages. Some special memories were early on while I worked with the women at the Senior
Center. I drove a meal route- the sand hill route- cleaned and organized their closets, and took mostly women to shopping, doctor appointments,
visited in their homes after work hours, dinner in their homes. The appreciation, bonding of love and listening to their stories was priceless.
Each year when I return I take a noon hour to see and visit with them. There is a special bond of love and appreciation between us. Their faith,
their hope, and trust and love for
where they live and how blessed they share they are. They are so special and I love them dearly."
Many people wonder what a volunteer actually does and while it depends on the volunteer interests, Miriam shares about her experiences. "What
have I done in these years?? I have cleaned and organized more closets, storage areas, than I can remember. Even the hospital linen closet
which had not been touched since the hospital closed. What a task. I was to keep linens for 5 rooms that were being prepared for guests-
overnights in that wing.... You cannot believe what I found stored in that closet. I even did laundry. After saving it I was to move it
into the room next door but it was terrible...so I ask if I could get some paint and --paint and clean shelves where I stored the linens.
I hauled much-more to the community store. This took days!!!!
I have worked many times at the Craft store- with jewelry. packaging thousands of note
cards, and cleaning etc. I have worked at the Community store, in many ways and they tell me that if I have extra time they will welcome
my help. I love being in the store which gives me time to chat with those who come to shop. I learn lots and it gives me more insight into
the lives of these beautiful people."
She shares about her time here at Red Bird. "Early on, I would just drive to find the churches and took some others with me - usually on
Saturdays and I finally found all. One Saturday, I took 2 or 3 and we drove north to find those churches. It's interesting because many don't
have church signs and so that makes it more difficult. After leaving Annville, we return thru Manchester - groceries, gas and a "frosty"and
by the time we got back... I had driven 200 miles that day!! WOW!! But doing that -the beauty and the people and the mountains, I love them all."
"Of course, I got my pictures printed and I went over to show Ruth Wiertzema, Director of Connectional Ministries, the pictures and shared
what I had been doing. She told me that no one has ever found all the churches and taken pictures. She was amazed. I told her about my
sharing, speaking & showing my slides to women's groups in NE. So she said she would like for me to come when she had her next training
for "Interpreters"class in March. She was impressed
that I came and that was my beginning with Ruth and the Conference office. She asked me if I would consider being their photographer for
annual conference. This "blew"me away. I told her I was only an amateur and just enjoyed taking pictures. Well, I have helped at 8 Annual
Conferences--not only taking pictures, but also, I have cleaned/organized etc. and helped with pre-conference preparations, anything and
everything that needs completed from making packets and nametags, to helping set everything up."
"Why do I return--year after year? I love the people- their faith-gratitude-and they feel they are richly blessed by God where they
live and association with all who come to see
their beautiful areas. I learn so much from them- all of you and I truly pray that I will be able to return."
Miriam's advice to others thinking of volunteering, "If others want to see beauty- the people- the mountains- and what the Lord is doing
in ministries through His people and if they feel "called"of God and with a desire to work with and for others, COME and see for yourself.
I am grateful to the conference staff for ALL have taught me and just being there with you as I "clean. More than that....I love you I have
great appreciation and love for Ruth, as she has taught me so much. She has given her life- love-knowledge- expertise for RBMC like no other.
Her heart and soul is and will always be there. She has been a "delight"to work with as we would prepare for conference. If and when I
return - I will miss her. A special THANKS AND GOD'S BLESSINGS to each of you. You are all so special!!!"