SUTTON, Neb. (Mennonite Mission Network) – While many families were unwrapping gifts, enjoying lavish meals and traveling to holiday gatherings, the Buller family traveled to Waco, Texas, to volunteer.
“I’ve always had an appreciation for missionaries and people who serve. It’s always been a passion of mine to do mission and voluntary service,” said Jennifer.
So for Christmas vacation, the Bullers and their two children, 8-year-old Aaron and 5-year-old Kaelyn, decided to take a week and serve through the SOOP
The Bullers worked with Arloa Bontrager, Mission Network SOOP director, to find a placement with World Hunger Relief
Located on a 40-acre training farm, World Hunger Relief helps to train people who are going to be doing mission or development work with sustainable agriculture. The organization also educates local students and individuals about sustainable eating and farming practices.
The Buller family helped to keep the farm running while many staff members were away on holiday vacation. They gathered, washed and packaged eggs, helped to prune the garden, fed animals, and picked up other everyday chores.
Gary Buller built a new hay feeder and also repaired a broken-down tractor. The family also visited with Hope Fellowship, a local Mennonite congregation.
In the past year, the Buller family adjusted their careers in order to allow service trips like this one to fit into their schedule.
“We asked ourselves, ‘If we want to do service, what would we need to do with our lives to make it possible?’ So we gave up some land and started a spraying business whose main focus is summertime work so our fall and winter was free for this kind of work,” said Gary Buller.
In January 2009, the Bullers will be traveling to Thailand to assist Mission Network workers Pat and Rad Houmphan
for one month.
“Some people do voluntary service right out of college, and we didn’t do that. We started a family and a business, but now we want to have these experiences with our children to show them that service and helping others is important,” said Gary Buller. “We also hope people will see us and realize that you can do a SOOP assignment, and it works with a family. You don’t have to be just out of college or retired.”
The SOOP program gives families and adults of all ages a chance to use their gifts to help others. Participants choose their own location, time and length of service. They also work directly with on-site coordinators, who frequently help to arrange housing. For more information or to apply, visit Service.MennnoniteMission.net.