Our First RVICS Assignment
Our assignment with Roving Volunteers in Christ's Service (RVICS) at the Sandy Cove Ministries Camp and Conference Center in North East, Maryland would start on September 5, so we left Muddy Run Campground on Friday, September 1, during the Labor Day weekend to arrive before this scheduled project. It was a short one hour drive across the Pennsylvania border into Maryland to the campground where we will spend the next three weeks working.
The Sandy Cove Ministries' mission is to help people connect with God and each other in order to be transformed into the image of Christ, through His Word, His creation, and community. Their goal is to deliver the message of hope that JESUS NEVER FAILS by providing opportunities for rest, refuge, retreat, renewal and recreation.
The organization we are associated with is RVICS, a volunteer non-denominational Christian ministry with a heart to serve the Lord during the years leading up to retirement and beyond. The missionary teams provide a wide variety of maintenance, service, and construction assistance to needy non-profit Christian organizations. RVICS missionaries live in their own self-contained RV's, serving on teams typically consisting of 4-6 couples. Project hosts commit to providing RV parking sites with electricity, water, and sewer, free of charge. The project work schedule allows generous time for recreation and relaxation.
Sandy Cove's History:
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, God provided an unusual opportunity for Dr. George Palmer, pastor of Haddon Heights Baptist Church in Haddon Heights, NJ, to host one of the earliest Christian radio broadcasts. During this time when businesses, banks, and government were failing, the daily Morning Cheer broadcast brought good news and hope. Dr. George Palmer's biblical teaching stressed God's omniscience and control, and the show's theme song reminded all that “Jesus Never Fails.”
The response was overwhelming and provided further ministry opportunities for this young visionary preacher in 1946. Property was acquired on the North East River in Cecil County, MD, for establishing a summer tent revival and camp meeting facility. Camps were built for children, numerous mission projects were accomplished around the world, and Sandy Cove Bible Conference was born.
Summer after summer, guests flocked to Sandy Cove to hear some of the most prominent speakers and preachers teach the Word of God and listen to inspiring concerts performed by top Christian musicians.
A new vision for Sandy Cove was cast with the addition of the majestic Chesapeake Lodge & Conference Center during the late 1980s which allowed for year-round ministry opportunities. This spacious facility continues to serve as a focal point of the ministry, offering comfort and hospitality to multitudes of men, women and children each year at one of many Sandy Cove programmed events or as part of a church retreat.
On our arrival at Sandy Cove Ministries we were met by our team leaders, Frank and Melissa Varaso. They are originally from Pennsylvania but now live in the RVICS Village established in Smithville, Texas. The Village is "a place to call home" between projects, or when age or health issues make it difficult to serve on a regular basis. Any present or former RVICS member who has served at least three projects may purchase a Village membership, and select a lot with full utility hook-ups for parking their RV or placing a more permanent home. This is the Varaso's 14th project since joining RVICS.
Here's the neighboring cabin next to the one we painted for comparison.
As the "newbies" we are learning the ropes; both Frank and Melissa have been awesome mentor/leaders. Karen and Melissa have been working at the dining facilities in the main building deep cleaning tables, chairs and floors. Frank and I have been painting one of the cabins in the Pioneer campground where we are parked for the duration. The temperatures have been very hot in the low 90ºF range so Frank and I take rehabilitation breaks inside the air conditioned cabin and drink water or Gatorade to stay hydrated.
Our morning starts at 8:00 AM with prayer, devotions and a song before we head off to work at 8:30. The ladies finish at noon and the guys break for lunch at 12:30 until 1:30. We wrap up work around 4:00 PM. We started our painting project on Tuesday after the Labor Day holiday and have it almost completed on Wednesday afternoon. Thursday we will probably wrap up in the first two hours of the morning. Our camp supervisor has told up to take the rest of the week off, so we must have made him happy with our progress in the somewhat challenging conditions.
Here's the near completed cabin we've been painting for the last two days.