In addition to full-time staff who work in missions, YWAM Harpenden welcomes Mission Builders, volunteers who devote from two weeks to three months working on the site in maintenance, catering, grounds and hospitality.
YWAM Harpenden’s campus in Hertfordshire, England is quite a large one, sitting on the former site of a National Children’s Home. Being situated on a historical site has its advantages — including lovely architecture and lots of room to accommodate staff and students — but it also requires a lot of work to maintain. The Harpenden campus is always grateful for the extra hand that Mission Builders lend.
Two couples from New Zealand, John and Lyn Pauling, and Bill and Mary Pettigrew, recently spent some time working as Missions Builders. For the Paulings, this was their second trip to help on campus.
“The first time we came here, it was because our daughter was here in London,” John said. “We were looking for ways to come back for a working holiday. We know Steve Sullivan, who works here, and he suggested looking into Mission builders.”“That started the ball rolling, and away we went,” Lyn said. “Our first time around was brilliant. We loved the situation, enjoyed the work. It really fits our skills.”
John, who is a former surveyor and vintage car restorer, worked in maintenance, and Lyn used her skills as a horticulturist to improve the grounds.
They enjoyed the work so much that this year the Paulings invited their friends Bill and Mary Pettigrew to come work with them.
“We were challenged by John and Lyn to come and work at Harpenden,” Mary said. “They recognised we had skills that would be useful and invited us to return with them this year. We were at a point in our lives where we believed God had something different for us to do so we decided it was the right time for us to come.”
Bill, a qualified Civil Engineer and master boat builder, helped in maintenance, while Mary, who has worked with the elderly and handicapped, gave her time to the Hospitality house which hosts missionaries and guests from around the world.
“When we were here last time, John felt there were some unfinished projects that he wanted to help complete,” Lyn said. “We wanted to bring more people back to help. We had some interest, but only Mary and Bill were able to come. We told them it would be a blessing to come here.”
The Paulings and Pettigrews would work for the majority of the week, but also spent time traveling in England and Europe. Bill and Mary even traveled to Sicily, where they spent some time working on s/y Next Wave, a YWAM ship that travels European waters sharing Jesus.
“It’s a great opportunity to see the opposite side of the world,” John said. “YWAM treats us well, allowing us time to travel in addition to our work. If you’re spending a lot of money to come all this way, you want to enjoy yourself too!”
Pete Kinahan, who is in charge of maintenance and grounds YWAM Harpenden, said that work the Paulings and Pettigrews have done is invaluable, both practically and spiritually.
“There’s no way we could afford to hire out the labor for all the work they have done. It’s remarkable,” he said. “Both couples have also led small groups in their church, so they helped disciple some of the younger Mission Builders.”
Mark Pratten, who heads up YWAM Harpenden’s Personnel department, commended the Paulings and Pettigrews for all the work they did in their time here.
“They have been a great example to all of us. The Pettigrews and Paulings, with their level of expertise, maturity and wisdom, were able to provide oversight for some of our younger, shorter term volunteers,” Mark said. “Since our community is largely younger, what they bring in the way of being spiritual grandparents is very special.”
The Paulings and Pettigrews feel that the blessing works both ways.
“The reward of coming to Harpenden is sharing your life with the incredible group of people that God has drawn here from all around the world,” Mary said.
“It’s a privilege to be part of their training and outreach and to encourage and train some of them in practical things as well. Being part of the YWAM family and hearing their life stories and the mission they feel called to do is a great blessing and encouragement.”The Paulings said that thought they are not called to missions, they love using their skills to help those on the mission field. They encourage others who have the time to offer their help on the mission field through Mission Builders.
“Doing Mission Builders, whatever your age, is an amazing experience,” Lyn said. “If you can take some time out of your career, and you have a heart for missions, this is a wonderful way to serve.”