|Snows Mill offers missionaries respite|
|Written by Mary Anne Carroll|
|Thursday, 04 March 2010|
The first time Dr. Marlene Huyler came to the secluded
retreat house in
A missionary, Huyler needed a place to unwind and regroup. The spacious house provided by Missionary Care Ministry was the answer to her prayer. It not only provided a home on 10 acres of beautifully-wooded land, but it also provided the peace and quiet at no charge.
“Like most missionaries, I was over-extended, so I kept putting off taking a break,” Huyler recalled. “That is why when I did take a break, and when I first walked into this house, I cried to see such kindness.”
Over the last 10 years, Missionary Care Ministry’s retreat
house has provided a respite from the world to 1,752 missionaries from 68
different countries. For up to one month, missionary families can stay for free
at the retreat house, which is located off
“Many times, when a missionary family comes home, there is no home to come home to,” explained Celia Stockamp, chairman of board for the non-profit Missionary Care Ministry. “We provide a sense of place.”
To celebrate 10 years of providing a sense of place and a renewed sense of peace to missionaries, Missionary Care Ministry held a celebration at Athens Country Club last Saturday night. The theme of the banquet was “Look What God Has Done.”
“We are not calling it a fundraiser because it is so much bigger than that,” Stockamp said last week as she put the finishing touches on planning the event. “This is more about informing people about what we do, helping people capture our vision, and getting more people to volunteer and be partners in our ministry.”
The 281 people who attended last Saturday’s banquet learned first-hand what the retreat house means to missionaries and their families. Dr. Huyler, who has stayed at the house several times, talked to the crowd about the need for a retreat for those who serve the Lord in countries around the world and far from home.
Huyler, talking at the retreat house before the banquet, said most missionaries work for little or no money, and would never be able to afford a month at even the cheapest of hotels. So, when missionaries finally get a break, they often end up staying with family or with church members, meaning they get little quality family time and even less privacy.
The retreat house in
On a tour of the house last week, Stockamp and Huyler showed how nothing has been overlooked in furnishing the house, which has separate upstairs and downstairs living areas. Rooms are beautifully appointed, with sweeping views of the woods and creek that surround the house.
The creek is a favorite source of entertainment for young visitors, and a closet reveals a variety of rubber boots so youngsters can splash in the water and delight in catching tadpoles and frogs. There is a play fort outside also, as well as a grill for families to cook meals while enjoying the rural landscape.
Each level of the house has a full kitchen, bedrooms, baths, and a laundry room. Each level also has a separate entrance, so two families staying at the same time have complete privacy.
There are other details like toys for children, helpful directions to the nearby Publix, and plush robes for adults to enjoy after a long, warm shower.
Huyler said the hospitality of the home does not stop at the way it is furnished. She has stayed at the retreat house when churches brought groceries and meals to missionary families who were low on funds. She has seen people baby sit for children staying at the house so parents could enjoy a night out on the town. Churches also lend cars to missionaries who do not have transportation.
“This house is known for its hospitality,” said Huyler, who
is from the
Stockamp said the idea for the house began a decade ago when a friend of hers, Laura Benson Keil, had the idea of providing a retreat for missionaries returning from an assignment or taking a quick break from their ministry. She approached friends of her family, Bill and Sudie Hanger, with her idea.
The vision that began in 2000 has become a reality not only because of the vision of Beil and the generosity of the Hanger family, but also because of the volunteers who help keep the retreat house up and running.
“The amazing thing about this unique ministry is the volunteer hours people put into this,” said Wesley Middlebrooks, who is on the board of directors of Missionary Care Ministry. “We rely on the generous people who donate their time and their talents.”
Middlebrooks said from the woodworker who helps fix a wobbly handrail to a plumber who repairs a leaky pipe, the volunteers are the ones who allow the ministry to offer four-star accommodations to missionaries without charging them a dime for their vacation.
The stellar accommodations are not lost, even on the
youngest visitors to the
“I have never stayed in a place as nice as this,” the child wrote.
However, the retreat house is not so fancy the visitor couldn’t enjoy his stay.
“This is a place kids can relax and be ourselves,” he added to the log.
Mary Anne Carroll is a
reporter for The
|Last Updated ( Friday, 19 March 2010 )|
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