For some people, retiring and buying a recreational vehicle is a dream way to relax after decades of hard work. For David and Linda Maracle, it has been an opportunity to bless Assemblies of God churches, campgrounds, and other ministries. After starting as part-time RV volunteers with Church Mobilization, they served as U.S. missionaries overseeing volunteers in the Northeastern U.S. Now, at age 74, they are the RV missionaries for the AG Northern Missouri District and Southern Missouri Ministry Network.
For the past four years, Linda has been based at the U.S. Missions Church Mobilization departmental offices in Springfield, Missouri, where she oversees RV volunteers and maintains the database of volunteer information. At Global University, David is involved with prison ministry (of which Bob E. Durham, a U.S. missionary serving with Chaplaincy Ministries is director), assisting with the massive amounts of mail and paperwork required for correspondence courses, since inmates do not have access to computers and internet. The Maracles also continued to serve on RV volunteer projects themselves. In February, Church Mobilization Senior Director Billy D. Thomas asked them to assume RV missionary duties around the Show Me State.
David Maracle used his master’s degree in engineering for many years employed on the HAWK missile system, traveling worldwide for special projects. Linda worked in banking and also assisted in financials at the church they attended for over 30 years, Riverside Assembly of God in Methuen, Massachusetts. Nearly 20 years ago, around age 55, the couple started to plan and pray about retirement, when they became intrigued by a Pentecostal Evangel article about RV volunteers. They began doing projects on a part-time basis at first, using a rented recreational vehicle. As their involvement progressed, they bought their own fifth-wheel trailer and quickly realized RV ownership came with a learning curve of its own. But their confidence increased enough to purchase a larger trailer, and now a motor home.
While David’s specialized work gave management experience and, importantly, adequate retirement income, it did not build construction skills. The Maracles assure prospective new RVers that lack of building experience is not a deterrent to effective service. They themselves learned skills by doing projects. They also point out no job is too small; for example, sweeping up after carpentry work not only maintains better footing, it also improves air quality by removing particles and residue created by sawing treated lumber. Another simple but important job involves using putty to fill the indentions left by powerful compressed-air nailers. Linda has learned to do that quickly and well.
“Women tend to be very careful and do a neat job, which really affects the finished look,” she says.
In addition to overseeing projects in Missouri, the Maracles’ duties as missionaries include recruiting additional RV volunteers from churches, partly through education as to just how valuable volunteers are. Projects are often for rural churches, where the building may badly need updates, but the pastor is likely bivocational, the congregation older, and finances limited. Or a church may be experiencing renewed vision, but need more space. RV volunteers can save a church up to 50% of the total cost of construction by eliminating labor costs. Other projects involve helping expand or update facilities for campgrounds, Adult & Teen Challenge facilities, or other ministry projects.
Linda’s national office work includes processing project and volunteer applications as well as determining whether a project is better suited for RVers or for a congregational team, where larger churches send groups to assist. Those groups consider projects like a mission trip, raising funds for their own lodging nearby, and traveling at their own expense. For RVers, the church must locate and provide hookups, and Linda helps ensure an adequate number are available for the workers needed. RVers schedule their own time, and the choice of project is entirely up to each person or couple. Her office database keeps track of volunteers’ anticipated availability, along with specialized skills such as plumbing, floor tiling, or drywall finishing, so they can be matched to projects where those will be needed.
Some RVers, often retirees, volunteer full time; others are part time or use vacation to meet the 2-week suggested yearly volunteer minimum. And the benefits go both ways: volunteers enjoy traveling to new areas and sometimes plan extra days or use evenings to enjoy local attractions. There’s also good fellowship around daily morning prayer times and shared evening meals. Some volunteers are married couples; others are single; some have large rigs and live in them year-round; others travel light, like Eliza Morse, whose easily manageable rig is a van and tent. Some continue serving well past their 80th birthday.
“It helps you stay physically and mentally sharp,” Linda says. “For some newly widowed volunteers, continuing to serve provides a way to feel needed and start building some new friendships.”
“Dave and Linda are one of the greatest assets that we have in the RV ministry,” Billy Thomas says. “Together they make up the power team of RV ministry.”