WINONA LAKE – As with any facility, the Lakeland Christian Academy building has projects that need to be done each year.
The chores are minor things usually, according to Administrator Joy Lavendar. Her annual checklist can include painting, landscaping, woodwork, clearing out lockers and just putting a polish on everything else.
The private school administrator then forwards her to-do list to Servants on Wheels Ever Ready, or the SOWERS organization, in Texas.
SOWERS couples sign up for the work and complete it for free.
This summer, Bill and Sharon Crownover and King and Jackie Fulton pulled up in their recreational vehicles ready to work.
“We get a skill sheet of what they do and don’t do. They send people to work in areas where they’re most capable. They just go ahead and take care of things,” Lavendar said. “They’re conscientious and capable.”
The Fultons have been “RVing” as they call it for 37 years. They had a swimming pool installation business in South Carolina for many years, working together daily.
“In an RV, if you can’t work together,” King said. “there’s no place to hide.”
When they heard about SOWERS they knew it was for them. They sold their property and worldly goods and took to the road and odd-jobbing full time about a year ago.
The Crownovers story is similar. Bill is a 20-year Air Force veteran and was a real estate broker in Texas. Sharon worked in the real estate office.
When they retired, Sharon said, she went through a period of feeling disconnected from life. Then they heard about the SOWERS group. In May 2005, they began to travel to SOWERS job sites.
“We all have Christ in common,” Sharon said. “Now there is an immediate connection.”
The Fultons and Crownovers have a profound belief in Jesus Christ. Each day begins with devotions.
The men work six hours; the women work three hours if they choose to work.
The Fultons receive donations from their home church members.
The Crownovers are on their own.
“We get such a blessing out of what we do. We meet so many wonderful people,” Bill said.
At a camp for the mentally and physically handicapped in Idaho, a young woman with Downs Syndrome took a liking to Bill, holding his hand during meals. He can’t talk about her without tears springing to his eyes.
“It’s hard to go, sometimes,” he said. “And sometimes it’s hard to leave. It’s a rewarding kind of life. I guess you could call it a ministry.”
Both teams have been from one end of the country to the other in the last year. They met each other in North Dakota and signed up for a couple of projects together.
The Crownovers travel with their collie, Bekah, who reportedly howls when the SOWERS song is sung.
“We’re houseless, not homeless,” Jackie said.
It may seem like an easy life, traveling from one part of the country to the next.
“Some of our family and friends think we’re on a perpetual vacation,” Sharon said. She and Jackie had just finished clearing out and cleaning the student lockers.
Bill and King were giving the first floor hall walls a fresh coat of paint, hauling ladders, tarpolins and painting equipment to area.
“We are so grateful,” Lavendar said. “We couldn’t afford to do the work on our own. We count on the SOWERS groups each year.”
The SOWERS will be at the academy until July 27. Folks are encouraged to visit and learn more about their ministry.
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