My new year’s resolution of 1964 was that I would live a life of celibacy in service to others. Would I be able to carry through with my resolution, not only for a year but for the rest of my life? The fact that I am happily married to my second wife shows that I did not carry through with the first part; whether I have been a service to anyone is not for me to say. In this story I’ll tell how long my resolve lasted.
In 1963, inspired by President Kennedy’s call to be of service, I volunteered to serve two years in the Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS). This group was an arm of the Church of the Brethren that sent out young people not as missionaries but service workers who would live and provide aid among needy people in the United States and other countries. The people who designed the Peace Corps looked to the Brethren, Mennonites, and Quaker volunteers to get ideas for the government program.
After six weeks of work/study training, I went to Haiti with Jean, a nurse in the program. Because I had two years of college chemistry and a two year degree in electronics, I was to be a laboratory and X-ray technician for a mobile tuberculosis project. I spent the summer and early fall learning about hospital lab tests as well as getting acquainted with the Haitian people and language first with the Mennonites, then in an American Baptist hospital in Limbe’.