God at work in Us
Jeff Warkentin’s passion for God shaped a life defined by service and relationships. As son, brother, husband, father, teacher, pastor, mission worker, musician and friend, he reflected God’s grace and love to everyone he encountered.
“I’m really thankful for the farm,” says Justin Krahn, 13, great-great-grandson of Peter W. Rempel. He and his two siblings spend their free time playing in the century-old cottonwoods and willow trees planted by their great-great-grandfather, whose advice—“Before you cut down one tree, you plant three”—is still practised today by his descendants.
“I never had a question. There was never an alternative. I kind of envied the people who had to figure out what they had to do in their careers and lives. Me, it was clear as a bolt of lightning. It was the one thing I knew I had to follow and I was passionate about music. I remember my first passions since before I knew how to explain them, before I went to school.”
Jinhee Paik and Margaret Fehr are from different worlds, yet have found family with each other at First Mennonite Church, Calgary, Alta., through their shared love of children. Paik is a young mother from Korea; Fehr is 76 and moved to Calgary from Red Deer in 2007.
On a gorgeous summer afternoon, I willingly tumbled out of an airplane from more than 3,000 metres above the ground, entrusting my life to a piece of nylon, a ripcord and a stranger strapped to my back. It was the boldest, craziest thing I had ever done.
If you are out running errands in Saskatoon and your travels take you to the bank, a convenience store or your doctor’s office, there’s a chance you will encounter the work and influence of Nicole Tiessen in the various buildings you pass through.
Nestled in the bend of the Brokenhead River at the very end of a country road is a small Christian community trying to live responsibly and faithfully. Four family units are shareholders of this 58-hectare piece of land that was formerly a commercial strawberry farm.
Alfred Driedger and Andrew Dyck share a love of fixing things, and the fact that they are separated by 60 years or so only makes repair work more interesting. This seemingly unlikely pair was brought together by a set of circumstances that has proved beneficial to both of them.
If you visit a national park, you see them. If you work at winter construction sites, they keep you warm. If you were at the 2010 Olympic Games in Whistler, B.C., they took care of your garbage and recyclables. You might run across them anywhere in Canada or the United States, in Colombia or Venezuela in South America, or in China or Hong Kong.
Farming and education were two lifelong passions for Aaron Klassen, according to his daughter Sherri, who shared parts of her father’s life story and the “twists and turns” of his work life at his funeral in Kitchener on April 23. “Even more important than his work identity,” she said, “was his life in the Mennonite church community.”
Lynette Froese is reluctant to call her unique career a business, or even a career. “I was raised to consider work as a form of service, so I try to see this work not just as a business, but as a way of offering a service,” she says.
“There are some things I don’t understand,” opines Bruce Weber about his nephew, Tavis Weber. “The guy goes to school in music for four years and then he goes and buys a bakery.”
Teaching may not be an unusual career, but Willi Penner has made a unique contribution to the field. Penner is the creator of Mathopoly, a curriculum-based math learning tool. The game is gaining the attention of educators and parents, and last October it was featured on the CBC’s Dragon’s Den, a TV show that gives entrepreneurs a chance to pitch their product to potential investors.
Marty and Chelsea Misener run church youth groups at either end of the Niagara Peninsula, and have seen the impact of youths on the elderly, and vice versa.
As Bethany Mennonite Church’s associate pastor since March 2009, Marty oversees the church’s young people’s group in Virgil, where they annually go carolling at Heritage Place, the local nursing home.
Relationships between youths and seniors within congregations are often strained, as neither group understands the other. Sometimes both groups are content not to know one another at all.
A deep love for aboriginal communities in Manitoba inspired Jake and Margaret Harms to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this past summer by honouring others. In lieu of gifts, they invited friends and family to contribute to Mennonite Church Canada Native Ministry.
It is not normally an unusual sight, good friends finishing each other’s sentences and laughing, except that Maggie Martens and Gillian Mayers have something special, perhaps even rare. They have a true friendship that transcends age barriers.