What do you do when you’re not sure what to do? This was the topic of conversation as a friend and I met around his table this summer. He was talking about his children who were starting out in life. They were facing the usual challenges of children, mortgage and jobs.
My name is Ed Olfert. I live in Laird, Sask., and currently serve as part-time minister of Grace Mennonite Church in Prince Albert. Some time ago I critiqued Canadian Mennonite. The executive editor called my bluff and offered me a column.
Shirley Redekop, the president of Mennonite Women Canada, is pictured with a Maasai student from Monduli Village from Monduli Village. (Photo courtesy of Shirley Redekop)
Shirley Redekop crushes roasted coffee beans at the St. Catharine monastery in Karatu while Sister Norellen looks on. (Photo courtesy of Shirley Redekop)
‘Mama’ Milka, left, and another Monduli Village woman teach the Maasai way of beading to Liz Koop of Ontario and Linda Rush from Oregon during their TourMagination excursion to Tanzania this summer. (Photo courtesy of Shirley Redekop)
Arusha Mennonite Church women process into their Tanzanian church. (Photo courtesy of Shirley Redekop)
Arusha Mennonite Church women at a Sunday morning worship service. (Photo courtesy of Shirley Redekop)
North American women examine the handmade crafts by women of Arusha Mennonite Church. Sale of the crafts helps support the Tanzanian congregation. (Photo courtesy of Shirley Redekop)
An Arusha Mennonite Church woman sews crafts to sell in aid of congregational projects. (Photo courtesy of Shirley Redekop)
Some years ago, a seed was planted in my heart to take a group of intergenerational North American Mennonite women to share faith and life stories with other Mennonite women in an international setting.
“Groups keep pleading for Peace Factory,” said a Mennonite Central Committee memo in 1996. An interactive exhibit, Peace Factory was a cooperative Mennonite project. Its goal was to “help all Christians connect their faith in God with a life of peacemaking.” In 1997, it toured southwestern Ontario.
To the friends living in the colonized lands of the Salish, Mi’kmaq and Innu. This is Peter, follower of the poor Christ, in prison on the West Coast. I write because the time is urgent. Some say, “The end of the world is at hand” (I Peter 4:7).
Some years ago, when Canada was in the midst of a federal election, my husband proposed that our church “talk politics.” Specifically, that we set aside time in the adult Sunday school class to examine the issues and the options being offered by different parties and candidates.
From the time we are young, most of us are taught that decisions about money are not to be taken lightly. Through experiences like saving up to buy a new bike, purchasing our first car and choosing a new home, we become familiar with budgeting, saving and praying about the big financial decisions in our lives.
A lonely bridge over a creek near Winkler, Man., in 1907. A humble structure, but so very important. Bridges connected farmers to markets, children to schools, families to church, and pregnant women to midwives. Many of the everyday things that we use are humble pieces that someone has expended effort to make.
In II Corinthians 12:9, Paul shares a message he received from God in response to his personal struggles: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”
The church in North America is shrinking. We see signs of it everywhere. God is pruning back his church. We have a choice to frantically hold on to all that is dying or to pay attention to what Jesus is doing and join in with his new growth initiatives.
“When you’re lonely, Jesus rescues!” our kids cried out in enthusiastic unison. Spurred on by a pair of gregarious and silly characters trapped on a deserted island, the children were pumped.
Growing up in a Mennonite home, I cherished baking and cooking as integral parts of my life. As a young girl, I was often surrounded by the smells of delicious homemade baked goods—bread and zwieback, perishky and platz (rolls, fruit pockets and fruit squares, respectively).
Diana Shaw grew up watching her mother express love and caring by preparing and sharing food. Diana says, “This recipe from my mother is easy to make; it can be frozen, thaws quickly, and is easy to eat!” It makes approximately 90-100 sugar rolls, depending on the size.
George Neufeld worked in England, France and Germany after the Second World War, from 1946 to 1948. He wrote in his diary on Monday, Jan 7, 1946: “Received letter from Helene dated Dec. 6. I wonder what all has happened since then.” Sunday, Jan; 13: “Wrote a 20-page letter to Helene. Am lonesome for her.” Monday, Jan.
Flowers hang in the former backyard of Peter and Leona Dueck Penner in Winnipeg. (Photo by Leona Dueck Penner)
“Wait watchfully,” wrote Rainer Maria Rilke in a prose poem he penned around 1895, which my husband and I read on an autumn morning during our quiet time a couple of years ago.
When my youngest son “graduated” from Grade 5 in June 2000, his class took a special year-end trip to Toronto. I was working as a school bus driver at the time—we lived in Ontario then—and I drove the bus. The highlight of the trip was attending The Lion King live at the Princess of Wales Theatre.
Swirling around with ideas of strategy, focus, and “We used to do it this way,” change is messy. Grappling with the in-between is messy. Living in the liminal space between what was and what will be is messy, yet here we are, wondering, “What did I get myself into?”
Are you finding yourself divided from loved ones in your family, church or neighbourhood on any number of challenging issues? Are you finding fewer opportunities to talk with others across differences? Are the chasms leading to heightened stress and fractured relationships? Do you wonder if this is the best we can do in our families and churches?
Back in 1988, my wife and I chaperoned 17 high school students on a trip to visit refugee camps in Thailand. We thought the students would learn about missions and life outside of Canada. We had no idea the experience would change us forever.
This is a photo of the dormitory duplex at Sexsmith Bible Institute in Alberta. The building used to function as the meeting house of the Krimmer Mennonite Brethren at Bear Lake and the General Conference Mennonites at Wembley Ranch. What was the official name of the Bible institute that used this building and the church that used it?
Growing up, I never wanted to be a farmer. It seemed like farm machinery always had precedence over a new couch, curtains or nice shoes. Then I met my husband Bob at Rosthern Mennonite Collegiate in Saskatchewan, and he wanted to be a veterinarian. Naively, I never thought this would involve farming, so I taught elementary school while he studied.