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‘I feel like it is God’s will that I am here’

Ukrainian IVEPers Maryna Bogomaz and Anton Shylov, left, perform with Daniel Verchau, a German service worker, at North Leamington United Mennonite Church on Feb. 10. (Photo by Zach Charbonneau)

South Koreans Eunji Ryu, left, and JuYeong Lee take part in an IVEP worship service at North Leamington United Mennonite Church on Feb. 10. (Photo by Zach Charbonneau)

Dancing up a storm at North Leamington United Mennonite Church on Feb. 10 were Indian IVEPers Chattu Sinha, Sharon Dass Sumanta Mandi. (Photo by Zach Charbonneau)

This year’s IVEPers pose with their flags at North Leamington United Mennonite Church on Feb. 10 during a worship service with their hosts from four local Mennonite congregations. (Photo by Zach Charbonneau)

For a week in early February, North Leamington United Mennonite Church played host to the annual mid-year conference of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) International Volunteer Exchange Program (IVEP), including an international worship service on Feb. 10.

Swords into plowshares, guns into art

Irian Sittler-Fast works as a blacksmith in Floradale, Ont. (Photo by Paul Dimock)

Sittler-Fast sits by her sculpture, ‘Gun Shy’ at her first public showing at Hawkesville (Ont.) Mennonite Church. (Photo by Elo Wideman)

(Photo by Paul Dimock)

(Photo by Paul Dimock)

(Photo by Paul Dimock)

Irian Fast-Sittler spends her days hammering hot steel and welding metals together at a forge in Floradale, Ont.

Recently, the 20-year-old blacksmith created a modern-day take on the analogy from the Book of Isaiah of turning swords into ploughshares. Instead, she turned her grandfather’s shotgun into a work of art.

Winter cyclists brave the cold

Michael Veith and his sister Marika Veith prepare for a winter bike ride. (Photo courtesy of Michael Veith)

Michael Veith, bundled up and frosty, after a winter bike ride. (Photo courtesy of Michael Veith)

A passion for cold commuting runs in the family. Michael Veith, centre, and his siblings Marika, left, and Matt are all avid winter cyclists. (Photo courtesy of Michael Veith)

While a polar vortex and temperatures of -50C with the wind chill attacked Winnipeg, most people scurried from building to building, trying to be outside as little as possible.

All except a select few: the winter cyclists. Snapping on ski goggles and carefully covering every inch of exposed skin, these commuters brave the cold, snow and ice to bike all 12 months of the year. 

Freedom on two wheels

A member of Freedom Concepts Inc.’s staff works on a custom bike. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Colin Bock builds custom bikes for people with disabilities, at Freedom Concepts Inc. of Winnipeg. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

If you ever see a candy-apple-red tandem bicycle cruising through the streets of Winnipeg, you can be sure it’s the Dueck family.

“We go out pretty much daily, weather permitting, from as early in spring as we can go out until as late fall as we can,” says Linda Dueck. “We are well-known in our neighbourhood for the people with the red bike.”

They put a spell on you

‘One of the best things about the group is the community and friendships,’ Incantatem co-founder Allison Alexander says. (Photo by Kyle Rudge)

Formed in January 2016, Incantatem performs music from movies, TV shows and video games. (Photo by James Cheng)

Non-geeks and non-Christians are invited to join Incantatem, which rehearses every Monday evening at River East Church in Winnipeg. (Photo by Kyle Rudge)

Don’t expect to hear anything by Bach, Brahms or Beethoven if you attend a performance by Winnipeg’s Incantatem. The a cappella choir’s repertoire has a unique focus: music from movies, TV shows and video games.

‘To the heart through dal’

Ashisha Lal, an MCC IVEPer who served at Thrift on Kent in Kitchener, Ont., made dal for her coworkers. (Photo courtesy of Ashisha Lal)

During my year of living in Canada as part of the International Volunteer Exchange Program (IVEP), sponsored by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), I made dal (lentil soup) a number of times. In my country, India, dal is a basic everyday food.

‘That is a Christian!’

Alvin and Helen Lepp pose in front of a mural at the Siksika Nation community hall following a service honouring them for their service to the First Nation in 2010. (File photo courtesy of Neill and Edith von Gunten)

Members of the Rosemary Mennonite Church community and the Siksika Nation gathered together on Jan. 4 to praise God for the life of Alvin Lepp. 

‘It was just helping people’

An updated photo shows Keith Wagler with his appliance repair van, in his early years. (Photo courtesy of the House of Friendship)

Keith Wagler in 2018, before he retired after 34 years on the job. (Photo courtesy of the House of Friendship)

For 34 years, Keith Wagler lived out his Christian faith by serving others through the Appliance Repair Program of the House of Friendship (HoF), a social service agency in the Waterloo Region of Ontario. His job involved servicing and repairing appliances for people living on a low income, who could not afford to pay for a regular service call or to replace their appliances.

Peacebuilding monster

Anna Bigland-Pritchard, left, with her Seanster and the Monsters bandmates, pictured from left to right: Tim Braun, Sean Hogan, Marcel Desilets and Scott Young. (Photo by Mike Latschislaw)

Anna Bigland-Pritchard, right, with her Seanster and the Monsters bandmates, pictured from left to right: Tim Braun, Scott Young, Sean Hogan and Marcel Desilets. (Photo by Mike Latschislaw)

Stripes with Platypus is the second album from Seanster and the Monsters.

Anna Bigland-Pritchard never anticipated becoming a monster, but today she wouldn’t be anything else.

The 26-year-old Winnipegger is a member of children’s musical act Seanster and the Monsters. The group, which describes itself as “stuck somewhere between They Might Be Giants and Fred Penner,” released its sophomore album, Stripes with Platypus, earlier this month. 

Band of brothers

Darian Neufeld, Isaac Schlegel and Zachary Stefaniuk are members of Boy Talk, a group that fosters deep friendship and honest discussion. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

The members of Boy Talk meet every Friday for serious discussion or just to have fun together. (Photo by Kenji Dyck)

When Isaac Schlegel and Nathan Rogalsky noticed that their friendships with men lacked the same depth as their friendships with women, they decided to do something about it.

‘A picture of his grandmother’

Henry and Gerald Neufeld have assembled a collection of about a thousand archival photographs of First Nation communities in the Berens River watershed. They are holding a photograph of Miskwaatesi ’oskiisik and his wife Kihcimoohkomaan from Pauingassi. (Photo by Gladys Terichow)

Gerald Neufeld and his father Henry share a passion for linking families from First Nation communities within the Berens River watershed in Manitoba and northwestern Ontario with archival photographs of their ancestors. 

Conductor. Father. Farmer. Christian.

Abner Martin conducts the Mennonite Mass Choir’s performance of Haydn’s ‘Creation.’ (1975 Waterloo Region Record file photo)

Abner Martin was born at his parents’ farm in Waterloo Township, Ont., the seventh surviving child of Annanias and Susannah (Steckle) Martin. His family, until the time of Abner’s birth, were members of the Old Order Mennonites that met at Martin’s Meeting House. Later, they attended St.

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