Middle Eastern adventure for Winnipeg students

Hannah Kroeker and Fiona Janzen ride camels in the Wadi Rum. (Photo courtesy of Westgate Mennonite Collegiate)

Westgate students engage with Ben, an Israeli man who spoke about losing his daughter in the conflict. He is part of the Family Forum, a group that connects bereaved Israeli and Palestinian parents. (Photo courtesy of Westgate Mennonite Collegiate)

Raya Cornelsen and James Friesen sit by the separation barrier in Bethlehem, just outside of Banksy's Walled Off Hotel. (Photo courtesy of Westgate Mennonite Collegiate)

Students scramble up to the Burdah rock bridge with their Bedouin guides. (Photo courtesy of Westgate Mennonite Collegiate)

Raya Cornelsen and Nancy Loewen overlooking the treasury in Petra. (Photo courtesy of Westgate Mennonite Collegiate)

The Westgate students pose in front of the treasury at Petra. (Photo courtesy of Westgate Mennonite Collegiate)

Westgate students kayak on the Sea of Galilee. (Photo courtesy of Westgate Mennonite Collegiate)

Westgate students meet with the young people who are a part of the Galilee Dreamers. (Photo courtesy of Westgate Mennonite Collegiate)

Westgate students eat at the Fauzi Azar Hotel in Nazareth. (Photo courtesy of Westgate Mennonite Collegiate)

Westgate student Sarah Schellenberg, right, chats with two students from the Galilee Dreamers. (Photo courtesy of Westgate Mennonite Collegiate)

In Madaba, Jordan, Westgate students learn how to make maqlube, a dish consisting of meat, rice and fried vegetables placed in a pot that is flipped upside down when served, hence the name ‘maqluba,’ which translates literally as ‘upside-down. (Photo courtesy of Westgate Mennonite Collegiate)

After two years of living through a pandemic, we never expected that we would be able to travel to the Middle East. After so much uncertainty, we were so fortunate to be able to be a group of 15 graduating Grade 12 students visiting Israel/Palestine and Jordan.


What resilience looks like

Bethany Amstutz-Schrag, Joanna Loepp Thiessen and Krystal Porter jump for joy as they trek through the mountains of Nepal on an MCC learning tour. (Photo courtesy of Joanna Loepp Thiessen)

From dealing with disaster to mental health recovery, partners of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Nepal and their beneficiaries demonstrate resilience.

Learning through space and time

Participants in the January 2016 AMBS ‘Encountering Egypt’ learning tour visit a Nubian house in Aswan, Upper Egypt. (Photo by Sara Wenger Shenk)

Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary organized a trip to Egypt in January 2016. The goal was to encounter the long history of Egypt as well as to get to know Christian and Muslim communities. Of the 37 participants from Canada, the United States and Australia, seven took the trip as a seminary course. 

Soaking it in

Gavyn Stroh spent 370 days travelling through 34 countries by bike. (Photo courtesy of Gavyn Stroh)

Gavyn Stroh watches hot air balloons take off at sunrise in Göreme, Turkey. (Photo courtesy of Gavyn Stroh)

Gavyn Stroh explored Sarajevo’s abandoned 1984 Olympic bobsled and luge track. (Photo courtesy of Gavyn Stroh)

‘To connect more intimately with the place where you are is a good thing,’ Gavyn Stroh says. (Photo courtesy of Gavyn Stroh)

Gavyn Stroh spent more than 150 nights camping during his trip. (Photo courtesy of Gavyn Stroh)

When Gavyn Stroh decided to spend a year exploring Europe, he wanted to do it in a way that aligned with his values. 

“I chose a bicycle . . . to minimize the [environmental] impact, the carbon emissions of travelling,” the 26-year-old says.

‘The more we get to know each other’

Uzbekistan hosts Mr. and Mrs. Karimov, standing, share warm hospitality with a TourMagination group visiting Serabulak. Mr. Karimov is a descendant of a merchant who gave Mennonite pilgrims a farewell gift of money and other gifts. (TourMagination photo by John Sharp)

The Kyk-Ota Mosque in Serabulak, Uzbekistan, was used by Mennonites as a church during the winter of 1881-82. (TourMagination photo by John Sharp)

Historical experiences of ordinary people living out their faith were shared at a travelogue presentation of Russian Mennonite migrations in Europe and Central Asia.

Gathering and sharing seeds of faith

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)

Norene Kanagy reads with a Maasai student in Monduli Village, Tanzania. (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.

Travel company and MCC collaborate for mutual benefit

In 2017, a group of North American travellers on a TourMagination tour of India joined the MCC team in Kolkata for morning devotions. Later in the day, the travellers visited several MCC projects. Whenever possible, TourMagination tour groups connect with MCC staff in countries they are touring. (TourMagination photo)

Recognizing shared values and an overlap between TourMagination travellers and Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) donors, the for-profit business and non-profit organization recently signed a memorandum of understanding signaling their desire to collaborate more closely for mutual benefit. 

Bethlehem experiences

Tear gas containers litter the gardens near the separation wall between Israel and the West Bank Palestinians know that every Friday they can expect tear gas to be lobbed into the refugee camps outside of Bethlehem. (Photo by Brandi Friesen Thorpe)

The separation wall in Bethlehem, in the West Bank. (Photo by Brandi Friesen Thorpe)

‘How you experience holy is different than you expect it to be.’ -Rev. Carrie Ballenger Smith

After a year of travel, seeking faith and justice on four continents, there are lessons that I am still unpacking. Between the busy schedules of church, master’s thesis work, travel and work with the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF), it takes a moment of pause to catch up with my experiences. And so, I pause. I look back to remember.

Subscribe to RSS - travel