​2018 Youth Venture participant Selah Judge holds a butterfly at the Menno Village farm in Naganuma, Japan. Photo by John Murray.

By Marisa Smucker
Monday, November 1, 2021

The reflections in this annual report sparked a memory about how transformation occurred in my life about 15 years ago. I had been traveling to Costa Rica with ministry groups, as well as on my own, for about 5 ½ years. I straddled these visits with a settled life in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. One day, near the end of my time traveling back and forth, I was gazing around the rooms of my house. I had an overwhelming feeling that I no longer wanted to keep all my "stuff." And then, I realized I no longer wanted my car, and even more major yet, I no longer wanted to own my home. 

It seemed like that epiphany to sell all and go follow Jesus to Costa Rica happened in a flash; but in reality, little flashes of experience and insight along the way prepared my mind and heart to finally take the fork in the road to a new path.  

My story is only one way God's movement and timing have evoked transformation. These footprints and fingerprints of God can be followed through other transformative arenas as well — in nature, as well as in our faith families and communities.  

Just as the opening editorial described, there is much transformation that happens in nature. The caterpillar turns into a butterfly; green leaves turn to yellow, gold, red and brown ones; and the sowing of springtime fruits, flowers and vegetables grow in the dirt, blossom and eventually grace our yards and tables with beauty.  

And then, there is the transformation that happens because of, and within, community. As we work with each other, live with each other, laugh and cry with each other, we change each other. Sometimes we are like iron sharpening iron. At other times, we are the gentle nudge of trickling water wearing away some resistance. At other times, we are mirrors, showing each other what it means to be made in the image and likeness of God. 

May all the faces of God's empowerment gaze upon us and bless us together, as we engage in the holy work of transforming into who we are called to be individually and collectively. 






​Marisa Smucker is senior executive for Ventures at Mission Network.



Doing two-way mission more than one wayhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4631/Doing-two-way-mission-more-than-one-wayDoing two-way mission more than one wayEcuador
Reflecting on the hospitality of Jesushttps://www.mennonitemission.net/video/4632/Reflecting-on-the-hospitality-of-JesusReflecting on the hospitality of JesusWATCH
Mennonite Bible School in South Africa graduates 41 in 2021https://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4630/Mennonite-Bible-School-in-South-Africa-graduates-41-in-2021Mennonite Bible School in South Africa graduates 41 in 2021Graduation
Mission-wary to Missionary: Mistakes were madehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4629/Mission-wary-to-Missionary-Mistakes-were-madeMission-wary to Missionary: Mistakes were madePODCAST
Trailblazing and contemporary initiatives pave way for antiracist futurehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4628/Trailblazing-and-contemporary-initiatives-pave-way-for-antiracist-futureTrailblazing and contemporary initiatives pave way for antiracist futureAntiracism efforts
Mission-wary to Missionary: Where do we start?https://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4627/Mission-wary-to-Missionary-Where-do-we-startMission-wary to Missionary: Where do we start?PODCAST