Defying gusts of pain by lighting candles of peaceColombian peace vigilhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Defying-gusts-of-pain-by-lighting-candles-of-peaceDefying gusts of pain by lighting candles of peaceBy Eric Frey Martin

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Finding joyHope in Beninhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Finding-joyFinding joyBy Josh Garber
Gospel accompaniment, empowerment increase social capitalGospel accompaniment https://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Gospel-accompaniment,-empowerment-increase-social-capitalGospel accompaniment, empowerment increase social capitalBy Peter Wigginton
Reflections on Holy WeekHoly Week reflectionshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Reflections-on-Holy-WeekReflections on Holy WeekBy Joshua Garber
Alumni Voices - Barbara EwyAlumni Voiceshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Alumni-Voices---Barbara-EwyAlumni Voices - Barbara EwyAlumni Voices story by Barbara Ewy
Alumni Voices - Gordon MillerAlumni Voiceshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Alumni-Voices---Gordon-MillerAlumni Voices - Gordon MillerAlumni Voices story by Gordon Miller
Alumni Voices - Jenna BaldwinAlumni Voiceshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Alumni-Voices-Jenna-BaldwinAlumni Voices - Jenna BaldwinAlumni Voices story by Jenna Baldwin

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Alumni Voices - Todd Guslerhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Alumni-Voices---Todd-GuslerAlumni Voices - Todd GuslerAlumni Voices story by Todd Gusler<p></p><p>Todd Gusler served as a Service Adventure unit leader with the Raleigh, North Carolina unit from 2010-2013. For his alumni story, Todd described how his years of service were different than what he expected, a story about music from his service experience, and the experience that most influenced him from his time of service. Recorded at the Mennonite Mission Network Alumni Stories Recording Booth at the 2019 MCUSA Convention in Kansas City, Missouri.</p>
A week with the Mississippi service-learning tour in photoshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/A-week-with-the-Mississippi-service-learning-tour-in-photosA week with the Mississippi service-learning tour in photosBy Travis Duerksen<p>​From Mar. 7-14, nine participants and three Mennonite Mission Network staff visited locations in Jackson, Meridian, and Mashulaville with the Mississippi service-learning tour. The tour, now in its second year, visits Civil Rights locations across Mississippi, and connects Mission Network program alumni and friends to service placements, partners and communities across the state. The photos below are a glimpse into the activities during the week. For more information about future service-learning tours, <a href="/events/Alumni-Service-Learning-Tours">click here</a>.<br></p><p><img alt="Barry and Erika Kreider listen intently as Estella Sandweg, a participant with the Jackson, Mississippi Service Adventure unit, explains the unit's 'to-do list.'" src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2020/_1020297.jpg?RenditionID=15" style="margin:5px;" /><br></p><h4>Barry and Erika Kreider listen intently as Estella Sandweg, a participant with the Jackson, Mississippi, Service Adventure unit, explains the unit's "to-do" list.<br></h4><p><img alt="Risa Fukaya, a participant with the Jackson, Mississippi Service Adventure unit, sings a solo at Open Door Mennonite Church while unit leaders Cynthia and Roger Neufeld Smith play accompaniment. " src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2020/_1020384.jpg?RenditionID=7" style="margin:5px;" /></p><h4>Risa Fukaya, a participant with the Jackson, Mississippi, Service Adventure unit, sings a solo at Open Door Mennonite Church while unit leaders Cynthia and Roger Neufeld Smith play accompaniment. <br></h4><p><img alt="'This Little Light of Mine' room and light sculpture in the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson." src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2020/0308201656b.jpg?RenditionID=15" style="margin:5px;" /></p><h4>"This Little Light of Mine" room and light sculpture in the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson.<br></h4><p><img alt="Cathy Schmid and Mary Grieser clear vines while Gerald Fryenberger hoes plant rows at Jackson City Farm. The garden, one of two managed by Open Door Mennonite Church, produces both food and learning opportunities for community members." src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2020/_1020519.jpg?RenditionID=7" style="margin:5px;" /></p><h4>Cathy Schmid and Mary Grieser clear vines while Gerald Freyenberger hoes plant rows at Jackson City Farm. The garden, one of two managed by Open Door Mennonite Church, produces both food and learning opportunities for community members.<br></h4><p><img alt="Dr. Charles Johnson spoke to the group at Pine Lake Fellowship Camp in Meridian, Mississippi about his experiences as a local Civil Rights activist. " src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2020/_1020717.jpg?RenditionID=7" style="margin:5px;" /></p><h4>Dr. Charles Johnson spoke to the group at Pine Lake Fellowship Camp in Meridian, Mississippi, about his experiences as a local Civil Rights activist. <br></h4><p><img alt="The service-learning tour group enjoyed lots of delicious food over the course of the tour, including chicken and dumplings, fried catfish, and collard greens. (Left to right) Mary and Merlin Grieser, Carol Sandbakken, Erika and Barry Kreider, Arloa Bontrager, Susan Nisly, Gerald Fryenberger, and Cathy and Steve Schmid." src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2020/0310201224.jpg?RenditionID=7" style="margin:5px;" /></p><h4>The service-learning tour group enjoyed lots of delicious food over the course of the week, including chicken and dumplings, fried catfish, and collard greens. Left to right are Mary and Merlin Grieser, Carol Sandbakken, Erika and Barry Kreider, Arloa Bontrager, Susan Nisly, Gerald Freyenberger, and Cathy and Steve Schmid.<br></h4><p><img alt="Afternoon sunlight streams through the stained glass windows at Jubilee Mennonite Church in Meridian, Mississippi." src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2020/0310201759a.jpg?RenditionID=15" style="margin:5px;" /></p><h4>Afternoon sunlight streams through the stained glass windows at Jubilee Mennonite Church in Meridian, Mississippi.<br></h4><p><img alt="Cathy and Steve Schmid reminisce with Glen and Emma Myers at Jubilee Mennonite Church in Meridian, Mississippi. The Myers spoke to the service-learning tour group about living in community with Choctaw Native Americans in Mississippi. The Schmids served with Mennonite Voluntary Service in Mississippi from 1976-77." src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2020/0310201953.jpg?RenditionID=7" style="margin:5px;" /></p><h4>Cathy and Steve Schmid reminisce with Glen and Emma Myers at Jubilee Mennonite Church in Meridian, Mississippi. The Myerses spoke to the service-learning tour group about living in community with Choctaw Native Americans in Mississippi. The Schmids served with Mennonite Voluntary Service in Mississippi from 1976-1977.<br></h4><p><img alt="Gerald Fryenberger cuts brushwood during a workday at Pine Lake Fellowship Camp in Meridian, Mississippi." src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2020/_1030104.jpg?RenditionID=15" style="margin:5px;" /></p><h4>Gerald Freyenberger cuts brushwood during a workday at Pine Lake Fellowship Camp in Meridian, Mississippi.<br></h4><p><img alt="The service-learning tour group reacts as a timed photo doesn't go as planned." src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2020/_1030241.jpg?RenditionID=7" style="margin:5px;" /></p><h4>The service-learning tour group reacts as a timed photo at Pine Lake Fellowship Camp in Meridian, Mississippi, doesn't go as planned.<br></h4><p><img alt="(Left to right) Carol Sandbakken, Travis Duerksen, Susan Nisly, Barry and Erika Kreider, Mary and Merlin Grieser, Arloa Bontrager, Gerald Fryenberger, and Cathy and Steve Schmid made up the 2020 Mississippi alumni and friends service-learning tour group." src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2020/_1030243.jpg?RenditionID=15" style="margin:5px;" /></p><h4>Left to right: Carol Sandbakken, Travis Duerksen, Susan Nisly, Barry and Erika Kreider, Mary and Merlin Grieser, Arloa Bontrager, Gerald Freyenberger, and Cathy and Steve Schmid made up the 2020 Mississippi alumni and friends service-learning tour group.<br></h4><p><img alt="Burleen Rush, Mary Grieser, Bernice Ramsey, Erika Kreider, and Annie Kelly tie comforters at Mennonite Service Center in Mashulaville, Mississippi. Other workday service activities included planting onions, moving wire fence, and organizing the Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) toolshed." src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2020/_1030402.jpg?RenditionID=15" style="margin:5px;" /><br></p><h4>Burleen Rush, Mary Grieser, Bernice Ramsey, Erika Kreider, and Annie Kelly tie comforters at Mennonite Service Center in Mashulaville, Mississippi. Other workday service activities included planting onions, moving wire fence, and organizing the Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) tool shed.<br></h4><p><img alt="Larry Miller, with Mennonite Service Center in Mashulaville, led daily tours around historical Civil Rights sites with the service-learning tour group, including the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Macon, Mississippi." src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2020/0312201514.jpg?RenditionID=15" style="margin:5px;" /></p><h4>Larry Miller, with Mennonite Service Center in Mashulaville, led daily tours around historical Civil Rights sites with the service-learning tour group, including the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Macon, Mississippi.<br></h4><p><img alt="Service-learning tour participant Gerald Fryenberger stands in front of Mt. Zion United Methodist Church outside of Philadelphia, Mississippi. After the church was burned down in 1964, Fryenberger traveled to Mississippi with Mennonite Disaster Service to help in its reconstruction." src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2020/_1030569.jpg?RenditionID=15" style="margin:5px;" /></p><h4>Service-learning tour participant Gerald Freyenberger stands in front of Mt. Zion United Methodist Church outside of Philadelphia, Mississippi. After the church was burned down in 1964, Freyenberger traveled to Mississippi with Mennonite Disaster Service to help in its reconstruction.<br></h4><p><img alt="A snack break outside Nanih Waiya Indian Mennonite Church near Preston, Mississippi, was an opportunity for Larry Miller to introduce the group to a traditional "logger lunch" of souse meat (head cheese), hoop cheese, and crackers. Most participants opted for just the cheese." src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2020/0313201112d.jpg?RenditionID=15" style="margin:5px;" /></p><h4>A snack break outside Nanih Waiya Indian Mennonite Church near Preston, Mississippi, was an opportunity for Larry Miller to introduce the group to a traditional "logger lunch" of souse meat (head cheese), hoop cheese, and crackers. Most participants opted for just the cheese and crackers.<br></h4><p><img alt=" The group enjoyed one last southern meal Friday evening at Pap's Place in Ackerman, Mississippi, before returning home on Saturday, March 14." src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2020/_1030581.jpg?RenditionID=15" style="margin:5px;" /></p><h4>The group enjoyed one last southern meal Friday evening at Pap's Place in Ackerman, Mississippi, before returning home on Saturday, Mar. 14.<br></h4>
Seminars develop next generation of Mennonite leaders in Congohttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Seminars-develop-next-generation-of-Mennonite-leaders-in-CongoSeminars develop next generation of Mennonite leaders in CongoBy Charles Buller<p><em>After six years of working with established Mennonite leaders in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa Leadership Coaching Network held a January seminar at Kalonda Bible Institute to prepare future leaders. This Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission coaching ministry is a Mennonite Mission Network partner. </em>​</p><p><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">KALONDA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission/Mennonite Mission Network) — A week of seminars Jan. 26-31 at Kalonda Bible Institute realized Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission's long-held desire to invest in the future leaders of the Mennonite churches in the Democratic Republic of Congo. AIMM and Mennonite Mission Network have partnered in African church leadership development for decades.</span></p><p>When the Africa Leadership Coaching Network began in 2014, the seminars drew largely older, established church and community leaders. Now, we are beginning to more proactively seek out the young adults who will lead their communities into the future. <br></p><p>The younger leaders, those in their 20s and 30s, often seem to resonate at a deeper level with some of the new paradigms we teach in our <em>Multiplying Transformational Communities</em> seminar. Topics include shared leadership<strong><em> </em></strong>in marriage, church, and community life. <br></p><p>A difficult motor-bike taxi trip over rocky terrain and a wipe-out left one of our team members bloodied and limping. Yet our spirits lifted as we entered the town of Kalonda to the embrace of about 30 students in joyful song. <br></p><p>Our six-person coaching team took turns teaching — Leonard Kiswangi, Albert and Albertine Mulamba, Bercie and Caloten Mundedi, and me. Bercie Mundedi, the director of Kalonda Bible Institute, led an introductory study of Philippians, a letter about church leadership. <br></p><p>The Holy Spirit worked in our hearts throughout the week. I never cease to be amazed how, even though we have taught this material many times before, new insights make these seminars come alive in ways that keep us all on the edge of our seats.<br></p><p>Paul's words in Romans 8:15-16, as paraphrased by <em>The Message</em>, express well the anticipation and wonder that grip us as<em> </em>teachers and students<em> </em>during these seminar experiences: <em>This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike "What's next, Papa?" </em></p><p>It makes good sense that when seeking to live a life of Christ-like transformation, there should be that element of expectancy — even surprise — with God! <br></p><p>One of the students, Tshiela Kalonji, was a quiet, strong presence in our seminar sessions. She rarely spoke up, yet I could see she took it all in. A widow, she had come to the Bible Institute three years ago with nothing but high recommendations from her church district of Mayi Munene.<br></p><p>Church leaders reported that Kalonji had a tenacious commitment to support women in their daily lives and Christian growth, even though she had lost all her earthly possessions when Kamuina Nsapu fighters ransacked her home village. (The Kamuina Nsapu rebellion began four years ago in the Kasaï provinces, home to many Congolese Mennonites.) <br></p><p>Kalonji and her five children arrived in Kalonda with little luggage — not even one kitchen utensil with which to cook. Some of the Institute faculty members protested Kalonji's enrollment as a student, asking how she would have time to step into a pastoral role in a congregation. Bercie Mundedi defended Kalonji, arguing that she could minister in ways other than pastoring a congregation.<br></p><p>Kalonji's first two years at the institute were plagued with sickness. Eventually, her mother came to care for her and to help with the children. When Kalonji's mother died in December, her oldest daughter stepped up to care for the younger children, while her mother is in class. Kalonji is now in her final year at the Bible Institute. <br></p><p>I return from every to trip to Africa with a confluence of emotions. I try to comprehend what life must be like for people like Kalonji. She struggles to feed and clothe her family on her annual AIMM scholarship of $500 and the pennies earned from selling charcoal for cooking fires. <br></p><p>"We live in a country where so much economic and political instability leave us shaken and off-balance," Mundedi said. "With the breakfasts and lunches provided during the seminars by donations from our friends in North America, neither we nor our spouses had to think about where our next meal was coming from. We could focus on receiving God's word, which richly nourished our souls, our marriages, and our ministries. Our stomachs are satisfied, and hearts are full!"<br></p><p>In addition to the <em>Multiplying Transformational Communities</em> seminar, Africa Leadership Coaching Network trainers followed up with participants in last year's Trauma Healing Seminar. This seminar was offered to expand church leaders' ability to respond to members who had lost homes and loved ones during the Kamuina Nsapu massacres.<br></p>
Stinging nettles, incarnational ministry in time of COVID-19https://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Stinging-nettles-incarnational-ministry-in-time-of-COVID-19Stinging nettles, incarnational ministry in time of COVID-19By Alisha Garber<p>BARCELONA (Mennonite Mission Network) — The nature of our ministry in Barcelona is almost all incarnational, meaning it is the regular, natural contact with folks that allows us to be examples of Christ. Such relationships develop both face-to-face and virtually. With our technological skills, we are leaning into a virtual ministry as we adjust to the COVID-19 crisis. <br></p><p>Thanks to resources like WhatsApp, Facetime, and Facebook, our relationships are as strong as ever, without the danger of contaminating an at-risk pal. In Barcelona, public schools were closed on Thursday, Mar. 12, for an anticipated two-week span. The city officially went into curfew on Monday, Mar. 16; folks are permitted to leave home for food shopping, work, or to walk their dogs. We're blessed to live in a home with some external property for a bit of "fresh air" time, but miss out on the chance to sing a cappella from an apartment balcony with nearby neighbors, as seen in several viral videos!<br></p><p>With Asher at home (now pushing 4 years old), the best coping mechanism is to maintain a routine and to schedule learning opportunities throughout the day. Thanks to a WhatsApp group with other parents from his class, I've shared resources, videos and pictures with ease, as well as the occasional word of encouragement.<br></p><p>Two weeks inside with a toddler is no joke! I anticipate that coming out of the quarantine, these relationships will be stronger than ever — and may even lead to an in-home play date, an almost unheard-of practice in this culture. At the very least, I hope to continue this resource sharing and offer an occasional English-language story time in our garden for the kids.<br></p><p>We've maintained contact with fellow university students and faculty. While the classes meet online thanks to Zoom, we're in constant contact via a group chat in which we share helpful blogs and videos to improve in our current learning stage. Right now, we are working on various uses of subjunctive verbs in the past tense. Interestingly, it feels like some of the students are more focused on learning now that we're away from the classroom. It's been especially nice to have them check in on our family, namely Asher, and enthusiastically respond to his daily art projects. </p><p><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">We're constantly chatting with the youth of our Comunidad Evangelica Menonita</span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> (CEM) congregation, sharing links and memes to help beat the boredom and stay connected. Josh has planned a Google Hangout with them for later in the week to check in on everyone's well-being throughout the quarantine. Our church also maintains several communication channels via WhatsApp group chats and e-mails, which keep parishioners up-to-date on the health crisis and provides frequent notes of encouragement and levity. Asking the mundane questions like "What are you reading?" or "What are you listening to?" somehow no longer feels like small talk. The youth are responding genuinely and from a place of vulnerability. </span></p><p>A bit of a downer, CEM was planning its first-ever community outreach/volunteerism event on Saturday, Mar. 21, with a quilting workshop in partnership with MCC's Winter Warm-Up Campaign. Participants from six other Barcelona Protestant churches (as well as several friends from our language school!) had preregistered. The following Sunday was to be our annual Calcotada, a beloved tradition where "sheep return to the fold" in the form of adult children and extended family members who attend the barbecue. Both events have been canceled in order to protect our most vulnerable attendees, but conversations have already begun to reschedule and maintain the same energy in future attempts.<br></p><p>Even something as silly as posting your "quarantine menu" on social media has opened up channels to discuss the intersection of faith and food. As spring has sprung in Barcelona, our yard is overrun by stinging nettles. After recently reading about Russian Mennonites surviving famines by consuming soup of stinging nettles, I was inspired to research cooking them and tried my hand at a new recipe this week. After posting the results on my Facebook page, a network of folks emerged. Their expressions ranged from delighted interest to veiled disgust at the prospect of eating such a green delicacy, made from what seems to be a weed. Interacting with folks from many different cultures and countries over something as mundane as soup has been an interesting way to share our philosophy of doing "More with Less." This applies not only to the COVID-19 lock-down, but to every day, because of our conviction to follow Christ.<br></p><p>All that to say, life goes on. Here in Barcelona, we've grown accustomed to exchanging two cheek kisses at the beginning and end of each personal exchange. I anticipate we'll have a bounty of smooches to collect on once the curfew is lifted. That's when we can get back to our daily routines (with strengthened relationships) and relish the freedom a healthy community can provide.<br></p>
We became friends!https://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/We-became-friendsWe became friends!By Siaka Traoré and Lynda Hollinger-Janzen<p>As chair of Mennonite World Conference Deacons Commission, I and three others traveled to Hong Kong to stand in solidarity with our Mennonite brothers and sisters. After worshiping with Agape Mennonite Church on Dec. 1, we donned gas masks and went to the center of the city where demonstrators were enveloped in clouds of tear gas. In this volatile environment, I learned that the Chinese word for conflict, <em>Wei Ji, </em>is a composite made up of "danger" and "opportunity."<br></p><p>This new understanding of conflict shed light on an experience I had several months earlier in my home country of Burkina Faso. I frequently take the bus from Ouagadougou, the capital city, to Bobo-Dioulasso, where I live. I boarded the bus and found another man in my assigned seat. <br></p><p>"I'm sorry, sir," I said politely. "You are in my seat."<br></p><p>The man erupted in anger, "I can't take this kind of problem any longer!"<br></p><p>"What problems are you talking about," I asked in a calm voice.<br></p><p>By this time, the bus stewardess had arrived and asked the angry man to sit in the seat that corresponded with the number on his ticket. Unfortunately, there was someone already sitting in that seat! The stewardess finally resolved the confusion by telling the angry man to sit in the empty seat next to me.<br></p><p>Thus, we became neighbors for the five-hour ride!<br></p><p>I love to get to know people. And I've had a lot of experience resolving conflicts from personal misunderstandings among Mennonite church members to national crises. So, I asked the angry man questions about himself and showed him that I wanted to move beyond the tension that arose over seating. <br></p><p>I told him my name was Siaka and that I was a pastor. He said his name was Issa and he was a Muslim. He had been in Ouagadougou to get a passport so he could make a pilgrimage to Mecca. From religion, our conversation moved on to cover culture and our society, economics and politics. A rapport was born that turned into a friendship by the end of our trip. We exchanged phone numbers as we said our goodbyes.<br></p><p>Several weeks later, I called Issa. He is a businessman and gave me directions to his workplace. When I arrived, Issa introduced me to his colleagues in glowing terms, giving me all kinds of compliments!<br></p><p>Another time when I returned home from a trip to Sierra Leone to present a seminar at Christ Salvation Mennonite Church, I found some beautiful cloth and a watch left at the house by some mysterious person. I had to do some serious detective work before finally learning that it was Mr. Issa Sawadogo who brought me these souvenirs from Mecca! I couldn't believe it!<br></p><p>And then, as I completed pastoral visits to celebrate Christmas and the New Year in our Mennonite congregations throughout the country, I found two chickens waiting for me. Again, courtesy of my friend, Issa. <br></p><p>I was so moved by his generosity that on Jan. 4, my wife, Claire, and I visited Issa's family. I continued to call him, Issa, the name of Jesus in Arabic, even though everyone else called him El Hadj, the honorific title given to a Muslim who has completed the pilgrimage to Mecca. <br></p><p>While I show him respect, I ask you to join me in praying that God will bestow on my friend the same joy and peace that God has placed in my heart. What could have turned into a dangerous quarrel over a seat in a bus led instead to a friendship. It became an opportunity to live out the good news of Jesus Christ in a country where there is much blood shed between Christians and Muslims. Armed Muslims have increased their attacks on churches in our country, killing six people in April, another six in May, and 14 in December. Many more were wounded in these ambushes on churches. <br></p><p>May this Mennonite pastor and this El Hadj guide others in paths of peace. <br></p><p><em>Siaka Traoré has retired from national leadership positions with </em>Eglise Evangélique Mennonite du Burkina Faso<em> (Evangelical Mennonite Church of Burkina Faso)</em><em><em>, </em>but continues to serve with Mennonite World Conference as the chair of the Deacons Commission. He lives in Bobo-Dioulasso with his wife, Claire, where he continues to work as a pastor in a church-planting ministry.</em><br></p>
Mission surprises outside my comfort zonehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Mission-surprises-outside-my-comfort-zoneMission surprises outside my comfort zoneBy Naomi Tice<p><em>Naomi Tice trained for ministry in a Mennonite congregation in North America, but God led her around the world. After a year in the United Kingdom where government regulations barred visa renewal, the Anabaptist Association of Australia and New Zealand (AAANZ) invited Tice to Australia. Her arrival in mid-January was "a little more eventful than anticipated." Tice reported that within her first days, the water pump died, then the brother of long-time Mennonite Mission Network worker, Mary Hurst, died, and last-minute arrangements had to be made for Tice to move to the AAANZ secretary's home in Canberra for a few weeks while Mary returned to the United States. In this context, Naomi wrote the following blog.</em></p><p>International service was always something I dreamed about doing someday; I just never expected it to happen at this point in my life. But when doors to traditional ministry in the States closed all around me, God seemed to be ushering me through the door to nontraditional ministry overseas. At times I still feel underqualified to do the work I've been called to do; I'm not a professional educator, I'm not a medical professional, I'm not a counselor or lawyer … my training was focused on ministry in a Mennonite church context. </p><p>I'm now serving in a land where ministers (instead of lay leaders) are in charge of planning and leading worship services. I don't know 90 percent of the songs being sung in a worship service, and four-part harmony is something only found in choirs or small ensembles! But despite all my perceived inadequacies, God has invited me to play a role within the global church, and every day I am learning something new. I am slowly settling in, building new relationships, learning how to navigate within this new territory—both within the area in which I live, and within the structures of the churches.<br></p><p><img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2020/IMG_20190306_132705.jpg" alt="Naomi Tice makes pancakes." style="margin:5px;" /><br></p><div><table class="ms-formtable" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="100%" style="margin-top:8px;"><tbody><tr><td valign="top" class="ms-formbody" width="350px"><h4>Naomi Tice makes American-style buttermilk pancakes for CAMEO’s Pancake Day party. (In contrast to European-style crepes.) Photo provided.<br><br></h4></td></tr></tbody></table></div><p>During my time of serving in England, I simultaneously anticipated and dreaded Wednesdays. Wednesday mornings, we had Chrysalis team meetings. It was a time of prayer, reflection, planning and dreaming, interspersed with giggles and a little silliness. But, CAMEO (Come and Meet Each Other) happened on Wednesday afternoons. This was a lunch club our team hosted at a community center. Most of the attendees were older adults who lived on their own. Many of them struggled with mental and/or physical health problems, so they didn't feel welcome at other lunch clubs. A core group of CAMEO attendees would voice concern if someone didn't show up. I enjoyed that aspect. However, certain participants could be a bit of a handful, coming up with unexpected actions and statements. A retired taxi driver was quite amiable, but his flirting got to be a bit too much sometimes. Due to his failing memory, he wasn't always aware that he'd crossed boundaries. Another gentleman, considerably younger than most of the others, was lovely most of the time. But he had a drinking problem and a temper. Conversation was difficult with a woman who struggled with a bipolar and schizophrenic diagnosis. A woman, who had a wealth of information about local history, stuttered, so I had to listen extra well. There were many other participants, each with their own quirks and their own loveliness. I was almost always drained by the end of the afternoon.</p><p>My teammate, Angela, and I experienced a real "God moment" one Wednesday afternoon. Jenny and Roger Taylor, the founding members of Chrysalis, were in the midst of a difficult time. Jenny's parents required extra care and Jenny was experiencing a flare-up of atrial fibrillation [irregular heartbeat]. Most of the CAMEO attendees knew that Jenny was having a repeat oblation surgery that afternoon to try to get her heart back to a normal rhythm. B* was especially concerned, so he asked if we could have a prayer for them. Angela and I were surprised, as B was not someone who would cross the threshold of a church for a worship service, let alone proclaim himself a Christian. We were further astonished when B announced, "Right now, everyone be quiet. Angela's going to pray for Jenny."</p><p>Although group prayer at CAMEO has not happened again to my knowledge, our Chrysalis team was encouraged by that moment when God's presence was made known in one of the most unlikely people. On most days, B is frustrated with his personal life. He threatens to blow up the bus station because the buses are almost <em>never</em> on time. But I also know that despite his gruff exterior and his constant grumbling, this gentleman has a heart of gold and cares deeply for other people. After all, B gave me cards for all sorts of holidays, including the Fourth of July and American Thanksgiving. When I first started having visa problems, B offered to marry me, so I could apply for a spouse visa. "I'm over 65 and have a free TV license," he said!</p><p>*Name withheld for privacy<br></p>

 

 

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