Alumni Voices - Barbara EwyAlumni Voiceshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Alumni-Voices---Barbara-EwyAlumni Voices - Barbara EwyAlumni Voices story by Barbara Ewy

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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
Alumni Voices - Joshua Schlabach and Karina KreiderAlumni Voiceshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Alumni-Voices---Joshua-Schlabach-and-Karina-KreiderAlumni Voices - Joshua Schlabach and Karina KreiderAlumni Voices story by Joshua Schlabach and Karina Kreider
Alumni Voices - Maria MartinAlumni Voiceshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Alumni-Voices---Maria-MartinAlumni Voices - Maria MartinAlumni Voices story by Maria Martin
Alumni Voices - Naomi TiceAlumni Voiceshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Alumni-Voices---Naomi-TiceAlumni Voices - Naomi TiceAlumni Voices story by Naomi Tice
Alumni Voices - Todd GuslerAlumni Voiceshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Alumni-Voices---Todd-GuslerAlumni Voices - Todd GuslerAlumni Voices story by Todd Gusler

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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>
On becoming a babushka in Ukrainehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/On-becoming-a-babushka-in-UkraineOn becoming a babushka in UkraineBy Mary Raber<p><em>Mary Raber has been involved in theological education and encouraging Christians in Ukraine since 1991. The past decade she has served through Mennonite Mission Network. Here she reflects on how her ministry is evolving as she ages and the context changes.</em><br></p><p>Four-year-old Sofia studied me carefully through a pair of tiny corrective lenses. "Are you an auntie or a grandma?" she asked. <br></p><p>"I'm an auntie," I said firmly. In Ukraine, regardless of blood relationship, any adult may be referred to as an uncle or aunt, grandma or grandpa, depending on age. With that, the issue of my relatively youthful auntie status was settled, at least in my own mind.<br></p><p>A few days later, I crossed a schoolyard when some boys kicking a soccer ball hailed me. "Hey, Babushka, what time is it?"<br></p><p>What time indeed! The boys' assessment made it official: I had become a <em>babushka</em> (grandma) without noticing it! <br></p><p>My feelings are mixed about the status change. I like the honor extended by bus passengers who jump up to give me their seat. But I sometimes feel like crying out with the psalmist, "Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone" (Psalm 71:9).<br></p><p>Since the 1990s, I have been involved in theological education in Ukraine. In that earlier era, theology teachers were much in demand in the former Soviet Union. Now, however, most of the teaching is in the hands of young, national instructors. While I rejoice that we did a good job training the present generation of scholars, I wonder what God has in mind for me now.<br></p><p>Scripture promises that "the righteous … will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming 'the Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him'" (Psalm 92:12-15). In other words, the aging process is not a cruel trick, but in harmony with the good plans of a good God. Clearly, there is a future for the <em>babushka, </em>if I have the eyes to see it.<em> </em>Today, as my work centers around routine translation and editing, with less emphasis on professional accomplishment, I find there is much to learn from my fellow grandmothers.<br></p><p>For example, consider the way my friend, Elena, arrives at church on Sunday morning. I know she is exhausted from running a clothing stall in the market, but she greets everyone with a hug and a smile. Many of the young people in our congregation are foster children, and they respond with delight. I lack Elena's cozy warmth, but are there other ways that I can notice people and affirm them?<br></p><p><img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2020/With%20a%20young%20friend%2c%20Natalia%20Trifon.jpg?RenditionID=7" alt="Mary Raber with a young friend, Natalia Trifon." style="margin:5px;" /><br></p><h4>Mary Raber with a young friend, Natalia Trifon. Photo provided.<br></h4><p><br></p><p>Last winter, I spent the night in the home of an elderly woman in western Ukraine. Her apartment is a home-away-from-home for single women who study or work in her city. They come to bathe, sleep, or have a meal. Tamara prays for them, and for her church and the whole world. Her pastors rely on her prayers and regard her with great respect. Who is praying for the ministry of theological education in Ukraine? What about orphaned children, people with disabilities, or the churches in the militarized zone? Through my church and friendships, I connect with people in all these situations. In times of great peril, praying grandmothers have traditionally held churches together. Can I learn to take that calling as seriously as Tamara does?<br></p><p>I know other grandmother models. Olga cares for her grandniece every day so the child's parents can work. Natalia came out of retirement to keep the kitchen running at Odessa Theological Seminary, my home in Ukraine. Zinaida keeps a beautiful vegetable garden and shares the produce generously. These grandmothers fill in life's gaps in hundreds of ways. The world takes little notice, but I describe all of them as "fresh and green" despite high blood pressure, painful corns, bad moods, and aching backs. <br></p><p>I am proud to join their ranks. Physical frailty will claim all of us sooner or later, but may we continue to declare that "… the Lord is upright; he is my Rock and there is no wickedness in him." <br></p><p>Have I really become a <em>babushka? </em>I hope so.<br></p>
Q&A: Service Adventure through the eyes of a participant-turned-volunteer coordinatorhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Service-Adventure-through-the-eyes-of-a-participant-turned-volunteer-coordinatorQ&A: Service Adventure through the eyes of a participant-turned-volunteer coordinatorBy Travis Duerksen<p><em>Anja Müller is a volunteer coordinator for </em>Christliche Dienste<em> (CD), the voluntary service program of the German Mennonite conference </em>Arbeitsgemeinschaft Mennonitischer Gemeinden <em>(AMG). For more than a decade, CD has partnered with Mennonite Mission Network to place German volunteers in Mennonite Voluntary Service and Service Adventure units across the United States. This year, nine participants from Germany serve in Service Adventure. You can read a mid-year reflection from one of those participants, Helen Tiefenbach, </em><a href="/blog/Journeys-through-the-unfamiliar-reflections-on-life-in-Service-Adventure"><em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p><p><strong>Anja, what is your connection with Service Adventure?</strong></p><p>I was a Service Adventure participant in 2012-2013. Since 2017, I've worked for Christliche Dienste, a voluntary service organization in Germany that sends volunteers to different countries. One of our partners is Mission Network. Each year we have seven to nine volunteers who go to Service Adventure. As a coordinator for voluntary service in Canada and the United States, I keep up my connection with Service Adventure. I enjoy being in touch with Susan [Nisly, Service Adventure director] whom I met seven years ago in Kansas, and I also enjoy being accountable for the CD volunteers.</p><p><strong>How do CD's participants get involved in voluntary service?</strong></p><p>We start in September and get applications from volunteers from Germany. Usually they come from churches or have a Christian background, and they decide that they want to do something with purpose after school. So they apply, and we meet them and talk with them about their idea of doing a voluntary service year, and what they would like to do. Then we send the applications to Mission Network after we decide that the applicant could be a good fit for Service Adventure.</p><p><strong>How did you view Service Adventure as a participant? </strong></p><p>It's difficult to say because being part of two programs like Service Adventure and CD can make you feel a little bit torn between them. There are some requirements for both of the programs, and usually participants have to write a report for CD and then for Mission Network as well. Both programs complement each other. </p><p><strong>How do you view the program now?</strong></p><p>I appreciate working with Service Adventure very much because it is such a great experience. I'm always happy to be able to send so many volunteers to Service Adventure. I think both organizations see the benefits of giving young adults the opportunity to grow by doing a year of service. We share the same values, goals and visions. That makes me happy to cooperate with Service Adventure. </p><p><strong>What are some of the challenging aspects of Service Adventure? How have you seen participants grow through the program?</strong></p><p>I think there can be very different challenges, depending on the individuals involved. Some volunteers are challenged to be apart from their families for the first time, having to be independent for the first time, or just doing household tasks. For others, it's living together with participants with totally different personalities and people you didn't know before. Some are challenged by their placements as well; serving five days a week and experiencing a job for the first time can be a big change!</p><p>I think the biggest challenge is that, through these situations, you're confronted with your own personality and the way you see other people and God. I believe it's also the most rewarding part. You can learn so much through program experience if you're ready to accept the challenges and go through them with the help of God and other people. It's good to have challenges. </p><p><strong>What do you think participants take away from the experience of Service Adventure? </strong></p><p>I think one of the things is that participants learn how to serve people, and they get back some much love from that. They experience living together in community with people from another culture. They get to witness how people from a totally different background worship the same God, and have the same heart for service. It's also great to see a different country. I was in Colorado Springs, and I enjoyed hiking and experiencing the beauty of God's nature. So many different, great experiences in the program.</p><p><strong>When participants return to Germany from Service Adventure, what direction do you see them taking?</strong></p><p>We don't stay in touch with all of them, but we see some of the participants come to our preparation seminars and retreats to help us prepare the new volunteers. You can see that they're way more independent and confident about their personalities, and they have a strong faith and that it's important for them to be part of a congregation. They want to invest themselves in society and in God's kingdom. </p><p><strong>Is there anything you'd like to say that I didn't ask about?</strong></p><p>I think you've got a good view of how I see Service Adventure, and how much we at CD appreciate working together with Service Adventure. There are so many benefits for serving through the program! Everything from the challenges to the good and exciting parts. I think that's a good insight into what we appreciate about it.</p>
Six reasons why choosing a year or more of service might be for youhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Six-reasons-why-choosing-a-year-or-more-of-service-might-be-for-youSix reasons why choosing a year or more of service might be for youBy Lauren Eash Hershberger<p><strong><img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2020/Icon_PositivePresence.jpg?RenditionID=15" alt="You feel a strong urge to be a positive presence in the world" style="margin:5px;" /><br></strong></p><p><strong>6: You feel a strong urge to be a positive presence in the world.</strong></p><p>Ever hear anyone say, "You can tell what people care about by how they spend their time?" It's a simple idea, really. Rather than allowing your convictions to stay trapped in your head (or in an argument on social media!), take a year or two to put them into action. See which service placement on ChooseService.org lines up with the issues you care most about. </p><p><img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2020/Icon_LifePath.jpg?RenditionID=15" alt="You are itching to venture off the predicted path for your life" style="margin:5px;" /><br></p><p><strong>5: You are itching to venture off the predicted path for your life.</strong></p><p>It's hard to follow the road less taken. If it was easier, it wouldn't be … you know, less taken. Yet pushing yourself beyond what's "expected" can lead to opportunities you may have thought were unattainable. Find freedom in the idea that your life is not made up of a single "calling," but of many. Maybe your "calling" for this time in your life is nudging you toward intentional service. </p><p><img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2020/Icon_community.jpg?RenditionID=15" alt="You long to experience community in a new way" style="margin:5px;" /><br></p><p><strong>4: You long to experience community in a new way. </strong></p><p>As Peter Block states in his book<em> Community: The Structure of Belonging</em>, "Community offers the promise of belonging and calls for us to acknowledge our interdependence. To belong is to act as an investor, owner, and creator of this place. To be welcome, even if we are strangers. As if we came to the right place and are affirmed for that choice." Read how Karen Spicher, a mission worker in South Korea, experiences this feeling in her <a href="/blog/Community-A-place-of-belonging,-sharing-and-love">blog post</a>. </p><p><img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2020/Icon_Door.jpg?RenditionID=15" alt="You are eager to get your foot in the door with agencies who are making big changes" style="margin:5px;" /><br></p><p><strong>3: You are eager to get your foot in the door with agencies who are making big changes.</strong></p><p>Maybe you've heard that it's difficult to stand out in the vast sea of applicants. One way to "swim to the top" is to do an internship! Service gives the opportunity to work in a placement that may be difficult to otherwise get in. Not only will this build your resume, but it could potentially transform into a paying job when your term is over. </p><p><img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2020/Icon_Vision.jpg?RenditionID=15" alt="You get excited about assisting local leaders in their vision to help their community" style="margin:5px;" /><br></p><p><strong>2: You get excited about assisting local leaders in their vision to help their communities.</strong></p><p>Don't want to get wrapped up in a savior complex? Don't worry — we don't want you to either. That's why Mennonite Mission Network doesn't go anywhere we aren't invited, and we take direction from local leaders who best know the needs of their communities. </p><p><img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2020/Icon_MMNSupport.jpg?RenditionID=15" alt="Mennonite Mission Network support" style="margin:5px;" /><br></p><p><strong>1: You can feel good about the fact that Mission Network has employees who themselves have been program participants, international workers, or are parents who send their children through Mission Network programs.</strong></p><p>It's true. Many employees at Mission Network are either alumni or have sent their children through our programs. The reason? We believe in our programs and have seen the benefits firsthand. It's why many of us are here! I invite you to join us — as a service participant yourself or as a person who encourages others to consider serving with Mennonite Mission Network.</p>
8.1 reasons why a second year of MVS benefits your careerhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/8-1-reasons-why-a-second-year-of-MVS-benefits-your-career8.1 reasons why a second year of MVS benefits your careerBy Carmen Hoober<p><strong>1)     You just now learned what you're doing</strong></p><p>For most professional jobs, the first year is kind of like drinking from a fire hose. If you have supervisors and coworkers who are understanding, most of the time you'll get a pass when things come up that you haven't learned or internalized yet … which is great, but not exactly fulfilling. <strong>Do not underestimate the personal and professional satisfaction you can experience when you are operating on all cylinders.</strong> Leaving after just one year of MVS deprives you of exercising the mastery you've just developed. </p><p><strong>2)     Increased responsibility</strong></p><p>People in the second year of their placement often say they are entrusted with much more responsibility and opportunity for growth. Whether it's taking on new assignments or leadership, a second year <em>deepens </em>your experience because you have a more complete understanding of your organization's methods and goals. We hope your service experience isn't JUST about building your resume, but more responsibility means more experience, and more experience makes you a much more interesting candidate for future opportunities. </p><p><strong>3)     More value to the organization</strong></p><p>As an MVSer, you expand the capacity of a nonprofit organization who cares about creating a more just and equitable society. That's great! But just because you're a volunteer doesn't mean they aren't also investing in <em>you</em>. The organization provides your training, supervision, and the mental/emotional labor of incorporating you into their office community. </p><p>Think about it from the organization's point of view. When you depend on a revolving door of volunteers, you are probably <strong>most </strong>thankful for the ones who make your investment worthwhile. Staying for a second year means becoming less of a tourist and more of a contributor. </p><p><strong>4)     Establishing yourself in the larger community has benefits on-the-job</strong></p><p>Your placement isn't the only new thing to you in your first year of MVS. <em>Everything </em>is new, including your house, your roommates, your faith community, and the ins and outs of getting around a new city. Even in the best-case scenario, there is still A LOT of transition. And, frankly, that can be exhausting.</p><p>The only fix for all this newness is, well, time. Time spent talking to people after church. Time hanging out at the local coffee shop. Time figuring out the best way to get from Point A to Point B. Time spent seeing familiar faces and becoming a familiar face. A second year in your MVS placement will likely feel more relaxed and settled, leaving more mental and emotional bandwidth available for you to dive into your service placement. </p><p><strong>5)     Trying out a new placement, a new city</strong></p><p>MYTH: To do a second year of MVS you must stay in the same city and placement. FACT: Doing a second year of MVS can give you the opportunity to try out <em>another </em>city and placement (or even another placement in the same location). Depending on your situation, there may be lots of benefits to doing so. Take a look at the <a href="/serve/placements/mennonite%20voluntary%20service">website</a> to see what else is out there! </p><p><strong>6)     Your opportunities to do service narrow the older you get</strong></p><p>I have the privilege of interviewing many retired folks who are interested in doing short-term service work through <a href="/Serve/SOOP">SOOP</a>. A common refrain is, "I/We always wanted to do service, but then you get older and life (work/school/kids/caring for aging parents/illness/you name it) gets in the way." Before jumping straight into the next thing, whether it be grad school, a job, or marriage, consider that these kinds of opportunities offered by MVS are not always guaranteed. </p><p><strong>7)     Two is the magic number</strong></p><p>When you google <a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=ideal+number+of+years+to+stay+at+a+job&rlz=1C1GCEA_enUS828US831&oq=ideal+number+of+years+to+stay+at+a+job&aqs=chrome..69i57j33.10402j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8">"ideal number of years to stay in a job before leaving,"</a> the general consensus (on the first page of results, anyway) is TWO. Maybe it shows that you're not a job hopper. Maybe it shows that you were at some place long enough to actually contribute and grow. Of course, doing service isn't entirely the same as having a traditional jobby-job, but in terms of skill development and building your resume, it's really no different. All that to say: GOOGLE KNOWS BEST. Stay for two years of MVS.</p><p><strong>8)     More time for discernment while staying professionally engaged</strong></p><p>For some volunteers, MVS opens up a whole new world of questions. Who are you? Why are you here? What does meaningful work look like? A second year allows you more time to process, to explore, to self-reflect. If you're unsure of what your next step will be after MVS, then taking a second year can bring much-needed clarity. Young people often rush into jobs and careers and grad schools out of fear and pressure to start paying back student loans or to keep up a façade that they've got it all figured out.  </p><blockquote><p><strong><em>8.1) And speaking of grad school ...</em></strong></p><p>I try really hard <a href="/blog/How-to-decide-about-graduate-school">not to give advice</a>*about this because it's different for each person, BUT if you are in discernment mode with your next steps, it would be far better to do one more year in MVS than to make a financial/geographical/life-altering decision to attend a grad school you're not 100 percent sure about. A second year of MVS allows you to continue building on the progress you've made in the first year, and gives you more time to consider your options going forward. </p></blockquote><blockquote><p>*Apparently not hard enough. Sorry!</p></blockquote>

 

 

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