100 words for the first two weeks of Lent100 words for Lenthttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/100-words-for-the-first-two-weeks-of-Lent100 words for the first two weeks of LentBy Karla Minter


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Ash Wednesday and White supremacyAsh Wednesday reflection https://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Ash-Wednesday-and-White-supremacyAsh Wednesday and White supremacyBy Ben Tapper
From Missionary Baptist to missional AnabaptistLife storyhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/From-Missionary-Baptist-to-missional-AnabaptistFrom Missionary Baptist to missional AnabaptistBy Lynda Hollinger-Janzen
Love your neighbor’s church as you love your ownLife storyhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Love-your-neighbors-church-as-you-love-your-ownLove your neighbor’s church as you love your ownCompiled by Lynda Hollinger-Janzen
The audacity of a radical love evokes change and reconciliationGP0|#89f1dfe2-8e50-4b9f-b81a-f3f6dcbc35fc;L0|#089f1dfe2-8e50-4b9f-b81a-f3f6dcbc35fc|North America;GTSet|#f1c3ac69-6cd4-4109-8ba8-137477ba8a7d;GPP|#62ebb633-b401-4243-a537-1a85230e4ebfhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/The-audacity-of-a-radical-love-evokes-change-and-reconciliationThe audacity of a radical love evokes change and reconciliationBy Melody Pannell
My neighbor and our flourishing lifeLove of neighbor https://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/My-neighbor-and-our-flourishing-LifeMy neighbor and our flourishing lifeBy Faith Bell
A handbook for adulting (written by someone who’s still figuring it out)Adulting Guidehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/A-handbook-for-adulting-written-by-someone-who’s-still-figuring-it-outA handbook for adulting (written by someone who’s still figuring it out)By Ginny Miller




Inauguration thoughtshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Inauguration-thoughtsInauguration thoughtsBy John F. Lapp<p>​<span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">As I write on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, two days before the inauguration of the 46</span><sup style="background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">th</sup><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> president of the United States, I am overwhelmed by the anxious times we are in, as citizens of the United States.</span></p><p>We are in a season of pandemic. COVID-19, yes. But it is more than that. Our political and social polarization is a symptom of several national illnesses: COVID-19. Racism. Hatred. While we will look to our president to lead the nation in governmental-level programs to combat these illnesses, they are challenges that depend on both individual and collective responsibility, to create safer and more equitable communities for everyone. </p><p>I pray that with this new year and this new administration, we American — and, indeed, global — followers of Jesus can unite under a banner of health, justice, peace and unity.  In one way or another, we have each personally experienced the COVID-19 pandemic killing millions of people around the world. God's blessing of scientific progress has given us a ray of hope, but we must continue to act in ways that minimize the possibility of either catching the virus or transmitting it to others. With this in mind, I will continue being attentive to masking, social distancing, and avoiding large groups of people.  </p><p>Last year, we continued to see terrible injustice, including the deaths of Black people and other people of color in our midst. With this historical truth finally sinking in, more White people are recognizing that we have actively, passively and sometimes naively profited from the 500-year pandemic of racism. Many White people are just beginning to understand what needs to change — we, as individuals, must walk the long road of self-education and self-reflection before we, as a society, can conquer the virus of White supremacy that perpetuates systems of oppression and inequity for our siblings of color. Let us no longer deny or delay — I commit myself to actively pursuing a just and equal society for everyone.</p><p>Just this month, we experienced the culmination of a pandemic of hatred in our nation's capital and in the Capitol building. Horrifyingly, we saw flags identifying "Christians" among the racist, antisemitic and xenophobic invaders of our Capitol. Surely, that outburst of hatred challenges each of us to pause and ask ourselves, "Am I okay with this? What do I hear Jesus calling me to do? And am I committed enough to do it?"</p><p>For it is the church, not the United States of America, that has been given the responsibility to be God's people in our world. Yet, as individuals and the church, we need to appeal to the governing authorities to change the structures that still perpetuate discrimination and inequality. We cannot be silent! </p><p>As a Christian, I cannot forget the importance of relationship: relationship with God and with my neighbor. When enough of us are actively engaged in building new and loving relationships with those around us, our society will no longer be driven by hatred and fear but toward God and unity. Unity in our country, and unity around the world, where all are equal children of God. That is what Jesus taught.</p><p>Martin Luther King, Jr. said it well, more than 60 years ago:<br><em>But the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opposers into friends. It is this type of understanding goodwill that will transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age. It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of [all people].</em><br>from "Facing the Challenge of a New Age," 1956<br></p>
Witnessing the church in “real life:” what we learned from Martin Luther King, Jr. and MVShttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Witnessing-the-church-in-real-life-what-we-learned-from-Martin-Luther-King-Jr-and-MVSWitnessing the church in “real life:” what we learned from Martin Luther King, Jr. and MVSBy Edith and Neill von Gunten <p><em></em><em></em><em>Originally published on January 22, 2020, this blog by Edith and Neill von Gunten reflects a reality in 1966 that is still prevalent today and has become more apparent during the ensuing months of 2020. As Martin Luther King, Jr. day approaches, read this blog and reflect on Dr. King's legacy as he said, "<em>Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"</em></em><br></p><p>Even before our wedding in 1965, we had decided to spend the first years of our marriage in Mennonite Voluntary Service (MVS). Several units were suggested to us; we chose to go to the inner-city unit at the Woodlawn Mennonite Church in southside Chicago. It was a decision that completely changed the course of our lives. </p><p>The Woodlawn congregation felt strongly that it was their role to speak out on justice issues and to get involved. Opportunities for involvement were often shared before the Sunday morning service ended. </p><p><img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2021/122_122.JPG" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /><br></p><h4> </h4><h4>Woodlawn Mennonite Church pastor Delton and Marian Franz can be seen in the center of this picture of the Chicago march. Photo by Neill von Gunten.<br></h4><h4><br></h4><p>As we began to really listen to the people we lived and worked with, we started to understand how pervasive racism was. As we heard the stories and experiences of people in the community, we came to know more about their reality and ongoing issues. </p><p>These were the years of the civil rights movement in the United States. Soon after we joined MVS, Martin Luther King, Jr. was invited to come to Chicago to bring the racism and prejudice of the north to light. Both of us, along with other VSers, Woodlawn church members, and thousands of others joined together in marches through downtown Chicago (often from Buckingham Fountain to City Hall) and in rallies. </p><p>Most of the marches were peaceful, but once the marches spread beyond downtown and the Black neighborhoods, it was a different story. Here is one example that Neill experienced while protesting the housing discrimination in some neighborhoods in the city. </p><p>Dr. King's entourage sent two couples into the Chicago Lawn - Gage Park area, a lower middle-class neighborhood in the city's southwest side, on the pretext of renting an apartment. The area's population was largely made up of working-class eastern Europeans who lived in bungalows and for generations were predominately Irish Catholic. One couple sent there was Caucasian with little education, and the other was a well-educated African-American couple. The Caucasian couple was given several choices to rent; the African-American couple was given no options. </p><p>As a result, Dr. King and his delegation organized a march through Gage Park on Aug. 5, 1966, to highlight this disparity. Dr. King had orders for the assembled crowd before the march began. We were to look forward at all times. We were never to look into someone's eyes during the march because we could set them off on a tirade. We could not chew gum. Women were to be put in the middle, with men on the outside. If we could not refrain from violence when confronted by people watching, we were to leave and not participate. He did not want us there if we could not follow these orders. <br></p><p>Dr. King was struck by a rock thrown by a taunting mob as he was leaving his car — a sign of the violence that would happen that afternoon. Thankfully, he was not hurt too badly and, after being cared for, came to the front of the line to finish leading the march, with police right by his side. He was understandably shaken and told newsmen that he had never been met with "such hostility, such hate, anywhere in my life." </p><p>The night-stick wielding police estimated that there were approximately 7,000 of us there to march that day. We were ridiculed, sworn at, called all kinds of names, and spat on. Children spewed the same hate as the parent next to them as we walked past their house. Some carried Confederate flags. Signs were common: "N***** Go Home," "Wallace for President," "KKK Forever," "White Power," "Wallace in '68," "Washington D.C. is a Jungle — Save What is Left of Chicago." </p><p>We were told that when the march ended at Marquette Park, there were about 3,000 police officers to watch us. As the Caucasian crowd of men, women and children grew and tried to confront us physically, the police surrounded us marchers to protect us from what had become a mob throwing cherry bombs (exploding firecrackers), stones and bricks — in addition to their slurs and insults. I was ashamed to be Caucasian! </p><p> As this chaos swirled around us, we waited for the rented buses to pick us up and take us all back home. When the buses finally arrived, the bus drivers needed full police protection to get through to us. For a moment, I felt safe on the bus, but I was wrong! We had to stop at a red light before leaving that neighborhood and a group of about 50 youth and men rocked our bus and tried to get at us inside. Someone threw a brick through the bus window and hit a man in the seat in front of me in the head, giving him a large gash. The rest of us yelled at the bus driver to go through the red light to get us out of there. It was not until we got into the African-American area that we felt safe.</p><p><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">After the march, we regrouped, and Dr. King spoke to the gathered crowd. He had been hit with a brick on the back of his head during the march. I remember him saying then — as well as many other times — that we must forgive our Caucasian brothers and sisters because they do not know what they are doing. They were taught that hatred, and now we needed to show them forgiveness and not fight back, he said. That is the only thing that can make them stop and think.</span><br></p><p><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"><img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2021/123_123.JPG" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /><br></span></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>Another photo of the civil rights march in Chicago, 1966. Photo by Neill von Gunten.<br><br></h4></td></tr></tbody></table></div><p>Those two years with MVS in Chicago made us question the role of the church in “real life:” We witnessed the unfairness of the political process in the United States in regard to its neediest residents. </p><p> The desire to learn more about how we as Christians could affect change and work with people in marginal situations influenced our education after MVS, as well as our decision to live alongside indigenous communities bordering Lake Winnipeg. We served there in a pastoral and community development role for 36 years before becoming the co-directors of the Native Ministry program for Mennonite Church Canada. </p><p> As you can probably imagine, we have many stories of our MVS time in Chicago that made an impact on our life  —<a name="_GoBack"></a> way too many to include in this reflection!<br></p>
Epiphany amid eclipsehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Epiphany-amid-eclipseEpiphany amid eclipseBy Laurie Oswald Robinson <p>​<strong style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Writer's Note:</strong><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> </span><em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">Be advised that the below blog addresses suicide. If this is a sensitive topic for you, and you choose to read the blog, please engage the needed emotional support. I wish to thank all the supportive people — in professional, church, and personal circles — who have helped my family cope with our tragedy. Many helpful resources exist for families who are grieving suicide, including: </em><a href="https://afsp.org/" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;"><em>The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention</em></a><a href="https://afsp.org/" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;"><em>;</em></a><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;"><em> and a list of </em></span><a href="http://suicideprevention.nv.gov/Survivors/SuggestedReadingSurvivor/" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;"><em>suggested readings on the topic</em></a><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;"><em>.</em></span></p><p><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;"><em><br></em></span></p><p>My sister took her own life on Epiphany. </p><p>Three years ago, as the sun was setting behind the mountains, my brother-in-law, Mac, found her hanging by a rope in their living room, in Billings, Montana.</p><p>In the waning light of her 70 years of life on Earth, Paula was desperate to see the full spectrum of how she was loved into being by a loving Creator. But her decades-long, deep depression twisted and eclipsed her ability to perceive and receive this love. Unable to survive the desperation, and hanging by the thinnest of threads of hope, she turned to hopelessness; her heart snapped shut. </p><p>January 6, Epiphany, is observed as a church festival, commemorating of the coming of the <a href="https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/magus">Magi</a> as the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Epiphany celebrates the baptism of Christ. The definition of the word epiphany is "a sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something." </p><p>Epiphany is situated in the church's liturgical calendar a couple weeks after the longest night of the year, December 21. The early January holy day points to days slowly filling with more and more light. Six days into 2021, the sun of 2020 has set, and a new dawn appears on the horizon.</p><p>I am not sure I am ready to move into the landscape of the new year, given the chaos of 2020. It was when many of us in the United States experienced a thinning and stretching of our hope amid the pandemic, the devastating wildfires, and a chaotic national election. Our eyes were opened in new ways to the systemic racism that pollutes our world. Accompanying that awareness were riveting media images, which have the power to pull us back into grief and horror. </p><p>The sadness of this past year, coupled with the uncertainty of the future, makes me feel skittish at the new year's crossroads. What fork shall I take? The flat path, paved with the status quo and least resistance? Or the path that leads through the hills and valleys of challenge and change? Already tired of so much upset, I search for simple, pure rays of direction on a peaceful stroll beneath blue, cloudless skies. </p><p>Alas, however, I perceive that I am invited to accept the fog and storms that will inevitably pepper some days of clarity and fair weather. I am invited to join my colleagues at Mennonite Mission Network in following Jesus with global partners on paths that are not always clear, or even on paths that don't yet exist but that are waiting to be forged. </p><p>I am invited in my personal life to build relationships of mutuality, instead of mistrust; to stretch toward prodigal compassion for self and others, rather than on piecemeal favor based on performance orientation; and to choose openness and vulnerability, rather than appearance management and power plays. </p><p>The tragic last breaths of my sister's life were taken alone and in self-loathing. My prayer for 2021 is that when the light is eclipsed, we face the future together, rather than in isolation; that when tempted by despondency and shut down, we will choose a deeper dependence on God, who sees the way, is the way, and opens the way for us to freely walk forward together in faith, rather than fear. <br></p>
On earth as in heaven: memories of Bonny Driverhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/On-earth-as-in-heaven-memories-of-Bonny-DriverOn earth as in heaven: memories of Bonny DriverBy José Ortiz <p><em>José Ortiz reflects upon seven decades of friendship with Bonny Driver.</em></p><p>I was finishing high school, in 1957, when I met Bonny and John Driver at their home, in La Cuchilla, Puerto Rico. I went to pick up a bunch of green bananas, since they had a good crop that year. It was my first visit to the home of a family from mainland United States. I felt welcomed. The missionary home and farm were located on the top of a range of mountains called <em>La Cordillera Central </em>(Central Mountain Range)<em>,</em> located between the towns of Orocovis, to the north, and Coamo, to the south. When it rained, the water that came down the north slope flowed all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. The water that came down on the south side kept flowing toward the Caribbean Sea. On a clear day, you could see the sea forever from the mountain top. It seemed as if the earth and the sky were joining. <br></p><p>My wife, Iraida, also knew the Drivers' home, as Bonny, a nurse, assisted her when she needed injections. Mennonites were recognized as great caregivers. Local people said, "The medicines, the pills and the injections are the same, but their hands are different." Don Gelo Melendez, Iraida's grandfather also visited the Drivers' home frequently, to have coffee. Other times, the Drivers stopped in at Don Gelo's coffee farm to have coffee together with their families, in cordial fellowship. <br></p><p>I met the Drivers again in 1959, when I was a student at the <em>Instituto Bíblico Menonita</em> (Mennonite Bible Institute) in La Plata. John was the director. The Drivers were also serving a church in Guavate, a rural community near Cayey. The faculty of the Bible school were fully involved in ministry and so were the students. <br></p><p>Some weekends, there was no food service at the school. More than once, Bonny extended the family table and invited some of the students for a home-cooked meal. Hospitality was an important expression of her ministry. <br></p><p>At the end of the school year, several students were dealing with "and now what" questions. Luis Vargas, from the <em>Betania</em> congregation, and I were called to the director's office. John told us there was an opportunity to continue our education at Hesston College in Kansas. During the time it took to process our applications, Bonny and John moved to the San Juan metropolitan area to pastor a congregation there. One evening in late summer, Luis and I landed at the Driver home. We were scheduled to leave at midnight for New York — the first leg of the long trip to Kansas. The Drivers took this opportunity to counsel us about what to expect in the United States and in the new setting of college life.<br></p><p>When the Drivers' tenure as missionaries concluded, they secured an apartment at Greencroft in Goshen, Indiana. Bonny responded to the call for volunteers to assist with health care patients. She renewed her nursing credentials and cared for the seniors for more than 25 years. Finally, her own health issues caught up with her, and she passed away after a brief illness.<br></p><p>Bonny's departure from our midst, reminds me of her time in La Cuchilla and the beautiful tropical setting that surrounded her home. A heavenly feeling comes over me as I recall the southern view toward the Caribbean Sea in the early evenings from the Drivers' porch. In the distance, the blue sky blends with the blue waters of the ocean to become one entity. When brothers and sisters from our family of faith die, it is like a fusion of their lives on earth and the new spiritual entity in the new heavens and the new earth, as anticipated in the New Testament. In Spanish, we say, <em>mas alla del sol </em>(beyond the sun). Those who have gone ahead of us will now live according to the eternal plan of our Creator, something promised but not totally defined. That is the hope of glory for the Christian believer.<br></p>
Creating a to-be listhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Creating-a-to-be-listCreating a to-be listBy Hildi Amstutz<p>​<em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">Since 1991, Hildi Amstutz has served as a Mennonite Mission Network associate </em> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">—</span><em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;"> along with her husband, C. Paul Amstutz </em> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">—</span><em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;"> in Paraguay. Here is a personal reflection regarding her senior care ministry.</em></p><p> <em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;"><br></em></p><p>In my senior care ministry, I am discovering this agonizing cry of aging people: "I don't have any say in anything anymore!" </p><p> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">At the same time, however, I am also learning that aging people can move beyond this cry into a peaceful wisdom, by transitioning from the creation of "to-do" lists to "to-be" lists. </span> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> </span></p><p> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">We have the privilege of mentoring young people in the seminary. They are trying to get life </span> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">—</span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> and themselves </span> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">—</span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> "under control" and learning how to use control for the benefit of themselves and others. On the other end of life's spectrum, aging people are learning how to let go of control. Both of those movements have challenges. From a very young age, we are taught to make to-do lists and feel satisfied with each checkmark made on our list. We have accomplished something! As we move into the senior years, we become painfully aware of how life is more about the to-be list, </span> <em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">Doing </em> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">comes out of </span> <em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">being </em> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">the person we become as we walk with Jesus through the day.</span></p><p> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"><img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2020/Hildi%20Blog.jpg?RenditionID=7" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /><br></span></p><p> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"><span style="font-style:inherit;background-color:transparent;color:#7695a3;font-family:cartogothic_std, sans-serif;font-size:0.95rem;font-weight:bold;"></span><span style="font-style:inherit;background-color:transparent;color:#7695a3;font-family:cartogothic_std, sans-serif;font-size:0.95rem;font-weight:bold;"></span><span style="font-style:inherit;background-color:transparent;color:#7695a3;font-family:cartogothic_std, sans-serif;font-size:0.95rem;font-weight:bold;">Hil</span><span style="font-style:inherit;background-color:transparent;color:#7695a3;font-family:cartogothic_std, sans-serif;font-size:0.95rem;font-weight:bold;">di</span><span style="font-style:inherit;background-color:transparent;color:#7695a3;font-family:cartogothic_std, sans-serif;font-size:0.95rem;font-weight:bold;"></span><span style="font-style:inherit;background-color:transparent;color:#7695a3;font-family:cartogothic_std, sans-serif;font-size:0.95rem;font-weight:bold;"></span><span style="font-style:inherit;background-color:transparent;color:#7695a3;font-family:cartogothic_std, sans-serif;font-size:0.95rem;font-weight:bold;"></span><span style="font-style:inherit;background-color:transparent;color:#7695a3;font-family:cartogothic_std, sans-serif;font-size:0.95rem;font-weight:bold;"></span><span style="font-style:inherit;background-color:transparent;color:#7695a3;font-family:cartogothic_std, sans-serif;font-size:0.95rem;font-weight:bold;"></span><span style="font-style:inherit;background-color:transparent;color:#7695a3;font-family:cartogothic_std, sans-serif;font-size:0.95rem;font-weight:bold;"> </span><span style="font-style:inherit;background-color:transparent;color:#7695a3;font-family:cartogothic_std, sans-serif;font-size:0.95rem;font-weight:bold;">Amstutz tends her plants as she ponders what it means to make a transition from a "to-do" list to a "to-be" list. She strives to put into practice what shares with others in spiritual retreats and spiritual caregiving with seniors. Photo by C. Paul Amstutz.</span><br></span></p><p> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"><br></span></p><p> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Traveling through the Smoky Mountains several years ago, in a little souvenir shop, we came upon a saying that still accompanies us: "People will not remember you by your great accomplishments but by how you made them feel while they were with you."</span></p><p> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">My mother, Katharina Penner, was a living example of that concept. Her genuine and caring ways attracted people of all ages to enjoy being with her at her life's end. She lived to be 93. People said of her, "If I have to grow old, I want to grow old the way she did." She was an example of a person who preserved her wit and humor, despite having gone through the rigors of World War II, moving from Russia to Paraguay, and losing five of her seven children. Her famous phrase was, "If life with God is so hard many times, what must life be like without God?" After the many tragedies my parents faced, their summary statement was, "God makes no mistakes."</span></p><p> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">As a young married woman, I worked as a nursing home aide. </span> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> </span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">I cared for two elderly women with multiple sclerosis. For the one woman, it seemed as if I couldn't do anything right, and I often left her room in tears. When leaving the room of the other woman, my spirit would feel refreshed. The smallest deed elicited a sweet: "Thank you! Thank you!" She had learned how to be, despite the fact that her to-do list had ceased to exist years ago. She made good use of the one control she still had —</span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">  </span> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">to choose her attitude.</span></p><p> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">It is a fact of life: Either you give up control or it will be taken from you. By giving it up, you still can control whom to give it to, be that material possessions or roles in society. </span> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> </span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Neither process happens without pain. Though seemingly contradictory, by choosing to let go, we choose the less painful way.</span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">  </span> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">If our values and identity are attached to possessions and positions that can be taken from us, the pain may end in bitterness.</span></p><p> <span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">In my journey of aging and walking with aging people, I see the importance of "putting one's house in order" and how that contributes to more peaceful days and healthier relationships in the extended family. Once again, freeing oneself of the control over material possessions, in an orderly and fair way, helps to contribute to more peaceful relationships within the family. </span></p>
Mission Network administrator shaped by Blough ministryhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Mission-Network-administrator-shaped-by-Blough-ministry-Mission Network administrator shaped by Blough ministryBy Steve Wiebe-Johnson<p><em>Steve Wiebe-Johnson's relationship with Janie and Neal Blough began when he was a student in Paris, France. Wiebe-Johnson became their colleague nine years later, when he began serving with a predecessor agency of Mennonite Mission Network. He is now MMN's co-director for Africa and Europe.</em></p><p><strong> </strong><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Janie and Neal have been many things to me over the years. We first met in 1979, when I was in France for language study before heading to the French-speaking country of Chad.</span></p><p>They helped me pick up the pieces when war broke out in Chad and turned my plans inside-out. <br></p><p>They helped me find my place at <em>Foyer Grebel, </em>a home in Paris for African students.<br></p><p>They helped me find my direction, as I returned to college in the United States to study philosophy and international development. <br></p><p>They were mentors and friends. Then they became colleagues, when our family began to serve with Mennonite Board of Missions, a predecessor agency of Mennonite Mission Network, in 1988. <br></p><p>When I became an international director at Mission Network and a board member of Paris Mennonite Center, our relationship changed and grew, as we continued the collaboration in ministry. The Bloughs have modeled a ministry of presence, of incarnation, of integration into the ministry context. However — and most of all — they are cherished friends. I thank God for Janie and Neal and for the privilege it has been to share so much of our life journeys. <br></p>



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