Growing up in a Mennonite community, we internalized many Bible teachings, personal stories, and service examples. Jane’s parents chose Civilian Public Service; several of Marion’s siblings joined PAX and Mennonite Voluntary Service.
We knew they had chosen this, instead of serving military assignments, as a part of their response to Jesus’ example and call. Even while dating, we talked about doing MVS.
In 1969, after we were married, Jane taught second grade in Goshen, Ind., while Marion finished his sociology degree. A Goshen College friend, who served at Frontier Boys Village in Larkspur, Colo., through MVS, invited us to join the staff there.
Since some of our peers were giving their all in Vietnam, we considered this may be our way to help bring peace to part of God’s family.
As house parents for six boys at Frontier Boys Village, we had some mountain-top and low valley experiences. It was intensely eye opening, frustrating, and life changing for us.
In that year and a half, we were gifted with new lifelong friends in the other MVS volunteers, while stretching to reach our potential. We learned, in new and comforting ways, that God is with us and with others through all of life.
Now, at age 67 and in retirement, we are again experiencing new adventure and service opportunities through the SOOP program. Over a year ago, friends Bruce and Anne Hummel, from Millersburg, Ohio, suggested that we serve for a few weeks at the International Guest House in Washington, D.C.
That experience showed us that it is easy to hear joyful people’s experiences from around the world while cleaning and while preparing/serving food.
Last year, we volunteered with SOOP again and experienced the Hopi Mission School in Kykotsmovi, Ariz. The raw and beautiful landscape, the warm teachers and staff, and the beauty of the Hopi culture were all part of a life-growing experience for us. Our eyes were again opened to how differences do not diminish us, but add to our strength and understanding of God’s grace to all.
February 2014 found us in Brownsville, Texas, at Iglesia Menonita del Cordero. SOOP connected us with this Hispanic Mennonite congregation where we were given the opportunity to enjoy a new culture and new friends serving God’s creation together.
While in Texas, we received an e-mail from friends we met in MVS about 40 years ago. They invited us to visit them at the International Guest House, D.C., where they are serving a year of SOOP. The joy continues.
We recommend these life-giving service opportunities to each person from age 19 to 91!