Zachary: So, you’re coming back to Service Adventure for
a third year. That’s not uncommon, but it takes a kind of devotion. What called
you to Service Adventure in the first place?
Cindy: Well, as you know, there was some unrest a few
years ago. When your Dad passed away, I needed to do something else. God was
calling me to do something and I didn’t know what it was, so I was praying, and
he wasn’t answering my prayers right away, which was very frustrating. He told
me to be still and wait, and I was still and waited, and then I got three
signs, one right after another in three weeks that I was pretty sure that
Service Adventure was what I should do.
Would you mind sharing what those three signs were?
The first sign was that someone posted a blog on Facebook
about their experience with Service Adventure. It was actually a cousin of
mine, and her experience was not the greatest, but it didn’t deter me. She was
open and honest about her responsibility with that. So there was a blog post,
and then I had thought, “Oh yeah, Service Adventure, Susan [Nisly, Service
Adventure director] and I had talked about that at one time and I thought it
would be kind of cool after I retired to do something like that.”
The second sign was a change at work. The next week I got an e-mail that said,
“Urgent need! Unit leaders for Service Adventure!” And I was like, “OK, God!”
So, it was Colorado Springs or Jackson, Mississippi, and I chose Colorado
Springs because I didn’t want to sweat!
What’s the best part of Service Adventure?
The best? I don’t know ... the service, the adventure,
everything! It’s just pretty awesome being able to walk alongside young adults
experiencing a different thing in their life, a year of service. The
opportunity to grow together has been so cool.
Why come back for a third year?
I have just had such great units. My first two units were
great. I wasn’t sure I was going to come back for a third year, because the
house at home didn’t rent, and I needed some income from that, and so I thought
I was going to have to stop. But God worked things out and I have a renter for
the house, so I was able to do it. I wanted to, but I wasn’t sure I was going
to be able to.
In your two years and a month of Service Adventure, is
there a particular memory that stands out when you think back on your time?
No, it’s all been so awesome. Probably the most fun thing
was being able to gather all the Service Adventure units and go to Texas
and help serve with MDS (Mennonite Disaster Service). That was a very memorable
time because we got to know other units, their unit leaders, and serve together,
so it was really cool.
Compare experiences, serve together, and learn about what
And have fun and play games!
And that’s not meant to be undercut by the service; that’s part of it. That’s supposed to be part of the adventure. I know from
personal experience that you spent a great deal of time caring for teenagers
prior to your work in Service Adventure. How did your experience as a parent,
as a mother of two, help you in this position?
Well, I learned what not to do.
So we were the experiment?
You were the experiment, yes!
You got it really nailed down for the Service Adventure
We had a lot of experiences as a family that I’ve been able
to understand some of what the Service Adventurers have gone through. Some of
the things that have happened in their lives prior to this, and been able to
connect with them on a deeper level because of that. It helped prepare. I mean,
you knew how much I liked hanging out with young people, as I was always at the
youth group stuff that you were at. I’m sure that was fun for you, always
having Mom there.
You learn to live with that sort of thing when your
mother’s so connected to the church. It wasn’t … not awkward. You’re not a person
that doesn’t know how to act around young people …
Go ahead and say it, I was the cool mom.
Yeah, OK, I can say that. You were the cool mom. And all
of my friends liked you before they liked me, so that’s another thing. What was
your biggest challenge coming into Service Adventure?
I don’t know that I had a huge challenge. I mean, it was a
challenge leaving home, but I got to go to Colorado, so it was pretty good.
Probably my biggest challenge is not giving advice before it’s asked for. Not
even giving advice at all, which is very hard for me because I’ve been a
teacher, and I’ve been a parent, so advice is something that I feel like I have
some knowledge to give. But instead of giving advice, sharing different ways to
look at things.
What has that kind of experience, learning to share
instead of giving advice, taught you?
It’s taught me to listen more, and to listen to what people
are going through, instead of automatically just relating it to something that
I’ve done, and telling them what they should do. Listening to what their heart
is, and listening to what the emotions are, and offering a different
perspective. When we’re in a situation, we just see our perspective of it.
Through experience I’ve learned that there are other perspectives, other ways
of looking at things, that can change the way you feel. Just being able to offer
that other perspective, which is something that I wish I would have done with
you guys more.
I think you did OK.
You said that you went to Colorado Springs because you
didn’t want to sweat. I’m sure that wasn’t the only reason.
No, it’s not the only reason. As a kid, growing up in
Goshen, spending summers in Kansas with Grandpa and Grandma, they vacationed in
Colorado quite a bit, and so we, your Uncle John and I, got to go with them to
Colorado Springs. They stayed in Manitou and Garden of the Gods. All those very
fond memories. And Grandma, your great-grandma, always used to say, “I live in
Kansas so I can vacation in Colorado,” and so when Colorado Springs came up, I
was like, “Oh wow, I’ve always wanted to live in Colorado,” so I got the
When you became a unit leader, was there a moment that
you knew you had made the right choice to come to Service Adventure?
I wanted to follow God’s will, and I was pretty sure after
those three signs that this was it. I don’t know that there was one moment. But
pretty much every day that I wake up and I get to spend time with young people
serving is the moment that I know. Every day.
If you could talk to someone that’s on the fence about
going into Service Adventure, whether as a participant or as a unit leader ... who’s
on the fence, not sure about what they want to do. What would you say?
Do it. It’s such an amazing experience, whether as a participant
or a unit leader, and if you feel like God is calling you to serve, this is an
awesome opportunity. Awesome format. Service Adventure has worked very hard at
setting things up to make it a memorable experience for the participant, and as
a result, a memorable experience for the unit leaders. We have worship nights, learning
components, and do adventures together. We go on a lot of hikes. So the
experience, wherever you are, experiencing God in a different community and
being able to join in with what organizations are doing in that community, is
just an awesome experience.
Do you have anything else you want to say to people that
are reading this or listening to it?
That I’m pretty excited to be interviewed by my son.
All right, we’re going to go the cheesy route, then. Well,
thank you, Mom, for sitting down with me, and I hope all of your service and your
adventures go well in the next year.