​The 2019-2020 Colorado Springs, Colorado, Service Adventure unit: Delia Mielke, Ruben Fellmann, Cindy Headings (unit leader), and Carissa Mast.

Interview with Cindy Headings
Saturday, October 12, 2019

NEWTON, Kansas (Mennonite Mission Network) – Cindy Headings has been the unit leader for the Colorado Springs, Colorado, Service Adventure unit since 2017, and began her third year-long term in August 2019. She sat down with her son, Zachary Headings, marketing associate for Mennonite Mission Network, for an audio interview on what led her to Service Adventure, her growth as a unit leader, and being “the cool mom.” The following is an edited version of the interview.



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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 everyone’s doing.

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 kids.

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 opportunity to.

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.





Zachary Headings is a marketing associate with Mennonite Mission Network.



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