Participants, leaders and Mission Network staff with the 2022-23 Service Adventure units. Left to right: Naomi Leary (Service Adventure director), Rachel Musselman (Jackson, Mississippi, unit leader), Michael Oyer (Human Resources placement coordinator), Neeltje Sandersfeld (Colorado Springs, Colorado, unit), Melanie Wenger (Johnstown, Pennsylvania, unit), Daniel Schumacher (Johnstown, Pennsylvania, unit), Josia Kaemper (Jackson, Mississippi, unit), Lukas Tepper (Johnstown, Pennsylvania, unit), Miriam Offe (Johnstown, Pennsylvania, unit) and Anna Millsap (Jackson, Mississippi, unit).
Photo by David Fast.

By Travis Duerksen
Wednesday, September 6, 2023

NEWTON, Kansas (Mennonite Mission Network) – Service Adventure is often described as a 'gap year experience' – a year after high school to gain perspective before diving back into school, a job, or whatever is next. This gap year is not a pause in education, but it is a shift in growth: from academic to personal, from sitting in the pew to leading worship nights.
Each year, new sets of participants come together in Service Adventure units across the country and meet one another as strangers, tasked with living life together. 10 months later, they'll depart – their gap years filled to the brim.
Below are the new Service Adventure participants for the 2023-24 term.
Service Adventure is a service program of Mennonite Mission Network, designed for individuals ages 17-20. For more information and to apply, click here.

 

Marie Haller will join the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Service Adventure unit. Her placement is with Johnstown Christian School, a preschool-grade 12 institution that equips students to understand God’s truth by engaging minds, building character, deepening faith, and creating community. Her home church is Evangelical Parish of Würzbach in Obreichenbach, Germany. 

I applied to Service Adventure because I had finished with my education and could then do something completely new. I wanted to consciously take God into my life. So what better way to feel his power than a volunteer year!? 

I want to learn more about other churches and more about God. I want to grow in my faith and relationship to God; to feel his work and power. I want to also learn more about American culture and I hope that I will get better in my English.”   

 Shawna Hurst will join the Colorado Springs, Colorado, Service Adventure unit. Her placement is with Family Promise of Colorado Springs, an organization that mobilizes the community by advocating for and empowering families with children to achieve housing stability. Her home church is New Creation Fellowship in Newton, Kansas. 

I wanted to take advantage of a gap year opportunity and to spend a year creating new relationships while getting to help the community! [In Service Adventure] I hope to make long lasting relationships and deepen my faith.”  

 Henriette Preuss will join the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Service Adventure unit. Her placement is with Community Action Partnership of Cambria County (CAPCC) Headstart preschool program and New Day Inc.’s after-school program. CAPCC provides quality comprehensive preschool programs, and New Day Inc. is a Christian ministry to youth and families in the Johnstown area. Her home church is St. Jacobi Church in Perleberg, Germany.  

After I did my [primary and secondary] schooling I didn’t know what to study or do afterwards. So, I decided to go abroad and do a gap year. And I wanted to do it with Christliche Dienste (CD, a partner voluntary service program of Service Adventure based in Germany) because my stepsister also did a year with the same organization.  

In Service Adventure, I hope to get better in English, know a new culture, learn more about myself, the Bible and my connection to God, help at my workplace and send my love to children, and have adventures and see nature!”  

 Chiara Rempel will join the Anchorage, Alaska, Service Adventure unit. Her home church is Summit Church in Fort Myers, Florida. 

“Like many young people, I don’t feel like I’ve found my place in this world yet, and I’ve felt like I needed a new experience, something that’s outside of my comfort zone, something that’s going to challenge me personally and help me grow in not only my faith, but also my relationship with myself. Service Adventure sounded just right for that. 

I hope that I will come out of this service adventure with a better idea of myself and what I want to do; how I want to live my life. I hope to learn from my fellow participants and my leader and grow in my personal faith and relationship with God.” 

 Veronica Schelesny will join the Anchorage, Alaska, Service Adventure unit. Her home church is Die Brücke Freie Christengemeinde (The Bridge Christian Free Church) in Bad Kreuznach, Germany. 

I decided to apply because I see Service Adventure as a great opportunity to fellowship with other Christians. To serve people, but also to serve God. 

My goal is to be a help to the people on site and to be able to make them happy with my work. But also trying out new things and getting to know myself and building my relationship with God.”  

 Leni Schreiber will join the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Service Adventure unit. Her placement is with Johnstown Christian School and Flood City Youth Fitness Academy, a community learning center. Her home church is Georgsgemeinde Churchin Dortmund, Germany. 

I decided to apply to Service Adventure because I want to grow in my faith and I want to help people. I hope that I will have a better relationship to God and I hope that I will grow myself. In addition to that I want to gain a lot of experiences.” 

Lukas Tepper (pictured top right) is a second-year Service Adventure participant, having served last year as a member of the Johnstown unit. This year, he will join the Anchorage, Alaska, Service Adventure unit. His home church is the Evangelical Church of Breitenstein-Neuweiler in Weil im Schönbuch, Germany. 

I decided to apply for another year because after my year in Johnstown I wanted to do more. It felt to me like I’m determined to do another year because I got the opportunity to spend another year serving God. What I hope to achieve is to make a difference. I’m aware that you can’t change the world but putting one smile on another’s face is making a huge difference for them and for me.” 


Sam Pluta will join the Colorado Springs, Colorado, Service Adventure unit. His placement is with Our House, an organization that provides daily and residential habilitation programs for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. His home church is Kern Road Mennonite Church in South Bend, Indiana.  


Elias W will join the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Service Adventure unit. His placement is with Flood City Youth Academy and the Alternative Community Resource Program, which works to meet the emotional health, mental and social needs of children.  

“I applied to Service Adventure to grow in my own personality, help others, improve my English skills, and to grow in my faith.” 

 

 

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https://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4974/Service-Adventure-units-welcome-new-participants

​Travis Duerksen is a writer and multimedia producer for Mennonite Mission Network.

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