Matt Thomas and Mary Simmering
Hannah Heinzekehr
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Mennonite Mission Network) – Service Adventure, one of Mennonite Mission Network’s Christian Service programs, invites young adults to spend a year exploring simple living in intentional community.
 
Members of the Anchorage, Alaska, unit decided to take this invitation one step further.
 
At the beginning of their year together, the five young adult participants and their leader, Craig Miller, created a bucket of simplicity.
 
The bucket, known affectionately as the “BOS,” contains several suggestions from each participant for simple-living activities. Each week, the unit draws a new piece of paper and carries out its instructions.
 
One week, no one in the unit was allowed to use the computer. Another week, the unit washed all of their clothes in cold water and hung them on the line to dry to save energy.
 
One suggestion led the participants to spend 20 minutes each evening journaling together and reflecting on their days. And perhaps one of the most memorable weeks occurred in early winter, when the unit drew instructions to eat dinner outside every evening to enjoy the outdoor surroundings.
 
“We think that person must have been thinking about a picnic in the summer, but we pulled it out in November so it wasn’t nearly as cool,” said Miller.
 
The idea for the bucket of simplicity has evolved from unit to unit and was suggested to Miller by members of the unit’s support committee from Prince of Peace Mennonite Church, Heather and Jason Potsander.
 
“The whole bucket of simplicity idea is pretty good at breaking up the routine and kind of challenging the unit to try something new and different. It’s a good vehicle to keep the year challenging and reflective for the unit members,” said Jason Potsander, who, with Heather, previously led the Anchorage unit and still lives in the area.
 
Unit members are also thinking more about the implications of their own actions.
 
“I’m used to just going out and throwing my stuff in the washer, turning it to warm, and then using the dryer. The bucket makes me rethink the things that I usually do,” said Matt Thomas, a participant from Walnut Hill Mennonite Fellowship (Goshen, Ind.).
 
Through the BOS, members of the unit have redefined their definitions of simple living.
 
“It’s forcing us to consider new possibilities. We’re learning. When we began, we had these ideas about what simplicity meant, and as we go on, we’re seeing that maybe simplicity is broader than we thought,” said Miller.
 
Other members of the Anchorage unit are Naomi Graber of Sunnyside Mennonite Church (Elkhart, Ind.), Jacob Potsander of Wellman (Iowa) Mennonite Church, Mary Simmering of Hesston (Kan.) Mennonite Church, and Jenna Weaver of Salem Mennonite Church in Wooster, Ohio.
 
Service Adventure invites young adults ages 17-20 to live in a household with four to six other youth and to serve in a community for 10 months in a variety of locations across the United States.

 

 

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