Dec 8, 2010


Leader: O God, the heavens are yours and the earth is yours. All our life belongs to you.
Congregation: Make us messengers of peace and justice.

Leader: May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Congregation: Make us messengers of peace and justice.

Leader: May all injustice, violence and oppression give way to fairness, mercy and good will.

Congregation: Make us messengers of peace and justice.

Leader: Teach us to use the manifold resources of the earth so that none may waste and none may want.

Congregation: Make us messengers of peace and justice.

Leader: In all our labours, may cooperation triumph over conflict; may all people find their reward in work that serves the good of all.

Congregation: Make us messengers of peace and justice.

Leader: Keep alive the holy fire within the hearts of all who dare to be the voices of unwelcome wisdom. Make us willing to hear hard demands.
Congregation: Make us messengers of peace and justice

Leader: Fill us with a passion for righteousness and a zeal to serve where there is need. Fill us with a purpose that is holy and right and just. Help us to love the noblest and best.

All: Make us messengers of peace and justice.
All: Unto you, O God be all might and majesty, dominion and power, both now and evermore. Amen.

This litany was used in Vineland United Mennonite Church on 2nd Advent Sunday, December 5, 2010.

*Adapted from Lift Up Your Hearts by Walter Russell Bowie (copyright renewal ©1984 by Mrs. Jean B. Evans, Mrs. Elizabeth Chapman, and Mrs. Walter Russell Bowie, Jr.; used by permission of the publisher, Abingdon Press. From Words for Worship; used by permission of Herald Press.

Dec 6, 2010

Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas,
by Jan Richardson, United Church Press, 1998.

A devotional guide for pilgrims awaiting the birth of hope. Leads spiritual travelers on a journey through the Christmas season, ushering quiet moments of introspection into a time that is often rushed and hurried.

Also check Jan's blog, "The Painted Prayerbook" here.

Borrow or purchase this title
from the MC Canada Resource Centre online catalogue here.

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or check our loan policy.

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Nov 29, 2010


In the 21st century, in the time of NO trans fats, in the years of cholesterol scares, staying thin, and being just so aware of everything we consume, we 4 Grandmas decided we would invite you into the realm of deep fried yummies.

In my home growing up, deep fried foods had seasonal pleasure. On cool rainy summer days we were often given soup and fritters -- apple or plum. It was a great treat.

On a hot summer day supper might be rollkuchen (fried dough) and watermelon. It was a refreshing meal and to this day it is an Mennonite Central Committee Relief Sale highlight and young and old line up for this favourite treat.

Whenever we were having large groups over or church picnics, someone would make
doughnuts and/or bismarks and feed the whole crowd. My sister-in-law Herta made delicious bismarks and as a young girl I would walk over when she was preparing them and truly “pig out”. About 2 years ago at our church retreat we made doughnuts and deep fried them in a large cauldron outdoors on a cool October evening, and we all “pigged out”. On New Year Eve day our Mom made New Years Cookies or Porzelky. I think every Russian Mennonite family made them. We ate them on the eve and also on New Years Day.

Deep frying was not considered a problem as long as you continued to work hard. Today, November 20, 2010, 4 Grandmas and their spouses are treating themselves to an evening of deep fried delights. Our oldest daughter, who is very food alert asked if we would have a defibrillator available and I said, “No, just a plate of fruit for dessert” which we did.

BISMARKS (Recipe of Herta Koop and Helen Unrau)

1 tbsp yeast in 1/2 cup warm water with 1 tsp sugar dissolved
2 cups scalded milk, then add 1/2 cup shortening. Cool.

4 egg yolks and 1 whole egg 1 tsp orange rind
1/2 cup sugar 2 tsp lemon rind
1 tsp salt 2 tsp vanilla
6 cups flour

Beat eggs and sugar, mix all ingredients, add yeast when cool.
Leave to sit in warm place to rise.
Knead down and roll 1/2 inch thick and cut into shapes, either round or rectangle, let rise and deep fry in oil.
Ice (confectioners sugar mixed with cream and some vanilla) and sprinkle with nuts or sprinkles.
If you can figure out how to insert jam, please let us know.

ROLLKUCHEN (Deep fried dough)

1 cup whipping cream 2 cups flour
2 eggs 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp salt

Sift flour, salt and baking powder into mixing bowl, make a well, add other ingredients. Mix well and if dough is too soft, add a bit more flour. Roll out quite thin on a floured board and cut into rectangles, make a slit in centre and pull the one end through. Deep fry in oil and eat with watermelon, icing sugar or syrup. Yummy on a hot summer day or any time really.



Did you know we didn’t have Robins or Tim Horton shops in Grandma’s time? Yet doughnuts, spudnuts and other fritters were very much a part of special family times. They were frozen in large quantities for big family events such as birthdays, anniversaries, or even harvest suppers as great desserts.
Doughnut making was a special event which lasted several hours as you mixed the large batch of yeast dough, let it rise, and then cut it into shapes. We did not have the fancy doughnut cutters of today, but used a round object like a tumbler, and then needed a thimble or something small and round to make the holes. Just like the timbits of today, the holes were so much fun for the children to eat. They were usually rolled in sugar.
Once the doughnuts were cut they needed to rise until double in size, so every counter and table seemed to be covered with doughnuts as we never made less than 6 dozen. Finally, they were glazed, or dipped in sugar, or covered with icing. They continue to be a real treat.


2 1/2 cups warm water 2 cups warm milk
1/2 cup butter 3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, well beaten 1 tsp salt
2 tbsp yeast 8-9 cups flour

Beat eggs and add water, milk, softened butter, sugar, and salt. Mix the yeast with 1 cup of flour and mix into egg mixture. Add remaining flour and knead to make a soft dough. Let rise, roll 1/2 inch thick and cut with doughnut cutter, placing doughnuts on a lightly floured pan to rise again. Fry in hot oil.


2 tbsp yeast 1 tsp nutmeg
2 cups warm milk 2 large eggs - well beaten
1 tsp salt 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine 1 cup mashed potatoes
1/2 cup warm water

Beat eggs and add water, milk, nutmeg, soft margarine or butter, salt, sugar and mashed potatoes.
Mix well. Add yeast to 1 cup of flour and add to mixture. Gradually add the rest of the flour to make a soft dough. Let rise until double in size. Roll 1/2 inch thick, cut into small rectangular shapes. Let rise again. Fry in hot oil.
Coat with sugar. glaze or icing.


PORTZELKY (New Year's Fritters)

After the excitement of Christmas - the concerts, the gatherings and the presents, our family life would sort of settle down to normal routine. There was time in the cold winter weather to invite guests to visit and play table - board games. Mom would usually make the Portzelky on the day before New Years. It was usually a family project and we only made them at New Years. They were special. Mom’s kitchen was small, but the 5 of us children would gather round the kitchen table and would “help” mix the batter -- then we would wait with anticipation for the dough to rise and then the excitement of frying the fritters. We were cautioned to not go too near the pot on the stove which had the hot oil/fat in it. When Mom fried the first few we were excited to “taste” them. We had a little bowl of sugar on the table and then dunked our fritteer in for each bite. Mmm - good. I can still taste that first fritter!

In my husband’s family Portzelky were also only made at New Years. In his family they had a low german poem that they would say. It went like this:

“Ek sach yoon Schursteen rookin (I saw your chimney smoke)
Ek wist vull vowat yee moakin (I knew well what you were making)
Scheine Nee Yoat koake (Delicious New Year fritters)
Yave wee mee une dahn shtoh ek schtell (Give me one I’ll stand still)
Yave yee mee twi dahn fang ek own tow gohnen (Give me 2 I’ll start walking)
Yave mee drei en feiah touglick (If you give me three and four together
Dahn vensch ek yoo dowt Himmelrick I’ll wish you the riches of Heaven)


1 tsp sugar 1 tsp salt
1/2 cup warm water 1 Tbsp butter
1 pkg dry yeast 4 eggs, beaten
3 cups water 2 - 4 cups raisins, as desired
3 cups milk Flour
1/2 cup sugar

Dissolve 1 tsp. sugar in 1/2 cup warm water. Sprinkle 1 package dry yeast on water and let stand 10 minutes. Add water, milk, sugar, salt, butter, eggs and raisins. Stir in enough flour to make a fairly thick batter. Let rise until double in bulk. Drop by spoonfuls in hot, deep oil and fry until golden brown.

Over the years we have learned so much about nutrition and “what’s good for us”. We know deep fried food is not the most healthy - but I tend to think that moderation is a good way to go. Perhaps Portzelky once a year are O.K.!!




2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp lard
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cream
1 egg

Meat Filling:
1 onion minced
1/2 lb ground beef
1 cup mashed potatoes
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste

Sift dry ingredients, rub in lard, add slightly beaten egg, milk and cream. If dough is too soft add a bit more flour. For filling, sauté onion, add ground beef, simmer until browned. (You can also use leftover ground roast). Mix with mashed potatoes, salt and pepper. Roll out dough. Cut in rounds and fill with meat mixture. Deep fry in hot vegetable oil until golden brown. Can also be baked in 400 degrees oven for 25 minutes. We like them with soup and Rogers Golden Syrup.


2 cups flour 1 cup milk
3 tsp baking powder 1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar 2 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp salt 4 large apples
2 eggs

Combine all ingredients (except apples and oil) in mixer bowl. Beat on low speed until blended. Pare and core apples and cut into small pieces. When oil is hot put apples into batter and with a spoon transfer some of the apple mixture into the hot oil. Fry on one side till brown, then turn over and brown the other side. Test the first one to make sure the apples are soft and the batter is all baked through. Serve with hot syrup or sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Other fruits like fresh plums or cherries may also be used.

Being a farmer’s wife, I had to take many meals out to the field where my husband was working. I remember one summer evening I made a pot of soup and a batch of apple fritters to take out to the field. I had three children, so it meant getting them all ready and keeping the soup hot. I packed everything plus blankets and a tablecloth too. With plates, bowls and cutlery (no napkins), sugar for the fritters and buttered bread for the soup, we were off. We went on the prairie highway (unlike the highways of today), but we arrived without mishap. It put a smile on my husband’s face because this was his favourite food. What a great time we had.


Nov 22, 2010

An Unexpected Hour

Each year Mennonite Church Canada publishes Advent at Home, a worship book designed to encourage family worship during the Christmas season. Check out the 2010/2011 edition titled "An Unexpected Hour" and "commit the subversive act of slowing down and doing less this advent season". Click here to borrow, purchase or download Advent at Home 2010 - An Unexpected Hour.

Nov 17, 2010

"Haiti: Building in Hope"

WMCEC Fall Enrichment Day – October 23, 2010

123 women from across Ontario gathered at Bethany Mennonite Church in Virgil to hear speakers on the theme “Haiti: Building in Hope”. Donna Thiessen shared in the morning her first-hand experience during the Haiti earthquake with Leah Reesor and Luke Keller updating us in the afternoon on what MCC has been and continues to do to help in the recovery. Click here for Leah's blog on Haiti related themes.

The Niagara Bethany Hand Bell Choir which has a long history of supporting children in Haiti provided special music under the direction of Tracey Frena.

Using Luke 10:25-37 as her text, Carol Penner, pastor at The First Mennonite Church in Vineland challenged us to ask ourselves “Who is my sister?”

A special treat was hearing musician Heidi Wagler’s story of how she has been able to continue to have hope even though she has experienced pain and hurt in her life. She was led to produce a CD entitled “Healing and Hope for the Nations” the proceeds of which are directed to MCC for its ongoing work in Haiti.

Brian Bauman, MCEC Missions Minister, affirmed the women of MCEC who have consistently support projects of MCEC as well as projects in their own communities.

The business session was chaired by WMCEC’s new coordinator, Pattie Ollies and included a report from Erna Neufeldt, Mennonite Women Canada’s president and reports from WMCEC's personnel and programme committees.

Comments that I heard that day included the following:
***It was a great day!
***Donna’s presentation and video were well done and her thankfulness for God’s safety and protection was very evident.
***I thought the program on Saturday was just fantastic!
***The historical, social and economic context given by Leah was very helpful in understanding the culture of the Haitian people.

If you are interested in more details please leave a comment and I will gladly provide more information. A more detailed report has also been submitted to the Canadian Mennonite.

Oct 26, 2010

Let the Children Come: Preparing Faith Communities to End Child Abuse and Neglect, by Jeanette Harder, Herald Press, 2010.

Are children safe at your church?

What precautions have you taken to ensure they won't be abused?

Do you know how to recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect?

What should you do if you suspect a child in your church or neighborhood is being abused or neglected?

If you aren't sure how to answer those questions, you need Let the Children Come, a new book from Herald Press that helps churches and church-related ministries learn how to keep children safe and strengthen families.

In the context of the Bible and faith, Let the Children Come helps Christians learn about their role in ending child abuse and neglect in all communities: church, home, extended family, neighborhood, school, work. Each chapter contains real-life stories, discussion questions and action items; the appendix includes prayers, readings and exercises for use in adult education.

Borrow or purchase this title

from the MC Canada Resource Centre online catalogue here.

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Please contact the Resource Centre
or check our loan policy.

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We'll profile a new title at this blog every month

Oct 21, 2010


Irene Klassen, Calgary, Alberta recently discovered this blog and the Mennonite Women Canada website. Following are Irene’s comments that remind us how technology has changed how we do certain aspects of communication now. She says:

I went to the website, (hadn't paid much attention to it earlier), and was really impressed! WOW! How Women in Mission (former name) has evolved! Several name changes, and styles of leadership, to going inter-net.

From the early days:
- When reports and literature was sent by snail mail.
- When Mrs Pauls was president here in Alberta, she would take advantage of the Menno Bible Institute events. (Mr Pauls was Principal of the Bible School) In the spring when parents came to pick up their children after School Closing, she would send Women in Mission information with the parents to hand deliver to all the local Women's groups at Pincher Creek, Rosemary, Tofield etc. and of course they would pass them along to the local women's president. In the fall when students arrived it was the same. Saved much on postage.

- When cc really meant carbon copy, and letters were laboriously carbon copied, even by hand. Then later came the Hectograph - that was when Frieda Peters was president.

- When meetings and minutes were in German.

- When long-distance phone calls were rare.

- When Missions meant supporting overseas missionaries.

- When women made knit and rolled bandages, and quilted at meetings. Women always had a pair of needles and a bandage in process in their purse.

- When a minister, male of course, was present to give the closing benediction, and often even the opening, at meetings.

- Women in Mission reports were just sent to the Alberta Conference to be included in the Report book. I think I was the first one to actually present the report at the conference, and after that it was taken for granted.

Ah well.... there I go ... pondering. Now I can follow everything that goes on in Mennonite Women Canada on the inter-net. Just go to www.

Irene Klassen
Calgary, Alberta

Sep 17, 2010

Opportunites for Giving (2011)

At the annual meeting of Mennonite Women Canada, held this past July in Calgary, a new international project was chosen as one of our 'opportunities for giving'. The Samuelito Day Care Centre in Santa Cruz, Bolivia opened its doors in 2006 to provide a much needed service and also to reach out to the families in one of the city's poorest neighbourhoods. The director is Juneth Vargas, who is an energetic mother of two and a committed Christian dedicated to her work. She oversees a staff of 8 who care for 74 children and give instruction in the areas of health, nutrition, education and faith.

Please click on 'Opportunities for Giving' above to read more about this project. Updates about this project will be posted as they become available.

Sep 16, 2010

Faith and Hope in the Midst of Changing Times by Dan Epp-Tiessen, Mennonite Church Canada, 2010.

Chapters/Themes of this five-week Season of Prayer package (for personal reading, small group study, prayer meetings, worship):

In the Face of Change: If we as Christians are rooted in our story, remain God-centered, sort out our loyalties, and live as a covenant people, then we can confidently face changing times.

Bless the LORD, O My Soul: One of the most important things we as a church do in any time and place is to offer our joyous and heartfelt praise to God.

Nurturing a Spirit of Resistance: As God’s people, we owe our primary allegiance to God. Therefore, in changing times we are called to nurture a discerning spirit of resistance to the world.

Living between Reality and Hope: Our calling is to live between acceptance of some of the painful realities of life, and the hope we have that with God new things are possible.

Nothing Can Separate Us . . . : No matter what crises we face either individually or collectively, the Bible assures us that there is nothing in all of creation that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Download this title free

from the MC Canada Resource Centre online catalogue here.

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Please contact the Resource Centre
or check our loan policy.

Loaned books are sent anywhere in Canada - free of charge - both ways!

We'll profile a new title at this blog every month

Sep 15, 2010


"Early morning" photo taken by Lois Siemens near Superb, Saskatchewan.

Sep 11, 2010

Schools & Peace Education

I recently wrote the following in response to a friend's question "What is it about the school that helps promote peace education efforts in your context?" I've been working with peace education in South Korea and now in Harrisonburg, Virginia while I attend Eastern Mennonite University (EMU). My response reflects my connections of my study and experience. Statistics show that most of the public school teachers in North America are women. What if women would start to pull some of these ideas into their work? How would that influence the educational systems in which children are shaped?

The peace education contexts that I’ve experience include alternative schools in Korea, a peacebuilding education organization, the Intensive English Program (IEP) at Eastern Mennonite University, public schools in a suburb of Seoul, and an English language institute in downtown Seoul. They are all very different schools, and very different contexts, however, they have several points in common.

One point of commonality is that they all have staff and faculty committed to the value of peacebuilding. Whether the commitment is for faith reasons or because people know clearly the cost of “not-peace,” each person in the organization has a personal interest and awareness of peace as a value and way of life.

Second, in all contexts teachers have a sense of ownership and belonging. There is both freedom to develop courses and classes from their own ideas, and also accountability to other educators in community. There is both flexibility and support for the educators.

Third, each of these contexts is a “learning community” in that the communities are willing, able, and eager to change and grow, and to learn more about education and peacebuilding. None of them has a sense of “we’ve arrived” or “we have the answer.” Instead they all continuously seek to provide better education and to be more peaceful.

Also, “Peace” is not just content in each of these contexts. Along with personal commitment, there is communal commitment to practicing what is taught – finding creative ways to deal with conflict that resolves issues and nurtures relationships, transforming conflict into opportunity. Perhaps there is a lower level of fear of conflict in these organizations? That may or may not be true, but something in the context suggests that these communities face conflict intentionally, knowing that it will provide opportunities for personal and communal learning.

A final point in common is abundant sharing that goes on among educators. In all cases there is either co-teaching, or at least a lot of honest dialogue about ideas in the classroom. Teachers are definitely NOT isolated.

The question that automatically arises for me, then, is how to get to this point? IEP and the public schools outside Seoul are two from this list that are transformed schools rather than new schools. It seems easier to start something new with a group of committed people, but it’s not impossible to change an existing educational organization. At IEP several recent changes from an organizational perspective, including a change in leadership, may have had something to do with it. In the suburb public schools there was an initiating point of change – a “window of opportunity” – plus a supporting organization and a small group of committed parents and teachers.

For peace education to work in schools, I think systemic change is needed, and this doesn’t happen all at once. It’s cultural, structural, and personal transformation. This is definitely not linear, but complex and multi-faceted. It takes ongoing commitment, vision, and “trial-and-error.”

Aug 19, 2010


In 2008 and 2009 I participated in a program called Serving and Learning Together, SALT, a one-year service and learning experience for young adults of the Mennonite Central Committee, MCC (; my blog from that time is available at Over the course of eleven months, I lived in Managua, Nicaragua, and volunteered at the Batahola Norte Cultural Centre ( Thanks to the program, I learned about Nicaraguan culture by living with a host family, attending a Nicaraguan church and interacting with my Nicaraguan coworkers.
After my year of service and learning ended, I began studying in Toronto and when my first year of a PhD program ended in May, I decided to see some friends I had in Argentina and Uruguay, and while I was there, see where my grandparents worked and where my mom was born in Paraguay, and since I was in the region, return to Nicaragua.
I did a little bit of everything. I saw impressive infrastructural developments, like the slaughterhouse and milk factory in the Menno colony in Paraguay and the Itaipú dam between Brazil and Paraguay and natural wonders, like the Iguazú Falls and the Quebrada de Humahuaca. Better still, in the Quebrada de Cafayate I went for a long bike ride where I felt like stopping to take pictures every few minutes. Most importantly I was able to meet interesting people, and in this way was able to see the beauty of my new surroundings because I was not convinced that my way was better.
By emphasizing relationship-building, especially in church-related contexts, I was able to better understand other people’s hopes, dreams and daily realities. At CEMTA, a Mennonite Conference School of Theology and Music, for example, I learned that all students everywhere procrastinate, and in Paraguay, drinking maté together makes it more fun. In Buenos Aires, the Floresta Mennonite Church invited me into its community, and I realized that all Mennonites are connected, both through faith, the Mennonite game and a commitment to peace and justice. As I return to life in Toronto, I hope to continue to seek out and develop these kinds of connections.

Aug 17, 2010

We're back ! ! !

Thought that it might be of interest, especially to the BC readers, that on July 1st, 2010, after an absence of 3 years, a NEW name and under the umbrella of Mennonite Church BC, MCBC Women's Ministry was welcomed back into full membership by Erna Neufeldt; president of Mennonite Women Canada.

We are looking forward to re-establish the good working relationship that was always present between Mennonite Women Canada and the women in BC.

Aug 16, 2010

A Mennonite Woman: Exploring Spiritual Life and Identity by Dawn Ruth Nelson, Cascadia Publishing House, 2010.

A Mennonite Woman, part narrative, part theology, part spiritual memoir, Dawn Ruth Nelson asks us to wake up to what is shaping us spiritually as contemporary Christians in North American culture. Discover why Mennonites have been drinking deeply from contemplative spiritual formation wells in the last 30 years. Experience the story of twentieth-century Mennonite agrarian spirituality through the lens of one woman’s life and one seminary.

Borrow this title from the MC Canada Resource Centre online catalogue here

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Please contact the Resource Centre
or check our loan policy.

Loaned books are sent anywhere in Canada - free of charge - both ways!

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Aug 12, 2010

Welcome Patty!

In May of this year Patty Ollies joined the Executive as the Coordinator of Women of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada.

Welcome Patty!

Photo by Ruth Jantzi

Welcome, Liz and Lois!

July 1 at our Annual Meeting we elected two women to leadership positions in Mennonite Women Canada. Liz Koop, Vineland, ON as President-elect and Lois Mierau, Langham, SK as Secretary-Treasurer.

WELCOME, Liz and Lois!

Left to right: Erna Neufeldt, Lois Mierau, Liz Koop
Photo by Waltrude Gortzen

Jun 16, 2010


3 cups chopped rhubarb (approx.)
1/2 cup sugar (could be more or less depending on the sweetness desired)
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup soft butter or margarine

Layer rhubarb with sugar and lemon juice into an 8” or 9” round or square pan.
Combine oats, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Add butter or margarine and mix until texture is like crumbs.
Sprinkle over rhubarb and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes, until slightly brown and some rhubarb juices rise to the top of the dessert.
Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

Most Grandmas that grew up on a Saskatchewan farm know all about the fruit called rhubarb. It was used for desserts such as pies, cakes, platz, etc. and every farm had rhubarb plants. Rhubarb needs more sugar in the recipes than most fruits because of its tartness. Actually rhubarb is one of the few perennial vegetables, however, we use it as a fruit.

This Rhubarb Crisp Dessert is a real favourite of my granddaughter’s, although it was never made by my Mother.

Elva Epp

Jun 11, 2010

Saving the Seasons: How to Can, Freeze, or Dry Almost Anything by Mary Clemens Meyer, Susanna Meyer, Herald Press, 2010.

You can’t get much closer to the source of your food than canning or preserving it yourself, and Saving the Seasons shows you how through clear instructions and step-by-step pictures. Loaded with helpful tips, charts and user-friendly recipes for beginners and experts alike, you will enjoy the season’s bounty all year long!

Borrow this title from the MC Canada Resource Centre online catalogue here

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or check our loan policy.

Loaned books are sent anywhere in Canada - free of charge - both ways!

We'll profile a new title at this blog every month

Jun 10, 2010

Rhubarb Juice

After the long winter one of the first perennial plants to show its head is the hardy rhubarb. The best time to pick rhubarb is early in the season before it forms its seed tufts.

One of the things I like to make is Rhubarb Juice. This recipe is quite tart and not too sweet. It works very well when used with ginger ale or when mixed into a punch with orange juice, lemon juice and ginger ale.

Rhubarb Juice
Wash and cut rhubarb, cover with water and boil until soft.
Strain through a colander and then through a fine sieve or bag.
Take 12 cups of juice add 1 cup sugar (scant) and 1 pkg raspberry jello. Mix well.
Bring to a boil and boil for 12 minutes. Pour into jars and seal.
Enjoy. This is my Mom’s recipe - our family liked the juice quite well.

Donna Driedger

Jun 9, 2010


If you decide to travel the province of Saskatchewan looking for old homesteads you can see rhubarb plants that identify many places where pioneers settled as early as 1900.

The settlers always defined their homestead with a border of poplar trees, lilacs, caraganas and an odd apple tree. Somewhere in the corner was usually a rhubarb plant. To this day, the buildings have all disappeared but the growth of trees and rhubarb are still intact and the homestead is thereby identified.

We wondered how pioneers transported the root of the plant from the homeland and how long plants like that last. The pioneers recognized that rhubarb had a diversity of uses and provided vitamins that helped family health.

4 Grandmas 4 U

Rhubarb Cake

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups rhubarb, chopped fine
2 cups flour
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Cream brown sugar and butter. Add eggs and vanilla. Alternately stir in flour, soda and buttermilk. When mixture is mixed, fold in chopped rhubarb. Add the topping. Bake in 9x13” pan for 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees.

This recipe was passed on to me by Anita Froese. A great coffee cake.

Marlene Froese

Rhubarb Platz

Base: Crumbs:
1/2 cup margarine 1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups flour 1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder 1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup half milk, half cream

Blend margarine, flour, baking powder and salt till crumbly. Add milk and cream mixture. Blend to make a soft, slightly sticky dough. Do not overmix as it will toughen dough.

Roll out on well floured board to fit 10x15” cookie sheet. Place fruit mixture of choice to cover base. Top with crumb mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until nicely browned.

Fruit: Rhubarb - 4 cups finely chopped rhubarb, 1 cup sugar and 1 1/2 tbsp tapioca or cornstarch.

Enjoy the platz delight.

Hedie Harder

Jun 1, 2010


The Women in Mission at Grace Mennonite Church, Steinbach, Man., have been putting together blankets for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) for many years. The local MCC Thrift Store and people from the church donate quilt tops, fabric for the backing and used sheets etc. for the filler. Peter Dick, a retired school teacher, has taken up sewing as his retirement project and he sews most of our blanket tops.
For the month of January, Mel Letkeman, our pastor, used James 2:14-17 as his theme for Sunday morning worship. When the earthquake struck in Haiti on January 12, he challenged the congregation to make blankets for Haiti. Schedules were set up and different groups came to the church and tied the blankets. The Junior and Senior youth groups, Sunday School classes, small groups and many individuals all came and got involved. There was usually food, much laughter and many sore fingers.
At the end of each evening, the completed blankets were carried up to the sanctuary and artfully arranged by Elsie Kroeker and Vi Kreutzer, forming a beautiful colourful backdrop on the podium at the front of the church. Within three weeks, about 100 different individuals helped to complete 110 blankets!
The blankets have been taken to MCC and we miss them. However, for those who helped complete this project, it is satisfying to know that these blankets are keeping many people warm and that we at Grace Mennonite had the opportunity to sew and laugh with each other.

Written by Irene Rempel
Photo by Elsie Kroeker

May 19, 2010


For the past 102 years the women of Erb Street Mennonite Church have met regularly to sew, cook, can, bake, make funeral sandwiches (the best in Waterloo Region !) bake pies; quilt for the Relief Sale, knot, patch, raise funds... and they are still meeting monthly and still completing many of those tasks.

You might ask: Why wasn’t the 100th year recognized? When you finish reading this, you’ll see why. The women were too busy quilting and knotting their way through those years! This year they managed to pause, and on Tuesday, April 20, Erb Street Mennonite Church women celebrated the beginning of the group whose name was the Waterloo Charity Circle. In Erb Street’s history book, titled Path of a People: Erb Street Mennonite Church 1851 - 2001, Karl Kessler devoted 11 pages to the then 93-year-old women’s organization, starting on page 67: “And Still Do More”: Women of Action. He wrote that “The church work of Ontario Mennonite women has a history of reaching back further than 1908, but that year does mark the beginning of organized women’s work in the officially recognized program of the church.”

For a few hours on that celebratory Tuesday afternoon, comforters were knotted, a quilt was stitched, and stories were told. “Great God the Giver of all good” was sung and – amid much chatter and laughter – a delicious comfort-food supper was enjoyed: scalloped potatoes with sausage, jellied salad, mixed vegetables, and angel food cake with lemon sauce for dessert.

Grace Schweitzer, president of the Erb Street WMCEC, hosted the evening’s program of readings and hymn singing, led by song-leader Ruth Jantzi, with some historical trivia added. Readers Jean Fretz, Elsie Shantz, Carolyn Morris and Lucille Weber gave glimpses of the women’s mission work, meetings; items sewn, embroidered, knotted and quilted; social committee meals cooked, relief sale pies baked. Mary Snider Martin, Lynn Jewitt Keller, Merlyn Snider Martin and Grace Martin Schweitzer sang “Somebody” from Junior Hymns, and “When we walk with the Lord” (“Trust and obey”).

Marion Roes

Go to for the rest of this article.

Photos by Marion Roes

May 5, 2010

Created Equal: Women and Men in the Image of God by Linda Gehman Peachey, Mennonite Central Committee, 2009.

This 36-page booklet provides a biblical understanding of equality between women and men. It responds to frequently asked questions such as how to understand creation, the fall and some of Paul's writings. It also includes questions for further reflection and discussion, and a list of additional resources.

Borrow this title from the MC Canada Resource Centre online catalogue here

Questions or suggestions?
Please contact the Resource Centre
or check our loan policy.

Loaned books are sent anywhere in Canada - free of charge - both ways!

We'll profile a new title at this blog every month

Apr 21, 2010


Restorative justice is an approach to justice where offenders are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions, "to repair the harm they've done” and build healthy relationships which leads to reintegration into a community. It moves the focus of seeing crime as one committed against the state to one in which the crime is harmful to individuals, families and community. Its goal is not one of punishment, but of restoration of relationship for the victim, the offender and the community.

As women and mothers, we can be models in restorative justice in how we love, care and teach our children, how we assist them to take responsibility, how we live the gospel of love for our families, the stranger, our enemies and ourselves. Jesus called us friends. He leveled relationships. He saw the value of each and every one of us. He asked us to love all. Restorative justice is based on these core values.

There are many opportunities to volunteer in the programs and services in which restorative practice is basic to the service. Mennonite Central Committee and faith groups often are looking for volunteers to become friends, to visit, to love and restore to community the alienated, forgotten or strangers. Often it is in these loving acts, the victim or the offender finds support to turn their life around. It is a most rewarding service. I am often humbled by the love shown to me by those who I often misjudge as having little to offer. As I love I am loved in return.

For more information you can search Restorative justice through one of the internet search sites, or contact Canadian Mennonite University or Mennonite Central Committee offices in your province.

To read the complete article go to

Florence Driedger
Regina, Saskatchewan
April 2010

Apr 16, 2010


Love is a way of life, not a rule. Its focus is on relationship – relationship to God, to others and to oneself. The question is “do I love God, the other or myself?” not “have I broken a rule or a law?” Paul suggests there is no law against love or the qualities growing out of love such as kindness, peace, joy, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22)

Living this life of love as Disciples of Christ is our calling as women, mothers, sisters, grandmothers and all who call ourselves Christians. It is this life of love which calls all to reject violence and evil in our lives, families, communities and society.

So the troublesome question arises when violence occurs in our lives, families and communities which also include our congregations. How do we respond to victims and those who use violence? What is the practical application of love in all spheres of our life?

There are many resources to draw on, whether you are a victim, a friend, or one who is dealing with violent tendencies in your own behavior. More will be said about this at the end of this article.

For the rest of this article by Florence Driedger, Regina, Saskatchewan please go to

Apr 7, 2010

Elisabeth of Berlin: When the World is on Fire, do you Follow your Friends, your Fuehrer, or your God? DVD, Vital Visions, 2008.

When Elisabeth Schmitz died in 1977, only seven persons attended her funeral. But this forgotten woman, a student of the greatest theologians and scholars of twentieth century Europe, was one of the only voices of resistance to the Nazis in the church.

This groundbreaking film was created especially for the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Nazi's "Night of Broken Glass," which many mark as the beginning of the Holocaust. After witnessing the violence of this program against Germany's Jews, Elisabeth Schmitz knew that life could no longer continue normally: her Christian faith compelled her to put her own life at risk in order to live on behalf of others.

Her most important writing was a twenty-four page memorandum that described, in detail, hardships endured by Jews across Germany. It was written to church leadership in order to urge them to take action. Because writing something like this was illegal in those days, she wrote it anonymously. Although it was well-known after the war was over, an archivist attributed it's authorship to someone else. Elisabeth Schmitz was forgotten until her handwritten draft was discovered in a dusty church basement in her hometown.

Home Use Only.

Borrow this title from the MC Canada Resource Centre online catalogue here.

Questions or suggestions?
Please contact the Resource Centre
or check our loan policy.

Loaned books are sent anywhere in Canada - free of charge - both ways!

We'll profile a new title at this blog every month

Apr 4, 2010



Apr 2, 2010

Celebrating Good Friday

The idea of ‘celebrating’ Good Friday seems a contradiction. On Good Friday, after all, we Christians remember the suffering of Jesus the Christ between the night of the Last Supper and his death by crucifixion. What is to celebrate?

Yet, the idea of celebrating is quite appropriate. One definition of ‘celebrate’ is ‘to honor especially by solemn ceremonies or by refraining from ordinary business.’ To celebrate Good Friday, then, is ‘to honor’ the suffering, the Passion, of Jesus on behalf of sinful humankind. His resurrection on Easter morning is the culmination of this Holy Week.

Oh love, how deep, how broad
(attributed to Thomas à Kempis, 15th c.)

Oh love, how deep, how broad, how high! It fills the heart with ecstasy,
that God, the Son of God, should take
our mortal form for mortals’ sake.

For us he was baptized and bore his holy fast, and hungered sore.
For us temptation sharp he knew,
For us the tempter overthrew.

For us he prayed, for us he taught, for us his daily works he wrought
By words and signs and actions thus
Still seeking not himself, but us.

For us to wicked hands betrayed, scourged, mocked, in purple robe arrayed
He bore the shameful cross and death,
For us at length gave up his breath.

Eternal glory to our God for love so deep, so high, so broad;
The Trinity whom we adore
For ever and forevermore.

Photo by Aldred Neufeldt

Mar 29, 2010

Stretch Your Budget With Soups from '4 Grandmas 4U'

Mother would call, “Come for dinner” and that meant the noon meal or we may have heard “Soups On”.

In the days of our mothers, soup made a great noon meal -- a big bowl of soup, hearty home made bread and probably fresh pie.

Soups were a wholesome meal of vegetables and meat. Some soups were made for medicinal purposes and some used the garden vegetables. Meat frequently came from soup bones, fresh or canned. This provided the family a full meal deal; heart-warming and wholesome.

We have some of our favourites -- easy, cheap and hearty.

Chicken Noodle Soup - a necessary medicinal
Use leftover chicken pieces or chicken breast. Cover meat with water, parsley root and 1 star aniseed. Boil until done, approximately 1 hour. Cut chicken breasts into serving pieces. Add soup base mix and water to taste, bring to a boil. Find homemade-like egg noodles and boil separately. Drain and rinse. Add to soup. Bring to almost boil. Add parsley greens, salt and pepper to taste.
Find the family, especially the sick.
Marlene Froese

Green Bean Soup
1 smoked ham bone (with meat). Farmer Sausage can also be used
Cover meat with water and boil. Add water to keep covered.
Add: 2 cups green beans
1 potatoe - diced
1 small onion - diced
salt and pepper to taste
spray of summer savory
Cook until vegetables are done. Remove savory and ham bone when done.
Donna Driedger

Vegetable Chowder
2 cups diced potatoe
2 cups cut cauliflower
1 cup chopped onion
3 cups water
1 Oxo beef or vegetable cube
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp oregano
1 - 28 oz can tomatoes

3 tbsp margarine
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp dry mustard
2 cups milk
salt and pepper
1 tbsp parsley
1/4 tsp basil

Boil vegetables until tender but still slightly firm. Add sauce to soup and heat until hot but do not boil. (It may curdle if boiled because of milk).
Hedie Harder

Beef Borscht

Beef soup bone with some meat, or stewing beef cut into small pieces
1 small head of cabbage - shredded
1 chopped onion
2 medium carrots- chopped
1 green pepper - chopped
5 medium potatoes - chopped
19 oz canned tomatoes - chopped
10 oz can tomato soup
Parsley roots or dried parsley
2 bay leaves
Dill to taste

Cover beef soup bones with cold salted water. Add chopped onion and bring to boil and simmer until the meat is cooked. The broth may be strained and the meat added to the soup.
Add vegetables and continue to simmer until cooked. Add tomatoes and tomato soup and spices.
Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer soup.

Serve with fresh brown bread, biscuits, or rollkuchen (fried dough) Enjoy!
Elva Epp

Hungarian Hamburger

1/2 pound ground beef, extra lean
1 onion, small, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, large, minced
4 cups hot water
2 cubes beef bouillon
24 ounces tomatoe juice
1 carrot, small, diced
1 cup potatoes, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup cabbage, shredded
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp basil, dried
1 tbsp paprika
3/4 cup pasta, uncooked, small size
1/2 cup sour cream

in a large saucepot, brown hamburger with onion and bell pepper. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes longer. Add water, tomatoe juice and all remaining ingredients (except pasta and sour cream) and cook until vegetables are tender, but not mushy, approximately 30 minutes. Add pasta during the last 5 to 10 minutes.
Yield: 8 servings
Marlene Froese

Most soups freeze well, so make a bigger pot and use at a later time.

Mar 26, 2010

Days of Celebration for Women, April/May 2010

Bolivian Mennonite Women – A Vision for the Future
Women of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada Enrichment Day
Saturday April 17, 2010
Leamington United Mennonite Church
78 Oak Street
Leamington, ON
Speaker: Liz Koop, St. Catherines, ON
Coffee and muffins at 10:00 am
Registration of $22 (includes lunch) to Florence Jantzi, 14 Nightingale Cres., Elmira, ON
Contact: Shirley Redekop at


Be Salt and Light to the World
Alberta Women in Mission Enrichment Days
April 30 – May 1, 2010
Lethbridge Mennonite Church
4303-3rd Avenue South
Lethbridge, Alberta
Speaker: Janet Plenert, Executive Secretary, Mennonite Church Canada Witness Council
Contact: Ev Buhr at or

Garbed in God’s Grace
Mennonite Church British Columbia Women’s Ministry
Saturday May 1, 2010
Emmanuel Mennonite Church
3471 Clearbrook Road
Clearbrook, BC
Speaker: Jeanette Hanson, Mennonite Church Canada Witness worker in China

Cost: $10. Registration at 1:00 pm, dinner at 5:15 pm
Contact: Waltrude Gortzen at

Mar 22, 2010

Capturing the Wonder

My son and I have gone for a drive to experience the morning’s winter wonderland. At our first stop the sun suddenly appears, turning the already beautiful scene into one of astonishing wonder that takes our breath away: trees robed in blinding white hoar frost; each blade of grass coated in purest rime, the sun turning each frozen droplet into a dazzling, colourful, prism. Diamonds of joy sparkle at our feet and all around us, purifying our spirits, refreshing our souls.

This moment must be shared. Somehow we have to capture this incredible beauty. Will my basic camera be up to the task? Perhaps not, but surely my son’s state of the art photo equipment will gather up these glorious, muticoloured, glinting rainbows. Sometimes his photos actually intensify the wonder of the original scene.

Not this time. The pictures are lovely; delicately rime-covered trees, bushes, and grass, backed by blue sky. But where are the sparkling, dancing colours? Where is the sensational aura and spiritual wonder?

I can only conclude that neither words nor pictures are adequate to express some things. They can only be captured by experience. Description falls flat – and may not even be believed without photographic proof.

Isn’t God’s love like that? It is easy to talk about, but must be experienced to be understood, even minimally. How could Jesus choose to resolutely walk to Jerusalem, when he knew with near certainty that death awaited him there? How could he allow himself to be nailed to the cross, when he had more than “ten thousand angels” at his command (Mt.26:53)? How can I explain to someone else what it feels like to be wrapped in God’s love?

There are no photos, and description won’t do it. My only hope of coming close to communicating this great gift is to practice it; to allow God’s love to flow through me in demonstrating caring to someone who is in pain; to someone who feels unloved; to someone who has hurt me.

Come with me to experience the awe of God’s creation. Come with me to know the wonder of God’s love.

Doreen Neufeld
Calgary, Alberta
Photo by Doreen Neufeld

Mar 10, 2010

Mennonite Women Canada Executive

Current members of Mennonite Women Canada executive are left to right Ruth Jantzi, Secretary Treasurer, Erna Neufeldt, President, Evelyn Buhr, President, Alberta Women in Mission, Ruby Harder, President, Saskatchewan Women in Mission, Shirley Redekop, Coordinator, Women of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada and Waltrude Gortzen, Women's Ministry Representative, Mennonite Church British Columbia.

Feb 25, 2010

Women's Resources for Loan

Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter
, Orbis Books, 2003.

From the world's best-loved spiritual writers (CS Lewis, Philip Yancey, Frederick Buechner, Madeline L'Engle, Dorothy Day, Kathleen Norris, Henri Nouwen, and more), an unparalleled gathering of reflections for Lent. Contains selections grouped around such themes as temptation, crucifixion, resurrection, and new life.

Borrow this title from the MC Canada Resource Centre online catalogue here.

Borrow other Lenten devotionals here.

Questions or suggestions?
Please contact the Resource Centre
or check our loan policy.

Loaned books are sent anywhere in Canada - free of charge - both ways!

We'll profile a new title at this blog every month

Feb 19, 2010

"Vigil for Bolivian Mennonite rape victimes - the least we could do"

On a personal level, when I first heard the news last summer about the horrific “gang rapes” of Bolivian Mennonite women and girls which had happened (and may still be happening) on Manitoba Colony, and others too, I was very disturbed by it and my heart went out to the victims, perhaps especially because I knew from personal experience within our extended family, that sexual abuse can have devastating long-term effects not only on the victims but on the family as a whole especially if there is denial from the perpetrator which there usually is.

Even so, despite the fact that this Colony bears our provincial name, indicating that there are "family roots/connections" with Mennonites here, it all seemed very far away and I didn't know the victims or perpetrators personally, so I didn't allow myself to get too emotionally involved with this until early October when I received a "plea" from long-time friend & former MCC co-worker, Abe Warkentin expressing his deep concern over the "deafening silence" in the Mennonite constituency re these horrific rapes which he felt were desperate cries for help.

His hope was that a women's group or several individuals would adopt this as their cause and somehow raise awareness, compassion and concern within Canadian Mennonite churches for these sisters and brothers of ours who are experiencing such trauma so that longer term programming related to these and other social problems which have plagued some of the colonies for quite a long time, would begin.

So, after agreeing that something needed to be done to break the silence surrounding this very painful and sensitive story, I contacted my friend, Dora Dueck, interim editor of the Mennonite Brethren Herald last year--who was also very concerned about this issue and was already planning to do an article on the theme based on Mennonite Brethren Faith & Life Network team reports.

After that, the three of us began brainstorming on how we could get the word out.

Among other things, Dora & I encouraged Abe to go ahead with his plans to meet with and discuss his (and our) concerns with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada leadership people, followed by his brief letter re this to Mennonite editors which appeared in most of the Mennonite periodicals.

By mid-December, in the midst of reading The Magnificat with its emphasis on God's love for the "lowly and hungry ones", we came to the understanding that the very least we could do was to organize a vigil to be held early in 2010, to pray for and express solidarity for the Bolivian women and girls and the whole community who are suffering so grievously.
And thankfully, the planning group (which now included several other volunteers) met on January 6 which "just happened" to be on the day of Epiphany, offering us that hope-filled lectionary text from Isaiah 60:1-5a as a sort of opening blessing:

"Arise, shine, your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you ... Lift up your eyes and look around: ... your sons shall come from afar and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses arms. Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice."

To conclude, the aim of the vigil, which happened on Sunday evening, February 7, was to show love and compassion for, and solidarity with, the abused Mennonite women and girls from Bolivia. It was an opportunity to pray for healing, justice and hope not only for them but also for women and girls everywhere, even in our own midst, who have suffered abuse, and/or are still experiencing it. My personal prayer is that somehow, this event will help to make the world a little safer and better for everyone, including my three young grand-daughters who are just beginning their life journeys.

$3000 was raised for a women's shelter being built by the Evangelical Free Church of Canada Mission in Bolivia.

Leona Dueck Penner
Winnipeg, Manitoba

To read more about this event go to or