Dec 24, 2013

Christmas Greetings!

May the love, that came that Christmas night,
light all your days with hope and joy!

Dec 23, 2013

Barkman's latest newsletter

Darnell and Christina Barkman along with their children Cody and Makai are Mennonite Church Canada Witness workers in the Philippines. They are current recipients of our Pennies and Prayer Legacy Fund.  Their latest newsletter was recently posted on our web page under Stories/Interviews/Profiles.  They also have a BLOG where you can read more about their life as a family, their joys and their challenges.   

Dec 19, 2013

One more Christmas Idea!

This past week I was on Facebook and saw this post by Velma Harder, from Grace Mennonite Church in Prince Albert, SK.  Velma and I are Grandma and Oma (respectively) to two wonderful boys - Nicholas and Andreas - who live in Winnipeg.  When I read her post I was challenged and decided to include it here as well as share it on my Facebook page. It's just one more Christmas idea and a wonderful way to share the gift that was given on that first Christmas Day so many years ago.

Velma wrote: 
Several weeks ago we gave our family an advance on their Christmas present.  We gave each of them (children and adults) $20 but there were strings attached.  They were told they were not to spend any of that on themselves but to think of creative ways in which they could brighten someone else’s day.  When we are together over New Years we will all talk about how we spent our $20.  I gave my $20 to contribute to food hampers for the less fortunate.  I shared this in our church and asked people to consider matching my $20.  The resulting contribution was astounding.  So, now I will go a step further and ask you to match my $20 by donating to your local food bank, community school, church or other charity of your choice.  Thank you so much and I wish all of you a wonderful Christmas. 

Dec 16, 2013

More Christmas Ideas

Still looking for that special book for under the Christmas tree?
Not much time left!!!!

 Check out these titles on the MennoMedia website.   

Bonnet Strings:  An Amish Woman's Ties to Two Worlds, by Saloma Miller Furlong, offers a universal story of overcoming adversity and a rare look inside an Amish community.  Readers of Amish fiction and viewers of the PBS documentaries such as The Amish and The Amish:  Shunned will find in it a true story of woundedness and healing, of doubt and faith and of the often competing desires for freedom and belonging.  Click here to read more and to place your order.

Mennonite Girls Can Cook - Celebrations

The bestselling authors of Mennonite Girls Can Cook return with a second course in their new Celebrations cookbook.  From mouthwatering mini-muffins and succulent souffle to campers' stew and lattice-topped grilled apples, the Mennonite Girls share recipes to honour all of life. Filled from cover to cover with devotional reflections, personal stories, and beautiful photos, this book contains much more than recipes -  it will soon become your kitchen companion for life's celebrations. Click here to read more and to place your order.

Sacred Pauses
In a fast-paced world full of distractions, spiritual practice can help us become more centred -- more in touch with ourselves and other, more in touch with the world around us, more in touch with God.  Sacred Pauses is an introduction to this more centred way of life. Click here  to read more and to place your order.

Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry
Edited by Steve Heinrichs.  How can North Americans come to terms with the lamentable clash between indigenous and settler cultures, faiths, and attitudes toward creation?  Click here  to read more and to place your order.

Blush:  A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World
This memoir evokes a lost time in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, when a sheltered little girl with big dreams entered a family and church caught up in the midst of the cultural changes of the 1950's and 60's.  With gentle humour and clear-eyed affection the author, Shirley Hershey Showalter, who grew up to become a college president, tells the story of her first encounters with the "glittering world" and her desire for "fancy" forbidden things she could see but not touch. Click here  to read more and to place your order.

Nov 30, 2013

Community chaplaincy with women – ARISE

At the recent MCC Ontario fall meeting held in Kitchener ON, I attended a workshop called ARISE.  The description of the workshop was as follows:  "Join us for an interactive forum, including a performance of "Our Story", a play that features women from all walks of life and their experiences."  About 20 women attended the workshop.

"Our Story" is a dramatic presentation by Community Chaplain, Shauna Mayer, and her group of volunteers.  It was followed by a question and answer session. ARISE provides a supportive community for women who have experienced abuse, addiction or imprisonment in the Hamilton, Toronto and Kitchener area. With short skits, music and visual props we heard about the issues affecting marginalized women.  Bricks representing chaos, control, hatred, abuse, fear, trauma, pain, lies, despair, scars and doubt were stacked up representing a barrier. As transformation occurs within the lives of the women, the barriers are broken down and the bricks, now representing peace, freedom, kindness, respect, love, healing, forgiveness, truth, hope, beauty and trust are placed in a circle representing community. 

ARISE offers weekly support groups, one to one mentoring, retreats, practical support and creative arts workshops.  

ARISE is currently without a place to call home and the volunteers from the Toronto, Kitchener and Hamilton areas travel to meet with groups of women in various locations.  They are hoping to find a central location through which they can continue their ministry.  In the past 5 years the number of clients they work with has doubled.  Currently a fundraiser is being planned for April 2014 - a Toronto Art Exhibit which will feature photographic art taken by the women in the ARISE community.  All funds will go to continuing supportive programs for women.

Sharing seesion with the 7 women from ARISE
If you are interesting in booking a performance of "Our Story" for your congregation or school please contact Shauna Mayer at 416-540-5064.

More information and links can be found on the MCC Ontario Website.

Nov 26, 2013

Peace by Piece

Finally, the full picture report from the 
2013 MCBC Women's Ministry Fall Retreat 
is ready for you to inspect!  
Just click on the link right HERE! 

Thought that a Fall picture would be appropriate! 

Nov 21, 2013

Niagara Cluster Event

On Saturday, October 5, 100 women of all ages attended an afternoon tea at Grace Mennonite Church on Niagara Street in St. Catharines, ON.  The ladies of the church did a fantastic job with the decorations and goodies.  The d├ęcor featured flowers from the garden displayed in mason jars, on tables covered with Ten Thousand Villages tablecloths.  They even served Fair Trade Coffee from TTV!  Thank you so much for hosting our WMCEC’s Fall Cluster Event this year.  Our speaker was Julie Stobbe from “Mind Over Clutter” who presented the interesting concept of simplifying our lives by de-cluttering our living space.  Julie, a member at The First Mennonite Church in Vineland, began her professional organizing business in 2006.   She is a trained Professional Organizer through Professional Organizers in Canada. She also has two university degrees and is the mother of three adult children! An offering for projects sponsored by MW Canada and WMCEC was received with gratitude.  Needless to say, we all had a great time.  

 Fellowship around the table with Liz Koop and Elaine Reimer (forefront).

Submitted by Linda Wiens, St. Catharines UM Church

Nov 18, 2013


This report/interview is LONG overdue and I apologize. 
With the business of summer followed by the final preparations for our annual retreat weekend, I must confess that I forgot to post the full interview here on our blog.
So... to all of you who read the Mennonite Women Canada "Connections" and came here looking for the whole story .... the reason you didn't find it should now be obvious! 

But.... now it's here and I feel much better!

Hope you will enjoy this post and be inspired to participate in your local area Women's Retreat Weekend in the future! God Bless! 
Interview with the women of
Western Hmong Mennonite Church
Sunday, July 21, 2013 at their meeting place – 5:00pm
Hammond United Church
11391 Dartford Street,
Maple Ridge, V2X 1V6

Present: Cheryl Dyck, Rita Siebert and Waltrude Gortzen for MCBC Women’s Ministry

And joining us from the Western Hmong Mennonite Church were:
Left to right:
Back row: Kay Moua (Assistant Women’s group leader and our translator), 
Seng Yang (Pastor’s wife), Song ThaoLee Yang (Leader of Women’s group) Chia Cha
Front row: Song Thao (Elder’s wife) Mee Lee (Pastor’s mom) 
Mee Thao (Mee Lee’s good friend from Portland, Oregon) 
See Her (Visiting friend from Alaska) Yer Vang

Rita, Cheryl & I had been eagerly anticipating our upcoming visit with our dear Hmong Sisters and in preparation for our visit we sent them some questions to consider and talk about.

During our drive out to Maple Ridge, BC, the 3 of us were wondering how this visit would proceed. How many women could we expect? Would we intimidate them? Would we be able to communicate?
Well... once we arrived it only took a few minutes and we wondered no longer!
We were greeted with hugs, laughter, chatter and smiles!
Introductions were made all around and we were invited to come in and help ourselves to some refreshments and then Seng opened our time together with a prayer in her native Hmong language. 

They were eager to talk and we were eager to listen and learn.

They had obviously talked about the questions we had sent them and were open and willing to share.

Below are their answers to a few of our questions - with ‘minimal’ editing!
1. When did your people come to Canada and why?
In 1980, the Hmong people came to Canada because of the Vietnam War. In Canada we live mostly in Ontario and BC.

2. Our home country and our native language:
We came from Laos and our native language is Hmong.

3. How did you learn about Mennonite faith?
We learned about the Mennonite faith from the Mennonite church that had sponsored the First Hmong Mennonite Church community that lives in Ontario.

4. Are there Mennonite Christians in your home country?
In our country there are no Mennonite Christians.

5. Were you allowed to worship freely?
            Before the Vietnam War we were free to worship, but after we were not.

6. What is the size, age range and makeup of your group of women and what are some of your activities as a group?
         In the Western Hmong Mennonite Church, we have 14 women. 
            We have meetings or gatherings 4  times a year, and women’s group is any ages. 
            Our Church meets every Tuesday night @ 7:00pm for Bible Studies and every
            Saturday evening we have song and band practice to prepare for Sunday service.

7. What encourages you to keep participating in MCBC's Women's Ministry?
To encourage our women's group to participate within MCBC grows our faith; gives us more experience of praying to God. Also get to know MCBC women better through fellowship.

8. What advice do you have for us as a committee to better connect with our Ethnic sisters?
Make more connections and keep in touch through events and non-events.
Obviously, we talked about much more than just the questions we had sent them and I've since learned that these wonderful Christian Sisters are so committed to attending the annual Fall Women`s Retreat that they go and pick blueberries during the summer in order to raise funds to help pay for their retreat participation. 
In the hot summer sun, a group of 19, including husbands, picked over 1600 pounds of blueberries – about 64 buckets full and they raised $800.00. 

In the blueberry fields: Seng Yang & Kay Moua

Other topics we talked about... now that they live in Canada.... do they still adhere to their ethnic traditions when it comes to weddings and other life events? They told us that the more ‘Canadian’ young people prefer to be more modern. Frequently, the traditional Hmong Celebration is followed by a Western style celebration.

Nowadays, mostly Western style but on special occasions like our 2012 Fall Women’s Retreat – the finery was out on display. 
Left to right: Kay Moua, Kia Xiong and Seng Yang.

A combination of East and West

These ladies are looking to get involved! Their hope is to participate at this year’s BC MCC Festival September 6 and 7 by providing the masses with their delectable spring-rolls that they treated us with at the 2013 Spring Inspirational Day.
When the women were done, no spring-rolls were left!   

FYI - We are happy to inform you that they did actually participate in the Food Fair at the MCC Festival and their spring-rolls were a huge success! 
One last group picture before going home!
It was a most enjoyable visit!
Thank you, ladies, for spending your time with us!

Written by Waltrude Gortzen
MCBC Women`s Ministry Rep.