May 31, 2014

Nathan and Taryn Dirks

Nathan and Taryn are Mennonite Church Canada workers in Gabarone, Botswana. One aspect of their ministry focuses on the local church youth and their involvement in a prison visitation ministry.  Earlier this spring Nathan shared a story called Captive Free.  It is a creative non-fiction perspective of an encounter with one inmate.  

It begins:  "He walked toward us with a steady gait. Confident. Calm. Content. But certainly not carefree. How could he be? His sun-faded orange jumpsuit stood out sharply against the stark backdrop of white prison walls. Prison yard commotion broiled in the cordoned off background where a football match flowed across a dusty, compressed pitch, the thump of the ball punctuated by shouts from the men. Nervous inmates paced along the inner fence as an eclectic mixture of rhythmic dance music and melodic traditional tunes drifted over the wall from the military housing surrounding the prison."  

Click here to read the whole story.  

We support Nathan and Taryn's ministry through our Pennies and Prayer Legacy Fund.

May 30, 2014

Tom and Christine Poovong

Tom and Christine are current recipients of our International Ministries Project.  A while back Dan Dyck, Mennonite Church Canada's Director of Communications shared some background information about Tom and Christine in an article called "A matriarch, a passion, and the gospel".  Click here to read how Tom's passion for the gospel developed and how he and Christine are answering God's call to ministry in Khon Kaen, Thailand.  

May 29, 2014

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 (May 2014) 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. 
They write:

Hello dear friends,
I've attached our latest newsletter with an update on the Earthbag housing project in a Typhoon Haiyan affected area and also some stories of Peace Church members. Have a look!

We are flying home in less than month for a visit and really look forward to seeing many of you! Here are some dates to highlight....
- Sunday June 29 - speaking at Eden Mennonite Church in Chilliwack
- July 2-6 - attending Mennonite Church Canada Assembly in Winnipeg
- Sunday July 13 - speaking at Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford
- Sunday July 20 - speaking at Peace Mennonite Church in Richmond

Blessings to all of you!!
Christina and Darnell

PS - Here's our blog link with more info on summer plans and also baby plans :)  and check out our Peace Church website at

May 28, 2014

WMCEC Ottawa Bus Tour, May 2 - 4

What a wonderful weekend in Ottawa!  Dorothy Hamm, Program Coordinator for WMCEC and her committee organized a busy weekend for two busloads of women from the Niagara, Toronto and Kitchener/Waterloo areas on May 2-4.   The original intent was to also take in the lovely Tulip Festival, but due to the long winter we were too early to see many tulips blooming.  However we did see lovely ones in a shop window!

Together with the women from the Ottawa Mennonite churches we fellowshipped over meals and listened to each other’s faith stories focussing on how we nurture each other on our life’s journey.   In an email thank-you note to the Ottawa Mennonite Church ladies, Dorothy states, “… we want to thank you for opening your hearts to us last weekend and for giving us a most memorable and wonderful time! We, who were able to attend via the bus trip, enjoyed our time with you and loved the programming and the participation. The people were welcoming, the food was delicious and the atmosphere was warm and friendly! We felt that God was among us, and blessing us as we nurtured each other’s garden of gifts.  We really didn’t even miss the tulips. Instead, we have discovered new relationships that will bloom as we continue our fellowship together.” 

Linda writes:  "With two amazing events thus far in 2014, I can hardly wait for the next WMCEC exciting activity!  As my cousin Terri commented, “Women know how to network with soul!”  So true!  Please watch for postings at your local church for our next happening."  

From notes submitted by Linda Wiens, WMCEC Communicator

May 8, 2014

WMCEC Spring Enrichment Day - April 12, 2014

The women of Women of Mennonite Church of Eastern Canada gathered together for their Spring Enrichment Day at the St. Catharines United Mennonite Church on Saturday, April 12.  For the more than 225 registered ladies the day offered something for everyone, from the practical to the spiritual.  The theme of the day was FAITH, FOOD, AND FRIENDSHIP with the featured guest being Bev Klassen from British Columbia, one of the 10 authors of “Mennonite Girls Can Cook” and “Celebrations” their second cookbook.

The church was decorated with over 100 aprons and 5 quilts.  In the welcoming words by Dorothy Hamm, we were encouraged that it was our responsibility to teach and to live hospitality.  Dorothy, chair of the Program Committee and Linda Wiens, Communicator, led us at various times during the program of the day.  

Bev Klassen stepped up to her table and had her audience sitting forward in rapt attention as she demonstrated how you can use a simple biscuit recipe to make a variety of delicious things to eat.  Two separate pans of different biscuits were sent off to the kitchen to bake and these were given out later in single packages to ladies whose names were drawn from a box and to their delight.

Kathryn Good, one of our outgoing Co-Coordinators chaired the beginning of the business session. Our Mennonite Women Canada president, Liz Koop, brought greetings and updated us on projects of MWC.  Our WMCEC treasurer, Lisa Blackburn presented the financial statements and the ladies approved a 2014 budget of $32,000.  Our other outgoing Co-Coordinator, Florence Jantzi shared a few comments on her time of service with WMCEC.  Both Kathryn and Florence were presented with a piece of pottery and a rose - symbolizing how pottery as well as our lives are shaped; the rose reminds us of the love we have for each other and of the fragrance of  Christ.  We were also told of the passing of Rita Bauman who was one of the founding group of WMCEC.

Lunch was a “typical Mennonite meal” of borscht and bread with baking for dessert prepared by the ladies of the host church and enjoyed by all along with the fellowship at the tables.

Members of the outgoing and incoming Executive and committees.
Our afternoon session was opened by Phyllis Ramer, the incoming Coordinator of WMCEC.  Marie Assad of the Personnel Committee introduced the ladies of the outgoing and incoming Executive and committees.  Phyllis Ramer shared some of her thoughts about taking on her position and left us with a challenge.  We are to ask God to place one woman into our heart: someone that we could  pray for, or be a mentor to, or just to be there and listen to.  She further encouraged us to pray using the paraphrase of the parable of the Loaves and Fishes – look what Jesus had  in His hand and what do we hold in our hand that we should use for Him.

Bev Klassen then shared some of her life story and also told of the beginnings of the cookbook journey for the 10 authors of these books.  She further told that the royalties of the sales of the books go to two projects her fellow authors have chosen:  a greenhouse at the Good Shepherd Shelter in the Ukraine and for clean drinking water for school children in the WASH Program in Kenya.  The cookbook ladies also have classes where the proceeds go to Matthew’s House in Abbotsford, where handicapped children can come for respite care.  (CLICK HERE to go to their website)

A story by Helen Funk, Vineland, told of her mother’s laundry day in the 1930’s in Manitoba in the winter time.

Making the day extra special were our two musical guests:  Diana Lantin and Shelley Magnus.  Their music was a blessing to us all and gave a sermon of its own.

We were invited to next year’s Enrichment Day on April 18, 2015 at  Listowel Mennonite Church.  

Also coming up will be a retreat to introduce women to a new program called “Sister Care” which Mennonite Women USA has developed and presented across the US and overseas.  
After a prayer and benediction, the ladies left with chatter and fond farewells – a day that we felt blessed in so many ways.

--submitted by Anne Hubert, St. Catharines United Mennonite Church

Interviews from CONNECTIONS

As published in our latest newsletter, we have posted the full length interviews of our feature article Women Ministering in Church Music on our web page.  Please CLICK HERE to go to our Stories/Profiles/Interviews page.  Scroll down to the heading Interviews from Connections and click on the article to read it.

If you missed the newsletter you can get to it by clicking on "CONNECTIONS".