Oct 31, 2017

2017 SGAF Recipient - Hyunhee Kim

Hyunhee Kim, this year's new Spiritual Growth Assistance Fund (SGAF) recipient was a guest at the MW Canada executive meeting on October 15.  She shared her story of escape and eventual return to a North Korean prison camp for 4 months as a teenager. After escaping a second time with her mother and brother, she met Mennonites through the Christian TV show host who was interviewing her. This TV host was a Mennonite, Hun Lee, who also led a group home for refugee youth from North Korea. He asked her to help him in running the group home. She noticed South Korea's churches were plagued by political issues and tensions and wondered, “Why are we blaming each other and fighting?” 

Hun Lee introduced her to the Mennonite story and focus on peace and reconciliation which she took into her heart. When she came to Canada she didn't have enough money to study, but couldn't get a work permit, so Hun Lee funded her studies. She began attending Charleswood Mennonite Church, where Hun Lee had served as Korean pastor in the 90s, before returning to Korea. She began a Peace Studies degree at University of Winnipeg's Menno Simons College and is continuing her studies at the Master's level at Canadian Mennonite University. 

HyunHee is studying with the hope of bringing the gospel of peace back to Korea, especially to North Korea, where children are indoctrinated as to who their enemies are from a very early age. She is most very grateful for our support and looks forward to connecting with us in the future.

We were deeply touched by HyunHee's story and wanted to share this with women in our areas so Kathy Giesbrecht will ask Darryl Neustaedter Barg of Mennonite Church Manitoba to create short videos featuring HyunHee and Marlene Wiebe, our other SGAF recipient, in the near future.

When Hyunhee received news of the grant, she wrote:

Hi Elsie,
Thank you so much for the great news! Oh my goodness! I do not know how to appreciate for such great support. Yes, I am willing to meet your executive whenever you arrange the date. I am so grateful for that. 
So many thanks for SGAF grant.

Note:  A more detailed version of Hyunhee's experience, written by Deborah Froese, called Piecing together her peace, is posted on the Mennonite Church Canada website at http://news.mennonitechurch.ca/piecing-together-her-peace.

Oct 30, 2017

2017 SGAF Recipient - Marlene Wiebe

Upon hearing the news that she would be receiving funds from our Spiritual Growth Assistance Fund for a second year, Marlene Wiebe from Gretna, MB wrote:  

"What very good news. I extend my sincere thanks to Canadian Women. I am very gratified and I am looking forward to one more year and then 6 more hours! You are making it easier and giving me encouragement. Thank you so very much."  

We had invited Marlene to come and share with us at our recent executive meeting but she was unable to attend.  Instead she sent the following report.

Meditations for Mennonite Women Canada 
By Marlene Kruger Wiebe 
October 15, 2017

Dear Women,

I am reading a book of my own personal choice called Aging as Spiritual Practice
 by Lewis Richmond. It has inspired the following musings. Also I am reading a fiction book called Flight Patterns by Karen White set in an apiary so I open with a quotation from this book that has to do with issues around aging.
 I wanted to share some stories as I go about my practicum at a Senior citizens’ complex so you can taste a little of my experience -- this amazing experience that you are helping to make possible. I cannot thank you enough for your generosity to me. I recognize that you are working for the growth of God’s community of peace as you support education for ministers. Your dedication is both inspiring and necessary. Thank you for everything that you do.


I dreamt - marvelous error!- 
that I had a beehive

Here inside my heart.

And the golden bees
Were making white combs 
And sweet honey

From my old failures.

Antonio Machado P.174 of Flight Patterns

1. Evanescence (to fade away or disappear)

“Letting go of what is already slipping away is how we actually enjoy our life.” Shunyu Suzuki

The faces in the memory care unit wing change over the years. After summer I returned to the unit to lead a devotional on caring more about others than yourself. Bill and Isaac were two new faces for me so I introduced myself, “I am Marlene.” As I was handing out the hymnals suddenly I heard Bill say from behind me, “Hey, Carol!” I knew he meant me so I turned around and faced him.

“Which hymn is it?” He asked, and then, with a sparkle in his eye, “Oh, and I hope you don’t mind me calling you Carol. I could not remember your name.”
We chuckled. His memory was disappearing yet he rolled with it, accepted it and had found a way to live with it. The moment was lightning quick, enjoyable and poignant. It was much more telling than the little talk I had cooked up.

I will be forever grateful to Bill who offered a light in the gathering darkness of memory loss with such grace and good nature.

2. Cherish

“The prayer is true because you are true.” Lewis Richmond p.123.

Whenever I walk into a person’s apartment, I am always set to be surprised. On one single tree, no two leaves are the same. In the same way, no two people are the same. Everyone is entirely unique. The day I met Ruth, as usual I started by asking about family.
“Oh, my daughter is a nurse and is so very smart at math,” she exclaimed.

From family we moved onto chatting about her plants.
“ I have 6 plants. The trick is to water them while counting 1-2-3-4-5.” She explained.
“ I see where your daughter gets her love of math,” I remarked.
“Oh, I am a dummy. I can’t remember stuff.”
“Forgetting stuff does not mean you are not smart,” I hastened to point out, hurting for her. The moment went by, irretrievable, as we went onto other topics.

Who is there to cherish Ruth? Obviously, God cherishes Ruth. Who is there to tell Ruth that God cherishes her? That would be me. I echo Ruth in my heart, “I am a dummy. Should have told her...” Who cherishes me? Who cherishes us all? God does, of course, through the healing ministry of Jesus who definitely does not look on us as dummies. Jesus heals failures with forgiveness.
Our truth is that we need God’s help. We are dependent on God’s mercy as cherished children who are lived and who love others. That is the truth of who we are, cherished by God, the source of life in all of its goodness.

3. Vertical Time
In horizontal time “everything changes; everything is in motion. In vertical time, however, everything is accessible; every possibility is restful and free.”
Lewis Richmond p.83

One particular visit made an impression on me. When I slowly opened the door because no one was answering my knock, I saw Annie asleep on the couch with the radio was blaring. I woke her up with trepidation, not knowing what else to do....
“Annie, do you need to sleep or would you like to visit?”

“Visit,” came her immediate and very loud reply.
 The visit started out with her not laughing at my humour and my laughing at her description of the “KorbDycks” and the “BorschtDycks.”  “It is not funny,” she cut my laughter short, “It was dumb.”
 To myself I thought that I had better pray and run away. 

The conversation continued to bump along until I drew it it to a close with a prayer.
“Why? Why do you have to go?” She asked. “Stay. I will make coffee.” She was struggling to her feet and positioning her walker. It had already been an hour, the suggested length of the pastoral visit. We were going into overtime.
“OK, I could use some coffee,” I said.

She offered me a tray of candy. Going to the frig she pulled out a huge glass jar of shiny gray fish with dead but beady eyes staring at me.
 “Don’t know how this got here but it’s going to be supper,” She cheerfully announced.
 I gulped.
 We sat and she began to share with me how her husband had struggled with mental illness, and how the church had been judgmental. In spite of her mom’s protests she had married him because she said, “who else would look after him?”

 Time, in its predictable march of past, present and future was becoming something else. It occurred to me that her priorities in life were not to get ahead, or the most, or be the best. Maybe she was an illustrating an experience of vertical time.

Richmond describes vertical time as breathing in and out, resting in place, not going back to the past nor moving forward to the future. “In vertical time, regret and worry do not disappear. But they are no longer the only possibilities...When we include vertical time - the timeless conviction of the present moment- we can find relief from the signposts on horizontal time’s highway” (79).

I think Annie had learned to focus on the present - candy, radio, companionship, longer visit, fish. She was alive in the present having lived through some very trying times. Annie embraced vertical time and found a way to meaning in life. The vast mystery of space, God’s transcendence, and God’s merciful love for each person can be experienced more fully where horizontal and vertical time meet. All around us are the many possibilities that God offers in life.


Oct 28, 2017

Women's Retreat sponsored by MCSask

Leaping Ahead from Shaky Ground

The following is an update from Mennonite Women Canada.  We do not have our 'CONNECTIONS' newsletter ready for printing yet, but decided to go ahead and post this article written by Shirley Redekop, our President, and Elsie Rempel, our Secretary-Treasurer.  It will also be part of our next 'CONNECTIONS' which we hope to publish in late November/early December.  


Waiting in the Toronto airport to fly to the Special Assembly in Winnipeg, I (Shirley) saw a poster on the wall saying, “when the ground beneath your feet is shifting, do you stand still or leap forward?” Since I was thinking about opening devotions for our Executive meeting, I felt a nudge from God saying this should be my focus.
Following the Assembly, Mennonite Women Canada Executive, plus several other women leaders met together to discuss what changes may happen for us. We chose Leaping Ahead from Shaky Ground as the theme for our next newsletter.
We were relieved the motion we presented resulted in a commitment from MC Canada to continue to keep us under their administrative umbrella and welcome our women’s meetings at future nationwide gatherings. Tany Warkentin has been our administrative financial support staff at MC Canada. Her position will end at the end of November and we will so miss her caring and helpful spirit over and above her financial help. We wait to hear how we will be supported in the new structure. Thanks Tany! God’s blessings!
Coreena Stewart (CAO for MC Canada) was a valuable support to MW Canada helping with Assembly planning for our meetings throughout the years. We took time to reminisce, share thanks, laughs, tears, and send her with a blessing for her new ventures. We happily accepted her willingness to volunteer for us in the future.
Waltrude Gortzen, a long-term executive rep for MCBC Women's Ministry, announced she will step down from her leadership role in the spring. What a significant gift she has been in so many ways! We will miss her in this role. Thankfully she agreed to continue on the Communications Committee, along with our past president, Liz Koop.
We were pleased to welcome June Miller from MC Alberta, who also agreed to be a part of the Communications Committee. Kate Janzen is the executive rep for MC Alberta.
Mel Harms continues as the rep for MC Sask. Kathy Giesbrecht, staff at MC Manitoba represented MW Manitoba, since they don’t have a president as yet.  Since WMCEC is also looking for a lead coordinator, Carmen Brubacher (program chair) joined us.
We are supporting two women through our Spiritual Growth Assistance Fund (SGAF). Hyunhee Kim, a North Korean Christian who escaped to South Korea and is now studying Peace Studies at CMU, shared some of her story with us and thanked us for the support. Marlene Wiebe is in Chaplaincy Studies at CMU and sent her thanks. Watch for their stories in video on our blog.
International Ministry Projects continue even through this time of flux at MC Canada, with changes expected regarding funding. Information sheets and/or videos about these workers will soon be available. Because of resettlement expenses we will continue our support of Christina and Darnell Barkman until FYE 2019. We will also continue supporting Tom and Christine Poovong during this transition.
We chose to add SouYoun Park/Bo Ki Kim in South Korea as our preferred possibility to support through our Pennies and Prayer Legacy Fund (PPLF) until FYE 2019.
We plan to continue producing the Women's Bible Study Guides although we need to adjust to new realities. Menno Media can no longer ship individual copies from Harrisonburg to our congregations, so we deliberated how best to do this in the future. CommonWord Bookstore in Winnipeg is willing to order, distribute, and provide a discount for us. Please direct your group and individual orders to Arlyn Friesen Epp, director of CommonWord  at afriesenepp@commonword.ca  This will be more reliable as structures and staffing at the denominational and regional level change. Carol Penner from Vineland, Ontario is the writer for the 2018 BSG: Every Day Worship.
Nationwide and the Regional Churches are working on a joint website. That site will have a page that brings us back to the Mennonite Women Canada Blog Any information from our current page on the Mennonite Church Canada website will be transferred to our blog. Anyone is welcome to write for our blog. Or if you've got other ideas, or have a story about your group, please share them on our Mennonite Women Canada FaceBook and blog pages.
Our income this year is down to about 80% of what we received in the first nine months of last year. Mennonite Women Canada's work will continue with relatively minor changes as our denomination restructures. As a matter of fact, we can be proactive in keeping International Witness workers serving joyfully by committing to support them through MW Canada and by lobbying our congregations to come on board as congregational partners. We continue to need your donations!
MW Canada is exploring new ways for women to connect and belong.  One of these ways is a Women to Women: Sharing Together Tour to Tanzania in August 2018. The participants will join with Tanzanian Mennonite Women leaders, learn more about Sister Care Seminars, building bridges between us. Shirley Redekop will be a tour leader. More information on the tour is on the Tourmagination website.
The next nationwide gathering of Mennonite Church Canada is planned for July of 2019; MW Canada is leaping forward to another wider gathering of Mennonite Women Canada there.
Please continue to pray for the painful changes at MC Canada and the staff that are affected; also for new beginnings for nationwide and regional churches and women’s groups as we trust in God to be beside us as we leap. 
May you find connection and belonging through MW Canada!

~ Shirley Redekop
~ Elsie Rempel
(For more information about the work of MW Canada please follow the coloured, highlighted links.)