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Young Voices

Pollution in the Heavenly Province

Vanessa Snyder-Penner recently spent a year in China’s Sichuan province. (Photo courtesy of V. Snyder-Penner)

Young Voices | By Vanessa Snyder-Penner | Today

The first thought that struck me when I arrived in China’s Sichuan province was how green it was.

Somehow, perhaps from tales of air pollution and reading “Made in China” stamped on most goods, I had formulated an image of China as a grey, smoke-filled country. This image might represent some parts of the country. China is so massive that images as diverse as coniferous forests, tropical beaches and wind-swept deserts are all accurate snapshots of certain parts of the nation.

A very special relationship

Mekiah Yonda, left, and Amber Muskego have been friends since 2010, when this photo was taken. (Photo courtesy of Mekiah Yonda)

 

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Today

A relationship between a Winnipeg church and a community in northern Manitoba has resulted in a special friendship between two young women.

Mekiah Yonda and Amber Muskego met when members from Yonda’s church, Sterling Mennonite Fellowship in Winnipeg, travelled to Cross Lake in 2010 to run a Vacation Bible School (VBS) program for children in the community. Today, the two describe each other as sisters.

Breaking the silence

While living in Cambodia, Jaymie Friesen, centre, coordinated a therapeutic photography course for women exiting the sex trade. (Photo courtesy of Jaymie Friesen)

Young Voices | By Rachel Bergen | Jul 18, 2017

For Jaymie Friesen, responding to abuse and preventing it in communities of faith is a personal calling. As the abuse response and prevention coordinator at Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Manitoba, Friesen supports churches and individuals, and works to raise awareness of abuse and trauma.

Prior to beginning her position with MCC, Friesen worked with survivors of abuse in Southeast Asia through an organization called Daughters of Cambodia, where she coordinated a therapeutic photography course for women exiting the sex trade.

The odd couple

Mike Wiebe, Raya Cornelsen, Rebecca Klassen-Wiebe and Lauren Harms visit with Erwin Cornelsen in his kitchen. (Photo of Jonas Cornelsen)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Jul 18, 2017 | 1 comment

When Jonas Cornelsen tells people he spent the last year living with, and caring for, his grandfather in Vancouver, they often praise him.

While Jonas appreciated his time with his grandfather, the praise makes him uncomfortable.

“The set-up sounds pretty [idyllic], like a good family movie,” says the 23-year-old, who returned to his home city of Winnipeg last month. “You know, the grandson spends time listening to his wise old grandfather, and they go to church together and do all these wholesome things. But internally I was struggling with anxiety and loneliness.” 

Walking for equality

Abby Heinrichs speaks at a rally in Ottawa, where the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights ended. (Photo by Kathy Moorhead Thiessen.)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Jun 28, 2017

This past spring, while her Grade 6 peers were in class writing spelling tests and working on their multiplication tables, Abby Heinrichs was doing something completely different: walking 600 kilometres in support of indigenous rights.

The 11-year-old Winnipegger was one of more than 50 people who participated in the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights, a journey co-organized by Mennonite Church Canada and Indigenous Solidarity of Christian Peacemaker Teams.

Cyber security underdog

David Dyck began programming computers when he was 12 years old. He is largely self taught. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Jun 28, 2017

Computer programming is a language foreign to most, but not to David Dyck. The 17-year-old Winnipegger is passionate about computers and knowing how they operate.

“I really like understanding how it all works and being able to make a computer do the things I want it to do,” says Dyck, who recently graduated from Westgate Mennonite Collegiate. “It’s always really satisfying to watch a program run . . . or find a bug and realize why something didn’t work.”

Before I go

Over the past 10 years as youth pastor at Douglas Mennonite Church in Winnipeg, Paul Loewen, front right, has led 500 youth events, 25 retreats and 25 multi-day service trips, including this 2015 retreat for Grade 12 students. (Photo courtesy of Paul Loewen)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Jun 14, 2017

Paul Loewen is wrapping up his time as youth pastor at Douglas Mennonite Church and he’s given the youth he currently works with a unique gift. He wrote and self-published a book entitled Before I Go: Nine Ideas You Should Know and presented each youth group member with a personal copy last month.

The book is based on the nine devotionals Loewen presented to both the junior and senior high youth groups at the Winnipeg church this past school year. It represents a “best of” the devotionals he has given since he started working at Douglas in 2008.

Called to be a part of the church

‘When the youth let you in, it’s such a gift to be there and walk with them,’ says Carrie Lehn, second from left.

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Jun 14, 2017

Whenever she tells her faith story, Carrie Lehn always mentions her paternal grandmother, who, she says, is a key example of gentleness and love. She always has other people on her radar, Lehn says, writing them letters or cards, bringing them dessert or giving them thoughtful gifts.

“She thinks about those little things that other people forget or don’t notice,” says Lehn, 28. “I want to be someone who is loving and finds a way to walk gently in this world the way she does.”

Breathing new life into the music

Raised the son of missionaries in Senegal, Darren Creech has aspired to be a classical pianist since he was 5. (Photo by Richard Rhyme)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | May 31, 2017 | 1 comment

When a Toronto-based LGBTQ orchestra approached queer classical pianist Darren Creech about performing Victor Davies’ “Mennonite Piano Concerto” with it in concert, it didn’t realize what a perfect fit he would be.

Unbeknownst to the Counterpoint Community Orchestra at the time, Creech is Mennonite and he grew up listening to the piece.

Lessons learned from the elderly

Working part time cleaning seniors’ homes sparked Danielle Raimbault’s interest in working with the elderly. (Photo courtesy of Danielle Raimbault)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | May 31, 2017

Danielle Raimbault’s first day of work as the chaplain at a residence for the elderly was a memorable one that quickly shattered her expectations.

When the 24-year-old arrived at Chartwell Elmira Long Term Care Residence in Elmira, Ont., a year ago, she sat down beside a resident and introduced herself.

“Did your mom give you permission to come here today?” the resident asked.

Learning to let go

Julia Klassen was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa when she was 14 years old. (Photo by Aaron Klassen)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | May 17, 2017

When she was admitted to hospital at the age of 14, it didn’t take long for doctors to diagnose Julia Klassen with anorexia nervosa. She displayed all the classic symptoms: a fear of gaining weight and a strong desire to be thin. She was malnourished, the result of restricting her eating for three months.

Students find relaxation through ‘puppy therapy’

Columbia student Victoria Rempel gets up close and personal with a mini-Schnauzer. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Jantzen)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | May 17, 2017

Students at Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford, B.C., have a unique opportunity to de-stress before exams: puppy therapy.

For the past two school years, the Student Counselling Centre has brought puppies to campus for one day at the end of each semester. Students sign up for a 15- to 20-minute slot so that they can play with the puppies.

Adventures in the Middle East

‘We really bonded as a group,’ Nathan Dueck says. ‘I’m so happy that I got to grow and maintain and create these friendships with my fellow students.’ (Photo by Alex Schonwetter)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | May 03, 2017

It was while she was in Bethlehem, spray painting a black heart onto the Israeli West Bank barrier, that the reality of the Israel-Palestine conflict truly began to sink in for high-school student Jaymi Fast. “I found it was easier to understand [the political situation] when I was there,” she says. “It was still confusing—there’s so much going on—but I could put places to names and I could get more out of it.”

Messages to the Class of 2017

Valedictorian Anika Reynar addresses the crowd during Canadian Mennonite University’s 2017 graduation ceremony last month at Immanuel Pentecostal Church in Winnipeg. (Photo by Paul Little)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | May 03, 2017

Canadian Mennonite spoke with the 2017 valedictorians from the three Canadian post-secondary institutions affiliated with Mennonite Church Canada, to find out who they are, what their undergraduate experience has been like, and what wisdom they hope to impart on their peers.

Jenna Song and Ryan Newman
Columbia Bible College

Abbotsford, B.C.

Walking forward changed

Brandi Friesen, second from left, stands with some of the people she travelled through Nigeria with as part of a World Council of Churches program called the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace. (Photo courtesy of Brandi Friesen)

Young Voices | By Brandi Friesen | Apr 19, 2017

For the last two years in February, I have been on a pilgrim journey to different regions of the world in need of peace and justice, and I will be doing the same for the next several years. This year, I made my way to the hot, complex and beautiful country of Nigeria.

With a little help from her friends

Originally from Hong Kong, Crystal Lau graduated from Rosthern (Sask.) Junior College in 2013. (Photo courtesy of Crystal Lau)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Apr 19, 2017

If it were not for the time she spent studying at Rosthern (Sask.) Junior College (RJC), Crystal Lau might not be making a difference on campus at the University of Saskatchewan (U. of S.) the way she is now.

Be not afraid

‘To a litany for survival & lisa’ by Laura Tait. In an artist statement, Tait said that this piece is a response to her relationship and experience with the poem, ‘A Litany for Survival’ by feminist and civil rights activist Audre Lorde.

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Apr 05, 2017

“Fear[full]: We shall [not] be consumed” was the theme at this year’s Mennofolk, an annual event that celebrates art and music made by people associated with the Mennonite community in southern Manitoba.

More than 30 artists submitted artwork to the event, held on March 25, 2017, at X-Cues, a café and lounge in Winnipeg’s West End. Local bands Rosebud and Darling Twig performed.

A personal pilgrimage

Topics like indigenous-settler relations and land rights issues became real for Erin Froese, middle, while working at Mennonite Church Manitoba’s Camp Koinonia. (Camps with Meaning photo)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Apr 05, 2017

For Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) student Erin Froese, taking a break from studying in the classroom has allowed her to pursue her interest in healing broken relationships between indigenous and settler peoples.

Step back in history

Brubacher House was built in 1850 in a style typical of Pennsylvania German architecture. (Photo by Jennifer Konkle)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Mar 22, 2017 | 2 comments

Joshua Enns goes through less than two kilograms of flour each week baking bread for himself and his wife Laura. By comparison, the original inhabitants of the house they live in went through 45 kilos.

Playing for fun and credit

Anna Lysack has played the violin for 15 years. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Mar 22, 2017

Legendary rock ‘n’ roll drummers Keith Moon and Neil Peart inspired Matt Schellenberg to get into percussion, but it’s Bach and Beethoven that he will be playing when he performs next month.

Schellenberg is one of a handful of young adults who are members of the Mennonite Community Orchestra (MCO) in Winnipeg. The MCO is the orchestra-in-residence at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) and consists of more than 50 professional and amateur musicians; it will perform its annual spring concert on April 9, 2017, in the chapel at CMU.

Field of dreams

Kalynn Spain's  interest in agriculture led her to visit 130 small farms throughout Manitoba. (Photo courtesy of Kalynn Spain)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Mar 08, 2017

What are the risks and rewards for people who choose a life on the farm? Young Voices spoke with three young Canadian Mennonites who work in agriculture to find out.

Jedidiah Morton, 23
Didsbury, Alta.

Jedidiah Morton isn’t the first person in his family to work in the dairy industry. His great-grandfather, Abram Lowen, settled in the Beaverlodge area in northern Alberta in the late 1920s and shipped cream.

“I guess you could say I’m bringing dairy back to my family,” Morton says.

Finding belonging

Katrina Woelk is looking for a new church home in Winnipeg. (Photo courtesy of Katrine Woelk)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Mar 08, 2017

Finding a new church to belong to can be difficult. Just ask Katrina Woelk.

Woelk grew up at Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Winkler, Man., but now lives in Winnipeg, where she is studying social work at the University of Manitoba. After four years of commuting home for weekends, the 22-year-old is ready to deepen her roots in Winnipeg, and that includes finding a church home in the city.

‘I eat your garbage’

This meal brought to you by dumpster diving. (Photo courtesy of Nathaniel De Avila)

Young Voices | By Nathaniel De Avila | Feb 22, 2017 | 1 comment

I am a thief. I steal our food system’s waste.

Let’s be clear. Grocery stores throw edible food into their dumpsters. I go to those dumpsters and jump in. I dig through boxes and bags, and salvage everything I can find. I take it to my house and painstakingly sort through it. I cut and clean vegetables and fruit. I repackage damaged and open packages of dry goods. I rinse and re-label canned goods. I dry herbs and peppers. I freeze bread, meat, cheese, vegetables, fruit and almost everything else.

Passion for reconciliation leads to recognition

Allison Goerzen has worked for Mennonite Central Committee Alberta for the past year-and-a-half. (Photo courtesy of Allison Goerzen)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Feb 22, 2017

An organization that works toward ending poverty and achieving a better world has recognized a young Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Alberta employee for the reconciliation work she does with indigenous peoples.

The Alberta Council for Global Cooperation named Allison Goerzen to its annual Top 30 Under 30 list of young people who are creating a more just and sustainable world. The 2017 list was announced at the beginning of February in a special magazine the Council published.

Bringing courage and hope to Burundi

Jackson Nahayo started a clinic in the East African country of Burundi that helps thousands of people. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Feb 08, 2017

Jackson Nahayo knows a thing or two about turning tragedy into triumph.

Left for dead as a child in the jungles of his native Burundi by the rebel soldiers who kidnapped him, he eventually made his way to Canada. After receiving his education, he returned to the East African country from which he hails to start a community hospital.

“When I came back [to Burundi] . . . I asked myself, ‘How can I help with issues like malaria? How can I bring courage and hope?’ Because no one was doing anything,” he says.

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