Summer Timbrel :: Education + Miseducation :: You Are Not a Leader Until You Have Produced Another Leader Who Can Produce Another Leader

by Pamela Obonde

Pamela is a wife, mother and community worker who holds a BA in Public Adminstration and Psychology from Marathwada University, India. Pamela is a born again Christian with a passion for women’s and girls’ empowerment. She continues to exercise her passion and calling through a local NGO- Angolo Community Development Centre.  Her work has seen her traverse the vast countryside to reach and work with girls and women both in the remote rural villages and in the urban slums. Pamela is an active member of Family Celebration Church, a local Mennonite congregation which is pastored by her husband, Pastor Patrick Obonde.

I am the third born child of the nine children in my family, six girls and three boys. My mother, being a daughter to a church Pastor, appreciated the importance of education and she vowed her children would get an education despite all the odds that stood in her way. In my culture boys are more sought after to cement any marriage so it was “bad luck” for my mother who gave birth to six daughters in a row. She was ostracized; therefore she moved out of the home away from the ridicule and name-calling from my grandmother and other women in the village.God eventually blessed her with three sons. My parents who were peasant farmers struggled to send all their nine children to school. I was privileged to earn a college degree out of the sacrifice  and pulling together of the community of believers who saw my interest and dedication to learning.

I have been and still am a crusader of girl-child and women empowerment in my community, church and the country as a whole. I am a member of the Alliance of Children’s Rights in Kenya and the Right to Play caucus. I sit on these committees that give an advisory role to the Ministry of Education.

The typical day of a school-going orphaned girl-child in my village (who lives with her grandmother) starts at 4:00 am when the girl has to wake up and take care of the needs of the day like fetching water for her grandmother about 3 kilometers away, come and cook porridge (if there is flour), sweep the homestead and then off to school. Continue reading

Summer Timbrel :: Education + Miseducation :: The Problems of the Urban Poor Are Everybody’s Problems :: Ellie Roscher

This is an excerpt from Ellie Roscher’s forthcoming book Slowly by Slowly, Spring 2017, Viva Editions, which chronicles a girls school started by Abdul in Kibera, a slum in Kenya.

Ellie Roscher is the Director of Youth and Story Development at Bethlehem Lutheran Church Twin Cities. Author of How Coffee Saved My Life and forthcoming Slowly by Slowly, she is also an editor, blogger, speaker and teacher. Ellie earned her MA in Theology from Luther Seminary and her MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. She lives in Minneapolis with her spouse and son, and you can find more of her work at ellieroscher.com.

 

If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.

–African Proverb

When Asha’s father, Jaffar, was ten years old, his grandmother made him promise to name his first daughter after her. He lived up to his promise. Asha’s great-grandmother was a stern, independent woman who never had a husband. She didn’t give into societal pressure to marry, and instead raised her children and grandchildren on her own. Asha’s dad tells her she looks like her great-grandmother. “I even share some of her mannerisms and habits,” Asha said. “Like I caught her spirit. I am proud to be her namesake.”

Asha’s mother, Zubeda, was born in Uganda, the granddaughter of a parliament member. At age ten, she was forced to come to Kenya as a refugee during the Idi Amin era. Zubeda’s mother was very educated, but lost all her documents in the war and could not prove her status in Kenya. They lived in a tent provided by the UN in a refugee camp on the border of Uganda and Kenya for a few years where Khadijah taught her daughter Zubeda to plait hair and cook samosas to make money. Zubeda stopped going to school in the eighth grade. Khadijah opened a restaurant while her husband worked as a driver for the Saudi Arabian embassy. They sent Zubeda to Kibera to stay with relatives. There she met Jaffar and has stayed with him ever since. She never went back to school, but Asha remembers thinking her mother was very smart because she spoke English.

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Asha asked, “Why did you leave school in the eighth grade?”

Zubeda said, “I don’t like talking about my past. Maybe you will look down on me because I am not educated.”

The war was hard on Asha’s mother. Zubeda says the sounds of bombs and gunshots are still in her head thirty years later. Asha worries about her.

“The life she lived, I understand,” Asha said. “She didn’t go to school. She was so young when she married my dad and had me. I think I trapped her in a life she didn’t want.”

 

Asha’s family, like many families in Kibera, did not have a toilet. Continue reading

Summer Timbrel :: Education + Miseducation :: Former MW USA Board Member Regina Shands Stoltzfus Wins Spirit of Justice Award

This article originally appeared on the Goshen College news blog.

Regina Shands Stoltzfus, assistant professor of peace, justice and conflict studies at Goshen College, has been awarded the 2016 Spirit of Justice Award by the State of Indiana Civil Rights Commission (ICRC).

The Spirit of Justice Award is the ICRC’s highest honor. The award was created to recognize Hoosiers, who inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream, have devoted their personal and professional efforts to creating social justice in the State of Indiana.

Shands Stoltzfus will be honored at the 25th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Indiana Holiday Celebration on Thursday, Jan. 14, at the Indiana Statehouse, as well as at Goshen College during MLK Day celebrations on Monday, Jan. 18.

“I am grateful for the affirmation of work that I have long felt called to,” Shands Stoltzfus said. “I am even more grateful, however, for the many mentors and co-laborers I have in my friends, colleagues, family members and of course, my students. We are in this together – no one does it alone.”

Continue reading

Postcard & a Prayer :: June Email Newsletter

Enjoy June e-news from Mennonite Women USA!

Check out our new format to get all the latest information, reflections and images that cover all our national and international happenings from our Sister Care seminars to our upcoming Timbrel coverage. We also include a prayer to bless your day, excerpts from women in the greater church and content relevant to Mennonite women everywhere.

Sign-up today, stay connected each month!

MW USA June Email 2016

Love is a Verb: Got a Mantra?

 

This post originally appeared on the Mennonite Church USA website on June 13.

Marlene Bogard serves as executive director of Mennonite Women USA and lives in Salem, Oregon, where daily she takes her cute little doggie on walks over the bridge, beyond the rippling creek and past the tall trees. She is married to Mike, has two adult sons and one adorable grandson. She is a fan of strong coffee, warm conversations and happy people.

Got a mantra? I am always on the hunt. Seems like I need a phrase, a song, a scripture to tame my ever-wandering mind. I have embraced many mantras over the years. Funny thing is, the mantra itself continues to morph. It’s never static, always evolving – like my faith, like my discipleship, like my yearnings.

What good is a mantra? It is an anchor, a north star, a grounding of sorts. When I become overwhelmed with anxiety, frustration, grief or confusion, I need to find a home, a safe room, a cozy place near to the heart of God.

A definition of a personal mantra: Continue reading

Claire DeBerg Resigns from Mennonite Women USA

Claire DeBerg submitted her resignation to the Executive Director and Board Chair of Mennonite Women USA on March 21st. DeBerg has worked for Mennonite Women USA since 2012 starting with the title “Editor” and calling for a new job title of “Communications Manager” that would better describe the scope of the position.

During her time with Mennonite Women USA (MW USA) DeBerg led the design and launch of their new website, redesigned Timbrel magazine, led the redesign efforts for Mennonite Women USA branding from brochures and business cards to name tags and banners and launched and maintained the majority of their social media profiles: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

“We are grateful for the ease in which Claire utilized the social media avenues so the MW USA presence could be known in many more ways,” says Kathy Bilderback, MW USA board chair. “As part of our mission, we hear and share the stories of empowering women and Claire did an excellent job in allowing those stories to be seen and heard while always connecting to our resources. It has been such a gift for us to have Claire be part of our ministry and team.”

DeBerg has maintained the organization’s mission to focus on a platform of communications welcoming diverse voices in terms of country of origin, race, demographics and economics. She recently led the organization in opening their first online shop where sales of Sister Care materials, Bible Study Guides, t-shirts and more are available. In her quest to make Timbrel magazine available and accessible DeBerg helped launch the ability to purchase print subscriptions online.

“I am deeply grateful for having the honor of working with and for all Mennonite women these last 3 ½ years,” says DeBerg. “The work is guided by a profound mission and vision which will continue to inspire me even as I pass the torch.” Executive Director Marlene Bogard is leading the search committee to discover DeBerg’s replacement.

“Claire has a way of putting a bit of sparkle into her work,” says Bogard. “Her personality, faith, ideas and imagination have helped Mennonite Women USA be a bright spot in our denomination.”

DeBerg looks forward to expanding the freelance writing contracts she’s maintained for the last ten years as she recently opened her Minneapolis writing agency, Cicada.

“I love powerful communication and working for Mennonite Women USA gifted me numerous opportunities to move in the Anabaptist space equipped with purpose and grace—and that is priceless. Because of how I was nurtured and trusted in this organization, I feel empowered to bring that learning to enrich my work with my Cicada writers.”

DeBerg graduated with a BA in English from Bethel University in 2001 and earned a Master of Arts in English Creative Writing from University of Northern Iowa in 2005. She was a professor of English for three years before launching her commercial freelance writing business in 2007.

She is a member of Emmanuel Mennonite Church, Minneapolis, MN, is mother to Harold and Gloria and wife to Darren. She has completed her first novel and is working on her memoir. She blogs at clairedeberg.com

 

 

Postcard & a Prayer :: May Email Newsletter

Enjoy May e-news from Mennonite Women USA!

Check out our new format to get all the latest information, reflections and images that cover all our national and international happenings from our Sister Care seminars to our upcoming Timbrel coverage. We also include a prayer to bless your day, excerpts from women in the greater church and content relevant to Mennonite women everywhere.

Sign-up today, stay connected each month!

MW USA May Email 2016

Special Invitation to the “Empowering Women” event with Mennonite Women USA

Dear Mennonite woman,

Yes, that’s you! We are delighted to invite you to a special summer event designed to resource you!

Empowering Women: Money, Health and Faith is a resourcing event that will take place August 12-13, 2016 at Peace Mennonite Church in Aurora, Colorado, just east of Denver.

In previous years, this kind of event was called PREP (preparing, resourcing, encouraging, praising) and was held specifically for area-conference women leaders.

This year, this event is being opened up to all women, because, let’s be honest – who among us doesn’t need to be empowered with regards to our understanding of money and our personal health?

So… come…it’s for all women!

 

MW USA PREP 2016 poster 2016.05.17

Here are two documents you will want to open:

1. A colorful poster. Please print and post in your church.

2. An information and schedule sheet.

Please forward both of these documents to any women you think might be interested.

 

What will happen at this event?

  • Networking
  • Friend-making
  • Worship
  • Inspiration
  • Nurture
  • Eating
  • Education
  • Empowerment

Who are the presenters?

Rhoda Blough, of Denver and Teresa Boshart Yoder of Harrisonburg, VA. As staff of Everence, they bring passion, experience and tools for us to understand our relationship with money and our personal health. These professionals will provide handouts, books, journals and other resources.

Registration

This is easy! Just click here to register.

Space for 75 women will fill up fast. Spread the word, get registered by August 2 and read your information sheet.

Then…add your prayers to ours for a fantastic weekend.

-Marlene Bogard, MW USA Executive Director & Berni Kaufman, MWUSA Executive Assistant

Six Lessons Learned by Giving up Social Media

by: Emily Kauffman and Morgan Leavy

Morgan Leavy is in her freshman year at Hesston (Kan.) College, majoring in Psychology. She enjoys musical theater, photography, traveling and being with her friends. Emily Kauffman is currently a sophomore at Hesston, majoring in Communications and minoring in Bible. She has developed a passion for the church and a desire to explore how technology is affecting our society and relationships.

This article originally ran in the Hesston College Horizon.

Sherry Turkle, author of the book, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, writes, “This is our moment to acknowledge the unintended consequences of the technologies to which we are vulnerable, but also to respect the resilience that has always been ours. We have time to make corrections and remember who we are—creatures of history, of deep psychology, of complex relationships, of conversations, artless, risky and face to face.”

In a search to rid ourselves of, as Turkle puts it, the “unintended consequences” of social media, we decided to give up social media for Lent this year. We were in need of a break. A break from the constant mindless scrolling. While the past 40 days have been full of temptation and loss, we have learned so much about ourselves and the world around us.

Here are the big six:

#1 We became more aware of how social media affects our relationships.

On the first day of Lent, I sat down at lunch with some friends. Immediately, I recognized that the five or six people surrounding me were on their cell phones. Continue reading

The Cost of Distraction

by Jill Schmidt

Jill Schmidt is a member of Mountain States Mennonite Conference’s Dialogue Resource Team. She lives in Denver. This piece originally rain in MSMC’s Zing newsletter.

One of the biggest changes we face as people of faith is the society-wide impact of rapidly evolving technology and distractions.

This past month, I spent a weekend retreat with a group of First Mennonite of Denver youth. We intentionally relinquished our cellphones for 24 hours as we explored the meaning of Sabbath in our lives.

Through this process, I came upon a prayer in the 2010 winter edition of Seasoned with Peace, a daily meditation book compiled by Susan Mark Landis, Lisa J. Amstutz, and Cindy Snider. These lines from the January 5 prayer contributed by Don Clymer stand out to me in particular, “I confess that I too often plunge myself into busyness to distract myself from the pain of the losses I have experienced personally or from the brokenness of the world I see around me….Help me not to deviate from your paths because of the distractions around me.”

As I observed the responses of our youth varying from boredom and distress to relief and comfort, I found myself wondering how times have changed so quickly.

I am considered by many to still be a young adult and yet cell phones were not an active part of my life until my 20s and the internet was just catching speed in high school. And here we are, so dependent and connected to others and information at all times, and yet simultaneously Continue reading