Sister Care Enrichment for Latin American Leaders

Portions of this article were originally printed in the February 13 issue of Mennonite World Review

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We sat around the dinner table at a YMCA retreat center near Buenos Aires: 12 women from nine different countries. We asked how the Sister Care seminar has been shared with others in their countries of Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Chile, Mexico, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Paraguay — and how this material has impacted their lives.

From the United States, Carolyn Heggen, a psychotherapist specializing in trauma healing and a Sister Care co-presenter, asked questions in Spanish, while Linda Shelly, Mennonite Mission Network Latin American director, translated them into English as I typed the conversation. What we heard amazed us: In the last three years these nine women have worked with others to share Sister Care with more than 2,300 others.

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Sister Care goes to Guatemala

Sister Care co-presenters Carolyn Heggen and Rhoda Keener were in Guatemala October 18-21, to lead an advanced Sister Care training. A version of these reflections from Carolyn Heggen first appeared in the Albany Mennonite Church newsletter.

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What excitement there was last month as 34 women leaders from the eight Central American countries (Nicaragua, Honduras, Belize, Panama, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Mexico and Guatemala) as well as Cuba and Puerto Rico gathered on at Semilla, an Anabaptist seminary in Guatemala City.

The participants arrived by airplane, by public bus and in the back of pickup trucks. The indigenous women from Panama had walked several hours from their villages in order to take a four-hour ferry and then a bus to Guatemala City. A number of the women said this was their first trip out of their own country. A mother of a 9-year-old daughter told us it was the first time ever she’d been away from her daughter overnight. Continue reading

Postcard & a Prayer :: September Email Newsletter

Enjoy September 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.

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MW USA September Email 2016

Kansas Sister Care Seminar Draws Women from Five States

from Mennonite Women USA

Carolyn Heggen, psychotherapist specializing in trauma healing, and Rhoda Keener, Sister Care Director for Mennonite Women USA, led a Sister Care seminar at Bethel College Mennonite Church for 74 women from Colorado, Indiana, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Kansas.

Marcene Entz and Karen Andres portray the Mark 2 dramatic monologue, “Carrying Our Friend to Jesus.”

Marcene Entz and Karen Andres portray the Mark 2 dramatic monologue, “Carrying Our Friend to Jesus.”

Participant, Elizabeth Raid, shared with her congregation, Bethel College Mennonite Church, her response to the seminar, saying:

“While I’m very comfortable speaking in front of large groups, as an introvert I often resist large gatherings, especially where women are somehow supposed to bond or have a grand time together. The Sister Care seminar had a different feel. Rhoda Keener and Carolyn Heggen provided a worshipful, inspirational setting and facilitated an environment where vulnerability, trust and truth-telling emerged. By sharing their personal experiences and examples during the seminar, they gave credence to what they said and opened the door for others to share more personally around the tables. I experienced and witnessed healing permeating hearts and creating commonality. The oil in my lamp has been replenished. I’m grateful! In an in-between time of my life, I feel renewed and open to what God has in store next for me.”

Participants at the Kansas Sister Care seminar.

Participants at the Kansas Sister Care seminar.

Heggen and Keener will lead Sister Care seminars in Kenya and Tanzania in April, Winnipeg in May, Indonesia in June, and an advanced leadership training in Guatemala in October. Marlene Bogard, MW USA executive director, provides leadership for the Sister Care for college women ministry. She led a seminar at Bethel College in February and will lead a similar event at Hesston College in March. Heggen and Keener hope to lead a Sister Care Level 2 retreat in the USA in November. Areas interested in scheduling a seminar or retreat should click here to email Rhoda Keener.

Seven Questions with Carol Roth :: from The Mennonite

This interview of Mennonite Women USA board member, Carol Roth, first appeared in the The Mennonite. Hannah Heinzekehr, Executive Director of The Mennonite posed seven questions to Carol. Read the conversation below.

Name: Carol Roth
Hometown: Jackson, Mississippi
Home congregation: Open Door Mennonite Church
Occupation: Staff leader for Native Mennonite Ministries

Tell me about your experience with church growing up.

I grew up in a mission church. I have two sets of parents.

My foster parents (Mennonites originally from Harrisonburg, Va.) had lived in Florida and in the early 1963 moved to rural Mississippi. My traditional parents had three small children, and when my twin sister and I were born, it was a cold winter and we needed a place that we would be able to thrive (we were premature and needed to grow), so we lived with the Good family until spring. When spring came along, our parents saw that our foster parents were taking great care of us and said that we could live with them until they were able to take care of us. Continue reading

Sister Care in Cuba

by Mennonite Women USA

Shortly before presenting the first of two Sister Care seminars in Cuba, Carolyn Heggen, psychotherapist specializing in trauma healing, and Rhoda Keener, Sister Care Director for Mennonite Women USA, visited an art museum in Old Havana. They talked briefly to the two dignified women in charge; as they left, one women asked, “Do you have any soap?” Heggen, having been in Cuba before and knowing how scarce and precious soap is, did have two small bars of soap and gave them to the women.

On this lush and beautiful island country, the needs of the people for basic necessities form a stark contrast to Cuba’s outstanding educational system which provides free education for all. Four lane highways with modern busses and Chinese cars travel beside restored 40’s and 50’s Fords, Buicks, and IMG_8470Chevys, all on the same road also traveled by horse-drawn wagons and carts.

The Sister Care seminars held in Camaguey and Havana November 23-28 were hosted by the Cuban Council of Churches. Ninety women participated from 17 denominations including Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Salvation Army, and Quaker churches.

Heggen and Keener began each seminar by asking women to work in small groups to compile a list of the challenges faced by women in Cuba. Continue reading

The Global Connections of Mennonite Women USA :: by Anita Hooley Yoder

This article first appeared in the print version of The Mennonite.
by Anita Hooley Yoder

Now this, I thought, is a real “World Conference moment.” I was having a conversation in Spanish with a woman whose family came from a Low German-speaking Mennonite community in Mexico. Although neither of us was speaking our first language, we quickly connected over our interest in ministry among women—I as the writer of a history project for Mennonite Women USA (MW USA), she in her work with “Old Colony” Mennonite women. We also were both familiar with Sister Care, the program of self-healing and mutual support created by MW USA.

The woman I was speaking with, Anna Giesbrecht, had actually gone through the Sister Care seminar twice. Neither of her Sister Care experiences was led by MW USA personnel. Rather, Giesbrecht received the material from Ofelia García, a Mexican Mennonite pastor, and other Latin American leaders. García was trained at the 2013 Sister Care weekend seminar led by Carolyn Heggen and Rhoda Keener in Guatemala. García has since adapted the material for use in many different contexts, including as weekly meetings and as Sunday school lessons for children of both genders. And now Giesbrecht has taken the Sister Care materials to the Old Colony Mennonite women of Chihuahua.

Giesbrecht guided the women through the Sister Care material in 12 weekly sessions. Two pieces of the material particularly caught their attention: Continue reading

MW USA History Project Update :: by Anita Hooley Yoder

by Anita Hooley Yoder

Let’s start with some numbers. Since I began this project last September, I have sorted through 29 binders and folders of material from Mennonite Women USA’s previous co-directors. I have read (or at least skimmed) nine books and 15 scholarly articles. I have spent 43 hours in archives and historical libraries and surveyed 40 years of Voice, Window to Mission, and Timbrel magazines. I learned that “two cents a prayer” became a $95,717 Missionary Pension Fund, that over 200 families served by Mennonite Disaster Service have received quilted wall hangings, and that the International Women’s Fund has supported the studies of 86 different women.

But this project is not really about numbers. It’s about people. Continue reading

Sister Care: Level 2 “Going Deeper” Coming to Harrisburg, PA

by Rhoda Keener

A Sister Care: Level 2 “Going Deeper” retreat will be offered for the first time this fall. The retreat will be held October 2-4 at Camp Hebron located 20 miles north of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Carolyn Heggen and I cannot count the number of times we have heard women say during a Sister Care Level 1 seminar, “I need more time to process all that we have covered,” or “I wish we had more time at our table groups,” or “make this a full week-end retreat.” Here’s a description of the week-end from the brochure:

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Leaders: Do This, Don’t Do That

There are powerful leaders and humble leaders, horrible leaders and questionable leaders.

Throughout my adult life of working under various leaders—from churches to places of employment, from neighborhood associations to my children’s school board, from nonprofit organizations where I’ve volunteered to my own family—I’ve had varying experiences of leaders and come to understand that everyone is a teacher. They teach me what to do and sometimes what not to do.

1. Do this: Get your hands dirty

When I was a professor of English, I was impressed with the department chair because he always made a point of sitting with the new adjuncts while we graded papers during midterms. He was right there in the lounge grading his papers at midnight, too, coffee breath and all. He wasn’t above us, and that humility gave me pause. Similarly, the Humble Leader we love washed his disciples’ feet and got his hands dirty in the process, all while conveying a beautiful message with his actions.

2. Don’t do this: Feign interest

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