Friday, 2 October 2015

An Apple a Day...

...makes German class real sweet.

Hutterite children have German lessons each day.  As part of an apple theme, grades 3-5 wrote an Apfel-Elfchen - an apple poem, using just eleven words.

My students really enjoyed working on this poem, especially seeing their basket full of apples on the bulletin board. Unfortunately, most are hard to read on this picture, so I'll print them here as well:

Der Apfelsaft
Gelb und süβ
Ich trinke ihn gern
Joel Waldner

Der Apfelmost 
Er ist schmackhaft.
Ich mag würziger Apfelmost.
Doreen Maendel 

Der Apfel
Auf dem Baum
Ich hätte ihn gern!
 Jonathan Waldner

Der Apfelbaum
Ich klettere ihn.
Ich will Äpfel pflücken.
Hadassah Maendel

Die Apfeltorte
Warm und schmackhaft
Ich esse ihn gern.
Serena Maendel


Wednesday, 30 September 2015

What can/will we (the Hutterites) do for the Syrian Refuge Crisis?

Have you seen the disturbing image of the three-year-old Syrian boy, Aylan who washed ashore on a Turkish beach? If you have, I'm sure you agree, it's too sad for words. In case you missed it, The Kurdi family, a couple with their two boys, Aylan, 3, and five-year-old Ghalib were on a boat, fleeing their homeland, Syria heading to the Greek island of Kos when it capsized. The mom and both boys drowned.

Sadly, we lost our chance to help three members of this family, but there are millions of others who still desperately need help. This is a crisis we should not turn our backs on. I'm especially pleading with Hutterites to reach out.

In the 1970's and 80's many Vietnamese "boat people" came to Canada. That time some Hutterite colonies sponsored refugees. They lived right on the colonies for up to a year, till they were able to find work and support themselves. From what I hear this was an enriching experience for both the Vietnamese and the Hutterites. Some stayed in contact with their Hutterite friends for many years. These Vietnamese went on to make a good life for themselves here in Canada. Today, some are even running their own businesses.

Just recently I heard how one day a Hutterite man from one of those colonies met a Vietnamese man at his workplace. He recognized the last name on his shirt and said, "My colony sponsored a family with your name many years ago." The man got very excited and replied, "That was my family. We stayed on your colony." He shook the Hutterite's hand and thanked him for the kindness shown to his family. Today, there's another crisis that is calling us to practice "love thy neighbour".

As Hutterites, I believe it's our moral and Christian duty to reach out to the Syrian refugees. I know some colonies are already looking into learning what's involved to sponsor families. Just think about what an impact it would make, if every colony would sponsor a family or two. We can and should get involved. Matthew 25: verses 37-40 makes it quite clear what we ought to do: “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

With all we've been blessed with, we should feel compelled to show some empathy and to share with those less fortunate -  the Syrian refugees fall in that category. It simply would not be right to not get involved in this crisis, especially since we have the means to do so.

We can't even begin to imagine what it would feel like, having to flee your homeland. Oh, we probably feel we can relate on some level, since our forefathers were forced to flee many times. But reading about those historic accounts is a far cry from living them. Like the Vietnam refugees, we (the Hutterite people) too were migrants to this country and have made a wonderfully, comfortable life for ourselves. Will we show the same compassion that was shown to us? I hope and pray we can find it in ourselves to show love and support to these refugees.

Some time ago, I read Marcy Markusa's thought-provoking CBC blog and like her I ask, "What's holding us back?"

Saturday, 26 September 2015

The Photograph - Beverly Lewis

 About the Book:

He studied the picture more closely, finding it curious that the young woman looked so boldly into the camera while wearing a white prayer Kapp shaped like a heart--the characteristic head covering for the Lancaster County Old Order Amish. Why would a devout girl have her picture taken?
When her sister Lily disappears only months after their widowed mother's passing, Eva Esch fears she has been wooed away from the People. Yet Lily's disappearance isn't Eva's only concern: She and her sisters must relocate once their older brother takes over the family farmhouse. Then Jed Stutzman, an Amish buggy maker from Ohio, shows up in Eden Valley with a photo of a Plain young woman. Eva feels powerfully drawn to the charming stranger--but the woman in the forbidden photograph is no stranger at all. . . .

My Review:

I found a lot to like about this book, but some parts, not so much: It has an intriguing plot, and was already drawn into the story by the back cover blurb. Beverly Lewis gives the reader a good sense of Eva and Frona's pain when their sister disappears, really sustaining their sense of loss and helplessness. With this also the support their church community offers them. Another intriguing element is the sister's rather elusive relationship with their brothers, even though I never got to know them as well as the other characters, as not too much is said about them, like they were some distant cousins they seldom see. I kept wondering what their issues were, besides the fact, the older brother wanted to move into the hose the sisters lived in, after the death of the parents. Another aspect that didn't work for me was the ending. I don't want to add an spoilers, but I just felt that it was too easy and abrupt of an ending for a missing person plot. It seemed rushed and somewhat unrealistic, a sharp contrast to the rest of the story which was very believable.


Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. 

Inspiration for Nurses - Amy Newmark and LeAnn Thieman

About the Book:

Becoming a nurse is a calling—it’s a tough job but a rewarding one. This collection of 101 heartwarming stories will encourage, inspire, and reassure you that your patients and their families appreciate your compassionate service.

Every nurse can use a little pick-me-up these days, and this collection of personal stories will remind you why you became a nurse. All types of nurses share their experiences, their emotions, and even some great tips that will help you make a difference in the lives of patients and their families.

My Thoughts:

While I was reading this book, I kept thinking of our Hutterite nurses - there are only a few at this point, but they're working in local hospitals, making a difference, putting in long hours ensuring that their patients get good care, like so many other dedicated people in this profession. Like each Chicken Soup book, this is a collection of stories, most of them about people touched by the kindness of nurses. Having had loved ones in hospitals, I could relate with some of the stories, as I too have seen nurses tirelessly but lovingly tending to people in their care. This would make a fitting gift for a nurse in your life - a beautiful reminder how much she/he is appreciated.


In exchange for an honest review, Shelton Interactive and Simon and Schuster provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.  


Monday, 14 September 2015

Welcome to Kindergarten

Kindergarten students on a Hutterite colony usually don't know a lot of English when they start school. This year I have three girls and one boy in Kindergarten. On a colony, it's also always obvious these children are growing up on a big farm - with lots of machinery. It was especially evident this morning when we worked on this poem:

Way up high in the apple tree, two red apples smiled at me.
I shook the tree as hard as I could.
Down came those apples and m-m-m were they good!

To help explain what this poem is about, I first asked them what they would do to get two apples that were hanging way up high on a tree, down.

"I'd use a ladder." Kandra replied.

Okay, I can see where this is going. "That would work. But what if there's no ladder around." I queried 

"Oh, get a forklift." Dorothea piped up excitedly.

Yeah, why think of manual when there are so many machines around? "Let's say the forklift is busy somewhere else. How could we get the apples down?"

For a few moments all four were puzzled. I can't believe this, they don't even want to climb the tree. Then Jakobi thought for sure he'd come up with the best plan.

"How about a scissor lift?" he asked proudly. Honestly, how many people even know what a scissor lift is. I know I was waaaay beyond five when I first saw one. (Just in case you never heard of such a thing, click here.)

I was hoping at least one of them would think of shaking the tree. No such luck.  

I can just feel it; this is going to be a never-a-dull-moment Kindergarten class.

Yup, welcome back!

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

CFAM Interview

Just a quick note to let you know, should you be interested, that I was interviewed by Chris Sumner at CFAM, a radio station here in Manitoba. It was aired today, and you can listen to it by clicking here. The interview was in regards to Hutterite Diaries.

Friday, 4 September 2015

My Dream Was Realized... just not with a paint brush

Once upon a time I had this dream of becoming a painter. No, I didn't envision framed paintings that people have on their walls - my dream was never that big. All I wanted was to be able to create note cards with simple, serene scenes; nothing extravagant at all. I love sending cards, so why not my own creations, right? And I really believed I could do that, especially after someone told me that one can easily learn to draw and paint, because it's just as much a learned skill as natural talent. If that were true, I wouldn't be writing this post. Maybe I'd have a quaint little shop somewhere, a website and sell my own brand of cards.

Chasing the dream, I tried to develop some skills with two different artists. One of them was a sweet lady who gave art lessons at our school. With her lessons I was able to create, well, sort of nice water colour pictures; but not nice enough for someone to utter a breathless, "LOVELY!" when pulling it from an envelope. And I was still not comfortable with dabbing paint on paper. I knew I was artistic in other ways, but this was not working for me, at least not as easily as I assumed it would.

Still, I wasn't willing to give up this dream. So, one day I spent some time with another artist, a guy this time. My sister, Sonia also took part in these private lessons. To set the scene, the two of us were sitting at our kitchen table with this very talented artist friend; all kinds of painting tools were spread out in front of us. At that time, Sonia clearly had tons of talent and was excited about slapping paint on the sheet in front of her, and did so effortlessly. Meanwhile, I felt like a timid, unsure mouse looking on. My sheet stayed white for the longest time. I don't know, maybe I didn't like the mess, or was afraid of making a mistake I wouldn't be able to fix. Or else I wasn't patient enough to stick with it longer. In any case, nothing worth looking at, happened on my paper. Oh, maybe there was a nice green lawn, with a little house and trees in the background. But nothing I wanted to share with anybody on a card. I think, after this lesson, I knew in my heart this dream was not going anywhere.

But, what sealed it for me, was a conversation this artist had with my sister sometime later. He said something I knew was true, but was not yet ready to admit, at least not out loud. And it seemed he didn't have the heart to tell me to my face. They were talking about the lessons and Sonia was probably gushing about a painting she was working on, when this artist thoughtfully said, "I know you're cut out to do this and it's obvious you love it, but I'm not so sure about Linda. She's just not willing to take the risks necessary to be a painter." My sister agreed and so did I, with no hard feelings for this kill-the-dream assessment. We laughed about it after, when I told him, "Next time I want to take on painting, I'll remember to go with paint by number...or colour by number would even be better; no messes."
(To see some of Sonia's work, go to these posts: Hutterite and Hobbies and  Snapshot Muse #28.)

As for cards, I still love to send them and I do so quite frequently - they all have other artists' work on the front, which is much appreciated by this almost-but-not-quite artist.

Today, I'm quite content to paint with words. No need to be intimidated by making mistakes, with spell check and the ability to delete and start over at my disposal. Plus, it never gets messy sitting at a computer and allowing my fingers to dance on the keyboard. There are even some people out there who see value in my word pictures. So much so, they encouraged me to give my stories wings, in the shape of a published book.

My sincere thanks to Shirley Showalter for inspiring this post with one of her own, Becoming an Artist: A Lifelong Dream. She's also the author of a beautiful memoir, Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets the Glittering World.