Thursday, 1 December 2016

Stepping into the Colony - CTV News

Julie Clark and CTV News Saskatoon put out this short video, Stepping into the Colony. It offers a glimpse of Sunnydale Hutterite colony near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

                              Photo published for Stepping into the colony: A look at Hutterite life

Friday, 25 November 2016

Gingerbread World: Lebkuchen, Marzipan, Stollen...

Snow background -- that's me wishing for snow. Preferably before Christmas. A white December makes it look so much more Christmasy. Even Christmas songs sound lovelier when there's snow on the ground. I'm dreaming of a white Christmas... and Lebkuchen

Some years ago we created gingerbread houses with our students. What a sticky mess! There was icing everywhere and our gingerbread house were crooked, the candies wouldn't stick and kept sliding down the roof (go figure, because our fingers were certainly sticky enough.) but the children were happy. It didn't seem to matter to them that the teachers were more than a little frazzled. But then, we didn't lick half as much icing or pop every other candy into our mouth. Aahh, sweet gingerbread memories!

Lebkuchen Schmidt Large Festive Box
I started dreaming about gingerbread and other European Christmas yummies, back in September when my name was drawn at the annual Manitoba Teachers of German In-Service. My prize: a $25. gift certificate for Gingerbread World in Winnipeg! I'm glad it came with their catalogue because I had never heard of it before. Just leafing through these pages is a mouth-watering experience - Lebkuchen, Chocolates, Marzipan, Stollen, Gummi Bears, Christmas cookies...and everything is from Europe! I was looking forward to walking into this shop, but then I learned there is no actual shop. You go to the website and order online. Thus, I emailed my shopping list and the owner kindly allowed me to pick up my goodies at her house. Apparently they have a warehouse and mostly mail out their orders.

Waldfabrik Christmas Card

If you'd like to add European flavours to your Christmas festivities or delight loved ones with a unique gift package, Gingerbread World is the place to go. I'd be delighted to find anyone of their fabulous gift packages under our tree. As you'll notice when you visit their website, many of their products are sold out already; and it's not even December yet! But there are still lots of goodies to choose from. They also have non-edible gifts: ornaments, nativities, cards, toys and puzzles. If you're more of a hands-on person, there will be a Gingerbread World booth at the annual Winnipeg Christkinlmarkt which will take place at Holy Cross Gym Hall, 290 Dubuc Street, November 26 and 27, 2016.
Which reminds me, Crystal Springs Hutterite Colony Choir will be singing there on the 26th this year, along with many other choirs and bands. It's always a very festive event, filled with the tastes, sights, sounds and scents of the season.

I was able to pick up my order yesterday (below). Now I can't wait to try these unique treats. Maybe I'll even convince myself to tuck one under the Christmas tree for someone else to enjoy.

My sincere thanks to the Manitoba Teachers of German organizing committee and 
Tamara, owner of Gingerbread World!!

Sunday, 20 November 2016

The Wish - Beverly Lewis

 About the Book:

"You really think this is a gut idea, goin' clear out there, spendin' time with folk who've left the People?"

Leona wondered if she was getting the carriage before the horse. Even so, she was willing to do whatever she could to bring Gloria back home--where she belonged.

Leona Speicher got the "sister" she always dreamed of the day Gloria Gingerich and her family moved to Lancaster County. The Arkansas newcomers seem to be the answer to Leona's prayers--until Gloria's father is expelled from their Old Order Amish church for reasons no one will discuss. Much to Leona's dismay, the Gingeriches suddenly pack up and disappear. Then, after a silence of several years, Gloria unexpectedly contacts Leona, who makes up her mind to go after her friend. Yet Leona's fiancé--the deacon's son--is alarmed. Will Leona's dearest wish lead to her own undoing?

My Thoughts:

This book is about friendship and facing difficult choices, or perhaps better said, at least on Gloria’s part, living with the choices others made for her. I enjoyed the story, especially the friendship between Leona and Gloria; it was heartwarming and real. However, the plot was somewhat predictable and some parts left me wondering: It seems unrealistic to me that an entire Amish family would disappear without a trace. I also felt that the reason for Joe Gingerich’s shunning was explained only vaguely, like I was just getting part of the story. A little more depth and detail could have made for a richer narrative.


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

Friday, 18 November 2016

"Community is Mission" and "A Sign of Peace"

"The world can only move toward peace if we recognize 
that every human being is my brother or my sister."
- Jean Vanier

A few days ago I received Jean Vanier's autumn newsletter and it struck me how its overriding message was peace. In a world where peace sometimes seems nothing more than an illusion, a wish, a dream, a prayer, a hope. In a world where politicians speak openly about killing helpless babies, rejecting refugees, building walls and say disrespectful things about their fellow human beings. What's even sadder, is that these so-called leaders have a strong following! If we care about love and peace, how can we in good conscience jump on the band wagon of a person who portrays the opposite? Can you imagine a world where church, political, school... leaders would learn from people like Jean Vanier? His lessons are profound, timely, relevant for all, and have eternal value.  

I first heard about Jean Vanier from a friend who had read some of his books. He's Canadian, the author of 30 books, a philosopher, theologian and humanitarian. I bought his book, Becoming Human and was challenged, encouraged and amazed at his humble spirit. This is the kind of book you place on the keeper shelf and pick it up again and again to glean wisdom, and yes, be challenged. It's not very often that I want to meet the author after reading his/her book, but I did this time.

As I learned more about this influential man, who lives the love-message he spreads, I was deeply touched by his selfless and meaningful work: In 1964 Jean founded L'Arche, an international federation of communities spread over 35 countries. These communities are for people with developmental disabilities and those who assist them. Today, Jean lives as a member of the original L'Arche community in Trosly-Breuil, France. In 2015 he received the Templeton Foundation Prize.

In his Templeton Prize News Conference speech Jean Vanier spoke about love, peace, and community, and how important these elements are for every human being. It became abundantly clear, this award was more about the people he serves than about himself.
 "My dream for this magnificent prize you have given me, and through me to L'Arche and Faith & Light, is for us to create spaces and opportunities for such meetings, meetings which transform hearts. Places where those caught up in the world of success and normality, and those who are in need, but who are also teachers of love and of simplicity, come together. Places where they can share together, eat together, laugh and celebrate together, weep and pray together; where the hearts of those who carry power in our society can be melted and rest; and where all together we may become a sign of peace."

I've lived in a christian community my entire life and something Jean mentioned in his Templeton Award acceptance speech resonated with me and at the same time challenged me: 
"Community is a beautiful thing. Not what some call a closed group, where we know we're the best and cut ourselves off from others, cause we're in our little club. Community is mission; bringing people together, that we can recognize each other as precious... Mission is growing in love... We don't have to be better than anybody. We can be ourselves, each with our gifts, humanity, beauty, fragility...
It's true, all too often our communities are "our little club" where we're not very open to including others. We're so caught up with our own tiny world we forgot that we're just a speck in the bigger picture. While Hutterites do reach out beyond the comfortable lives they've carved out for themselves, there's so much more we can do - there's so much need in the world, locally and in far off places. Our material gifts were not meant to be hoarded, but shared with others.  Perhaps one of the secrets to peace and community is putting our own "needs" and petty grievances into perspective by occupying ourselves with reaching out to the less fortunate. There's nothing like volunteering at a homeless shelter to open our eyes to the fact that we have no concept of being hungry and cold, owning nothing, having no home or loving family. Suddenly that new pair of shoes, or that dishwasher we thought we couldn't do without, are not so important.

Jean Vanier, on what it means to be fully human
 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding
Romans 14:17-19

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

In Loving Memory of our Dear Aunt Anna

In des Hirten Arm und Schoß, Amen ja, mein Glück ist groß!
                                                                                    -Weil ich Jesu Schäflein bin-

Es hat dem Herrn über Tod und Leben gefallen, unsere liebe Schwester, Anna Waldner zu sich zu rufen.

Am 27. Oktober 2016 our Anne Basel passed away peacefully at home in Elm River, surrounded by family.

Ihr im Tode vorangegangen sind ihre Eltern, Zacharias and Anna Wald-ner: Brüder: Zacharias (in infancy), Edward, Harold, John, David, Martin and brother-in-law, Jake Maendel.
Sie hinterlässt ihre Geschwister: Asnath Maendel, Elm River; Mike (Christy), Solomon (Linda), and Joseph (Anita) of Holmfield Colony; sisters-in-law Susan, Riverdale Colony and Cheryl, Gladstone, as well as many nieces, nephews, extended family and friends.

Anna Waldner was born on June 5, 1940 at James Valley Colony, Elie, MB. In 1946 the family moved to Riverdale Colony at Gladstone, where Anna grew up and was baptized upon her confession of faith. In 1975 the family moved again, this time to the newly established Holmfield Colony at Killarney, MB.
Our lieba Anne Basel was a quiet, humble sister, who spent many years caring for ailing family members, namely her parents and her three unmarried brothers in addition to reaching out to help her married brothers and sister and their families whenever possible. When Anne Basel’s health failed, her sister-in-law, Christy, faithfully cared for her for six years.

During the past year, after a lengthy hospital stay, we knew Anne Basel would need constant care, so we, the family of her sister Asnath, offered to help and invited her to live with us at Elm River. It was not an easy decision for Anne Basel, but in time she agreed that it would be best, and embraced her new home as much as her failing health allowed. We are grateful that both Holmfield Colony and Elm River colony supported Anne Basels decision: we cherish the six months she lived with us. Our sincere thanks to the nieces who lovingly stayed with Anne Basel while she was in the hospital!

In her final days the family drew comfort in observing how Anne Basel faced death with grace, peace and quiet faith. “This world is not my home”, she reminded us. “I’m going to a better place. God can take me home whenever he chooses.” Another time she said, “Die Ankela und der Olvetter riefen mich schun.”

Geh in Frieden, liebe Anne Basel.

Die Begräbnisfeier (Leicht) fand am 30. Oktober 2016 in der Elm River Gemeinde statt. Beerdigung im Elm River Friedhof.
   The Caregiver
    Elma Maendel
 As a young Dien, she cared for her mom
Became her eyes
Kept house, brought meals
Tied shoes,
Injected insulin.

Through her Mom’s cancer diagnosis
Her care continued –
Sips of water,
Cool cloths for feverish skin
A German hymn softly sung –
During bedside vigils of
Weary days and cruel nights
Caring to the end.

Too soon Dad needed care,
Though his tall, stalwart figure never stooped,
His health steadily faded,
Still her care never faltered
Accompanying her brothers 
to dialysis appointments and
Kidney treatments
Caring, encouraging, supporting,
Preparing tasty salt-free dishes.

Finally, Anne Basel herself needed care:
Medication, dialysis, puffers, oxygen,
Tasteless gels – for swallowing ease –
Offered no relish and even less satis-faction
Family, nurses, doctors
Gently provided the Loving care
She bestowed on others.

Now our loyal caregiver –
Rests peacefully
Reunited with loved ones –
In her heavenly home
Auf Wiedersehen, lieba Anne Basel!

Danke schön für jedes stille Gebet während Anne Basels letzter Tage. Euer Dasein und euer Beistand waren Balsam auf unserer trauernden Seelen. Das Schönste ist, dass wir in dieser so traurigen Zeit, das Wunder der christlichen, brüderlichen Liebe erleben durften, 1 Petrus 3:8.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Traces of Guilt - Dee Henderson

About the Book:

She's turning up the heat on Carin County's cold cases . . .

Evie Blackwell loves her life as an Illinois State Police detective . . . mostly. She's very skilled at investigations and has steadily moved up through the ranks. She would like to find Mr. Right, but she has a hard time imagining how marriage could work, considering the demands of her job.

Gabriel Thane grew up in Carin County and is now its sheriff, a job he loves. Gabe is committed to upholding the law and cares deeply for the residents he's sworn to protect. He too would like to find a lifetime companion, a marriage like his parents have. . . .

When Evie arrives in Carin, Illinois, it's to help launch a new task force focused on unsolved crimes across the state. She will work with the sheriff's department on a couple of its most troubling missing-persons cases. As she studies old evidence to pull out a few tenuous new leads, she unearths surprising connections. One way or another, she knows Gabriel Thane and his family will be key to the answers she seeks.

My Thoughts:

Dee Henderson is one of my favourite suspense writers! All her recent books are similar in that the main female character is dealing with an horrific past and the main male character is a law enforcement person, helping her through it and they fall in love. As much as I enjoy the plot, the suspense and the twists and turns, in this sense all her recent books, are somewhat predictable. And this is one aspect that I would love to see change in future books. However, the behind the scenes detective work is impressive, realistic and seems well-researched. As far as supporting characters go, I wonder about some that we heard only snippets about, and they didn't really add a whole lot to the story. Was that a way to introduce characters which will be in upcoming books, since this one appears to be the first book in a series?  If not, I'm not sure what their purpose was. I was just left wondering about them. I enjoy the fact that there are always characters included from previous books.


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

Monday, 24 October 2016

Hutterite Diaries On Sale

If you're looking to get a copy of my book, Hutterite Diaries, now's a good time - it's on sale right now at  That's right, you can start your Christmas shopping early.

They're also offering a volume discount. A great opportunity for organizations like School Divisions to buy a copy for all their schools. I know some schools have already done that, saying they "want their students to be able to read Hutterite-written stories". And because, "Hutterite Diaries is a great Social Studies resource". 

Please help me spread the word about this. Thank You!