Monday, 26 January 2015

Judith and her Horse Tess

 Judith and her horse is just one of the stories in Hutterite Diaries: Wisdom From My Prairie Community.

As you can see in this video, they're an incredible team!



Thursday, 22 January 2015

Amish America Post

Erik Wesner at Amish America has kindly offered to do a post and introduce my upcoming book, Hutterite Diaries to his readers. I will be answering the questions that people have in the weeks and months leading up to the release the book. Feel free to head over there: Amish America.

Thanks so much Erik! I really appreciate this!

Monday, 19 January 2015

Braving the Cold to Run (No, not me)

I have a quite few Hutterite friends who are avid runners - they enjoy running in any weather. Yes, even in our -20 degrees Celsius Manitoba winter days. While I admire their drive and determination, for the most part I don't understand this urge to be out in frigid temperatures for long periods at a time.

Anyway, we just got our latest Our Canada magazine. And one of the article, Epic Winter Race, by Gregory McNeill of Winnipeg caught my eye. The minute I saw the title I thought, "Well, here's something that I know for a fact some of my run-crazy friends would be involved with." And low and behold, I see Hannah Hofer from Crystal Springs was in this race and mentioned in the story. As you can see, there's also a picture of her, rosy-cheeked and seemingly, right in her element. There were most likely other Hutterites in this race, but Hannah was the only one mentioned. Seems to me I remember some Facebook pictures with snowflake medals. The race took place February of 2014.

Congrats for making it into Our Canada, Hannah, but more for braving our extremely cold Manitoba winters. 

Hannah is in the top right corner.

Would love to hear of others who were in the race...please leave a comment with your thoughts on race day.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Bring Back Board Games!

I've been thinking a lot about board games recently. Most likely, because I touched on these games a little bit in my upcoming book, Hutterite Diaries. I have many fond memories of sitting around the table at home, at a friend's house or even at school playing games like Snakes and Ladders, Scrabble, Crokinole, Sorry and many others. Sadly, with so many electronic games around, these games mainly sit on a shelf, if they're even in the house anymore. I wonder if people realize the impacts the games we choose have on us and our children? Electronic games encourage blocking out everybody, while staring at a screen for hours on end. Board games however, encourage healthy interaction with others, and stimulate intellectual development. 

One of my favourite games growing up were Probe and Crokinole. We played Probe at school during noon hour or on stormy days. We actually still have one in our school. About once a month, to ensure our children experience these simple joys, our whole school spends an hour or so playing board games. And yes, everybody has a great time! Next time we do this, I'll be introducing some students to word fun with Probe. So far, we haven't played that one yet.

Crokinole conjures happy memories playing this game with my cousins, at uncle Josh and aunt Kate's house. They had a homemade one. The board was about an inch and a half thick and was well-varnished. Those pesky pegs near the centre were finish nails. Combined with the varnished wood these nails really scattered the disks in a hurry, more often then we liked. But still, we had many laughs playing this game. The way I remember it, nobody could beat my cousin, Harvey. He had the kind of aim and just the right speed the rest of us could only dream about. I'd love to have a Crokinole game! Are they even around anymore? Should maybe check second hand shops. But hey, if you have one you want to get rid of, I can take it off your hands.

Another game that we should dig out one day is, Spazieren (the Hutterisch word for visiting). This game was put out by Crystal Springs Colony many years ago, probably together with the Bruderhof. We still have that game in our school as well, but we haven't played it in years. I'm not even exactly sure how that one goes anymore. Perhaps the aim of the game is to visit as many Hutterite colonies as possible.

It's really troubling to see how much time today's youth spend with playing electronic games, and many of them violent. Nothing good can come of those stare-at-a-screen activities, at least not as far as I can see. So, here's me on my little podium with my Bring-Back-Board-Games campaign. Feel free to join me!!

I'd love to hear your fond memories with board games:

  • Do you have a favourite one?
  • Do you still play these games?
  • In your eyes, how do they stack up against electronic games?

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Deep-Freeze Days and Frost Art

In Manitoba we tend to spend considerable time talking about the weather. And there's usually plenty to say about it, as it keeps changing. For example, a few days we dipped to -32 degrees Celsius, then we have this "Real Feel" or 'with the windchill' thing. This brings the aforementioned number down some more, which means we were at -45. Yes, that is cold. Oh, and then today they're predicting milder temperatures soon. Today we're hovering between -15 and -20. Nice! I know, we're tough like that.

Anyway, more weather related stuff, the prettier side of those bone-chilling temperatures. I took these on our living room window. Aren't they just gorgeous? See, when we hit those below 30's, one way to survive is, taking pleasure in simple things related to the weather, like frosty windows - admire the art and forget your frozen toes for a few minutes. I'm going to go have my afternoon coffee now - another beat the deep freeze tactic.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Hutterite Diaries: Wisdom From My Prairie Community (cover reveal)

It's a cold and blustery day here in Manitoba; the storm I've been wishing for has arrived. I know most people don't like blizzards, but I do... that is, as long as I'm not on the road. In any case, this post is not about our oft unpredictable prairie weather. But rather...

I'm excited to ring in 2015 with a cover reveal for my upcoming book, Hutterite Diaries: Wisdom From My Prairie Community. As you know, I've mentioned this a few times right here, but not in great detail. This book has been in the works for many months, and I've learned so much, not only about writing, but the publishing process as well. Working on this project with Valerie Weaver-Zercher, my Herald Press editor, has been an incredibly enjoyable and enriching journey; and still is.

It's basically a collection of stories I've written over the years - some have appeared as newspaper articles, others as blog posts and there are some that have never been published anywhere before.

 Here's the Publishers Blurb: 
What would it be like to share all your possessions and live in Christian community? In Hutterite Diaries, Linda Maendel offers a rare glimpse into the daily routines and communal faith of her people, the Hutterian Brethren. From stories of working together to bringing in the fall potato harvest to laugh-out-loud tales of sisterly love laced with revenge, Maendel invites readers into her Bruderhof, or colony, nestled on the prairie of western Canada. Here children and adults work, play, eat, and worship together, crafting a community of goods and living out an alternative to the individualism and consumerism of mainstream society.

Because few outsiders know anything about the Hutterites, a Plain Christian group related to the Amish and Mennonites, this book offers a rare-glimpse into Hutterite life.

Hutterite Diaries will not be released till May. However if you so wish, you may order it now, for a special pre-order price. It's available on Amazon and on the Herald Press website.

I'm curious, have you read any book(s) on Hutterites? If so, which one(s)? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Old Moravian Former Hutterite Community

Someone once said, "New Year's Day is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one."

On that note, I hope the Hutterites can write another few pages in Europe. The Chronicles of the Hutterian Brethren hold many chapters of rich history, some of it heart-rending and some of it heart-warming, at times the two mixed together. 

I've had the chance to tour many places in Europe pertaining to our history. (Click on Europe Trip above to read more) So I was very excited when in the past year I heard about an old Hutterite community that was recently discovered. It's in the Znojmo District in the South Moravian Region of the Czech Republic. There are people involved with Czech Republic Historical and archaeological research of Anabaptists in Moravia, who think this place is worth restoring possibly into a tourist site, one of them writes:

"In Čermakovice-Alinkov we can find a unique set of buildings identified by archeologist Dr. Jiři Pajer, specialist on this subject, as an Anabaptist settlement originating from sixteenth century. The first “new Christian” inhabitants arrived here in the second part of sixteenth century and lived and worked in the old, renewed mill which was situated on river Rokytna from the end thirteenth century. At the beginning of the seventeenth century the community consisted of around 150-200 people living in self-supplier system. They had a special contract with the landlord. Tschermakowitz was a Tulleschitz's manorial estate. Their products and knowledge were in demand in the circle of wealthy nobles. According to the chronicles of the Hutterian Brethren they had to pay very
high taxes after the mill and tannery and after the communal kitchen. At the beginning of the 1620s they suffered terribly from the brutality of different armies. In 1622, after the defeat of the Protestants in the battle at the White Mountain (1620) the community had to leave the country.
This group of buildings is a unique memorial of the sixteenth-seventeenth century history, specially of the Hutterian Anabaptists. The long main building saved it's original structure and architectural elements. The first level of the three-floored building served as a stable for the domestic animals, on the first floor were situated the communal spaces, nursery and infirmary. The very small attic rooms were prepared for the married couples, families. The remains of the other buildings and the high walls separating and protecting the Bruderhof are also testfying about the life of this community. There are some houses in Sobotište (Slovakia) and specially in Velke Leváre (Slovakia), a so called “Haban district”, which partly can document this period and way of life. But the rarity of the Čermakovice-Alinkov Courtyard is that the Bruderhof survived as a whole unit with its original architectural structures. We can not find anything similar in all Europe. We are in the last minutes for the preservation, for rescuing of this historical monument. The possible, necessary forthcoming archaeological excavations in this district are also promising valuable historical documents about the renaissance material culture. On the other hand the renovated buildings may serve as a cultural and craft training center, a youth hostel for school children, a museum, a touristic place for bike riders with a reconstructed brewery." 

Should this venture actually be possible, it would take a dedicated committee, most likely consisting of the people who discovered this historic site, and hopefully Hutterites. Besides that, needless to say, a substantial amount of money would have to be put into this project as well. I sincerely hope this is feasible and the buildings are worth restoring. I know first hand how meaningful such places are for people who are interested in their Anabaptist roots - they bring history to life when you get a chance to see them. Here are a few images.The first two, black and white photos are of the same community, but taken in the 20th century.



Looks like this has been used for storing grain.

This would be an exciting project for 2015. Right??
I don't know what other Hutterites think about this, but I'd like to go and see this place myself. Yup, this one goes on my bucket list. That is, if it will still be there... and it may very well not be, if things don't happen in the near future to have it restored.