Last “piece” of Nigeria!

January 2016

Dear Family and Friends,

The past 12 months of our lives have been rich, full of transition and loaded with new experiences.  Change is something some of us embrace while the rest of us go along for the ride!

In January of 2015 we began our last six months with MCC in Nigeria.  We were feeling overwhelmed by the incredible trauma that thousands of displaced people running from the Boko Haram rebels with the clothes on their backs and carrying stories that twist minds and spirits into torment and destruction.  Together with our MCC team, we put together a one-year trauma project designed to build up a team of skilled trauma facilitators who would go out and walk with people as they put their lives back together.  This good work is ongoing today.

Leaving our Nigerian friends and colleagues was full of its own pain for all of us who engaged in saying goodbye.  Many words and gifts were exchanged symbolizing the richness of relationship that we were privileged to be a part of during our 2 ½ years in this life-filled country.  We have been delighted to keep up with many of these friends through social media, bridging the distance in ways we had not anticipated.

We took a circuitous route back to Canada, stopping in Burkina Faso for a few days to lend a hand and listening ear to the new MCC Reps;

dropping in on Turkey to feast our senses on this beautiful country rich in history and diversity;

reconnecting with my brother and his wife for a week in Portugal where we saw some of the sights but also focused on reconnecting and telling our stories without interruption.

We arrived in Canada by mid-July but didn’t actually walk into our house for two more weeks.  We had a wonderful 10 days in Alberta reconnecting with dear friends we made during our first MCC term in Nigeria while witnessing the wedding of one of the “MCC kids”.  

Before finally arriving in Kitchener we made a quick trip to MCC headquarters to “handover” to the interim MCC Reps for a day.  We were delighted to finally be embraced by our three daughters and their partners on the 27th of July.

Kara and Aleda had managed our triplex during the years we were gone with Kara living in our unit, so she moved out in time so that we could move right back in relatively painlessly since most of the household items were in place. We have amazing children who had everything ready for us to “move in” a gesture of support that we do not take for granted.

Mary Lou had reconnected to colleagues at Grebel and walked into two part-time contracts: 1) co-teaching a peace studies course; and 2) helping coordinate the Global Mennonite Peacebuilding Conference and Festival slated to take place in June 2016.  

Within a few weeks of arriving in Canada, Dave was offered work in the solar photovoltaic field.  By the end of November, he had serviced over 200 solar trackers across Ontario.  This was a short term contract which may be offered again next year.  Dave took this time in farmer’s fields hanging out with farm animals as a “sabbatical”, giving time for reflection and transition from the intense time in Nigeria.

It is good to be back in Canada where systems work and life is more predictable and secure.  It is good to be with our family and to reconnect with friends and our church community.  And it is good to be a part of a country at a time of transition into hope where our leaders are international in their orientation and actually care about injustice issues with a desire to revive Canada’s reputation in the world as a peacemaking nation!  We are embracing this change and happy to actively engage the ride!!

Mary’s Magnificat figured prominently in our worship at our church this Advent/Christmas season. It was particularly moving to sing a version of it on Christmas Eve reminding us that the coming of Jesus whom we as his followers call Christ was not just for our personal benefit but proclaimed a new world order where the proud are humbled and the hungry filled. It is not a comfortable song, but one we were called to sing anyway.  

My heart shall sing of the day you bring.

Let the fires of justice burn.

Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near,

and the world is about to turn.

Peace, …Dave & Mary Lou

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4 Responses to Last “piece” of Nigeria!

  1. Ronald Mathies says:

    Thanks for the summary. Great pictures!!

  2. Judy says:

    It encourages me the way you are intentional about listening to others and about telling your own stories, too: MCC Reps in Burkina Faso, your brother and family in Portugal, MCC friends in Alberta and, of course, debriefing at headquarters. Remarkable, too, how you give yourselves permission to “sabbatical” after such intense trauma in Nigeria. You challenge/inspire me to be more thoughtful in word and deed. Thank you and Happy New Year. ~Judy

  3. Josie Winterfeld says:

    Thank you for these wonderful reflections and photos! So good to have you back on our community. May the stories and reflections continue to find space for expression as the journey of transition continues.

  4. Esther Epp-Tiessen @ MCC Ottawa Office says:

    Dear Dave and Mary Lou, Thanks so much for the precious stories and exquisite photos over the past years. And thanks for the amazing way that the two of you offered yourselves in service. Blessings as you continue your re-entry…. Esther

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