As last year's MVSers were finishing up their terms, we asked them this question: If your friend was about to start an MVS term and asked you for advice on how to get the most out of their experience, what would you tell them?
Here are a few of their responses:
1. Have house meals together and a schedule for who will be cooking each night of the week.
2. Explore the area around you as much as possible. There is so much to see in every community and its surroundings.
3. Be proactive about reaching out to people in the Mennonite community. There are so many people who want to connect with you, and it just takes an e-mail or a "hi" at fellowship time to start a friendship.
4. Be open to hard moments and be courageous. Know that making mistakes will happen and will happen often, especially in the first six months; try to have grace and laughter in those moments.
5. Ask questions. If you suddenly come face-to-face with your privilege, ask other people what they have done to address that.
6. Listen to your body when you want an evening in your room, a long bath, a walk around the block or to a park, or need to call a friend back home. All of this is hard work, and making sure you have your own time to recuperate is very important. It is a strength to take care of yourself.
7. Spend one-to-one time with your housemates in addition to whole-house activities. It will create a better-rounded picture for you of that person and probably a fuller picture of yourself to them.
8. Get into therapy. Having that space to understand yourself better can be enriching. MVS offers the opportunity for its participants to connect with spiritual directors from across the United States.
9. Be open to new things and let them change you. Even if the times are hard for you, try to see the positive things, and don't give up.
10. Look forward, take note of what you have, and enjoy it. When you feel lonely, try to remember that God is always with you and knows how you feel.