Something happens when we humble ourselves to lift up others. It doesn’t depend on the location or the length of time. It’s dependent on our attitude and the condition of our heart. If we’re open, we won’t be the same person as when we began to serve. In this issue of Extending Beyond, we explore how service participants have been shaped by their experiences.
Changed by opportunity
Daniel Morales* was 5 years old when he was abandoned by his parents, and survived by living on the streets. Even at that young age, gangs tried to get him to join.
When he could take the pressure no more, as a teen, Morales traveled on top of trains through Mexico to the United States—a journey many deem too risky. “But he was relentlessly positive,” said Hannah Eash-Gates, his legal representative and an alumna of Mennonite Voluntary Service.
He was also incredibly bright. Even without a formal education, Morales taught himself to read and write.
The two met at the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) in San Antonio. Eash-Gates served at RAICES during her time with MVS and continued there for seven years after her service term ended.
In the two years it took for Eash-Gates to help Morales achieve legal permanent residency status, he made it on the honor roll and learned two languages!
Morales isn’t the only one changed by opportunity. Eash-Gates graduated from Goshen College with a double major in Spanish and Peace Justice Conflict Studies. MVS gave her the opportunity to put that into action. “I had absolutely zero interest in the law or legal work, but it sounded interesting to work with Spanish-speaking refugees,” Eash-Gates said. Eventually, her passion outgrew her ability and she decided to go to law school. Eash-Gates is in her second year of law school at Northeastern University in Boston.
“MVS and my subsequent employment at RAICES not only gave me experience that helped me get a full scholarship, but it also made me a better student because I know why I’m there.”
*A pseudonym was used to protect his privacy.
Learn more about Mennonite Voluntary Service.
Youth Venture team to India: John Murray, Kate Cherveny, Mrs. Usha Mohol, Madeline Troyer, Kelsey Springer, Madi Kauffman, and Bethany Perri.
Fun and games are sometimes more than they seem. Two years ago, Kate Cherveny participated in a scavenger hunt contest at the Mennonite Church USA Convention in Kansas City. Thanks to a very generous donor, she won a Youth Venture experience to the place of her choice: India.
This past July, Cherveny traveled with three other young adults and two leaders, John Murray and Kelsey Springer.
In a blog post during the trip, Cherveny said she wanted to find ways to integrate the experience when she returned home. “I pray that we let it reshape our perspectives and views of the ever-changing world around us,” she wrote.
During the trip, the group visited Union Biblical Seminary and Menno-Clinic India, which provides affordable medical, dental and eye care.
“The [Youth Venture] trip helped shape my faith in many ways, and expanded my outlook on the world. I think I learned how to listen better, be more flexible, and see God in all kinds of ways, in all kinds of places and people,” said Cherveny.
Learn more about Youth Venture.
Seth Swartzentruber enjoys supper with his host family at a Javanesse restaurant.
Growing in faith
By Seth Swartzentruber
“God is providing for me in many ways, even when I worry, which I shouldn’t. I have been placed in a loving family. I have food on the table for every meal. I am able to spend time with friends at the church, learn new things, and teach new things. I am learning the language fast, and understanding the worship better now. I am growing in my relationship with God as he gives me more grace. Indonesia almost feels like home where I have been placed, and opportunities to talk about Jesus are always opening.
“I’m working in the school four times a week and getting to dig into the Bible every day. Pray for me that I would continue to have opportunities to praise God, and I would grow in my passion for making him my number one priority in all things, even if it’s just going to the store!”
Swartzentruber serves with Journey International at
JKI Maranatha Church in Ungaran, Indonesia. He is from Morton,
Illinois, and attends First Mennonite Church of Morton.
Learn more about Journey International.