Discouragement Turns to Fulfillment During MDS Trip
for CMU Student
Nine Students Spend Reading Week in Alabama
By Aaron Epp
Alexandra Ventura had a lot of expectations for her trip to Mobile, Alabama
as a volunteer with Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS). But one thing she didn’t
expect was to be discouraged.
|Alexandra Ventura of Winnipeg on the job with MDS.
Ventura, of Winnipeg, went to Mobile with eight other
students from Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) during reading week to help
repair homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
While some students took shingles off of the roof of the
house they were working on, and others put up drywall, she was scraping dried
mud off the floor. It didn’t seem like very important work.
At first, she felt “very unaccomplished.” But then she
remembered something the homeowner, Angie Jones, had told the group.
“She said that each week she gets a new group of people that
come to work on her house, and each time she keeps a part of them with her,”
says Ventura. “She said that even though we were there for just one week, she
would cherish us. When I remembered that, it made those moments more fulfilling.
What I was doing was putting the finishing touches to complete the house.”
For Ventura, it’s the attitude of homeowners like Jones that stick with her.
“Angie had the most positive attitude and had such a passion for God,” she
says. “I thought to myself, ‘how is it that they can be so happy with so little,
and in spite of everything that’s happened to them? Here are the rest of us, and
it seems that we’re always asking for more, like we’re never happy.’”
|Jotham Penner of Kitchener and Noelle Koop of Winnipeg work on a
roof in Mobile, Alabama.
After the trip, Ventura says she is “more thankful for the days that God
gives me. I’ve come back with a stronger passion to serve God through others.”
Daniel Epp, also of Winnipeg, feels the same way. The trip, he says, “left me
with a grateful heart, and a heart to serve others.”
He was especially inspired by seeing people of different ages and stages in
life “come together for a common goal” of helping people rebuild homes destroyed
by the hurricane.
A key lesson, he learned, is that “love means doing.”
Other students on the trip were Caryn Wheeler of Olds, Alta.; Megan
Klassen-Wiebe and Noelle Koop of Winnipeg; Jared Redekopp of Edmonton; Jotham
Penner of Kitchener; Nathan Reimer of Birch River, Man.; Jessica Buhler of
Pincher Creek, Alta; and Cordella Friesen, Coordinator of Commuter,
International and Disability Programs at CMU.
This was the third year in a row that students from CMU have gone south
during reading week to serve with MDS. In 2006, students traveled to Bayou la
Batre, Alabama. Last year, they traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana, where they
also participated in emergency tornado clean up after a tornado hit the Westwego
area of the city.
Posted March 13, 2008.
For more information contact the CMU Communications Director, 500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, Manitoba R3P 2N2, telephone: 204-487-3300 ext. 630, fax: 204-889-1694,(www.cmu.ca)