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This summer, Phyllis and Galen Groff are retiring as EMM workers after a total of 26 years of service. After serving as church planters in Maine, the Groffs started their overseas ministry in Guatemala in 1985. They walked alongside the K’ekchi’ Mennonite Church for over two decades, and now are retiring in Belize near their son Tim Groff and his family, who are also EMM workers. These photos show a glimpse into the Groffs’ overseas ministry, from the beginning until today. (Read more about their decades of ministry here.)
Photos provided by Galen and Phyllis Groff unless otherwise indicated.
Ted and Julie Smoker have been serving among the K’ekchi’ people of Guatemala for close to three years. Recently a team from the Smokers’ home church in the U.S. visited them to see how a missionary family of five children lives among lush coffee farms, bright murals and textiles, and new K’ekchi’ friends. These snapshots allow you to tag along with the U.S. team and get a peek into the life of the Smokers!
EMM workers Luke S. Martin and Mary Martin lived with their family in Saigon from 1962 to 1975. In Luke’s latest book, A Vietnam Presence: Mennonites in Vietnam During the American War, he recounts the exciting story of community building and peacemaking in a divided country. These photographs provide a glimpse into the beginning of the long struggle for the Mennonite church in Vietnam.
Ryan and Kristie Sommers are a young couple taking a year to teach art and English in Peru. In Cusco, a mountain city twice as high as Denver, Colorado, Ryan and Kristie are making a difference in the lives of students at the PROMESA school. And it’s all happening on a backdrop of ancient culture and stunning natural beauty.
In 1936, J. Clyde and Alta Shenk landed on Tanzania’s shores to spend their lives spreading the gospel in East Africa. Their child David Shenk, born in 1937 and raised in Tanzania, also became a missionary and an influential figure in peacemaking. In 2012 and 2016, David and Grace Shenk traveled to East Africa with their children and grandchildren, revisiting places where the Shenk family mission legacy lives on. Here are snapshots of the Shenks in East Africa from 1936 to the present day.
Amani, or “peace” in Swahili, is the perfect name for the tranquil Amani Gardens Inn in Nairobi, Kenya. Art and Ruth Thiessen, a couple from British Columbia, Canada, volunteered with EMM as hosts at the Mennonite-run inn for two months. From these photos taken during their time in Kenya, you can catch glimpses of marketplaces, sunsets, and guests from all over the world.
A tiny, isolated town nestled high in the Andes Mountains of Peru, Chuyllullo is afflicted with many preventable health and hygiene problems. PROSIM, a healthcare cooperative started by Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM) and the Peruvian Mennonite Church, sends health educators into remote mountain towns to promote simple methods of improving health. Gloria Mamani Nina, PROSIM’s coordinator, has been working with the people of Chuyllullo for several years. Through Nina’s efforts, Chuyllullo has gained thriving garden plots, rabbits to eat as a source of much-needed protein, and a wealth of information about how to stay healthy.
Evelyn Hershey spent a yearlong term (2015–2016) serving as a hostess at Amani Gardens Inn in Nairobi, Kenya. Evelyn also taught art, traveled, and worshiped with East Africans!
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More than 1,000 visitors enjoyed learning about the cultures, foods, and customs of countries around the world at Eastern Mennonite Missions’ Global Fair on Saturday, July 9, 2016. The grounds of the Hans Herr House and Museum were filled with exhibits hosted by EMM workers, staff, volunteers, and friends of more than 16 countries around the world.
How do different faith traditions and religions view the end of the world? This question was the focus of an “End Times” tour sponsored by Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society on May 14, 2016. The eight-hour tour, organized by field trip committee member Jonathan Charles, included visits to local places of worship, including Mellinger Mennonite Church, St. Leo the Great Catholic Church, St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church, Congregation Degel Israel, and the Islamic Center of Lancaster. A leader from each congregation presented a broad history of their tradition, along with an explanation of end times doctrine. Over 50 participants spent the day learning about different spiritual understandings of the End of the Age.
From April 27 – May 8, 2016, EMM Christian/Muslim Relations Team members David Shenk and Jonathan Bornman traveled to Kenya at the invitation of the Kenya Mennonite Church (KMC). Their aim was to assist KMC in developing a vision for healthy Christian-Muslim relations as the Muslim community in Western Kenya develops and grows, and to lead seminars and workshops aimed toward dialogue and constructive Christian witness between Christians and Muslims.
Read more here.
Emily Good from Manheim, Pa., has been serving in Kenya on a YES assignment since September 2015. Emily's YES team includes 11 other youth from various parts of East Africa and North America. Over the course of her service, Emily has lived in three places in Kenya and has taught in a primary school, connected with and preached in local churches, and built relationships. She is coming home in May 2016.
Christian/Muslim Relations Team members David Shenk, Jonathan Bornman, and Andres Prins attended the Christ at the Checkpoint conference in Bethlehem from March 7–10. Shenk and Bornman also spent some time traveling Israel-Palestine for several days before the conference, meeting with Israelis and Palestinians, learning from evangelicals and Muslims, and seeing ancient holy sites.
Read more here.
Noah and Tricia Kaye have served as EMM workers in Africa for the past five years, planting simple churches and holding discipleship trainings for local church leaders. In that time, their family has grown from three to five members! Although the Kayes were first based in South Africa, they are planning a transition to Tanzania in spring 2016. See some of their recent work and travels throughout East Africa.
If you are interested in supporting the Kayes' work, make a charitable gift preferenced for Noah and Tricia Kaye here.