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August 11, 2017

A lifetime of service

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.

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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!

Read more here.

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