This week my younger cousins are in town to attend the Vacation Bible School held at my home church, Woodside. In the afternoons, I have been keeping them busy with swimming, trampoline jumping, and berry picking. On Monday, we drove out to a strawberry farm and picked a ton to freeze. And we chatted about everything under the sun.
One of the interesting conversations that happened was sparked by the fact that the farm was owned and operated by an Old Order Mennonite family. Now, although I have lived in Elmira for most of my life, I haven't yet grasped all the minutiae of differences between the groups, so I may have gotten some stuff wrong. But the boys wanted to know, why did this family dress differently, and why did they speak a different language, and a lot more whys. We talked about wanting to stand out from our culture and be visibly different from those around us, and that this was one of the ways that Mennonites make sure others know who they believe in. We talked about the fact that some of those choices made it more difficult for people to talk to them - and maybe that there were too many differences. And we pondered whether we look different to the people around us who don't believe in Jesus.
While we were chatting, we picked away, and soon discovered, that due to our later season adventure, most of the strawberries were very tiny.... until we came across a few that had grown into each other and became, as we affectionately named them, Teenage Mutant Ninja Strawberries. Yet more differences and whys to ponder on.
Now, the boys and I have gotten used to standing out due to skin colour (I usually live in Malawi, and they live in Toronto in a very multi-cultural neighbourhood). But what we realized in our discussions, is that seeing our 'Jesus Difference' isn't immediately visible. So I asked them about it... how do you think people will see Jesus in you? It's not in our Batman t-shirts, or the way we style our hair. We talked about the Bible and the lessons in it that teach us how to treat others and show them God's love, the skills God gives each of us, and how Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci (makers who were featured at VBS this week... and also names of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles...) made such beautiful things to honour God. At VBS, they have been learning about the amazing plan and purpose God has in mind for their lives.
I ended up thinking back through my own life, and how it hasn't always looked like I expected. In high school, I was certain that I wanted to be either a professional musician or a landscape architect. Then I went to Rwanda on a short-term mission trip through Woodside, and met a young boy with special needs who wasn't in school because of them. I ended up sponsoring a child through those missionaries, to get him onto a school that could accommodate his needs. And that spun my overall direction right around - I had a passion for Africa and helping children with special needs reach their full potential. I ended up going to university for international development, and landed in Malawi - supposedly to work in the refugee camp with an agricultural group. But God rewrote that for me, and I ended up setting up a classroom in the refugee camp school, specifically for children with special needs instead. I can't wait to see the way God works in my new placement in Malawi!
P.S. Those Teenage Mutant Ninja Strawberries tasted just as good as all the rest! In fact, the boys would argue that they tasted even better than the normal ones! :)
Welcome! My name is Katiana and I am a development professional pursuing my dream to live out Isaiah 1:17 to the best of my abilities. I am passionate about teaching and working with vulnerable families and children to improve their lives sustainably.
This blog is composed of my personal opinions, which do not necessarily reflect the opinion or views of institutions or organizations that I may be or have been affiliated with.