Christmastide Blessings

Christmastide Blessings
Annual Incarnation of the Story of the Birth of Jesus

Continuing the work of Jesus, simply, peacefully, JOYFULLY, together.

We worship at 9:30 am on Sunday.
Sunday School begins at 11 am.
Potluck is the first Sunday of the month.

17975 Centreville-Constantine Road, Constantine, MI 49042

florence.brethren.mennonite@gmail.com

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Two Stories from Congo


Here are two stories that Christine Nofsinger shared about her recent trip to Congo to visit the Lind family. The Linds are members of Florence serving with Mennonite Central Committee and living in Kinshasa.

STORY ONE
The second time that Suzanne and I went back to the orphanage, Georgette was at work and there were 13 children there--either the very young children or the older boys who were no longer in school but did not have work. They were surprised and so very excited and grateful for the shoes that we took them.

One of them disappeared and brought out another boy who had been in bed to make sure he got a pair of shoes. We saw that he had an eye infection, it was huge and bulging and as he sat in the chair he began crying because of the pain. Suzanne and I were very concerned and they explained that he had gone to the doctor the day before and was supposed to go back but there was no money.

I paced the floor and fretted to Suzanne. If I'd have only known. I have all kinds of eye drops at home with antibiotics and steroids. Oh, I just can't stand it. We decided that I would give $20.00 to cover the cost of the doctor visit. I wanted to give more. Suzanne said no, that without Georgette there, that was probably all that we should give at this time.

One of the young men there with minimal English skills and serves in some sort of helping role at the orphanage, came over to me and said, slowly and carefully, "God Bless You." I thanked him and said awkwardly, "May God bless you too." He came over later and said again, “God bless you.” I brushed it off. I was embarrassed. (If he only knew how much money I spent on fabric I thought). What is a lousy $20 to me?

A third time he came and then said they wanted to pray with us. I did not understand the prayer, but in the moment, in that place, in that small, dark room with bare furnishings, I stood in this circle of teenage orphans, looked around the room at these tall, lanky, handsome boys who reminded me of my sons, and received their blessing.

STORY TWO:
On one of my last days in Kinshasa, Suzanne and I walked into the downtown area and I soaked in the sights, knowing that I was leaving the next day. As we walked through one of the many amazing little outdoor nurseries with lush, tropical plants for sale, we fell behind a tall, young, beautiful woman all decked out in her colorful clothing and heard her singing “Amazing Grace” in French. Suzanne and I walked behind her and harmonized in English. There we were in the middle of the morning, in the middle of Kinshasa, singing together. When the song ended she turned off, looked back at us, smiled and waved goodbye.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Stories about a Journey to Congo

Beatrice and Suzanne at the MCC office in Kinshasa, Congo. Suzanne and Tim Lind are country directors for MCC and are members of Florence Church.



These are the children who are cared for by Suzanne's friend, Georgette. Christine Nofsinger and Suzanne made two visits, sharing shoes and food.



Saturday, June 20, 2009

Stories from a Costa Rican Journey


When Martha Miller visited her brother Leo in Sabana Bonita, Costa Rica, she noted that it is in the little things that there is much power. "Even if we have a little, if we share the little we have it is a blessing." Leo is retired and wanted to live on a piece of land that he could protect. There, at Sabana Bonita, he has a friend, Adolfo, who is a young organic farmer. Adolfo comes each evening to Leo's home. They eat and they learn about organic farming together. They both have a passion for the organic farming movement and learn from one another's experience and understanding. Someday Leo hopes to build a library near his home so that the learning can continue.




Sabana Bonita has a school (turquoise building) and a church (white building) and a community center with a suspended roof that provides for seven or so families who live in the area. Martha enjoyed very much spending time in this little community, seeing the joy of the school children, and seeing how her brother Leo's desire to care for the earth is unfolding. Now he has been asked to be the president of an organization that will protect the local river from misuse or pollution.

I hope that during my sabbatical next summer, in 2010 in Costa Rica I can spend time in Sabana Bonita. I wonder how we might take some part in Leo's vision for this land. Nina B. Lanctot

Friday, June 19, 2009

River Country Monologues










RIVER COUNTRY MONOLOGUES

Jheny Nieto, Daniela Zehr and Nina Lanctot, in collaboration with the Sexual and Domestic Assault Shelter of Three Rivers, are working on collecting stories about WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE A WOMAN (in English and Spanish) in counties around the St. Joe River. We believe that sharing stories of joy and pain, of strength and vulnerability, anonymously, is one way to build understanding and hope for women in our communities.

Our first step is hosting a CONVERSATION CAFE this coming Thursday, June 25th, at World Fare in Three Rivers at 7 pm. All females are welcome! We will be collecting anonymous stories or poems, 500 words or less. These can be sent to Editors at Nofsingers, 53301 Bair Lane, Marcellus, MI between now and July 9, 2009.

Our second step is auditions for readers which will take place at World Fare on Thurday, July 30th from 6-9:30 pm. Readers will not read their own stories, but stories that come from other women in our community. Readings will be in Spanish and English, with translation.

River Country Monologues will be shared in a performance on Sunday evening, August 23rd, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 321 N. Main Street, Three Rivers at 7:30 pm. A free will offering will be taken to benefit Domestic and Sexual Abuse Services of Southwest Michigan.

If you have questions, please contact Florence Church at 269-816-5945.

peace,
Nina


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pilgrim Dreams: Summer Worship at Florence


This summer, Florence Church of the Brethren Mennonite is returning to the ancient tradition of worshipping on Saturday evenings. (The earliest Christians worshipped on Saturday evening, before the Roman Emperor Constantine made Christianity compulsory and Sunday the day of worship.)

During June, July and August, the church welcomes one and all for worship at 6 pm on Saturday evening, at 17975 Centreville-Constantine Rd., Constantine, followed by food and fellowship at 7 pm. All are warmly welcome to participate in this summer’s theme, Pilgrimage: Journeying with God.

In times of challenge and uncertainty, people are looking for signs of guidance, and we will cultivate the awareness of Christ on our journey as we share stories of our comings and goings, near and far, looking for the Divine in what is ordinary. Members will share tales of travels this summer to Congo, Paraguay, Germany, and Nicaragua.

The church’s first worship in the series, on Saturday, June 6, will be followed by food and fellowship at a centennial farm newly purchased by congregation member, Karla Kauffman. A potluck meal will be shared as we offer a farm blessing to the old Gleason Farm, on 15352 Gleason Road, just west of 131, at 7:30 pm.

For any of these events, please call the church office for more information at 269 435 5945.