Faces of Mennonite Disaster Service in Grand Forks, B.C.

Founded in 1950, Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) is a volunteer network of the North American Mennonite churches that responds to those affected by disasters in Canada and the U.S. In 2018, 5,203 volunteers from across the U.S. and Canada donated 48,041 days of volunteer labour to do 676 jobs at 15 projects in six states and one province worth over $12.6 million. This included repairing 272 homes, building 74 new ones, and 300 clean-ups.

In 2019, MDS is involved in two projects in Canada; Grand Forks, B.C. and Brantford, Ont.

Below are some of the volunteers who were in Grand Forks in early June—the faces of MDS.

MDS Like a Military Operation

For Jan Joyce, serving as a volunteer with Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) is like being part of a military operation. And Joyce, 62, should know—she spent 20 years in the Royal Canadian Air Force. 

Peeling Potatoes and Hearing Stories

Zachary Bartel wants to be a communicator one day—he wants to tell stories. But first, there are some potatoes to peel for hungry Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) volunteers in Grand Forks, B.C. Bartel, 19, is a second-year student at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) in Winnipeg, studying theology and taking communications courses.

“What Neighbours Do.”

Unlike other Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) volunteers who came to Grand Forks, B.C. in early June, Sheila and Mike Davis didn’t have to travel hundreds or even thousands of kilometres to be of service. The retired couple live in nearby Trail, just about an hour away from the city.

“Never Thought God Cared About Me.”

“I never thought God cared about me, but then MDS showed up.” That’s what a homeowner in Grand Forks, B.C. told Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) volunteer Eli Klassen. The comment was moving for the 20-year-old Steinbach, Man. Bible College student.

Couple Enjoying “MDS Retirement Plan”

Retirees Susan and Peter Thiessen call it their “Mennonite Disaster Service retirement plan.” “Being retired and doing MDS is wonderful,” says Peter, 65, who is co-coordinator of the project in Grand Forks, B.C. with Susan, 64.

MDS “Feeds My Soul”

“You’d make a great MDSer.” That’s what a long-time Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) volunteer told Robert Prinse, a self-employed carpenter from Chilliwack, B.C. 

Good to Make a Difference

Brian Marten of Pincher Creek, Alberta, wasn’t planning on doing service in Grand Forks, B.C. with Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS). But his friend Jim Dyck was going, and he invited him to come along. So he did.

MDS Road Trip!

What do you get when you put four retired in teachers in a pick-up truck and head out to do service with Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) A road trip! That’s what Peter Bartel, 81, Frank Reimer, 79, Ernie Ewert, 70, and Peter Andres, 74, did in early June.

Hooked on MDS

Roman Heuft went to Williams Lake, B.C. last year to serve for just a week with Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS)—it was a way to use his career skills in construction management to help people whose houses were destroyed by wildfires.

From Mexico to MDS

People who serve with Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) come from all over North America—and that includes Mexico, too. That’s where Dietrich Reimer, 25, and Rosa Quintana, 26 are from.