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Peeling Potatoes and Hearing Stories

July 3, 2019

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.

With support from a scholarship through MDS, Bartel is spending eight weeks in the southeastern B.C. city helping people recover from the 2018 spring floods.

Some of that time is spent on work sites, repairing homes damaged by the flooding. But in early June he was assigned to kitchen duty for a week, as an assistant to head cook Rosa Quintana.

“I like cooking,” said Bartel, a member of Winnipeg’s Faithworks (Mennonite Brethren) church. But, he quickly added, “I’m not looking for a career in cooking.”

Of his time with MDS in Grand Forks, the highlight is meeting and talking to clients. “I love hearing their stories,” he said.