Happiness is a Chili Potluck

What a wonderful time we shared over bowls of chili on Sunday! Thanks to everyone who had a hand in organizing and to everyone who brought in a pot of chili.

We intend to host these casual gatherings every month so watch the bulletin for details as plans come together

On Teacups & Friendship

At the beginning of February the Ladies Social team hosted a Winter Tea Party.  Here are some thoughts inspired by that event

by contributing writer, Michelle McLaughlin

Life’s busyness doesn’t always leave room to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.  Drinking tea from a proper teacup and saucer.  Enjoying dainty treats made by hands other than your own.  Laughing.  Savouring the moments with friends made special through shared life-stories, hurts, triumphs, fears, laughter and joy.  Deepening friendships newly made.

With the many to-dos waiting to be done and the varied lists of needs yet to be fulfilled, it’s too easy to get caught up in the getting-it-all-done.  It’s too easy to be caught up in bearing daily life burdens alone.  It’s too easy to mistakenly think we are each the only one with this many demands on our abilities, on our resources of inner strength, on our oh-so-precious time.

But it was in the enjoyment of a tea party amidst a roomful of women of all ages and stages of life where I was reminded that I am not so alone as I sometimes delude myself into believing.  It was in sitting with my dear friends that I was refreshed after a day made long by my own unkind, unprompted emotions.  It was in the sharing of burdens when I was nudged to remember I am not the only one facing these daily struggles of motherhood and cooking and loving and cleaning and dreaming and praying for these families we are entrusted with.

It was a tea party with fancy hats, delicate teacups and saucers, a fun photo booth and friendships.  We smiled.  We laughed.  We talked.  We shared.  A few of us even shed a tear as we listened to the life story of a woman made wise with embracing life as it unraveled before her.  A story permeated with her trust that God would see her through both difficult and joyful times.

The day began with bearing emotional encumbrances alone.  The day ended with a hot cup of tea infused with gentle reminders that I am not alone, that I am not the only one traversing this road of motherhood and womanhood.  

Enjoying a cup of tea is all about slowing down the hurry’s and the have-tos of the day to enjoy the moment.  It is savouring the delicate aroma wafting from the warm amber liquid before that first lovely sip of infused flavour.  

Mingling our hearts and time with our friends infuses our joys so the harshness of life is lessened.

Michelle is a stay-at-home mother to 5 energetic boys, striving every day to find the simple blessings in a busy household of seven.  She has been attending HMC for a few years and volunteers in the nursery and with the Ladies Social team.
Michelle shares her life on her own blog at Simple Bounty.

[tea pot photo by Blaine Radstake ~ see all the tea party photos here]

Welcoming Fall with a Parking Lot Carnival!

Every year we like to welcome the Fall with a special kick-off Sunday. In the past we’ve done different things  (all involving food, of course)  but this year we decided to go for something completely new and fresh.
A Carnival!
The sun beamed down surprisingly hot as we got everything set up after church on the afternoon of September 7 but we had a big crew of willing and able adults and children who banded together and made it happen.
With two inflatable bouncy houses – one a castle and one a skid loader – homemade carnival games provided by the crew at New Tribes Mission and the young adults group, an abundance of treats, pie and BBQ, the evening was a huge success and a whole lot of fun, culminating in a lovely time of outdoor worship!
One of our goals over the past year has been to create opportunity to build the HMC community and this certainly fit that bill! There were (sticky) smiles all around the parking lot – some of our neighbors even wandered over to see what was going on. 
The carnival team was tired but pleased and already there is talk about possibly doing it again some time!

We’d love to hear what your favorite part was! Would you like to see something like this happen again for Welcome Back Sunday? Would you do anything differently? 

Alanna Rusnak shares her life with her husband, three children, and a cat she’s trying hard not to love.  She has attended HMC for her entire life and been on staff since 2003, currently fulfilling the role of Creative Communications.  You can find her over at her own blog, SelfBinding Retrospect.

Another Version of an HMC Bond Fire

On July 27, the Hallberg’s generously hosted our fifth Bond Fire of the season and people began trickling in just as the rain started.  
Some time was spent with the horses but as more people arrived the rains began to fall heavier. 
Refuge was found in Tor’s shop but when God’s light show got underway 31 people headed into the house and cozied up around the fireplace, visiting and making s’mores.
It was not quite the bonfire people may have envisioned on their way there but it was a great time with old and new friends.  Just another version of an HMC Bond Fire!

Come Sit By The Bond Fire

The first Bond Fire of the season came on the heels of a torrential downpour. Between vicious cracks of thunder the Rusnak’s regrettably posted a cancellation notice only to glance out the window ten minutes later to see the sun peaking through. Everything was soaked but one look at the daughter who’d spent her afternoon   labouring over a sign and the cancellation was rescinded with a ‘you might get wet but I dare you to come!’ announcement post.
Dry wood was pulled from the bottom of the pile behind the barn and a fire was going when the first guests arrived.  People slowly trickled in and in the end there was a grand total of 21 in attendance (with enough snacks for 50!) but the smaller group offered a great opportunity to meet some people newly connected to the congregation and though everyone got wet feet, hearts were light and the company was great!
The evening ended with an impromptu fireworks show and sparklers for the children.

Some brave kids jumped in the river at tonight’s BondFire @ The LaPrise’s pic.twitter.com/iq2zQFNIbK
— Hanover Missionary (@hmcnews) July 7, 2014

Our second week was met with sunshine and many more people ventured out to enjoy the night together in the LaPrise’s backyard.  There was swimming in the river, a fascinating minnow-catching demonstration, and more food than the picnic table could contain.
We are looking forward to many more evenings together this summer. People have willingly opened their yards and homes and we are excited about the sense of community this recurring event is building. 
Will you join us this Sunday night? We’d love to see you there!

Talent No Talent Night

The Ladies Social team has been doing a tremendous job of crafting events that bring people together. Recently they hosted a ‘Talent No Talent’ night in which the main goal was very simple: laughter. There is little else that is more refreshing or healing than a good night of giggles!

The night was narrated by two ‘wigged’ men, (resident funny guys, Mike Krotz & Caleb Dyck) who cracked jokes and introduced each act from beneath their striking coiffures.

From family acts to an opera singing clown – the Talent No Talent night showcased a marinade of talent and silly non-talent much to the delight of a participatory audience.

Acts were segregated by Minute-To-Win-It challenges that got staff members competing against congregants. The night was full of lighthearted fun.

Unfortunately, the video camera only captured a small portion of the evening but you can catch a few of those highlights in this quick little highlight reel:

 [Watch on YouTube]

The BondFire Initiative

We were sensing a hunger among the people of HMC to return to a real place of personal connection.  We believe that relationship is essential to building a strong and caring community.  There is much to be said for intensive theological study or radical prayer meetings but without relationship it can all fall a little flat.  Ministry can and will thrive when our relationships are vibrant and strong.

We wanted to provide an opportunity to casually gather beyond the walls of our church building, a chance to get to know one another better, an occasion to laugh and play together, and a safe environment to invite others into participation with the HMC family.  
Thus was born The BondFire Initiative.
If you could spend a little time listening in on the brainstorming that goes around our staff table you would quickly learn that naming something – whether it be an event, a series or a sermon – is a massive undertaking of navigating  a circle of seemingly incompatible creative leanings while balancing various levels of ‘cheese-factor-appreciation.’  It is a fun and frustrating ordeal that (more often than not) yields great bounty; and, once something is named, excitement seems to overflow around it and we suddenly become a hive of activity working towards making that event happen.  
BondFire happened to be one of the easier decisions (much to the gleeful delight of Pastor Lynday, who is such a fan of James Bond films that she came bubbling into the office on one of her days off just to share that she had timed things perfectly in lining up for Mescha’s new dog tag: #007!).  Of course, we had been leaning towards the verb – to be bonded – to be bound together – but Mr. Bond was a happy accident.  And what better way to ‘BOND’ than around a fire stoked by good conversations and delicious shared goodies?
We scheduled weekly campfires every Sunday night throughout the summer as a low key venue for community.  Congregants offered their properties and fire pits.  They made homemade signs and made space for a port-a-potty.  With everything in place, all that remained was to see if people would invest in such a vision.
And they did!  People came!  Some weeks saw large numbers, others were a smaller group, but they came!  They brought their lawn chairs and their blankets and more than enough snacks and stories to share around and everyone just enjoyed the warm, low-pressure company of one another – out beneath the gorgeous summer skies.  We bonded.  And we are stronger for it.

Long ago, we used to sing this old Gaither chorus and though it’s no longer part of our musical repitoire I think it really is part of the heartbeat of what HMC wants to be:

I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God 
I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood! 
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
for I’m part of the family, the family of God.
If The BondFire Initiative accomplished anything, I’d say it is just this: we are a family.  And as the song goes on to say, “When one has a heartache we all share the tears, we rejoice in each victory in this family so dear.”  
Welcome home, weary wanderer, welcome home!

When Women Gather: The Strawberry Social

It was a small group of women who decided it was high time to gather together the ladies of the church – to create an easy atmosphere of lightheartedness – to laugh together – to span across generations – to share stories and tables and tea and punch and dress-up clothes

And to eat sinfully delicious strawberry treats!

From this vision came the first ever HMC official Strawberry Social.

“We were really excited…about the first women’s social,” said Kristina Dyck, one of the wonderful women who made it all possible.  “[We were] excited because, as women, the need for companionship with other women is so great…regular women’s socials are such a great way to develop those relationships and create new ones.”

Hanover Missionary Church has a rich history of fellowship – of potluck meals and Christmas dinners, work bees and sack-race picnics – but the current culture often seems too busy for something so ‘frivolous’ and fun and so, the team approached the idea with some nervousness.  They weren’t sure if the women of HMC felt such an event was as important as they did.  Would anyone really come?  

Kristina shared that when they were first planning they talked about how if even 20-30 women attended it would still be a great success; but they stepped out in faith and decided to plan for 50.  As the event date drew closer, excitement brewed.  With energetic pulpit announcements (during which Pastor Jason, without apology, bemoaned the fact that he could not attend a ‘women only’ event) and cute posters around the foyer, the buzz began to build.   “We felt we should increase that number to 70 just to be safe, but we were blown away when 70-80 women showed up!  It was so neat to see women of all ages enjoying each other and in some cases meeting for the first time!”

It was a full house!  Auditorium A/B was decorated sweetly with bright pink tissue paper poufs, an adorable bunting made from material scraps, and darling little rocks painted to look like strawberries.  The room was alive with the sound of laughter.  Women, ages sixteen to eighty-nine, mingled around the room during a lively game of People Bingo, dressed in all manner of hats – the grand, the old fashioned, the wonderfully strange – seeking out someone to sign each box on their card: someone with a toe ring | someone who has bungee jumped | someone who has skinny dipped [gasp!] – it was a brilliant way to get people moving and talking and meeting each other.

After some very ‘healthy’ servings of various trifles (because you couldn’t try just one!) we listened as one of our senior ladies shared her testimony.  She told an incredible story of love and loss, joy and heartache and the ultimate freedom through Jesus that had carried her through.  I think it’s fair to say there was more than one lady who had a tear drip down into her tea.

The testimony was followed by more treats, mingling and countless silly moments in the photo booth the ladies had set up in the basement foyer.  With a ‘tickle trunk’ full of accessories, there was no end to the possibilities for capturing fun memories of a great night. 

“We are so excited about the upcoming year and the other events that are in the works,” Kristina said. “We are hoping to create a space for fellowship, for women to share their hearts with each other, for mentoring relationships to develop, and of course to just have a great time with each other as sisters in Christ.”

“A cheerful heart is good medicine…” Proverbs 17:22a

[See more from the photo booth by visiting our facebook page – click here]

Special thanks to Faith Shelley Photography for capturing the memories!

Alanna Rusnak shares her life with her husband, three children, and a cat she’s trying hard not to love.  She has attended HMC for her entire life and been on staff since 2003, currently fulfilling the role of Creative Communications.  You can find her over at her own blog, SelfBinding Retrospect.