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Alumni news and notes
To all MCC Alumni:
Herald Press is revising the MCC-commissioned Extending the Table cookbook and needs your help!
They are looking for stories that help cooks in Canada and the U.S. understand some of the perspectives on food preparation, eating together, gratitude and hospitality that emerge from regions of the world in which you have lived and worked. They are looking not for general reflections but for specific stories about the growing or cooking or sharing of food in daily life and/or in celebrations. Of special interest would be any stories that connect food with peacemaking in some way. Each story should be only about 75-150 words long.
Send story submissions by July 15, 2013, to Valerie Weaver-Zercher at email@example.com.
Alumni In the News
Golden reunions in diamond country
By Lynda Hollinger-Janzen
TSHIKAPA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Meetinghouse) – In July, 2012, Ray and Ruth Milhous simultaneously celebrated their golden wedding anniversary and a century of Mennonite presence in what is today’s Democratic Republic of Congo.
Fifty years before, Ray and Ruth Milhous headed for a honeymoon in the tropics – not to glimmering beaches, but to Kalonda where they helped establish a Mennonite mission hospital in a zone of interethnic conflict.
In 1962, the newlyweds were among the first workers placed by MCC in Congo. Ray Milhous, a conscientious objector and a doctor, was given the option of serving in Labrador or Congo.
“I wasn’t a conscientious objector because I wanted to escape danger,” Milhous said. “My colleagues from medical school were being sent to Vietnam, so I knew I had to go to Congo.”
Ruth Milhous, a nurse, wasn’t daunted by her husband’s courageous stance.
“Missionaries have been part of my family tradition for a long time,” she said. “We were taught that we need to be faithful to what God calls us to do and God will take care of the rest.”
At the time of the Milhous couple’s arrival, violence between local ethnic groups and Luba immigrants from the eastern part of the country caused a famine. Belgian rubber and mining companies attracted Luba laborers to the Tshikapa-Kalonda area through well-honed policies intended to incite ethnic rivalries that assured a stream of cheap labor. The Congolese government responded to the bloodshed by dividing the feuding groups and closing the bridge across the Kasai River; established ethnic groups on the Tshikapa side and Luba on the Kalonda side.
Ray and Ruth Milhous said that they didn’t have the training for the responsibilities assigned to them, but, now, they realize that God was able to use their openness to serving despite their inadequacies. As the first medical director (Ray) and the organizer of the maternity and pharmacy (Ruth), the Milhous couple helped to set the tone of the hospital for the years to come. They valued the contribution of each person, no matter what educational level they had attained.
The two years that Ray and Ruth Milhous served in Congo made an impact on how they lived when they returned to the United States.
“Our time in Kalonda changed us,” Ray Milhous said. “We worked at mission awareness in each of the U. S. congregations we have attended. Congo influenced our values, so that we live differently than most North Americans.”
The nearly three-week visit to Congo with 26 delegates from three continents representing seven Mennonite agencies was the most precious gift the Ray and Ruth Milhous could think of to give each other to celebrate their 50 years of marriage and service.
When the Milhous couple walked up the path to attend the graduation ceremony of the Kalonda Bible Institute, they were astonished by warm greetings from René Ntumba, a nurse who had worked alongside them for two years, and another nurse, Mudiandambu, who had repaired Ray’s shoulder that had been dislocated in a bicycle accident nearly 50 years ago.
These sorts of reunions were the highlights of the trip for Ray. What brought Ruth the most joy was again worshiping with her Congolese brothers and sisters.
“After 50 years of difficult life, the vibrancy of the church is a great reminder of God’s faithfulness,” Ruth Milhous said.