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Vanessa Abe Marilyn Devon Peters on break hot dayVanessa Abe Marilyn Devon Peters on break hot day

“It’s interesting how we always ended up with the right people for the job at hand.”

That’s what Philip Wiebe said about the Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) family project in Princeton, B.C. this summer.

Wiebe, who directed the project with his wife, Elvira, was thinking especially of when Abe Peters, a professional landscaper, showed up—just when they were about to start landscaping projects in the town.

Peters, along with his wife, Marilyn and their children, Devon, 16, and Vanessa, 14, decided to sign up to serve in Princeton as a way to do something together as a family and take a break from regular work.

“We had a very busy year, just busy, busy, busy,” said Abe. “I wanted something different for a change.”

When the family learned about the opportunity in Princeton, they thought “why not?” said Abe. “It was a way to get away and help others. What better way to spend our time? It was win-win.”

It turned out to be a great experience, said Marilyn.

“As a mother, it was great for me to work with my kids,” she said, adding she also enjoyed seeing them “interact with other adults and meet the homeowners and hear their stories.”

For the family, “it was a much-needed change of pace” after a busy year, she said.

At the same time, “it was good to do something worthwhile to help other people,” she said, noting the homeowners were grateful to have their homes and yards “looking good again.”

Abe and Marilyn, who are part of Living Hope Evangelical Church in La Crete, Alberta, appreciated the good balance of work and recreation at the project.

“We had a lot of fun,” said Abe. “It was a good break from the ordinary. We’d do it again.”

“We thought it would be great to combine service and vacation, so we agreed to give it a whirl,”

— John Peters

“It was really great to work with other families,” added Marilyn. “We made new friends and created a bond. It was a good experience all around and we’d do it again.”

Another family there at the same time was John and Connie Peters and their children Erica, 16 and Greg, 14.

The Peters, who are part of the Sommerfelder Mennonite Church in La Crete, were also wondering what to do for a family vacation this summer when they heard about the family camp from the Wiebes.

“We thought it would be great to combine service and vacation, so we agreed to give it a whirl,” said John.

Knowing they would be there with Abe and Marilyn—John and Abe are cousins—also helped.

“It was hot, but it was really good,” said John of the days doing landscaping projects.

“It was great to work together as a family, and we were glad to help someone else,” he said, adding the recreational opportunities like swimming, tubing on the river, gold panning and hikes were also good.

“We had a good vacation, saw the mountains and worked and played together,” added Connie. “It was a good balance.”

Added John: “It was a blessing that went both ways. We were able to bless the homeowners by helping fix up their homes, and they blessed us. We’d do it anytime again.”

John Longhurst, MDS Canada Communications

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