“Essen! Essen! Essen!” was what I heard a young man shout on his way to the cafeteria at the Mennonite World Conference assembly in Paraguay in 2009.
Now, you might think that because I live just down the road from the famous Das Dutchman Essenhaus in Middlebury, Ind., I would know what he was saying. But you would be overestimating me. It was in Paraguay that I learned the German word for “eat” is “essen.”
It’s probably silly that this memory has stuck with me. But even today, when there is excitement about food, I’ll think: “Essen! Essen! Essen!”
The MWC assembly in Paraguay was the first opportunity I had to participate in this great event. It was a capstone to the year I lived and did voluntary service in Brazil — and, truly, it was an inspiration.
I had just enveloped myself in new Anabaptist communities in Brazil, and then I got to witness the great breadth of diversity in Asunción. It was energizing and reinforced for me that I was part of this big, complicated community.
A few weeks ago, after a year’s postponement, the 17th MWC assembly took place in Indonesia and virtually around the world. I couldn’t attend this year, but Anabaptist World sent our editor, Paul Schrag, who collaborated with Aaron Epp of Canadian Mennonite and Indonesian Mennonite photographer Kresna Kurniawan to bring you coverage and a glimpse of the global community.
Like so many gatherings in the aftermath of COVID-19, attendance wasn’t as great as in the past. But, as so many of us have already experienced, that doesn’t lessen its impact. The MWC assembly allows communities around the world to share their home and unique gifts with global sisters and brothers.
No matter the size, the celebration is great, and we recognize again the beauty in God’s diversity of people, language and cultures, as all are invited into fellowship.
I hope you enjoy our coverage from Indonesia. Perhaps for you, like me, it can offer a bit of solace if you wished you could have been there in person.