Mennonite men travel to help strangers in need of assistanceAfter driving for two-and-a-half hours Saturday from Barron, Wis., to Cloquet with a group of 17 other men, Kenyon Goertzen, 21, and Darrel Friesen, 48, put their strong, able bodies to work.
By: Jolynne Denman, Pine Journal
After driving for two-and-a-half hours Saturday from Barron, Wis., to Cloquet with a group of 17 other men, Kenyon Goertzen, 21, and Darrel Friesen, 48, put their strong, able bodies to work.
Goertzen and Friesen said their group was given orders by the Christian Disaster Relief team in Barron, only a few days after the flood occurred in northeastern Minnesota. The group has sent volunteers to Carlton County the past two weekends.
“There was no disaster in our immediate area, so we came here to help,” Friesen explained. “This is 100 percent work for us.”
Most of the 17-member group had previous disaster relief experiences: in Joplin, Mo., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Galveston, Texas. Each man came from one of three congregations of Mennonites.
Mennonites are committed to nonviolence, nonresistance, and pacifism. Mennonite congregations worldwide embody the full scope of Mennonite practice from old-fashioned “plain” people to those who are indistinguishable in dress and appearance from the general population. There are many different groups who call themselves Mennonite, primarily because they refer back to their founding leader, Menno Simons, and his stance on nonviolence and pacifism.
Doing fairly intense physical tasks from house to house, Goertzen and Friesen could not ask for a better group to work with.
“We all get along,” Goertzen said. “Plus, I get to work alongside two of my cousins.”
“These young, single men are full of ambition and fun to work with,” Friesen added. “No one holds any issues or grudges towards each other.”
Working on their third house of the day, the group wasted no time. From shoveling sewage and mud under the 80-degree sun, or lifting heavy furniture out of the basements, not a single word of complaint or insolence was uttered; the men were also calm and respectful of the homeowner and her property.
“The work is messy,” Goertzen said. “But all together, with the group we have, we get along, and the work becomes easy.”