Photo supplied by Lawrence Klippenstein

Dr. Leo Malinovski, Jacob Toews and Lawrence Klippenstein in Barnaul, Siberia. Photo taken in August 1993.

MCC representatives are an important part of MCC's international work.

They help oversee local programs and personnel while building relationships with local partners. Over the years, many Manitobans have served as representatives, including Lawrence Klippenstein and Peter Peters who share their memories below.

Helping in Siberia

By Lawrence Klippenstein

 

“One of the very memorable events of our family life was an assignment to open an MCC office in Moscow. One day, we had three German men from Siberia as guests. Their spokesperson, Cornelius Paetkau, invited us to a special celebration in the large Siberian city of Barnaul.

“We are also wondering if you as an MCC rep would say a few words about the program,” he asked.

“About what?” I said.

“Well, just say a few words about Canada and it needs to be in German because our people do not understand English.”

We told them we thought we could make it.

Eventually, the time came to board the plan and fly out to Barnaul. On the day of the program, we arrived at the concert hall of the local German community.

Just before the concert, someone came up to me and said, “I understand from this program you will be giving a sermon here this afternoon."

I really did listen up, asking then, “Does it really say sermon?”

“Yes,” Paetkau replied, “it does, and the people are really looking forward to it."

Needless to say, at that point I was literally speechless. This was very different than “saying a few words about Canada.” I was told earlier that I would have about half an hour for my presentation. I quickly recalled my training from seminary in 1960 and wrote down a new speech, translating into German as I went. I waited till after the program to see what my wife would say about the whole incident. Not bad, she said, better than when you spend hours preparing. Which was something indeed!

This is an edited version of the story Helping out in Siberia written by Lawrence Klippenstein that can be found in the book “Lindenwood Terrace: Sharing our Stories, Recipes, Art and Humor”. Edited by John Friesen. Published in 2020. 

MCC representatives are responsible for carrying out MCC’s vision for relief, peace and development in their area. Manitobans, Peter and Margaret Peters, spent many years as representatives in India. Peter shares a memory from his time there with us.

Traffic Challenges in Calcutta 1984-88

By Peter Peters

 

The most overwhelming experience for the visitor to India is the street life. Every possible mode of movement and transportation will be seen on the overcrowded streets of Calcutta. People carry loads of all descriptions on their heads, shoulders, and hands. In the midst of all this commotion are dogs, cows, pigs and sometimes monkeys. You have to see it to believe it and even then, you may need to pinch yourself to take it all in.

A snapshot of Calcutta traffic from 1984-88.Photos supplied by Peter Peters

We often marvelled at how our Bengali friends could glide serenely into confusion, eyes moving all the time, anticipating the motorcycle they registered without actually seeing it, side-stepping the rickshaw making an illegal right turn, pivoting just in time to avoid being swiped by a bus, an arriving on the other side, still carrying on the conversation they began before taking the plunge. It is a skill practiced every day in such a variety of circumstances, that they have become adept at handling many other situations as well, I believe.

It is good to make the best of circumstances we find ourselves in. I recall many wonderful people, incidents and situations we encountered while in India. When I think of it now, I’m amazed with all the flexibility, versatility, and learnings I had to acquire and behold. In some mysterious way, I’m profoundly grateful to have had the opportunity.

This is an edited version of the story Traffic Challenges in Calcutta 1984-88 written by Peter Peters that can be found in the book “Lindenwood Terrace: Sharing our Stories, Recipes, Art and Humor”. Edited by John Friesen. Published in 2020.