I grew up knowing I was a Mennonite yet not knowing what a Mennonite was or what it meant, but I knew some cultural stuff. I knew a bit of Plautdietsch (like mejal, because as the only girl, I knew my parents were talking about me when they used this word), I liked verenki with schmauntfatt, and was aware a peace position had something to do with it, because my grandfather had been a Conscientious Objector.
I’ve touched on all these, in this blog, but one cultural Mennonite quirk I hadn’t mentioned yet is our tendency to Mennonite our way.
This was a common joke in our home during my formative years. A good number of our trips were to see family in Abbotsford, and we often stayed with them. We were Mennoniting our way!
I understood this to mean you simply stayed with as many Mennonites as you could as you traveled, so that you’d save money.
When I was still single, and didn’t have much money, I planned a little trip for myself. I figured I’d head west as usual, because that way I could stay with people in every province and save money on hotels. I lined up all my stays and ventured out on my road trip, fully aware that I was Mennoniting my way, even as a full-grown adult. I felt like maybe I should be ashamed of my penny-pinching ways, but at the same time I also felt some satisfaction and joy at a chance to catch up in person with friends and family as I followed the Trans Canada Highway west.
Still, I also felt this was fair game for mockery. Affectionate mockery, because obviously I embraced the “Mennonite Your Way” method of vacationing. It was just funny to me, our people’s penchant for striving to avoid incurring hotel costs. Classic Mennonite.
Anyway, one day at the Steinbach MCC thrift shop, I found a gem — a Mennonite Your Way hospitality travel directory! I was shocked that someone had formalized this, and also that people willingly put their names into this directory. I immediately purchased it.
On the back is a quote about offering simplicity and good cheer. Inside the back the poem continues with, “What thou thinketh ye shall say, if thou wish, without giving offense. What we think… we also say.” Ooh, these really ARE my people.
The book I found at the MCC expired in 2001 so it’s not useable (hence its donation, I assume) but it’s really interesting to see all the travel advice and tips, people offering to be local tour guides. A pretty neat resource!
Do you know anyone that has used the Mennonite Your Way directory?