The Beauty of Community

Community is something that is very important at Central Christian School in Kidron. This year, CCS faculty member, Tim Shue and his wife Jennifer demonstrated what community looks like beyond the four walls of CCS and welcomed a stranger into their home for the 2016-17 school year.  

Through the International Volunteer Exchange Program (IVEP) with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), Tim and Jennifer Shue agreed to house Barbara Franzen, an IVEP’er from Brazil. Barbara was placed in the elementary school at Central Christian as an aide. This is the 17th IVEP’er that CCS has hosted. According to MCC’s website, “The IVEP is a vocational and cultural exchange program that connects international young adults with host families and volunteer placements in Canada and the U.S. creating opportunities for people to explore a different way of life, meet new people and serve God.”

It is important to both Tim and Jennifer to have a broad world perspective and for their three girls to experience other cultures. “Hosting someone is a great way to do that as you live and interact together,” said Jennfier. “Both Tim and I wanted to host someone because we were in similar programs with MCC. I spent a year in India and had a host family while teaching in a Mennonite school. Tim spent a year in Amsterdam Holland where he served as the custodian for a Mennonite church and had a host mother and family as well.”

When asked what prompted them to welcome an IVEP’er into their home, Tim responded, “Jennifer and I wanted our three girls to have the blessing of fostering international relationships as we did. As a Christian, I also have a commitment to practice hospitality and humility as I consider the lives and experiences of my brothers and sisters from around the world.”

As their year of hosting Barbara came to a close, the Shue family created a “bucket list” of things to do before Barbara left Kidron. One of the activities at the top of the list was a hot air balloon ride. Jennifer had connected earlier in the year with a couple who pilot hot air balloon rides for a living. “We decided that we would love to gift a hot air balloon ride to Barbara as a birthday gift and sending-away blessing,” said Tim.

The hot air balloon basket holds four people, so Sara Weaver, CCS second and third grade teacher, joined Barbara. Shelly Bilderback, kindergarten and first grade teacher at Central, gifted a ride to her 85-year-old father who is the main caretaker for her mom who has an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. “We had to be flexible with days and look for good weather, but Tuesday, May 9 was one of the most beautiful nights to launch,” said Jennifer. “What a gift to lift off from the school’s front yard and float over the community that Barbara served in for the year and view the beautiful surrounding hills and fields of the Amish farms.”

Tim shared these thoughts about ending his time with Barbara, “We have had a super year with Barbara, and our girls have gained the rich experience of having a big sister. I may have a very small voice when it comes to things like public policy and how nations interact, but I do have the ability to promote peace, love and understanding one relationship and experience at a time.”