Mennonite Heritage Village

And Then We Set to Work

March 23, 2023

By Gary Dyck

When the sewing factory closed in Steinbach, supervisor Tina Dyck, decided it was time to ‘retire’ and volunteer at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV). She was 64 years old at the time. Twenty years later, at age 84, she is still volunteering at what she calls one of her favourite spots in the world.

During that time, she has taught numerous schnetje (Mennonite biscuits) classes. Fifteen years ago, someone decided she deserved a crown and has been the ‘Schnetje Queen’ ever since. In 2013, did an article on her: “Choosing to volunteer at MHV was an easy decision for Dyck. Her great-grandfather was one of Steinbach’s 13 original settlers, and history is very important to her. She explains every time she puts on an apron to cook another schnetje class, her admiration for her ancestors increases even more. I could see how they must have struggled with the equipment they had. It means a lot to me that I see where they came from, they kind of broke the path for us. We should give them a lot of credit for what they did.”

Another favourite activity for Tina is to work in the summer kitchen. She enjoys connecting with the tourists about how it was back then. Eventually, someone will ask what one of the signs in the summer kitchen means: ‘Von uns die Arbeit, von Gott den Segen.’ From German she translates it to ‘From us the work, from God the blessing.’ Which then naturally leads to a discussion about the Mennonite value of work and trusting God.

A sign hanging in the summer kitchen at MHV.

Recently, Tina had a bad fall and has been housebound. Although her personality is energetic as always, she has told us that we need to find someone to replace her. Would you help us find the next person to take up her crown and bowl of flour? Now is a great time to learn from Tina how to make schnetje like our ancestors did and how to teach the next generation. In April, MHV will have its Volunteer Orientation. Please let us know if you are interested in volunteering, even if you can’t make the orientation.

This is your last week to see the intriguing exhibit ‘Resurfacing: Mennonite Floor Patterns’ which closes April 1st. This one-of-a-kind exhibit shows the artistic spirit that Mennonite women had when settling into their housebarn. This release of colourful art was probably therapeutic for them.

Sarah Ens’ epic poem entitled Flyway (available at our Village Books & Gifts) centers on the Mennonite journey out of the Soviet Union and sometimes intimates her grandmother’s thoughts:

Our Oma, aunts, cousins,

sent to some

different hill

in the distant range – there

          out the window

left open. And what

were we to do? We were

who we were.

We stood  together, cried

and then we set to work.

For those that did not leave right aways, they had to clean their house sometimes more than once after anarchists ransacked their village. Upon arrival in Canada, they had to start again, with little time for rest. May we never forget what they endured. May we all find God’s healing in our grief and His blessing in our work.

Upcoming Events:

Annual General Meeting, Tuesday, April 4, 7pm. Presentation of essential reports, approval of financial statements and election of board members. Open to the public.

The Great Easter Egg Hunt, Saturday, April 8, 10am – 1pm. Family activity day, including finding chocolate eggs all over the museum grounds. Free admission.

Volunteer Orientation, Thursday, April 27, 7pm. Time to get ready for a new season! An informational evening for new and current volunteers in the MHV Auditorium.

MHV Village Books & Gifts and Galleries are open Tuesday to Saturday. Currently MHV has two new exhibits for you to enjoy: “Resurfacing: Mennonite Floor Patterns” by Margruite Krahn and “Beauty in the Ordinary” by Southeast Artists.