Call to serve abroad is a ‘remarkable adventure’

A year in Cambodia with MCC young adult service program leads to three-year term in Mozambique

Feb 2, 2015 by

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CAPINGA, Mozambique — Rebecca Standen wears a headlamp to light the way and checks a pot of chima bubbling over the fire outside her tiny house. The porridge-like mixture will be supper as she ends another day in the village where she lives most of the week.

Rebecca Standen prepares her evening meal outside her house in the village of Capinga, near the city of Tete in Mozambique. Standen became an agricultural extension worker with MCC Mozambique after serving one year with MCC’s Serving and Learning Together program for young adults in Cambodia. — Matthew Sawatzky/MCC

Rebecca Standen prepares her evening meal outside her house in the village of Capinga, near the city of Tete in Mozambique. Standen became an agricultural extension worker with MCC Mozambique after serving one year with MCC’s Serving and Learning Together program for young adults in Cambodia. — Matthew Sawatzky/MCC

Standen is 24 years old and an agricultural extension worker with Mennonite Central Committee in Mozambique. She’s providing training and support to community members as they plant gardens and harvest vegetables.

“I never imagined that I would be working overseas with an organization like MCC,” she said. “I never, ever thought I would have the courage to leave home.”

She’s from Riverview, a town in New Brunswick. After graduating with a degree in environmental biology in 2012, she considered postgraduate studies but couldn’t find a suitable fit. She grew up in a Mennonite household and was familiar with MCC.

One day she checked MCC’s website and discovered an opportunity in Cambodia, with SALT — Serving and Learning Together. It’s a yearlong commitment for people ages 18 to 30 who want to volunteer overseas.
“They were looking for someone who had some experience but was interested in trying new things,” she said.

Standen accepted the position and found herself in Cambodia demonstrating agricultural techniques to farmers. She loved working with the community and began to realize that this is what God had called her to do.

“It was a one-year term, and that’s not very long once you are there,” she said. “Halfway through the term I was already thinking, what am I going to do next?”

The answer was a three-year position with MCC as an agricultural extension worker in Mozambique. By January 2014 she was again working with community members in their gardens — this time as they took advantage of water from sand dams constructed by Christian Council of Mozambique, an MCC partner.

“It feels really good to see people harvest their vegetables,” she said. “This work uses the gifts that I was given, and I like the problem solving, the exploring.”

In the blog she keeps, Standen refers to her time with MCC as a “remarkable adventure.” She’s learned a great deal about life in Cambodia and Mozambique, about conservation agriculture and how to work with communities. She has also learned about herself.

“I was wrong when I thought I could never leave home. And I am so happy that I was,” she said. “I learned that God will provide and help you overcome whatever gaps you think you have.”

This year, Standen will move to another position with MCC Mozambique. She will teach agricultural skills at a new high school in Machanga.


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