MCC photo/Ken Litwiller

In 1988, technician Alemayehu Nigatu and MCC worker Laura Litwiller examine a seedling at the MCC-supported Gerado Catchment Rehabilitation Project in Ethiopia. In 2018, Litwiller returned to the project site, seeing people who remembered her and walking under the planted trees, now more than 30 feet tall.

Names

Laura Litwiller (Lewistown, Pennsylvania, University Mennonite Church); Thabiso Matsoso (Mohales’ Hoek, Lesotho, Holy Cross Mission)

Assignments

Litwiller (LL) served as an MCC field supervisor and technician for forestry and soil conservation in Ethiopia from 1986 to 1990 as her husband Ken served as MCC Ethiopia development director. Matsoso (TM) began serving in Mozambique through MCC’s two-year Seed program in 2016 and is now an MCC conservation agriculture worker there.

“If you really want to know something, consult with farmers. They are our mobile encyclopedias.”

- Thabiso Matsoso

Joys

LL: Living in rural Ethiopia; working, eating, visiting and conversing with local people; seeing trees grow from seeds to seedlings to mature trees; raising an infant daughter; hiking and riding mules to work sites; enjoying beautiful views; eating delicious food and drinking delightful coffee.

TM: There are a lot of things that are joyful: working and living amongst people with different ethnic backgrounds and denominational backgrounds; learning a new local language; being part of the young people at church. It’s a chance to enlarge my Christian faith. When I got this opportunity, I said, “Thank you God. I am looking forward to learning more about you and sharing more about your love.”

Receiving generous hospitality inspired me to be generous and hospitable with what I have.”

- Laura Litwiller

What I've learned from farmers

LL: Receiving generous hospitality inspired me to be generous and hospitable with what I have. Conversation, laughter and joy with farmers informed me that happiness is not dependent on wealth.

TM: If you really want to know something, consult with farmers. They are our mobile encyclopedias. I have learned a lot about rice, sesame and groundnut production from them — and the importance of showing respect, love and loyalty.

In June 2020, MCC worker Thabiso Matsoso holds cassava grown through a conservation agriculture project in Chinhuque, Machanga district, Mozambique.MCC photo/Amelia Masiko

Challenges

LL: Slow start-up time for the project including housing; evacuated from project site after three years because of nearby rebel activity and not able to return.

TM: Political instability; attacks on a main road that sometimes make it hard to travel; climate change; damage from Cyclone Idai in 2019; floods; not to mention malaria.


Find your place

Through MCC's one-year Serving and Learning Together (SALT) program young adults from Canada and the U.S. serve around the world. Learn more and apply at mcc.org/salt

Find other MCC service opportunities at mcc.org/serve or linkedin.com/company/mccpeace or by contacting your nearest MCC office