Welcome. Thanks for stopping by!
|This picture of me with my friends was taken in my colony about a year before I came to Canada. |
I recently reconnected with all accept one of them.
My hope is that this blog will give you a clearer picture of the intriguing world of Low German speaking Mennonites, and that you will learn why they left Canada, Moved to Mexico and often go back and forth as they please.
It is my goal to explore these questions through stories -- by sharing my personal experiences, both from my childhood in Mexico and my young adulthood in Canada, where I lived on my own from the age of 19.
I post a continues weekly blog entry about my struggles as an illiterate, depressed teenage Mennonite girl, figuring out life in Canada as I grow and mature into womanhood. Along the way, I share the things I learned about my own people’s fascinating history.
I am so often asked: Who are these people? Who are these fair-skinned, Low German speaking people who live in Mexico, and who have had a Canadian Citizenship since birth?
How does this work?
To tell you the truth for a long time I didn’t have a clue on how to answer that question.
All I knew was that we lived in Mexico but we were not Mexicans, we spoke Dietsche (Low German) and we called ourselves Dietsche. We never called ourselves Mennonites.
In our Dietsche School in the colony, we only learned from the Bible in High German from age five to the age of twelve. I had a hard time learning the High German gothic script the Bible was written in. Therefore I was labeled a “hard learner” (translated from hoat-learijch), which is understood to mean that I had a learning disability.
Because of this label I got to stay home at an earlier age to help my mom with the chores such as preparing food and cooking. That is where my love for food was born and why I occasionally post a Low German or a Mexican recipe.
When I started going to school in Canada I never heard the term “hard learner” used to describe me. Instead I was what in Canada is referred to as illiterate, and started school at about a grade three level at the age of nineteen.
I came to Canada against my parents’ wishes. I left my family, my Dietsche Darp (Mennonite colony), and everything I had ever known. I was completely illiterate, I had “major nerve problems” (severe depression), and didn’t speak a word of English (Well, actually, I knew a few words that I cannot repeat to just anyone other than George, and you will learn why as you start to read and get to know him.)
I faced many barriers and got into a lot of trouble as I was learning how to fit into a whole new world that I had never been part of before.
I started working in a factory shortly after I came to Canada. During a lunch break I ended up sitting at a table with George. A very attractive, fit, long-haired, Harley-riding tattoo artist with a very colorful vocabulary and of whom I was terrified.
Shortly after moving into my apartment I learned that George actually lived on the same floor of the apartment that I had moved into.
A beautiful friendship developed between us over time as he offered to help me every time I got into trouble and had nowhere else to turn. I learned that he was actually the kindest person I had ever come across. He convinced me to go to school and taught me how to use a dictionary.
I began learning about some of the history of Dietsche (Mennonite) people. Years later, I learned that my Russian-born great grandparents migrated to Canada from Russia in 1891. In 1920 my Russian great grandparents, along with my Canadian-born grandparents, migrated to Mexico. Because of this complicated migration history we are alternatively known as Low-German speaking Mennonites, Russian Mennonites, and/or Mexican Mennonites.
I later read an autobiographical book entitled Brilliant Idiot by Dr. Abraham Schmitt, where I discovered a kindred soul -- another young Mennonite who struggles his way through intense obstacles (including dyslexia) and overcomes them.
(You can read more about the Old Colony Church, its history, and Schmitt’s book here.)
Those are just some of the reasons why Mennopolitan was born. After learning so much about the migration history of my people and over the years I still got asked, “Who are those people?” Now I feel like I can actually answers some of those questions truthfully.
I dream of turning my story into a book someday. In my book hope to tell my whole story including:
- Just how colourful George’s language was
- How learning to read and use a dictionary opened so many unbelievably incredible doors for me
- The real names of the people in my story, where it takes place, and so on.
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