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A Fall Retrospective

Much has happened in the days and weeks since our last post. Apologies – we have been terrifically busy. Here is a retrospective to get everyone caught up with our adventures.

Wednesday, September 23 The Edigers – Mark, Jocelyn, and Jacob – bring us amazingly delicious Thai takeout. The squash curry is my favorite. We enjoy the company every bit as much as the food, and there are even leftovers to pack in our lunches the next day.

Friday, September 25 The MVSers head to the UW to watch a soccer match between the Badgers and Indiana University. I’m pretty sure I was cheering for the wrong team the whole time (both teams’ colors are red and white). Sure I’m a Bucky supporter. But if you give me the choice between the Badgers and the Hoosiers… well, I’m a Hoosier.

Saturday, September 26 Michael Pollan gives a talk downtown at the Food for Thought festival. Thought-provoking and mouth-watering.

Another fun activity is the Church Campout. Kent and Nicole Craig lend us their Prius and we pack in. A potluck picnic ensues, as well as a giant campfire, complete with campfire songs and an Elvis impersonation by Doug Reed. Ben, Ryan, Annie, and Andrew all spend the night; I, intending to visit a friend’s church the next morning, head home with the Ramers. Upon my arrival at my empty house, I realize that I have no keys. My heroes Durrell and Adam drive me all the way back to the campsite to get Ben’s house key, and then they deliver me safely to my doorstep. Now that’s congregational support.

Wednesday, September 30 The yellow jackets that, until now, have been pleasantly docile little buzzing friends, decide that, instead of staying in their hive and freezing, they want to invade our warm, cozy home. I put up a sign on my door that reads: “Laura’s Room: Where Yellow Jackets Go To Die.” It must have helped – between that and the exterminator, they’re not giving us trouble anymore.

Friday, October 2 I start work at Environment Wisconsin; there is much rejoicing.

Sunday, October 4 The MVSers all attend the church potluck at Tenney Park. We mostly all attend church regularly, though it seems some are more willing than others to skip it in favor of a football game.

Friday, October 9-Sunday, October 11 Ben and I take a trip to Chicago to watch friends run the Chicago Marathon. Ryan, Annie, and Andrew are completely lost and distraught without us, but we have the time of our lives. We also get to meet Keith Watkins and Rebecca Metzler, and we are wowed by Rebecca’s marathoning ability as much as we are by Keith’s ability to drive us back to Madison in time for church.

Sunday, October 11 Andrew and Annie get to see Wendell Berry speak at the Wisconsin Book Festival. Laura, an aspiring farmer-poet herself, is wildly jealous.

Thursday, October 15 We have a house meeting. Everyone shouts each other down, a few punches are thrown, and Ben decides to move out. Just kidding. It’s quite a civil affair, and we’re done in just under 4 hours.

Saturday, October 17 Ben’s parents are in town for the weekend. Ben’s mom makes us a delicious corn chowder and some crispy grilled cheese sandwiches.

Thursday, October 22 We host the second Madison Mennonite Voluntary Service committee meeting at the VS house. We lock the latecomers out, but somehow Jonathan Wenger still manages to get in.

Sunday, October 25 Peter Walker and Seth Weaver impress me with their incredibly speedy 5K times at the Fall 15K Relay. Seth starts the team out, then hands off to Laura, who hands off to Peter for an impressive 7th place overall finish in a total time of 1 hour, 12 minutes, and 21 seconds (on average, 7:46 per mile!). My parents and one of my brothers have been in town for the weekend, so they get to witness all the running glory, along with Peter’s and Seth’s moms, respectively, Adria and Lisa.

Thursday, October 29 The house heads out for our October group event: dessert night at Mickey’s Blue Plate Diner. We’re stuffed from dinner, but we still manage to order quite the spread:

Laura: Reese’s cheesecake
Andrew: a big slice of Fat Elvis Cake
Annie: after much waffling, was it the raspberry cheesecake?
Ryan: Key Lime Pie
Ben: the mother of all Hot Fudge Sundaes, complete with gooey brownie

Afterwards, we walk home very slowly for a few games of dominoes.

Saturday, October 31 No, none of us made it to Freakfest. However, Ben’s sister is in town, and the two of them make a perfect pair of yellow-jerseyed bikers. I dress 80’s business casual (teal and black polka-dotted skirt suit with enormous shoulder pads, teased-up hair) and call myself a nine-to-five workday. We stop in at Sarah and Elisa Zwier’s Halloween party, and in the costume contest I manage to win the dubious distinction of having both the most convincing costume and the biggest hair.

Monday, November 2 Don and Carola Breckbill regale us with a three-course dinner – salad, chicken/vegetable couscous, and fruit trifle, complete with wine and dessert liqueurs. Madlen and Max, two of their three children, are also in attendance, Max having driven us out to Stoughton for the event. Topics of dinner discussion: Where will you be in five years? (Annie: a jazz singer; Carola: sewing Annie the sleaziest dress she’s ever seen) Have you ever had a near-death experience? (Max: too many to count).

Saturday, November 7 Annie and I attend the Women’s Retreat, and it is So Awesome. Highlights for me are the delicious dinner Valleri Quintanilla made and the screen-printing craft led by Carissa Christner. Annie seems to enjoy the international folk dances Allison Madison instructs. All in all, a wonderful day.

So there you have it! We’ve had plenty of adventures and we’ll continue to update, now with more regularity. Signing out,


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Well, well…the first post for the Madison MVS unit.  Those of us in the unit are going to take turns posting to this blog as a way to update you on what has happened throughout our year in mvs and continuing on with future Madison groups.

The unit has been complete for a couple of weeks now, Ben Ryan Laura Andrew and Annie (Andrew and Annie are the married couple), and we are all trying to get into the swing of things.  With this being a new unit everything we do is new from finances and creating a budget to finding things to do for fun around the city.  This is exciting but also creates challenges.  We live in a two apartment house, the first floor is one apartment, and we have the second and third floors which are the second apartment.  Though the apartment isn’t  exactly in pristine condition, the location of the apartment is good as we are only one block from Willy St. which holds many different restaurants, shops, the local co-op etc.

Madison as a city is interesting, although it is the state capital it does not have a big city feel, but there are constantly things happening from free music at the UW union terrace (big student center) to a huge farmers market every Saturday morning on the capital square.  For the most part we have all found the Madison natives to be friendly, and maybe the best example of this would be Madison Mennonite Church (our host church) who not only welcomed us as a new unit to Madison but as a congregation donated basically everything that the apartment needed to function from bedding to kitchen wear, towels…

To wrap up this initial post I will tell you about what you might call our first couple of group activities (the pictures attached show a glimpse of these events).  Sunday September 13, 2009 dawn broke crisp and clear along with everyone in the group waking up by 6:30 am to take in the festivities of the 8th running of the Ironman Wisconsin.  To those that are ignorant…the Ironman is a race that involves swimming 2.4miles, biking 112miles, and then the race finishes off with a full marathon 26.2miles.  We watched the swimming and transfer to biking and then headed home to have a delicious brunch…but not before we snapped a few crucial pictures!!

Laura watched the transfer from biking to running, and also the first few professional finishers, Ryan and I joined her around 10:30pm to cheer on the final few finishers before the official cutoff time of midnight.  We ended up with some free Ironman hats, and I managed to score a pair of officially used participant goggles (don’t ask how I got them cause it involved un-Mennonite like violence…just kidding – but I had you all squirming in your seats).

The next group event involved the Willy Street fair.  There are many musical acts, food vendors, and being Wisconsin…plenty of places to buy all of the brews.  Our group activity included watching the parade, and running into some of the Madison Mennonite church members, along with using some of our activity money to grab a snack of whatever delicious tasting food we could find.

Be sure to check in every once in a while to see the updates that I and everyone else in the group will be adding.  I hope you all enjoy reading about and hopefully seeing pictures of many of the events that we go through as a group in the next year.  Enjoy the photos and have a great day!

Ben Martin

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