2013 !Explore participants

Lynea Brubacher Kaethler

Belmont Mennonite Church, Elkhart, Indiana

Lynea Brubacher Kaethler

My name is Lynea Brubacher Kaethler and I am sixteen years old and a junior at Bethany Christian High School. I am in choir and I play soccer, basketball, and tennis at school. I was born in Ontario, Canada and my family moved to the United States when I was 6 years old. Now I live in Elkhart, Indiana with my mom, dad, younger sister, dog and two cats.  I am a vegetarian and my favourite food is apples. Some activities I enjoy are swimming, running, playing games (especially Dutch Blitz) with friends and family, reading, traveling, and hanging out with friends. I am involved in many things at church as well. I am helping to form the youth group at my church and I worship lead sometimes too. I also have a great mentor who I love spending time with and who has made a big impact on my life. I really enjoy getting to know new people I am looking forward to getting to know everyone in !explore.

Naomi Epp

Hamilton Mennonite Church, Hamilton, OntarioNaomi Epp

Hi my name is Naomi. I live in Dundas, Hamilton, Ontario. My family contains my ten year old sister, my father, and my mother. I also have a dog named Sammy and a cat whose name is Whiskers.  I enjoy biking, walking, and spending time with my friends. When I’m with my friends we dance, sing and act as well as go to Tim Hortons. I have a passion for people with disabilities. I am part of an international organization called Best Buddies that pairs people with special needs with other students in schools, and I am the leader of a chapter at my high school. In September, I am going to a University called Redeemer University College which is located here in Hamilton. I plan to become a special education teacher, or a social worker or a pastor. I am not completely sure what my calling is, but I do know that I want to give back to others what I have learned in my life from my church, my friends, my family and God. Overall, I am excited to be part of the explore program this year and look forward to meeting all of the other participants.

Isaiah Friesen

First Mennonite Church, Beatrice, NebraskaIsaiah Friesen

My parents are Merlin and Rita Friesen. I have 3 sisters, Ginette (30), Miriam (26), and Rachel (23). I was born when my parents had six months left in their MCC term on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. After that, our family lived in Paoli, Indiana, until my parents and I moved to Nebraska when I was 12. I will graduate in May 2013 from Beatrice High School and plan to enroll at Goshen College in the fall, undecided on my major. I participated in track, cross country and choir in high school, all three of which I'll continue at Goshen. I especially enjoy singing, running, reading, and working with the plants and animals on our small family farm. I wanted to do the !Explore program because I'm very interested in Bible and religion and I have a lot of questions about pastoral ministry and faith in general, which I look forward to investigating alongside my pastor and other group participants this summer.

Madeline Gerig

Assembly Mennonite Fellowship, Goshen, IndianaMaddie Gerig

My home congregation is Assembly Mennonite Church. I am a recent graduate of Bethany Christian High School. This Fall I will begin my college career at Goshen College. Though it is just down the road, I am looking forward to exploring the world with refreshed vision. I will be studying Art, to hopefully achieve the artist status my childhood self so wished for. I am excited for the ways the !Explore program will strengthen my connection with the Assembly community. I'm also looking forward to asking questions and searching for answers with this temporary community of other curious youth.

Nathaniel Gingerich

Waterford Mennonite Church, Goshen, IndianaNate Gingerich

I was born on June 16, 1994 in Wooster OH, where I lived for 6 years and attended Oak Grove Mennonite Church.  I then moved to Goshen IN where currently attend Waterford Mennonite Church. My parents are David Gingerich, who grew up in Nappanee Indiana, and Marge Gingerich, who grew up in central Illinois. I have a brother Jack (16) and a sister Carly (14). I am currently a senior at Goshen High School where I play soccer and golf. I plan on attending Hesston College next year to possibly study engineering. I really enjoy playing all types of sports and being outside. I like to be around other people and make new friends. I am generally outgoing a pretty social. Most of my weekly activities include sports, school work, being with friends, and attending youth group. My youth group consists of about 20 youth and 6 adults. Things that have influenced my faith include family, youth group members/activities, baptism, and service trips.

Joshua Janzen

Bethesda Mennonite Church Henderson, NebraskaJoshua Janzen

Hi everyone I am Josh Janzen, or according to the Central Plains Mennonite Conference Tosh Janzen (there was some miscommunication with my handwriting). I am from Aurora, Nebraska. In high school I participated in football, band, speech/forensics, FFA, FBLA, and many other activities. Next fall I will be attending Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas. I will be majoring in biology and minoring in Bible and religion. I will also be playing football, and playing trombone in the Wind ensemble, and hopefully competing in Extemporaneous speaking for Forensics.

Joshua Leatherman

Holdeman Mennonite Church, Wakarusa, IndianaJoshua Leatherman

My name is Joshua Leatherman.  I am 19 years old and was born In Elkhart County on February 25, 1994.  I attended Model Elementary for 6 years before continuing my Middle School and High School education at Bethany Christian Schools.  I live in Goshen in a small subdivision called Colonial Farms.  I attend Holdeman Mennonite Church, a small rural community just outside of Wakarusa.  I was baptized on Easter Sunday in 2008.  Since that time I have tried to be an active member of my church community; serving on a mission trip, ushering for the church, teaching Sunday school and participating in MYF and other service opportunities in our church.  I recognize and accept that I am a sinner saved by the Grace of God.  My hope is that through this program I might better understand the love and grace of God and become a better servant of His world.

Jenae Longenecker

Kern Road Mennonite Church, South Bend, IndianaJanae Longenecker

My name is Jenae Longenecker. I am a junior at Trinity School at Greenlawn in South Bend, Indiana. I love learning and even though school can be stressful, I usually enjoy it. I attend Kern Road Mennonite Church, where I was baptized the summer before my freshman year of high school. I'm active in Kern's youth group, and I am really excited to go to convention this summer! I am also very involved with an organization called Michiana Youth Ministries, which sponsors a retreat program called Love of God, or LOG for short. I've been on many planning teams for LOG retreats, and have invited lots of friends to come and be participants on those retreats. I love to have challenging, meaningful conversations with other people, which is probably what led me to participating in Indiana Mock Trial, a form of debate. I've been doing Mock Trial since the beginning of high school, and my team has gone to state every year. I also love art - whether it’s going to museums, watercolor painting, redecorating my bedroom, or really anything else! Another thing that's really important to me is community - I have a very supportive network of friends and family, and I love them all. I also love meeting new people, which is part of why I can't wait to be involved with !Explore this summer!

Ryan Miller

Waterford Mennonite Church, Goshen, IndianaRyan Miller

I was born in December of 1995, in Goshen, Indiana. I have lived my whole life in Goshen. In my early years, I attended Parkside Elementary School, and have now spent middle school and high school at Bethany Christian High School. I have grown up in a "typical" Mennonite household. I have attended Waterford Mennonite Church my entire life. I have spent the better part of six years living as a pastor’s kid. The role of Christ has always been important to me. I am person who enjoys having a good time. A good time to me, is playing golf, doing something with trains, humor, being with friends, and math. Things that I do not like to do include writing, English, homework, sitting still, and being inside all day.

Bethannie Parks

Oxford Circle Mennonite Church, Phildelphia, PennsylvaniaBethannie Parks

My name is Bethannie Yvonne Parks. I get the weird spelling of my first name from two of my great-grandmothers, Elizabeth and Annie and my middle name has been passed down from my Mum to me and to her from my grandmother. I’ve grown up in Philadelphia, though pretty much all of my family lives near the coast of North Carolina. I go to a Creative and Performing Arts High School, and major in creative writing. That’s what I’ve always wanted to be – a writer – since I was seven. I love Ray Bradbury and am currently reading Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. If you can’t guess from that, I like science fiction; though don’t quiz me on Star Trek or anything. My only novel is a science fiction, and a bad one, though I’m working on it. It’s really just about two amazing people who become friends, with an allegorical setting and an ending I’m unsure of.  If you want to know more, just ask, I’ll either be so excited I’ll tell you everything or not want to talk about it. Besides that, I like dogs, baking, and kindness. That’s all you need to know, really.

Katie Shank

East Goshen Mennonite Church, Goshen, IndianaKatie Shank

Hi! I'm Katie, and I'm a junior at Bethany Christian High School. I play soccer and I'm involved in plays, musicals, choir, and Emmaus, Bethany's performing arts troupe. I attend East Goshen Mennonite Church with my family and participate in the MYF there. I'm also really interested in the Bible classes at my school, which is one reason I decided to do Explore! In college, I hope to major in either Music or Bible Education at a Mennonite college.

Emily Vogt

Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster, Lancaster, PennsylvaniaEmily Vogt

I live in Akron, Pennsylvania and am a senior at Ephrata High School.  This fall I will be attending Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana for Secondary Math Education.  I love to sing, play french horn, read, and hang out with friends and family.  I am really involved at my high school; I played volleyball, basketball, and ran track, have played in the concert band, orchestra, and wind ensemble, sang in choir, performed in the musical, and am a member of NHS, German NHS, and Tri-M music honors society. This year I was also editor of the senior section of the yearbook.  I am pretty much game for anything.  I attend Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster and am a member of the youth group.  In previous summers, I have worked as a volunteer day camp counselor at Woodcrest Retreat in Ephrata.  I also referee girls' soccer and volunteer at Peter's Porch food pantry and community outreach at Zion Lutheran Church in Akron.   I am really looking forward to this summer, and all the new opportunities it will bring!

Sara Erb Eric Vandrick Andy Brubacher Kaethler
Sara Erb
!Explore event pastor
Eric Vandrick
!Explore event pastor


Andy Brubacher Kaethler