Enjoy a richer experience in a new place by learning from our expert tour leaders. Many of Tourmagination’s tour leaders have travelled to, worked or lived in the countries we visit. They can often open doors to experiences you could never have on your own. Their wisdom, insight, and fresh perspective on the destination offer you a transformative travel experience.


WATCH a video overview of our Expert Tour Leaders =>

TourMagination Tour Leaders

Len Friesen, tour Leader

Leonard Friesen

Tour Storyteller, Len Friesen, grew up knowing that the world was a big place; that it extended well beyond his home community. That’s no surprise given that he was the child of immigrants from another land, or the fact that his mother tongue was not English. In time, Len studied the history of other lands, which included a period of research and study overseas. Since 1994 he has been a history professor at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. In 2000 Len also established Canada’s first university-level Global Studies programme, and it was that experience that opened the world, literally, to Len and Mary (they had married in 1977). Since then, Len and Mary have often led learning and adventure tours together to various European and African destinations. Both appreciate the informal interactions that occur on these tours, and they love to get beyond the museums and galleries to the everyday sights and sounds of a location. Len and Mary have three children, three in-laws, and seven grandchildren. Len says about TourMagination: “It’s unlike any other tour company I know; it really is travel with a purpose. TourMagination builds community in life-changing ways, and we’re delighted to be associated with it.”​ Upcoming tours with Len.

Friesen, Mary

Mary Friesen

Mary (Burkholder) draws inspiration from the beauty of the world around her: whether it’s in a cosmopolitan city like St. Petersburg, London or Cape Town, remote hiking on the Inca trail or in the Swiss Alps, or simply visiting with a fellow traveller over local cuisine. She has lived abroad, travelled extensively, enjoyed hiking and has explored many UNESCO sites. She has co-led many international learning tours over the years with her husband, Len. Mary was an educator and a Special Education Consultant for the Waterloo Board of Education. Mary was married to Leonard Friesen in 1977 and they have called Waterloo, Ontario their home for the last 35 years. Together, they have been blessed with 3 adult children, three in-laws and 7 grandchildren. Upcoming tours with Mary.

Nelson Kraybill

Nelson Kraybill

Nelson Kraybill is a pastor and theologian who served as scholar-in-residence at Bethlehem Bible College in Palestine (2022–2023), as president of Mennonite World Conference (2015–2022), and as president of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (1997–2009). He taught high school in Puerto Rico, pastored churches in Vermont and Indiana, was program director at the London Mennonite Centre in England (1991-1996), and has taught widely on issues of mission, allegiance, early church, and the book of Revelation. He received a PhD in New Testament from Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Virginia and is author of the book Apocalypse and Allegiance: Worship, Politics and Devotion in the Book of Revelation. His most recent (2023) book is Stuck Together: The Hope of Christian Witness in a Polarized World. He and his wife Ellen are parents of two adult daughters. Follow Nelson’s blog with pictures and commentary on biblical sites at www.peace-pilgrim.com. Upcoming tours with Nelson.


Hank & Jane Landes

Founder and Senior Advisor with Delaware Valley Family Business Center in Telford, Pennsylvania, Hank Landes has more than 30 years’ experience guiding family businesses through transitions.  A graduate of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, and Goshen College, he has served as a management consultant, behavioral health executive, and board member. Hank enjoys biographies, male spirituality, spiritual formation, travel books and community building. “Travel is one of the best ways to get to know God’s world and his people,” says Hank. Jane, also a Goshen College (BSN) grad, played an important role in launching Delaware Valley Family Business Center. Now retired, Jane is an avid flower gardener. Hank and Jane are members of Salford Mennonite Church in Harleysville, PA. While partners in TourMagination for over 17 years, Hank and Jane led more than 28 tours all over the globe. They have two children and three truly exceptional grandchildren—who will be joining them on the Alaska Cruise in June 2018 as they celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.  Recently, they led a Tulip Time tour in the Netherlands and Belgium. Upcoming tours with Hank and Jane.


Bob & Margaret Nally

Margaret and Bob Nally were born and raised in Ireland and immigrated as a young couple to Canada. They have maintained strong family and cultural connections with Ireland. They visit Ireland yearly and organize traditional music and cultural events in Ontario. Margaret and Bob have a keen interest in Irish history and current affairs. They have volunteered with Corrymeela, the peace and reconciliation centre in Northern Ireland. Margaret, a trained and practicing Spiritual Director, is committed to her work in K-W in shelters and community kitchens with those experiencing poverty and homelessness, and currently serves as chair of MennoHomes, which builds supportive affordable housing. Margaret served as a director of both MCC Bi-national and as chair of MCCO. Margaret’s education includes a degree in religious studies and Spiritual Direction and she has studied and led retreats in Celtic Spirituality. Margaret is an associate member of the IONA community. Bob, an engineer by profession, and a businessman, works with early stage and startup up technology companies focused on clean or green environmental solutions. Bob works as a volunteer on helping to reset the relationships with First Nations peoples and also on refugee and interfaith concerns. Bob and Margaret have traveled extensively in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America including study and learning tours with MCC and MEDA. They are members of K-W House Churches and attend Erb St. Mennonite Church. They are the parents of two children and have two grandchildren. Upcoming tours with Bob and Margaret.

Bethany Nussbaum

Bethany Nussbaum

Bethany lives and works based in Northeast Ohio, and enjoys connecting with people all over the country and world in her travels. As Senior Development Officer for MEDA, Bethany is an avid, organized and enthusiastic international traveller, previously leading groups to Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Tanzania, and Myanmar. She views travel as an incredible opportunity for deepening connections with self, each other and God as different cultures and experiences are explored and reflected upon. Creating space for meaningful connection, growth, learning and fun is a key component of all of her travelling communities. In her 17th year of professionally encouraging generosity, Bethany promises to not pitch the work of Mennonite Economic Development Associates, but will gladly swap stories when prompted. She earned her MBA in leadership from Bluffton University in 2010, serves on several non-profit boards, and enjoys coaching others in the foundations and spirituality of fundraising. In addition to personal and professional travel, she is energized by competitive tennis, growing and arranging flowers, unlocking personal development through enneagram, reading, spending time with family, friends, her Goldendoodle pup, and dreaming up her next adventure. Upcoming tours with Bethany Nussbaum.

Redekop, Fred - cropped

Fred Redekop

Fred has led tours for TourMagination since 2005. He has co-led “Exploring the World of Paul” many times. He has also been to Uzbekistan twice, to learn about the Mennonite presence there. After 30 years of being a pastor in Lancaster and Floradale, Ontario, Fred worked for Mennonite Central Committee Ontario. Fred is now the pastor of Poole Mennonite, where he writes a daily blog for the church. He is married to Shirley Stauffer Redekop, and they live in Elmira, Ontario. They have four children, a daughter-in-law, son-in-law, and two grandsons. His hobbies include cross-stitch, writing, reading, cycling, and cheering for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Upcoming tours with Fred.

Redekop, Shirley

Shirley Redekop

Shirley grew up on a farm in the heart of Lancaster County PA. She went on a Medical Group Missions trip to Dominican Republic in high school, and was hooked on travel. She lived for a summer in Scotland with Teen Missions, and then moved to the Netherlands for a year with Intermenno (MCC sponsored), working as an au pair. This is where she met her future husband Fred, from Ontario, who lived in Switzerland and France. Together they lived 3 years in Thailand through MCC, supporting SE Asia refugees moving to Canada. Their first son was born there. Since moving to Elmira, Canada, Shirley has worked for Mennonite Church Canada as Director of Christian Service Ministries, and for the past 14 years works as a Family Outreach Worker with House of Friendship for families experiencing low-income in Waterloo region. Shirley’s husband Fred was a pastor at Floradale Mennonite Church for 25 years where she was youth pastor, worship leader, Sunday School teacher and Bible Study leader. They now attend St Jacob’s Mennonite Church. Shirley is presently President of Mennonite Women Canada. She and her husband have four amazing adult children, one daughter-in-law and two grandsons. Her travels have taken her to Europe, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Central/South America, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, India, Turkey and Greece. Shirley enjoys reading, talking, coffee in outdoor cafes, movies, travel and motorcycling.

tour leader Ella Schmidt

Ella Schmidt

Although now retired, Ella Schmidt previously worked for both Habitat for Humanity (HFH) Waterloo Region and Habitat for Humanity Canada. Ella participated in HFH Global Village excursions to Mongolia, Nepal, and Mexico.  While living in Malaysia for two plus years, Ella volunteered with HFH Malaysia on several special projects for their Board of Directors. Ella also served as the Vice-President of the International Women’s Association of Penang, Malaysia. An avid traveler, Ella has journeyed throughout Southeast Asia including to Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Malaysia. She has also been to Dominican Republic, Scotland, Germany, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria, Switzerland and Antarctica. Ella hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru and only has a few kilometres left to finish the 900-kilometre long Bruce Trail in Ontario. 2019 is Ella’s 30th anniversary as a member of Girl Guides of Canada. Through Guiding, Ella was awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for outstanding volunteer leadership. Ella lives in Waterloo, Ontario with her husband of 47 years.  Together they have 3 grown children and 3 grandchildren. Upcoming Tour with Ella

Sharp, John 2

John Sharp

John Sharp is a recently retired historian who taught at Hesston (KS) College. He is a former director of the Mennonite Church USA Historical Committee and Archives. John holds an M.Div. from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary and has 15 years of experience as a pastor. John is an instructor of Road Scholar (Elderhostel) courses on Amish life and culture, and is a frequent presenter for lifelong learning programs. Books include My Calling to Fulfill: The Orie O. Miller Story (Herald Press, 2015); and The Bible as Story: An introduction to Biblical Literature (WorkPlay Publishing, 2017). Since 2000, he has led a variety of TourMagination heritage tours to Western Europe, Prague and Poland, and Central Asia. He is married to Michele Miller Sharp, a former physician assistant in family practice and currently compliance officer at Hesston College. Their family also includes two living daughters and four grandchildren. Recently, his storytelling has focused on the life and work of his son MJ, who in 2017 was abducted and murdered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo while on a mission for the United Nations. As for traveling, John says There’s nothing like hearing stories on site. As always, I am eagerly anticipating the stories, landscapes, and fellowship that await us! Upcoming tours with John.

Michele Sharp - cropped

Michele Miller Sharp

Michele Miller Sharp has been a teacher, health care provider and administrator. Currently she is a compliance officer at Hesston College and a freelance management analyst. Her preferred free-time activities are reading and spending time with their four grandchildren— two nearby and two in Denver. She is married to John Sharp. Upcoming tours with Michele.


Jack and Irene Suderman

Jack and Irene Suderman have lived in Costa Rica, Bolivia, and Colombia and speak Spanish fluently. The Sudermans have a 43 year connection to most parts of Latin America, and have learned to love the diversity of cultures and experiences. Jack has a PhD in Biblical Studies from the Universidad Pontificia Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia, and has worked in teaching and administration in the church for 55 years. Irene has a music degree and has been heavily involved in the work of the church at the local and international levels. Jack was the former General Secretary of Mennonite Church Canada. Irene worked for many years in palliative care and in spiritual care for Seniors in the church. Jack and Irene attend First Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ontario. They have three adult sons, three daughters-in-law, and 6 grandchildren. Upcoming tours with Jack and Irene.

Thiessen, Richard

Richard Thiessen

Richard Thiessen is Executive Director of the Mennonite Heritage Museum in Abbotsford, BC. Previously he was Librarian at Mennonite Brethren Bible College / Concord College, and Library Director at Columbia Bible College. Richard’s love for Mennonite history and genealogy have been the focus of much of his volunteer work. He has served as president of both the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada and the Mennonite Historical Society of British Columbia, and was also active for many years with the Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society. For twenty years he has been involved with GAMEO: the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (www.gameo.org). He created the website www.mennonitegenealogy.com in the late 1990s to help make Mennonite genealogical resources available to the public. Richard has a deep love and commitment to the Church, and has served on a number of local, provincial, and national church committees in both Mennonite Brethren and Mennonite Church contexts. Richard and his wife Karen love to travel and to learn more about the places and people they see and meet. They have visited over 40 countries and have travelled extensively through both Canada and the United States. Over the years they have also hosted numerous exchange students in their home. Richard and Karen have three sons and two daughters-in-law. They believe that one of the best things they ever did as a family was to spend two months in Ethiopia volunteering at the Meserete Kristos College. Richard loves photography, visiting museums, listening to music, collecting stamps, growing lilies, and cheering for the Montreal Canadiens. Upcoming tours with Richard.

Audrey 2022

Audrey Voth Petkau

Audrey Voth Petkau was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. After some years of study at college and university she married Terry Petkau and together they raised two sons. Audrey’s passion for education motivated her to serve in music and children’s programs and then later in education-related committees within the Manitoba Mennonite Brethren Conference. She has a strong interest in family history and has contributed Voth family artifacts to the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies/Archives in Winnipeg. In 1999 her family moved to Waterloo, Ontario. Since joining TourMagination in 2002, Audrey has provided leadership and coordination for numerous tours each year. She loves to create community on tours and to make new friends around the world. Now as the President of TourMagination, she and her supportive, competent team plan to continue offering unique, excellent quality tours while introducing exciting new travel opportunities. Upcoming tours with Audrey.

Tom Yoder Neufeld

Tom Yoder Neufeld

Tom, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies (New Testament) at Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo, retired in 2012 after three decades of teaching Bible. In addition to university teaching, he is frequently involved in preaching and teaching in congregational and conference settings, both locally and internationally. He has been a pastor as well as a hospital and prison chaplain, serving both the national church and the Mennonite World Conference, where he serves as Chair of the Faith and Life Commission. He and his wife, Rebecca, are deeply involved in the life of First Mennonite Church, Kitchener. Tom enjoys museums, films, painting, hiking, and participating in choral music. Some of the many countries included in his travels are Egypt, Israel, Palestine, most of Western Europe, Central America, Colombia, Japan, and Korea. Among his writings are a commentary on the letter to the Ephesians (Believers Church Bible Commentary; Herald, 2002),  Recovering Jesus: the Witness of the New Testament (Brazos, 2007), and Killing Enmity: Violence and the New Testament (Baker Academic, 2011). Upcoming tours with Tom.

JB Miller

JB Miller

I was bitten by the “travel bug” when at 14 years old I traveled alone, by train, from Richmond VA to Sarasota FL. That experience confirmed travel would be an important part of my life. Trips with my family to various parts of the US helped me understand there’s a big world out there waiting to be explored. Thanks to travel companions, including family and friends, I’ve had the opportunity to see much of North America, parts of Europe, Central and South America, Africa, the South Pacific, and the Middle East. There’s still so much more for me to see and experience.  After retiring, I returned to my hometown of Sarasota, FL and began organizing “people to people” trips to Cuba. Learning to know Cuban people and the rich culture of the island, which is often seen as off-limits, proved to be an enriching experience for many “people to people” participants. Isn’t that the benefit of travel – expanding our horizons, and hopefully making us better citizens of the world? Group travel holds a particular attraction for me. I enjoy getting to know new traveling companions, hearing their stories and participating in the enjoyment of being exposed to new cultures and the people who help create the rich tapestry that make up our world.  Tours with JB.

Fanoy, Ayold

Ayold Fanoy

Ayold lives in the Netherlands and works for a Mennonite congregation in Haarlem as a custodian. He enjoys adventure travel—including an annual snowshoe trek in Norway. Through his theological studies at the Dutch Mennonite Seminary, at the VU University in Amsterdam, he became interested in European Mennonite History. Wanting to share this interest, he began organizing Mennonite Heritage Tours. “For me a Mennonite Heritage Tour is not just a heritage tour, but also a spiritual journey into the faith and life of our forbearers,” says Ayold. His tours help people explore what early Anabaptists discovered about Jesus, that would make them want give up their homesteads and their lives.  Upcoming tours with Ayold.

Wes and Sandra in Dublin 1

Wes & Sandra Reimer

Meet Wes and Sandra Reimer, our escorts for the October 2023 Iceland tour! Wes spent his childhood in Nigeria, England, and Kuwait as the son of MCC volunteer English teachers. Wes and Sandra are both creative professionals: Wes is a designer and Sandra is a writer. Both are nerdy about words and play a mean game of Boggle! They are open to new ideas, new people, and new experiences. Together they have travelled to Zimbabwe, Germany, Ireland, Hawaii, Mexico and around Canada and the US. You can expect adventure and fun with Sandra and Wes. “Our default response to new experiences is ‘yes!’. We look forward to deep, enriching conversations and stupefied silence as we admire God’s creation in Iceland.” Upcoming tours with Wes & Sandra.

Hofer, Rod

Rod Hofer

Rod Hofer is a recently retired Environmental Engineer from Lawrence, Kansas. His interest in Anabaptist history was nurtured within the Freeman SD community where he grew up. After attending Bethel College he joined MCC as a Paxman in Slovenia from 1969-1971. This provided the opportunity to travel extensively within Europe. With his wife Roberta they have returned to Europe numerous times. The family lived briefly in Thailand where Rod served as a water quality advisor to the Royal Thai Government. Rod and Roberta have also travelled extensively within the United States where Rod logged his fiftieth state soon after retirement.

Before attending their son Tim’s 2010 wedding in Alba Iulia, Romania, the knowledge that the Alwinz Bruderhof (1622-1767) had existed nearby stimulated an interest in researching the history of the Hutterites in Romania. Their visit introduced them to the history and culture of the Saxon German communities within which the Hutterites and their Carinthian Lutheran converts operated. The importance of the story is accentuated by the fact that the small group of 78 Hutterites that escaped over the Transylvania Alps in 1767 represented the sole surviving members of a sect that had once numbered nearly 30,000. A desire to share what he had learned in researching this pivotal time in Hutterite history led Rod to write Hutterites in Romania – A Brief History and Guide. Having seen where his Hutterite ancestors lived, were imprisoned and escaped over the mountains led to a desire to share those experiences with others and ultimately led to the Romania Hutterite & Cultural Tour. Upcoming tours with Rod.

Cheryl Gilmore

Cheryl Gilmore

Growing up in multicultural Winnipeg, Canada, Cheryl Gilmore vowed to one day travel and see the world. After graduating from design in Toronto (1991) and following a season of local theatre, a unique opportunity arose to experience the high seas and she joined the SS Norway.  Fast forward decades, Cheryl has had the opportunity to work with multiple production companies and cruise lines worldwide including Royal Viking, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Holland America, Renaissance and Silversea. She has sailed to 6 continents as well as travelled extensively worldwide.  After nearly 16 of years of “touring” for work, Cheryl became a full-time travel consultant so she could use her industry knowledge to benefit others. Working with TourMagination for the past 5 years, she has been helping to build engaging custom group tour itineraries to destinations including Cuba, India, Russia, France, Morocco, Egypt, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Indonesia. As a travel consultant with TourMagination’ s partner, Bonaventure Travel, Cheryl’s extensive experience, excellent customer service, passion for travel, and attention to detail enable her to plan stress-free itineraries that allow individuals, families, and groups to relax and enjoy their adventures. Upcoming tours with Cheryl.


Richard Blackburn

Richard Blackburn is an Art Historian, as well as a conflict transformation consultant and family systems coach for pastors seeking to manage self in the midst of congregational anxieties.  From 1983 to 2020, he served as Executive Director of the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center.  He previously taught Art History at Trinity College, Goshen College, and Northern Illinois University, with a specialization in Medieval and Italian Renaissance art.  He also taught conflict transformation and mediation skills at Southern Methodist University, Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, and Goshen College.

International experience includes teaching peacebuilding skills in Serbia during the war in the former Yugoslavia.  From 1996 to 2011, Richard led an annual training event in conflict transformation and family systems theory hosted by the London Mennonite Centre.  He has also periodically led training events in the Netherlands and at the Theological Seminary Bienenberg in Switzerland.  For several years he led a Peacemaker’s Pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  Finally, each summer between 2006 and 2013, he taught a course in Florence, Italy, for Southern Methodist University, which included lecturing in the museums and churches on the theme of Conflict as an Impetus to Creativity in Italian Renaissance Art. Upcoming tours with Richard.

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