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.


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TourMagination Tour Leaders

Gareth Brandt

Gareth Brandt

Gareth is professor of Spiritual Formation at Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford, BC. He has taught Anabaptist History and Theology there for the past 15 years, with a focus on 16th century origins. Gareth has an MTS from Tyndale Seminary in Toronto and an STM from College of Emmanuel St. Chad in Saskatoon. He has authored two books on personal spirituality, as well as numerous articles and essays. A recent article describes one of his passions, “How Experiencing History Contributes to Spiritual Formation” http://www.mennonitehistorian.ca/45.4.MHDec19.pdf.
Gareth is married to Cynthia and they have four adult children and one grandchild. Together, they have lived in five different Canadian provinces where Gareth has been involved in congregational, denominational, and educational ministry. They are members of Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, BC. He enjoys cycling, hiking, poetry, folk music, gardening, and watercolor painting.

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.

Len Friesen, tour Leader

Leonard Friesen

Len Friesen is a a professor of history at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario and a member of Waterloo North Mennonite Church. He holds a PhD from the University of Toronto and is the author of several books including “Transcendent Love: Dostoevsky and the Search for a Global Ethic” (2016).   He was married to Mary (Burkholder) in 1977 (time flies!); together they have three adult children, two “in-laws”, and five grandchildren.  Len has been fortunate to see a good deal of this world, though he highlights a year spent with Old Order Mennonites in Wellington Country, Ontario,  and another year spent in the Soviet Union in the 1980s.  Beyond that, Len has led tours across Europe, Russia and Ukraine, and South Africa, many of these with TourMagination where he appreciates the informal interactions with those who sign on. “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,” Len says.​ Upcoming tours with Len.

Friesen, Mary

Mary Friesen

Mary 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 travelled extensively, enjoyed hiking and has explored many UNESCO sites. She has co-led many international learning tours over the years with her husband. Mary is an educator and currently a Special Education Consultant for the Waterloo Board of Education. She chairs the Board of Directors for the organization, House of Friendship that “walks with” some of the most vulnerable in our community. Mary was married to Leonard Friesen in 1977 and has called Waterloo their home for the last 20 years.  Together, they have 3 adult children, two in-laws and 5 grandchildren. Upcoming tours with Mary.

Jeff & Kelsey Hochstetler

Jeff and Kelsey Hochstetler

Jeff and Kelsey Hochstetler live in rural Ohio, but they’re passionate about international adventure. Previously, they led groups to Bolivia, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. Their love for travel and the global church has taken them to Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America. Jeff pastors at Berlin Mennonite Church, in the heart of Ohio’s Amish Country, where he brings a global perspective to local traditions. Kelsey works as Director of Strategic Communications at Keim, a lumber, home, and hardware store. Her previous work with Mennonite Mission Network, World Vision, and Mennonite World Conference instilled a love of other cultures and people groups. Jeff and Kelsey are parents to three energetic girls. When Jeff and Kelsey aren’t singing, drawing, or playing dress-up with their children, they are often plotting their next excursion. Upcoming tours with Jeff and Kelsey.

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.

Nelson Kraybill

Nelson Kraybill

Nelson Kraybill is an author and bible teacher from Elkhart, Indiana. Currently serving as President of Mennonite World Conference, he travels and speaks widely and writes a regular column (Holy Land Peace Pilgrim) for Mennonite World Review. He taught high school in Puerto Rico, served as pastor in several congregations, was Programme Director at London Mennonite Centre in England (1991-96), and was president of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (1997-2009). He received a PhD in New Testament from Union Theological Seminary in Virginia and authored Apocalypse and Allegiance: Worship, Politics and Devotion in the Book of Revelation (Brazos: 2010). He and his wife Ellen have two adult daughters. For accessible articles related to biblical sites and peacemaking by Nelson, see 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 - Tour Leader Photo

Bethany Nussbaum

Bethany views travel as an opportunity for deep cultural learning and exploration and is known for creating fun and meaningful moments within her traveling community. Based in Northeast Ohio as Senior Development Officer for MEDA, Bethany is an avid and organized international traveler, previously leading groups to Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Tanzania, and Myanmar. In her 16th year of professional fundraising, she promises not to pitch MEDA on the trip but is happy to share travel stories and organizational insights if asked. Bethany earned her MBA in leadership from Goshen College and in addition to personal and professional travel, she can be found growing and arranging flowers, learning about personal development through enneagram, reading, learning to rest, and dreaming up her next adventure. Upcoming tours with Bethany Nussbaum.


Jim Pankratz

Jim Pankratz first became interested in India while studying Religion at McMaster University. He completed a Master’s degree in Buddhism and a PhD in Hinduism. He and his wife Goldine lived in Calcutta for two years while he did his doctoral research and during that time they travelled widely in India. Later they lived in Bangladesh for three years and travelled to India frequently. He has led tours of India for Canadian and American university students. Throughout his career he has taught courses and done research in world religions, Indian history and culture, Christianity in India, and Gandhi. India changed his life. He still finds it intriguing, challenging, and enriching. Most recently, Jim was the Interim President of Conrad Grebel University College at the University of Waterloo, Ontario. Previously he was Dean of the College for nine years. Upcoming tours with Jim.

Petkau, Terry 2

Terry Petkau

Terry Petkau has worked for Habitat for Humanity Canada since 1999 and currently acts as National Director, Safety and Building Programs providing expertise and support to Canadian affiliate operations. Terry has travelled extensively with Habitat across Canada, the US and internationally and has also led groups to various countries with TourMagination. He enjoys building and renovation projects and also enjoys long distance cycling, both for pleasure and as a means of fundraising for different organizations. Terry is married to Audrey Voth Petkau; together they have two married sons. Upcoming tours with Terry.

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 is now working for Mennonite Central Committee Ontario. He is married to Shirley Stauffer Redekop, and they live in Elmira, Ontario. They have four children, a daughter-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 been mission workers in Bolivia and Colombia and speak Spanish fluently. The Sudermans, along with others from Mennonite Church Canada, have worked with the Cuban churches in leadership training for 28 years. The Sudermans have gotten to know and love the Cuban people as they have visited the country many times. As part of a team from Mennonite Church Canada, supported by Mennonite Central Committee, Jack began teaching leadership development to Cuban Christian leaders from a broad spectrum of churches in 1992. Jack has a PhD in Biblical Studies from the Universidad Pontificia Javeriana in Bogota, Colombia, and has worked in teaching and administration in the church for 47 years. Irene has a music degree from Emmanuel Bible College. 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 5 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 Voth Petkau

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.

Lonnie and Teresa Boshart Yoder

Lonnie Yoder & Teresa Boshart Yoder

Lonnie Yoder and Teresa Boshart Yoder and their two daughters lived and worked in Jamaica for one year as Virginia Mennonite Mission workers in 2001/2002. The Yoders provided leadership development for the Jamaica Mennonite churches while living and working at Maranatha School for the Deaf in rural St. Elizabeth. During that time, they traveled extensively across the island, visiting all 12 Mennonite churches multiple times. Since then, the Yoders have visited Jamaica at least a half dozen times, most recently in 2018. Over the years, they have hosted or led various tours in Jamaica with groups from Eastern Mennonite University, Eastern Mennonite High School, LEAP (a leadership development program for teens) as well as various family and friend groups. Lonnie was a pastor for 13 years, a seminary professor and administrator for 29 years, and a church consultant for 15 years before retiring. Teresa spent 35 years as a nurse administrator in women’s health. For the past 4 years, she has been working for Everence and is currently serving as managing director of the Harrisonburg, Virginia core market.

Yoder, Steven

Steve Yoder

Steve grew up in an Amish community south of Nappanee, Indiana. He graduated from Indiana University with a BS in Business and a Minor in Psychology. For the past 33 years he has provided leadership in the role of Vice President of Human Resources for Wieland Designs, Inc., a furniture design and manufacturing company. Since 2011 Steve has served as a Board Member for Amigo Centre, located in Sturgis, MI. Steve and his wife, Diana, live in Goshen, Indiana. They have two children and four grandchildren living in two separate communities, Nappanee, Indiana and Tremont, Illinois. They are part of North Main Street Mennonite Church located in Nappanee, Indiana. Recently he completed a term as Church Board Chair and now serves on the Administrative Commission. Steve has deep respect and gratitude for the faith values learned within the Amish community and stays connected to several communities in Northern Indiana. He has a personal interest in Anabaptist history, the European Reformation movement and learning more about his family ancestors. Since 2015 Steve has invited Amish friends to join him on tours to Hawaii, Alaska and the Caribbean. Steve also speaks fluent Pennsylvania Dutch. Upcoming tours with Steve.

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.

Roadtrip by Pedro Szekely

Independent Travel

For more than 50 years, TourMagination has been offering outstanding group tours that help you explore, experience, and expand your world. With the addition of Travel Specialist Cheryl Gilmore, we are also offering unique independent travel experiences. Drawing on her 25+ years in the travel industry, Cheryl curates tours that allow you to engage with locals and see the soul of the place you’re visiting. You can take these excursions on your own, or with family and friends in your “bubble”. READ MORE about Cheryl.