Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Team Takes Off!

July 31, 2013 | Janie

Today marked the first day of travel for the 2013 trip team headed for Kivuruga, Rwanda. It all began at 7 a.m. this morning as the team gathered in a local parking lot.

Gathering at the parking lot

Everyone looked happy and excited. Here’s the line-up in no particular order:




Kelli is ready for travel.

Clint and Michelle

Clint and Michelle are ready to travel.

Brad, who will be supported back home by his wife, Marie.

Brad with his wife, Marie

Shelby and Amy

High School Youth

Shawn and Shannon


Director Steve Fredlund (center) is flanked by Mark Radeke on the left and Bob Jonsson on the right. These three men were on the first team that travelled to Kivuruga and brought back the original vision for Our Response.

Men with the Vision

Steve’s wife Tracy will manage the home front while her husband journeys to Rwanda for the third time. The eleventh team member, Shaun, will join up with the group later in the morning.

The couple behind Our Response

Spouses, a parent, and former trip team members also came to wish the team well.

Additional support

Several local pastors helped lead a meaningful time of prayer.


Prayer time

One last group shot…

Trip Team Leaves for Rwanda

And then it was time for everyone to pile in the van and head for the airport. The team will make stops in Newark and Brussels before landing in Kigali on Thursday at 8 p.m. Rwandan time.

van load

So long, team! Our thoughts and prayers go with you. We know you have amazing, life-changing experiences ahead!

so long team

A Generous Gift

| Janie

Chad and Jodi Christenson, of Cambridge Eye Associates, are committed to our community and ready to give of their resources. When the couple became aware of conditions in Kivuruga, Rwanda, they immediately thought of a way they could help.

As part of the team that travelled to Kivuruga in 2011, I don’t recall seeing anyone wearing glasses. See if you can find any!


Cambridge Eye Associates has graciously donated 700 readers for the team to take to Rwanda. A reader is basically a magnifier. These glasses provide everything from minimal help with near vision to stronger aid for older adults who struggle significantly to see at close range.


Technicians Julie Giffrow and Michelle Erickson helped pack the duffle bags. But it was apparently an all-out office affair. Deanna Gusk and daughters, Abby and Taylor, Jonah Poppen, Brita Rud, and Angie Rakotz all worked on cleaning and bagging the glasses. Nice!

Eye associates

Lee’s Pro Shop of Pine City donated some of the travel bags.

Gray duffle bag

And what about this cute OR supporter who was talked into modeling one of the readers?


What a beautiful community-wide effort. Our heartfelt appreciation for all who had a part in this wonderful gift, with special thanks to Cambridge Eye Associates!

What a Day for a Shindig!

July 22, 2013 | Janie

“shin·dig [shin-dig] – an elaborate or large dance, party, or other celebration.”

OK, maybe we weren’t dancing on Saturday afternoon, but great music and a festive, fun atmosphere were in abundant supply. And how about that weather?

The Mystery Mountain Boys kicked things off with their folksy Bluegrass vibe. Our local talent did themselves proud!


The bouncy house was a huge hit…

Bouncy House a hit

As was the water walk. Many people lugged heavy, water-filled canisters and discovered just how trying and time-consuming it would be to perform this necessity every. single. day.

Piles of donated rain coats, soccer balls, medical supplies, and clothes kept growing throughout the afternoon. All of these items will find their way into duffle bags that that the team will hand-deliver once they reach Kivuruga, Rwanda.

Donated goods

Donated Medical Supplies

Michelle and Shannon sold lots of raffle tickets. It might have had something to do with their winning smiles.

selling raffle tickets

Christel Halstensgard of Halstensgard Auction Service, with husband Jonathan, took charge of the live auction and raised additional dollars for the team’s travel expenses.

Rwandan items auctioned

Cambridge Ambassadors were on hand to help the kids look, well, interesting.

Face Painting at the Shindig

Thanks, girls!

Ambassadors at the Shindig

Tonic Sol-fa wrapped things up with their acapella-style magic. No instruments and (trust me) they were never missed.

Tonic Sol-fa sings acapella

Our Response Director Steve Fredlund introduced the 2013 trip team to the crowd.

Introduction of team at Shindig

A special “thank you” to Melissa Goldsmith, Event Coordinator for the Shindig. A big job!

Melissa Event Coordinator

Steve is the master of ceremonies

When it was all said and done, Director Steve Fredlund had this to say:

“I just want to thank all of those who were involved in making the Shindig happen, including those who gave time and money, including our event sponsors. I continue to be blown away by the generosity of our community and excited about events like this that bring people together from different perspectives to talk about the common desire to change the world. All of us at Our Response hope everyone who attended had a great time. We welcome any and all feedback and have already started discussions about next year. As always, I’m proud to be a life-time East Central Minnesotan.”









The Summer Shindig is Almost Here!

July 19, 2013 | Janie

Please join Our Response on Saturday (tomorrow!) and support the team of eleven who will be leaving July 31st for Rwanda. The weather promises to be ideal. What a great way for you and your whole family to spend a summer afternoon in a way that will be fun, meaningful, and even educational! All the details you need to know are right here.

Bulletin insert for Summer Shindig