Monthly Archives: July 2013

2013 Trip Team & Summer Shindig

July 16, 2013 | Janie

Just two weeks from today, after months of planning and fund raising, eleven members of our East Central community will board a plane for Kivuruga, Rwanda. They will go to observe the results of our financial partnership with World Vision. Team members will meet their sponsored children, build relationships with the World Vision staff and the people of Kivuruga, and observe the challenges of daily life first hand. Look closely at these faces…just as Our Response desires to bring transformation to Kivuruga, the lives of those pictured here will be transformed as well, never to be the same!

Team in Backyard at Viesselmans

Front row, from left to right: Kelli McDonald, Shelby Swanson, Michelle Lundeen, Shannon Kirkeide, Amy Evenson, and Brad Wold. In the back, left to right: Steve Fredlund, Clint Lundeen, Kent Viesselman, Shawn Kirkeide. Shelby and Amy are high school students, the first youth to travel with an Our Response team.

Shaun Johnson, lead singer of Tonic Sol-Fa, will also be traveling as part of the team. That’s Shaun, sitting to the far right.

Tonic Sol-fa for Shaun's pic

You can hear Shaun and the rest of the TSF quartet (think high-energy acapella!), along with The Mystery Mountain Boys, on July 20th, at the Our Response Summer Shindig! Don’t miss this opportunity to support the trip team, hear from some great musicians and vocalists, and enjoy a host of fun activities and events. Beginning at 1:00, it’ll be the happening thing in Cambridge. We hope to see you at the Anoka-Ramsey Community College this Saturday.









Is there a spare raincoat in your closet?

July 10, 2013 | Janie

Does your coat closet contain rain gear that you haven’t worn in awhile? The team that leaves for Rwanda at the end of the month would love to take it with them!

It all started when the 2011 team visited a young woman named Clarice at her home in Kivuruga. Clarice was 24 years old then and HIV positive. That’s when we learned that World Vision has a program involving 126 volunteers who encourage and help care for those with HIV. WV staff train the caregivers and supply their equipment. Caregivers give of their time freely to provide assistance an average of two days a week. Despite living in a part of the world where people with HIV/AIDS are stigmatized, Clarice described to us her sense of hope made possible by this ministry.

We asked what challenges these local volunteers face. Because caregivers either walk or bike to see their patients, one thing they could use is raincoats for house calls made during the rainy season. Upon hearing this, Pastor Joel Preston, a member of our team, immediately took off his rain jacket and gave it to the care provider you see below. As the jacket was tried on, Shannon Lynch captured the scene with her camera.


Pastor Joel is heading up the raincoat collection effort. If anyone would like to donate, there are two drop-off locations: Pine City Evangelical Free Church or Cambridge First Baptist. Or, if you know one of the 2013 trip team members, just hand your rain jacket to one of them.




Wanted: Soccer Balls!

July 3, 2013 | Janie

When the East Central team leaves for Kivuruga, Rwanda, on the 29th of this month, they would love to take a whole duffle bag (or two) of soccer balls with them.

So what do soccer balls have to do with global poverty? Well, there’s not much that a child in Rwanda loves more than playing soccer! On the 2011 trip to Kivuruga, everyone on the team met his or her sponsored child. And each of us brought that child a soccer ball! Check out Mark Coughlin, pastor of Immanuel Church in Forest Lake, with his sponsored child.

Mark and sponsored child

Here’s another young man who pretty much never let his ball out of his sight.


The girls are just as crazy about soccer. I think my sponsored child, Josiane, and I kicked her new ball every which way to Sunday for about an hour and a half straight! I miss her.


The only soccer balls we ever saw in Rwanda were homemade. I’m not too sure about the construction, but it looked like a combination of banana leaves, plastic bags, and twine. To me they are beautiful symbols of African ingenuity! A little on the small side, but they did the trick for kids who have not-a-whole-lot. We were surrounded by hundreds of children over the course of our visit, but store-bought toys were in short supply. As in, I never saw even one.

Home made Rwandan soccer ball

We had a little ceremony with the principal of the school that we visited. The deal was that we would trade them one of our new soccer balls for one of theirs. Mark Coughlin took the Rwandan ball home with him and he treasures it dearly. Trent Pepper and Steve got in on the photo shoot!



I wish you could have witnessed that crowd of school kids playing with their brand new ball. It was a scene I hope to never forget.

Pastor Mark has this to say: “Sending soccer balls with OR is one of the best ways to bring smiles to the faces of the kids of Kivuruga. I’ve seen their faces light up, first hand, when they trade their homemade soccer balls for the real thing! Food, books, medical attention, etc. are all very important pieces for the physical health of that community. The gospel contributes to the spiritual health. Soccer balls are part of the emotional health of that community! We’re excited to be collecting again for the 2013 trip!”


If you would like to donate soccer balls (small hand pumps and needle valves would be great, too!), you can drop them off at either Immanuel Church in Forest Lake or First Baptist in Cambridge. If you are able to deflate them for more compact packing, so much the better! The deadline is July 20th.