Monthly Archives: September 2013

One Year Ago

September 26, 2013 | Janie

It’s hard to believe, but just one year ago this week (why does it feel like it was at least two years ago?) World’s Vision’s Step into Africa was in full swing at the Isanti County Fairgrounds.

Step into Africa truck

Several hundred volunteers were required to pull the whole thing off. World Vision staff directed the initial set-up of this portable exhibit and everything went like clockwork.

Gathering for Set-up of Step into Africa Volunteers set up Step into Africa Two volunteers for SIA

The guys get ready at Step into Africa

The ribbon cutting ceremony was attended by city and state dignitaries…

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at Step into Africa

Cutting the ribbon at step into africa

…including Princess Zulu of Zambia!

Princess Zulu of Zambia

Guests at the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Several thousand people—including hundreds of youth—were made aware of what life is like for those who live in extreme poverty. For those who walked through “the Experience,” it was an eye-opening, often heart-wrenching education.

With the aid of headsets visitors were guided through a series of interior rooms, like the one pictured below. They followed the story of an African child, learning how poverty had impacted his or her young life.

Step into Africa home

But all too soon, this artful and wonderfully creative exhibit needed to be dismantled.

Dismantllng the Exhibit

Volunteers once again faithfully stepped forward for the “tear-down.”

Helper on the day of tear down

Packing the truck at Step into Africa

It was time to say good-bye to our friends from World Vision and wish them well as they drove the exhibit south to a new location.

Thank you, Kelli McDonald (second from the right) for your enthusiasm and leadership. Thank you to all the dedicated volunteers who made this major undertaking so successful, forever altering the worldview of those who attended. We especially want to thank those visitors who made a commitment to sponsor children—Kivurugan and others—or who gave financially in some other way. Never doubt that you have brought hope into the lives of these kids, their families, and their communities.


Steve Fredlund summarized things this way: “Our goal, which we thought to be quite lofty, was for at least 3,000 people to walk through the Experience. After the numbers had been totaled, we ended up with over 4,000 visitors and 204 children sponsored! These numbers are still quite staggering to comprehend. The World Vision team was so thrilled with how our community rallied, including nearly 30 organizations that joined forces to make this happen.”

East Central Minnesota, as Steve might say, rocks!

Does Child Sponsorship Really Work?

September 23, 2013 | Janie

In our last post, I hope you caught the joy and excitement experienced by Clint and Michelle Lundeen when they met their sponsored children, Syldio and Patience.

Clint and Michelle's sponsored kids

Back in June, those of you who happen to subscribe to Christianity Today were presented with an intriguing cover. The feature article poses an all-important question for those of us who want to make a difference in the life of an impoverished child: “Does Child Sponsorship Work?”

Does Child Sponsorship Work

I must admit that I turned to the article with a bit of apprehension. After all, if the results were negative, or even inconclusive, those of us involved with Our Response (to say nothing of World Vision, Compassion, and other organizations) could be barking up the wrong tree. If you haven’t seen the article, read it for yourself here. You’ll be glad you did.

Michelle’s Trip Highlights

September 16, 2013 | Janie

You may have noticed that our local Isanti/Chisago County Star newspaper just featured the Our Response trip to Rwanda. If you didn’t catch this wonderful front page article, you can enjoy it here.

Today’s post features reflections and highlights from the point of view of Michelle Lundeen, a trip team member who travelled to Kivuruga with her husband, Clint.

Clint and Michelle are ready to travel.

Michelle’s Favorite Memories and Lessons Learned

One of my most treasured moments on this trip was walking with Clint and Kelli to the home of Kelli’s sponsored child, Erik.

Walking to sponsored child's home

We walked about six kilometers (or approximately four miles) on trails that the locals use, up and down the mountain side. It was so beautiful. The countryside is like a patchwork quilt with gardens and terraced farmland.

Beautiful Kivuruga

We saw sweet little houses on the side of the hills, children running around giggling and talking, and goats grazing.

Houses in Kivuruga, Rwanda

When we got to Erik’s we were greeted by children singing. He and his grandparents visited with us and gave us some marital advice. It was such a sweet time. Their house was clean and simple. They decorated it for us with corncob clusters hanging from the ceiling.

Rwandan home decorated with corn husks

We then walked to Syldio’s house…

Clint and Michelle's sponsored child

…and got to visit with him and his brothers and their families. We crammed a whole bunch of us and their neighbors into their house, and they sang and danced for us.

We learned that they start associations for their house building projects. One family and the members of the association will build a home, and then they will help another family in the association build their home. They are able to build the homes right from the clay found in their own soil. They had kilns for the bricks throughout the countryside.

Bricks for the Kivurugan homes

Another great moment for me was when we went to the cultural center and I asked the tour guide if he had ever heard of World Vision. He looked at us, took a moment, and then told us how much World Vision had done for their community and country, and how much he appreciated World Vision. This man was not affiliated with World Vision in any way and was outside the Kivuruga area. It was a wonderful confirmation of the great work that World Vision is doing in Rwanda.

Many people told us that this would be a life-changing trip, so we went with our hearts and minds open to whatever God would have for us. Both of us left feeling that this wasn’t a life-changing trip, but a life-confirming trip. We feel confident that God has us where we are in life to work hard and to use our finances and time as He directs, to keep sponsoring children, and to keep giving. We are in awe of how God is able to use $35 a month—which is all that it takes to sponsor a child—and how this money impacts the child, his family, the community, and, ultimately, a country. There are still 1,000 children in Kivuruga who are registered with World Vision and waiting to be sponsored.

at the home of Kelli's sponsored child


Clint with kids

We were able to meet both of our sponsored children. Syldio is 11 years old and Patience is 12.

Sponsored kids

Clint and Michelle's sponsored kids

They are such a blessing to us. Both of them were so shy at first, but the smiles soon came and we could see that they are so full of joy and love. We spent a number of hours with them just visiting, eating lunch together, meeting one of each of their family members, opening gifts and kicking soccer balls around with them.

Clint with sponsored kids


Michelle with Patience

One of my favorite moments of meeting our sponsored children was getting the mother of Patience out to kick the soccer ball with us. She is so beautiful and was all dressed up, yet so willing to “play” for a little while.


I also enjoyed meeting one of the translators who had translated a letter Syldio wrote to us months ago. We saw firsthand that our correspondence with our sponsor children is “real”. These are real kids and real communities who need us to rise up and give.

translator of World Vision letters

I had such a beautiful experience in Rwanda. I am so grateful for the love and support that our church and our community is providing to the people of Kivuruga, and for the support that Clint and I received personally. Thank you!

hands meet