Monthly Archives: May 2014

A Must Read

May 24, 2014 | Janie

Our last post highlighted three books on an Our Response recommended reading list, all of which are  available at Scout and Morgan Books of Cambridge. At the time I had just started reading one of the books, Where the Wind Leads, which I finished a couple days ago.

Our Response recommend book at Scout and Morgan

Oh. my. goodness. This memoir will go down as one of the most heart-rending, interesting, and inspirational books I have read in a while.

To recap: At the age of three, author Vinh Chung and his family fled Vietnam in 1979. Chung’s hard-working and quite well-to-do parents, his brothers and sisters, and many other relatives, ended up as boat people. Along with many thousands of other desperate refugees, the Chungs were denied asylum by the nations of the world and left to die on the open sea. The truly miraculous story of their rescue by the Seasweep, a World Vision rescue ship manned by former World Vision President Stanley Mooneyham, is profoundly moving. I was once again very proud to be in association with such a bravely compassionate organization, one willing at that time to take significant risks to do what was right.

Involvement with Our Response is not just about helping the people of Kivuruga, Rwanda, move out of extreme poverty to enjoy a better quality of life. It’s also about developing an interest in and love for all those near and far who are suffering. Learning what the Chungs endured in Vietnam after U.S. troops pulled out and the Communists took over, as well as what cultural adjustments were called for when Vinh’s family arrived in the United States, is likely to make any reader far more sensitive to the plight of the marginalized and persecuted. Understanding what drives that first generation of refugee and immigrant children to become highly successful adults—which was the case for every child of the large Chung family, despite daunting disadvantages—also makes for fascinating and insightful reading.

Once you’ve read Where the Wind Leads, you will likely never again look at those who have immigrated or fled to our country in quite the same way. Whether reaching out to a sponsored child in distant Africa or to someone here who “just got off the boat,” you may find yourself asking to hear their stories. The Asian woman who provides your manicure or haircut, the Hispanic working on your roof, the African-American professor teaching your college class, will most likely have a surprising and/or shocking tale to tell. We may even be more inclined to make the transition to American life a little less traumatizing for those newcomers who are still reeling from difficult-to-tragic experiences in their homelands.

Note: There are a couple bonuses to purchasing this book: (1) the author, who now serves on the board of World Vision, has arranged for some of the profit from his book sales to go to the organization that saved his life; and, (2) If you choose to pick up your copy at Scout and Morgan Books in Cambridge, you will be supporting a local business that has graciously partnered with Our Response.

The Coolest Thing

May 17, 2014 | Janie

If you are passionate about reading, you have quite possibly found your way into a valuable feature of our East Central community, Scout and Morgan Books in downtown Cambridge.

Cambridge Asset

Judith Kissner founded her business in the spring of 2007, having outgrown her former used-books location in Stark.

Judith Kissner at Scout and Morgan Books

On a sunny day enjoy the outdoor patio or step inside to sit on a comfy fireside chair and peruse one of the store’s more than 25,000 used, new and out-of-print books.

You can also browse a terrific selection of journals, cards and stationary, along with children’s games and puppets. (I rarely can leave the store without succumbing to a new card or five.)

But there’s more! Judith’s philosophy explains why her enterprise continues to thrive in a challenging economy and a world of digital reading options. She wants to ‘pay it forward’. “We do that by being an ethical and responsible business that supports our local schools, teachers, libraries and the arts, numerous local charities and service organizations, as well as our employees. We also “walk the talk” by supporting other local businesses, including our local printers and sign-makers, banks, credit unions and co-ops, and the businesses of our customers. We want to show our customers that when they buy a book at Scout & Morgan, not only will they get a great book to read and share, they also join us in helping to build and strengthen our community and local economy”.

So how does Our Response fit into this picture? Scout and Morgan Books has just formed a partnership of sorts with Our Response (sounds of loud cheering)! The bookstore will feature three books—rotating them periodically—from an OR recommended reading list. Via the poster you see in the photo below and OR bookmarks, Scout and Morgan patrons are made aware of Our Response, a win for us! If you buy a book, of course, it’s a win for the bookstore. And it’s a double win for the reader who can access great reading material, the kind can globally widen eyes and hearts.

So check out the display the next time you’re in the store.

Judith Kissner with Our Response recommended books

The three books in the photo below are the ones currently being promoted. The poster standing just above the books summarizes each of them.

Judith Kissner at Scout and Morgan with Our Response recommended books

An OR bookmark will be come tucked inside your purchased book.

Our Response bookmark at Scout and Morgan Books

A Thousand Hills tells the story of Paul Kagame, whose rebel troops brought a halt to the Rwandan genocide. Kagame went on to become the president of his country and, despite an autocratic style of leadership, spearheaded its remarkable political and economic transformation, as well as its physical and psychological healing and recovery.

Our Response recommended book at Scout and Morgan

Ron J. Sider has revised and updated this classic from the ’70’s, Rich Christians In An Age Of Hunger. He presents his views on the complex causes of unrelenting, global poverty, where every day more than 34,000 children still die of starvation and preventable diseases. He also shares practical ideas and methods for change.

Recommended book at Scout and Morgan Books

In 1979, Vinh Chung fled Vietnam with his family when he was only three years old. He and almost 100 other “boat people” would have faced certain death on the open seas were it not for the compassionate intervention of World Vision’s Seasweep, the first international rescue ship to provide for the needs of stranded refugees. Learn how Chung, who arrived in the U.S. with little more than the clothes on his back, grew up to attend Harvard University and become a skin cancer surgeon.

Our Response recommend book at Scout and Morgan

Please spread the word that these books are available at our local bookseller. Scout & Morgan Books is open seven days a week: Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m.–6 p.m. and Sunday from  10 a.m.–4 p.m. It is adjacent to City Center Market and Café.

Twenty Years Ago

May 2, 2014 | Steve Fredlund

A couple weeks ago the world recognized the twentieth anniversary of the start of the Rwandan genocide, when roughly 800,000 men, women, and children were brutally slaughtered. Having traveled to Rwanda three times in the past five years, I am acquainted with the pain of this dark chapter in history. I have also experienced the tangible hope and reconciliation that has emerged. It is impossible to understand the impact East Central Minnesota has made in Rwanda through Our Response without understanding the historical context for our partnership.

The Kigali Memorial Center

The Kigali Memorial Center

Cement slabs cover mass graves

Cement slabs cover mass graves

Members of the 2013 Trip Team share reflections at the Memorial Center

Members of the 2013 Trip Team share reflections at the Memorial Center

First, I would like to share a wonderful, multi-media look at Rwanda with this link that will help you understand what took place during the genocide and what has happened since.

Secondly, I have also asked one of our recent trip team members, Shannon Kirkeide, to share her reflections about the genocide, Rwandan reconciliation, and how we approach unity ourselves in East Central Minnesota.

Shannon with her sponsored child.

Shannon in Kivuruga with her sponsored child.

 From Shannon

It is painful and difficult for us to fathom the reality that occurred in Rwanda 20 years ago this month.  We shake our heads in disbelief, our guts wrenching at the thought of neighbors killing neighbors, women raped, babies and children murdered, and a country that could allow hate of their own people to transform their hearts.

So we avert our eyes, thankful that “here” no such thing is possible. Or is it?

Hutu vs. Tutsi. Nazi vs. Jew. Slave owner vs. slave. U.S. citizen vs. illegal immigrant. Rich vs. poor. Straight vs. GLBT. It all starts with a separation, an idea that somehow we are not connected as one humanity, each of us a spark of God/Allah/Mother Earth/Yahweh—depending on your point of view— that together is one entity.


Shannon Kierkeide on a walk

But how does Rwanda move on? How do you live next to the person that killed your father or your daughter? How do you forgive the unforgivable?

I don’t have the answer, but I saw it in the eyes of the Rwandans I met. They each have their own story of what they experienced two decades ago, who they lost, what they witnessed. Somehow they dig deep into their hearts and find hope in the hopeless, light in the depths of darkness, and peace in whatever level of forgiveness they can lend to those that wounded them so deeply.

May we all have an ounce of their courage and strength, may we open our eyes to acknowledge each of us is one divine spark of one humanity, and may we always be free to celebrate our uniqueness as individuals and our connectedness as a people.

Kirkeides with the family of their sponsored children