Unheralded

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — He Is Already An American

Amid all the talk of refugees and immigrants, and the mean-spirited people who want to stand in their way as they seek to become Americans, I thought I might just repeat here part of an article I posted about five years ago. I wish these people had known my mother. And two friends of hers, Adolf Schmidt and his wife, …


Unheralded

RON SCHALOW: Refugees Face Trumpish Disinformation Campaign

Me: To whom it may concern: I’m reprinting these unambiguous words I found on the Lutheran Social Services website. I found them. They were merely laying there on the internet. Anyone could have grasped them, but few of the self-appointed experts did. I have no association with LSS, but “Jebus Jay Jones,” desperate people! At least pretend to look contemptuously, …


PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — The Truth About What Happens At The Border

What really happens when someone comes across the border and asks for asylum? That is a question many ask, hearing so many proclaim the stories of abuse as fake news. Pastor Rose Mary Sanchez, an ELCA pastor serving at Iglesia Luterano Cristo Rey in El Paso, Texas, knows. She serves a small congregation where only eight of the families that …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — A Discordant Melody That Refuses To Be Silenced

Today we crossed the border and entered into the reality of the struggles of those who live in Juarez, Mexico, and those who are forced to wait there as they seek asylum. It was a short trip across the river and a long journey into the depths of human pain. It was hard to comprehend that the squalor in Juarez …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — What Are You Doing?

“Don’t come here asking what you can do at the border to help. The work that must be done is where you came from.” So began Ruben Garcia, advocate for asylum seekers and the founder of Annunciation House, a place of refuge that houses those who have come to the El Paso, Texas, border seeking asylum. He told our delegation, …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — A Broken Immigration System

Nothing about the current immigration crisis in our country is simple or easy. After one day as part of the Abriendo Fronteras/Opening Borders delegation, spending six days in El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico, exploring issues related to immigration, that is my greatest take away. Our morning began early, at 6 am. The group of 16 — which includes our two …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Beneath Human Dignity

I cannot show you any photos of the women whose stories we heard today because their lives are at risk. But it broke me. We heard from five of the six women living in a safe house in Juarez, Mexico. They all fled their native Central American countries with their children  because they were facing death threats from the police …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Rules Of Engagement

As a blogger and Facebook presence, I use my forum to give my opinions but have always steered away from engaging in debate with others online, especially people I don’t know … until now. Perhaps it is because my posts and blogs are shared a lot and I get tagged in them, but in the past week, I have been …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — The Holy Land, Day 9

A story in four acts. The first act involves the land and nature. We visited the Environmental Education Center, a ministry of the Lutheran Church, on the campus of the Talitha Kumi Lutheran School. Michael, the very knowledgeable and passionate ornithologist on staff, showed us around their wonderful center. There we saw the botanical garden with only indigenous plants, tasted …

MARTIN C. FREDRICKS IV: Four The Record — Fusion For Caring

Invaluable. That’s the Real Answer, Mr. Commissioner; A Fusion of Smiles, Languages And Colors No matter how you slice it, surgery is no fun. More to the point, it’s no fun no matter how they need to slice you. Painful stuff. Recovery is no walk in the park, either. After nearly eight days in recovery at Sanford, I can say this with …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Searching For Humor

What the hell. What am I supposed to do with this mess? I try. I look out at the world, read the news and try to find the bright side. When someone pees in my cornflakes I say, “That’s all right, I don’t like cornflakes, anyway.” But when in Russia, do as the Russians do. I don’t actually hate cornflakes. …

RON SCHALOW: Love, American Style

Stan shuffles into the dark bar, stands still for a minute to let his pupils expand, and waits for the blindness to dissipate. Then, without moving, he hollers, “ORV! ARE YOU IN HERE?” A strange voice answers from the shadows. “Which Orv are you looking for? “The ornery one.” “Oh, he’s sitting at the bar.” Stan shuffles over to the …

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Common Sense and Legislative Nonsense

Throughout my 45 years in the judiciary, my focus was on finding ways to deal with drunk drivers, underaged drinkers and those who provide alcohol to minors. Those years made a difference within Fargo, but they did not resonate so well outside of our area … because many rural legislators were opposed to taking any action. Judges, too, had differing …

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — So You Want Our Country To Be Secure?

The president of these United States, in violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution, wined and dined Japanese Prime Minister Abe at his own “Winter White House” in Florida. It’s bad enough he personally profits from his wholly owned country club with these state visits, but now he has also compromised the security of the country. While having dinner, …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 10

I awoke in the morning feeling as though a 50,000-pound weight was suspended over my body, held up by a thread and giving me scant room with which to maneuver. I literally crawled out of bed feeling as though I had to avoid this weight that was hanging over me. The reality is, the weight of the emotion with which …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 9

I will be honest. When Denise and John suggested that I join them on this trip — OK, it also may have been me inviting myself — I was a bit concerned that the focus would be pastoral. Yes, I am a pastor, but to be honest, I am aware of the heavy burden Africa bears because of colonial missionary work …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 8

Connections and relationships are vital when engaged in meaningful community development. Sudanese  Lutheran Community Development, the organization with which I am volunteering, began when my friend Denise’s bishop approached her about building a relationship with some Sudanese Lost Boys about 15 years ago. When Denise and her husband John go into something, they go big or go home.  Or in this …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 7

Perspective is an interesting thing. On my first day at Olwa 1 Refugee Camp, I went to what I thought was the designated latrine. I had to hold my breath when I went in and found it to be, well, primitive. After using it for a couple of days, one of the women saw me coming out of it and pointed …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 6

I’ve preached on the woman at the well dozens and dozens of times. It is one of my all-time favorite Bible stories, where Jesus encounters a woman getting water at the well in the heat of the day and extends to her love and acceptance when so many had rejected her. But it never held the same power as today. …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 5

I returned to my room tonight, exhausted from an emotionally draining day, greeting the news that there is electricity but that there will be no Wi-Fi for the immediate future with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I like to be connected. I’m a wired sort of person, and I will claim that. I enjoy being able to text my …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Lamentations

I am a Lutheran pastor who is currently in Adjumani Uganda, working with Sudanese Lutheran Community Development in refugee camps. Our organization supports community-based organizers in the camps that help us address specific needs and issues. I am here with two other people for two weeks doing Trauma Healing Training with pastors and lay leaders (pictured above) in the camp and also …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 4

I woke up today after an unsettled sleep. The events of the past week, and especially the past day, played heavily on my heart and soul and the power failure in the middle of the night played on my CPAP machine. The combination left me far from rested. The good news, though, was that it is Sunday, and we had …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 3

Our plans for the day shifted. Denise and I had prepared to focus on the women today and Monday, but the arrival of the food truck changed all that. The truck arrives once a month, providing the food that will sustain the village until the truck returns. When the truck arrives, the refugees unload the 50 kilogram bags and stack them. They …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 2

Today began with a trip to the Office of the Prime Minister, where we planned to get permission to enter the camps. Well, it was supposed to begin that way, but our van ran out of gas before getting three blocks from our hotel. I said a prayer of thanks that our driver’s failure to check for gas was noticed …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 1

I knew in August 1988, when I left Africa after six months of traveling and being an occasional student (a phrase I took VERY literally) at the University of Zimbabwe, that I would be back. I am a bit surprised that it took almost 30 years but unsurprised that I return with Denise Scheer and John Musick. Denise was my roommate …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Dogs, Politics And Refugees

My dog disappeared for a few days this week. Marti is beagle terrier cross, with the energy of a terrier and the intelligence and roaming instincts of a beagle.  She’s a sweet little dog who is terribly anxious, because she was abused before I got her from the Humane Society in Willmar, Minn. (my hometown — where my first dog, …

RON SCHALOW: Port And The Pips

It’s bash the refugees season again. We have one every month, so you never have to take down the decorations — or buy new torches. This time, it’s in the form of North Dakota House Bill 1427, introduced by Republicans Chris Olson, Rich Becker, a pair of Koppelmans and four others. As always, they say they just want to know …

RON SCHALOW: Assimilate This

“Hillary was going let 650 million refugees in,” sneers Orville, “and how many were going to get palmed off on Fargo? No more tho …” “Whoa, Edmund Hillary is doing this?” wonders Stan. “I knew he wasn’t really dead. Ed sends me wonderful postcards. He’ll be surprised when he lays eyes on the Red River Valley, though. Everybody has scaled …

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Hatemongers Draw Venom From Media Coverage

I got out of bed Sunday morning and absolutely knew what I was going to write this week. Then I picked up The Forum (that’s Fargo’s paper, in case you didn’t know) and saw an article by Robin Huebner that sent me off focus. The article was on Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota and refugee settlement. It also focused …

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Lessons Of The Past Teach Us To Help Syrian Refugees Now

I was pondering what to write for the Thanksgiving when I saw the picture of the little Syrian boy who had drowned when his refugee boat sank. A rubber boat full of refugees trying to escape the horrors of war … and this little fella lost his life. I then saw a picture of a few bombed-out, literally uninhabitable cities …