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Crossing Cultures


Fri, Mar 16th, 2001
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Monday, March 19, 2001

It's a bone chilling November evening in 1979. Members of Sheie and Garness Lutheran Churches of rural Mabel wait in the LaCrosse airport for a family coming across the Mekong River, Laotian mountains and centuries of cultural territory. The two churches are sponsoring a Hmong family to leave their refugee camp in Laos and come to live in the United States. After learning about the Hmong history and their present distress, many churches across our country are doing the same.

The Hmong are an ancient people who migrated from South-central Eurasia into China thousands of years ago and into Laos during the 19th century. In the 1960's, the U.S. government recruited Hmong men to rescue American pilots shot down over North Vietnam. Approximately one hundred Hmong died for every pilot they saved. When the United States withdrew >from the Vietnam War in 1975, it withdrew support for its Hmong allies, many of whom sought refuge in neutral Thailand. To get to Thailand, they had to cross the Mekong River. About 50,000 people made it across. About 50,000 died trying.

Chou Vang, his wife Xia, their young daughter Ahzoua and Grandmother Mia are among the lucky ones who made it safely into Laos, but not without the loss of two sons. These are the people we are waiting for in the LaCrosse airport. Suddenly they are standing in front of us, four real people, not just names on paper. Our guests look tired and bewildered. We welcome them as best we can, then Pastor Jay drives them back to Mabel and the house we have prepared for them, a house filled with donations of furniture, bedding, kitchen utensils and food.

We hope we can make this family feel at home here. The culture they left is so different from ours. They are accustomed to living in extended families or clans. Everyone plays an important role. They are blacksmiths, jewelers, wood-workers, weavers, seamstresses, hunters, herbal doctors and shamans. They are animists; for them, natural phenomena and objects, such as houses, rocks, and the wind are alive and have spirits. They record their history in patterns of the "Pandau," or brightly colored fibers woven into ceremonial cloth.

They are not accustomed to our modern conveniences. They do not know our language. One of our most important tasks is to teach our guests English. It is my job to coordinate their language teaching program. In preparation, I have studied English teaching techniques and learned .....
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Beneath Tropical Seas

Fri, Mar 16th, 2001
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Monday, February 5, 2001

Waves roll in and then recede, as the ocean endlessly caresses this lonely tropical shore. Shallow, crystal clear and deliciously warm are the waters of the all-encompassing sea. The white sand beach is deserted, polis ..... 
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Escape from America

Fri, Mar 16th, 2001
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Monday, December 11, 2000

I guess Im a snowbird at heart because every year about this time, once the temperature dips below zero and looks like its going to stay there awhile, I start yearning to go south. Way south. All the way down to Ecu ..... 
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More for Your Money

Fri, Mar 16th, 2001
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Monday, March 12, 2001

When the clock radio comes on these late winter mornings, I am often surprised by how much daylight already exists at that hour. I lose track of sunrise during the cloudy months of January and February.

This time ..... 
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Money Well Spent

Fri, Mar 16th, 2001
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Monday, March 19, 2001

I sat in a seat in the middle of the theatre and looked upward.

The ceiling is still up there after all these years, I thought. Masonite panels tacked up with nails and painted green. Usually the lights are lo ..... 
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Weller sentenced to 10 years

Fri, Mar 9th, 2001
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Monday, February 26, 2001

Lloyd Albert Weller was sentenced to 10 years in prison by Judge Robert Benson in Fillmore County District Court on Thursday, February 22.

As part of a plea bargain agreement, Weller had plead guilty to one co ..... 
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Zoning Summit looks at Ag District

Fri, Mar 9th, 2001
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By John Torgrimson Monday, March 5, 2001

County leaders, township officials, and interested residents attended the joint meeting of the Fillmore County Board and the Fillmore County Planning Commission on Monday, February 26. The two bodies me ..... 
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Lanesboro City Council

Fri, Mar 9th, 2001
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Concerns raised about damBy John TorgrimsonMonday, March 12, 2001

The historic Lanesboro dam was the topic of some concern at Mondays Lanesboro City Council meeting.

The hydro-electric plant has not been able to generate electricity ..... 
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Land issues dominate agenda

Fri, Mar 9th, 2001
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Monday, March 12, 2001

By Mike McGrath

If you own property along a trout stream in Southeast Minnesota, you probably have been approached by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) about selling a fishing easement. If you havent bee ..... 
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