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April 15, 2019 at St. Philips Lutheran Church

Class #A-1 James Hurd – ”The devil made me do it, the gentle art of self-deception” – Brief biography: James graduated from Moody Bible Institute (Mission Aviation Major) and Cal State Fullerton (Anthropology). He flew with Mission Aviation Fellowship in Mexico and Honduras, and studied Spanish in Costa Rica, where he met his wife Barbara. They served together with MAF in Venezuela and Colombia. They have three children, all adopted from Latin America. James continued his studies at Penn State University (Ph.D. in Anthropology) and did his fieldwork among the “White Buggy” Amish of Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. He and his family now live in Minnesota where James taught for 30 years at Bethel University. During this time period he edited a book on biology and morality, co-authored a book on the Horse-and-buggy Mennonites of Pennsylvania and completed a memoir book.

Class #A-2 The director of “Story Theater” is Joann Brown. “Story Theater rocks! Can you come back to my class?” asked a third-grade student in a thank you letter to our group. Twenty-eight eager and engaged senior adults and their director practice and perform dramatic readings for 5,000 children each year in Pre-K, elementary grades, summer library and daycare programs in the Robbinsdale Area schools and other venues. Our catalog of 36 stories covers all these ages. These stories demonstrate that reading is fun, brings important life lessons, interesting language and fosters imagination. Joann was the coordinator of community education for Robbinsdale area schools. Twenty-five years ago, her group developed an intergenerational program to connect with children and share with them the love of reading. We will perform two stories for you today.

11:00 am session (all attend) Doug Ohman. is a freelance photographer and public speaker. He has traveled throughout the upper Midwest photographing historical architecture. His work has been published in magazines, calendars and books. He has taken our LEAFs members on three trips down the Mississippi River, via videos and photos. Over the years Doug has been working with the Minnesota Historical Society on the series “Minnesota Byways”. Doug’s presentation will be: “Minnesota tours, part 3”.


April 29th at Abiding Savior Lutheran Church

Class #B-1 Sonja Lemire’s Topic is on Maple Syrup. Jeremiah Lemire started a family tradition in 1890 when he tapped 300 trees in Aitkin, MN. Sap was collected in anything that didn’t leak. Friends and family helped make syrup in the wood fired kettles in the woods. This tradition has passed through the generations and continues to this day, by George and Sonja Lemire, now with updated technology and facility. Sonja is a retired LPN who worked in a Nursing Home prior to her retirement. She and George are grandparents of triplets.

Class #B-2 Jonathan Kvasnik – a hobbyist beekeeper. Jon became a passionate Advocate for bees four years ago after researching the environmental impact of their dwindling population. Since then, the longtime financial planner has become the “expert in the room” on beekeeping. It’s his biggest passion, significantly boosting his commitment to Environmental, Social and Governmental (ESG) investing. A financial planner with Cherokee Investment Services since 1996, Jon is a regular guest on CBS-affiliate TV and radio stations. Jon earned a B.A. in speech communication from the University of Minnesota. Hear more about beekeeping ESG and other investment topics on his podcast, 

11:00 am session (all attend)  Jeremiah and Vanessa Gamble are “Theater for the Thirsty”. Together they portray over 100 different characters in their ten original shows, ranging from tone deaf angels to cud-chewing cows. Their imaginative brand of theater is filled with moving music, hilarious comedy and a message of grace and hope. “King David” is the title of their play for this day.

May 6th at Abiding Savior Lutheran Church

Class #C-1 Ron Taube – I am married to a retired RN for the past 39 years who often goes birding with me. I’ve had about 45 articles printed for the Anoka Union Herald over the past five or six years on birding and nature. I’ve been into birding seriously for about 15 years starting with my work on the Osprey Project for 3 Rivers Parks and Osprey Watch. I have taken hundreds of thousands of bird photos and have produced a DVD every year for the past 10 years based on those photos. I also post bird photos regularly on the Facebook sites Minnesota Birding Photography and Minnesota Birding and Owl about Minnesota. I will share my DVD with the group, and a number of bird books that can be useful, plus birding apps for smart phones. I will talk about the birds you might find in your back yard as well as birds seen elsewhere in the states, in addition to equipment you might need for good birding such as binoculars, spotting scopes, and a smart phone. I’ll be starting a class on birding in April for Anoka Education Center.

Class #C-2 Jennifer Hanson Kraus, a retired Police Officer, shares stories on working with rescue dogs and how it saves lives. Over the years Jennifer has fostered and worked with more than 100 dogs, one by one in her home, weaving patrol work, family and a passion for those in need. Hear how rescue groups work and can use your help in Minnesota.

11:00 am session (all attend) Don Irwin – As a classically trained musician, Don Irwin surprises many with his very versatile non-classical repertoire. He studied Piano Performance and received a Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Illinois. His expansive musical styling allowed him to work as a recording studio musician for artists such as Prince, Donna Summer, and many others. Don Irwin’s works have become known around the world. His music is uniquely fused with varying blends and textures acquired through his travels and experiences in diverse world cultures. His beautiful melodies, sweeping ranges, unique sounds, and exotic rhythms are intertwined to form what has become the Don Irwin signature.

May 20th at Christ the King Lutheran Church

Class #D-1 - Nijhar Jharia Minz (Ekka). Nijhar and her husband Neeraj are missionaries with World Mission Prayer League, a pan Lutheran mission organization, based in Minneapolis, MN since 1930’s. They served in Ranchi, India from 2005-2017 helping a Lutheran Church in North India to develop a seminary. The seminary was a need to train (equip) young men and women who have been called by God, to become servant leaders for God’s Kingdom. Nijhar is an ordained pastor, born in Chicago, grew up in India. After finishing Masters of Divinity in India she came to study graduate studies in the area of Theology. She has Masters of Theology from Luther Seminary, St. Paul and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in Adult Education. Nijhar and Neeraj have four children, Maani (daughter-19 yrs), Urbas (son-16), Puna (son-14) and Jhumpa (daughter-10). At present they are living in New Brighton, MN and serving in the head office of World Mission Prayer League and also in India.

Class #D-2 – J. B. Andersen – Immigration Stations. Angel Island in San Francisco Bay and Ellis Island in Upper New York will be discussed. What was the process involved in allowing immigrants into the United States? Personal stories about the lecturer’s relatives will be told. J. B. Anderson teaches Presidential History at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. He has also been a researcher and curator at the University. Anderson is a former clergyman, high school teacher and does community lectures.

11:00 am session (all attend) – Harpist Catherine Salovich Victorsen holds two degrees in Harp Performance; Bachelor of Music from Boston University, and Master of Music from the University of Minnesota. A seasoned professional harpist she was the Sole Principal Harpist for the Regensburg Philharmonic Orchestra in Regensburg, Germany from 1984-1991. While in Germany she recorded a program of Irish harp music for the West German Radio in Cologne, with Irish tenor Fran O’Rourke. Her harp performances have taken her to the Aspen Music Festival, and the Tanglewood Music Festival, where she has performed under the baton of Leonard Bernstein. Her professional collaborations include two CDs recorded with Cellist Sachiya Isoomura and Flutist Barb Leibundguth from the Minnesota Orchestra; “Christmas Blessings” and “Glorious”; a collection of Classical Hymns and Spirituals. She also has recorded “French Art Songs”, a CD with Soprano Judy Cummings. Her professional concert collaborations with Flutist Jane Strauman have taken her to Rio de Janeiro to play at the IV International Harp Festival, and to perform in several Twin Cities appearances, including the Lakewood Chamber Music Series. She is a free lance professional harpist, and teaches on the facilities of Bethel and Hamline Universities of Northwestern, St Paul.