5-4 letters


We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has donated food, money and volunteered time helping us feel displaced families, workers and clean up crews. It has been a great honor for us to be able to fulfill the needs of our community. With the help of countless volunteers we have prepared and served thousands of meals since Monday, April 11, and are continuing to do so.

It is a blessing for those of us leading the crews to witness the strong support we have for each other. As a community yo are a testimony to God’s presence in Merrill at this difficult time.

Hundreds of people, from children to adults, from Milwaukee to Minnesota, gave of their time to help those that needed you and you should all be proud.

With all of the support we are receiving we are still able to provide meals for families and clean up crews.

If you are in need of a meal (sandwich, fruit, chips, dessert and drink), please call us at St. John, 715-536-4722 from 8-4 and we will be happy to prepare them for you to eat here, carry out or to be delivered to you.

God’s blessings be with all of us.

Spring Wiesneski

Dawn Wallace

St. John

Lutheran Church



I’d like to share an experience that changed my life.

In 2003, my family hosted an exchange student from Germany. Since then we have had many other exchange student from around the world share our home. We now have a daughter from Mexico, 2 sons from Spain, a son from Taiwan, a daughter from Russia, 4 sons and a daughter from Germany, and a son from Yemen. Many of our exchange student’s families have invited my family to stay with them if we ever travel abroad. We are looking forward to traveling abroad some day to visit all of them.

It’s an exciting experience learning about other countries through the eyes of teenagers while they attend our local high school. We provide a bed and three meals a day, and the time involved with providing our student attention, care and security, and the natural family provides the rest. The students get an allowance from their natural family and health insurance through the organization.

Our oldest two children have graduated high school and headed off to college. As a host family for an exchange student, we stay connected with everything going on at our high school. The high school receives government funding for each exchange student in attendance and the student body becomes enriched with a little piece of each country. It has truly enriched our lives having a new addition to our family each year. We are looking forward to adding a new member next year.

If you would like more information about having a great experience, please contact me. I have been a community representative for the past 7 years and would love for your family to enjoy this great experience as well.

Joanne Wallace

Face The World



Being an exchange student in the United States has been an enjoyable experience. I can’t explain the feeling you get when you are notified that a family has selected you to live with them for the next 10 months. When I was notified that Rick and Joanne Wallace and their family would host me, I cried. I was just so extremely overjoyed that I could not speak.

During my exchange year I took part in many activities. I enjoyed doing all kinds of activities such as traveling, rock climbing, singing and celebrating. Almost all of these activities I participated in was with a group of exchange students; except the volunteering. Some volunteering I did alone and some with native people.

On one of the trips we went to Minnesota to see the Mall of America. This was one of the best trips that I have ever taken because I was able to visit one of the biggest malls in the world. In Minnesota my host family gave me the chance to meet a friend of mine from Yemen who was placed in the city itself. I had so much fun that day.

Several times I sang karaoke with my host mom and some other exchange students at the First Street Coffee Station. It was so much fun and it was the first time that I sang out loud in my life. We always have fun at the coffee station and I have fond memories that will never be forgotten for the rest of my life.

Over Spring Break we went to Chicago. It’s an awesome city and so much better than I ever expected it to be. We visited the Museum of Science and Industry and I got to visit the tallest tower in America (Sears tower now called the Willis Tower). I am looking forward to our final trip, which is to New York in May. I am so exited for the New York trip.

Wisconsin snows a lot; therefore I did a lot of snow activities. I went skiing, ice skating, tubing, sledding and cross country skiing. I did these sports frequently this winter because we do not have snow in my country. In addition to this my host family took me the capital city, Madison, to see a Badger Basketball game and to spend time with my host brother that attends college there. I enjoyed the game, taking a tour of the capitol, seeing the Madison campus and playing lazar tag.

As a scholarship student, I am required to complete volunteer hours in my community. During my exchange year I did over 100 hours. I completed my volunteering at different places such as a restaurant called Grecian Delight, helping out at the St Francis Fish Fries and the St Francis soup kitchen. It was the first time for me to work and it was very good experience for me.

Octagon club is a club that I enjoyed in the Merrill High School. There I also did a couple of volunteering hours. I did not stick to one place to do all my hours because I want to try new things and to meet new people.

As a scholarship student I was also required to do several presentations about my country. Standing at the podium in front of many people to tell them about my home was a fun thing to do here in the United States. I did 7 presentations, one about my simple life in Yemen and the others about my country Yemen. Mrs. Seaman invited me to the Merrill middle school to do presentations in all her Social Studies class.As a result, I see how the student’s react to me and how they like learning about my country. I really enjoyed giving these presentations and I felt that I represented my country well.

In January, I received an invitation from the optimist club to join them for lunch with the other exchange students in my school. We each did a short presentation on our country.

Celebrating different holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter was an awesome experience. It was the first time for me to celebrate Christmas and to learn about American traditions. Christmas Eve celebration, the gathering of the family is one of the best things here in the United States. I liked helping my host family prepare the Christmas tree and other holidays decorations. Americans have awesome holidays and those holidays will be remembered and I will never forget it.

Finally Life in the US is very interesting. I really hope that I was a good cultural ambassador and I built a bridge of understanding between the Middle East and America. It is a great opportunity to be an exchange student at the Merrill High School. My wish is that other students like myself would also have this opportunity. If you would like to host a student, you can contact my host mother, Joanne Wallace (715-571-4233) for more details. Thank you for accepting me into your community.

Ghassan Al-Masbhi


In the uncertain times we live in, with so many things out of our control, “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'” Psalm 91:2

Prayer: “When a relationship with God our Father exists, our faith and love towards God will lead us to recognize His presence with us, to talk with Him, to listed to Him, to sense Him. This is prayer. We express our thanks, our faith, our love, our hopes with God in prayer, and we receive from Him answers, assurance, guidance, peace, strength, power, revelation of who He is and what He wants to do. (Matthew 7:7-8; John 16:13; Philippians 4:6-7; Ephesians 1:17,18)”

If there ever was a time that we as Americans needed to come together in prayer for our nation, it is now. Please consider setting aside time Thursday, May 5 to pray, gather at your local church, and or pray with us at the Lincoln County Courthouse at 5 p.m. for silent prayer.

Allen Worlin, Bob Smallman, Tod VanRyn, William Hohman, Don Entenman

Merrill pastors


I am a lifelong resident of Lincoln County and was a debate coach for 6 years. It is from that perspective that I write this letter. Traditionally I have been fairly conservative. I even used to watch Fox News until the recent Madison/Palm tree incident. I have spent a lot of time thinking about the “Wisconsin 14.” On any given day prior to the Governor’s announcement in February, I would have been likely to say “don’t flee your state, follow the process, let the informed public decide in the next election.” However the process was undermined from the start. It is now obvious that the intention of our governor and his “tea party” republicans was to ram through legislation without allowing any time for the public, or even our representatives, to debate the issue.

Debate forges ideas into greatness. Our country’s constitution, the very premise of what the tea party supposedly stands for, was based on debate and compromise. It is unpatriotic to try to undermine the public debate of a huge change in our system just so that you can get your way. That, in effect, is legislation without representation. That is the battle cry of our founding fathers (I know, tea party, the phrase originated as taxation, but our founding fathers truly embodied the ideal of governance not just taxes). Our founding fathers broke the law to protect this right. They would have literally been hung by many they represented if they had been caught.

Though I have struggled with which side to fall on, I have decided that I rank Jim Holperin’s actions along similar lines to standing against the tyranny of a king for the right of representation. Mr. Holperin’s actions allowed for debate among our representatives and within our community that could not have taken place if he had stayed. I will vote for Mr. Holperin in the next election and I will sign the impending recall papers for our current governor, as I would have stood with our founding fathers in our nations forming.

We do not currently have a constitutional amendment protecting a right to information or a right to the time to research and debate huge issues. We shouldn’t need one given our nation’s history. It should be common sense. Given current events and a lack of foundation for such basic democratic rights within our legislators, we may need one.

Nathan Hanson


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