Harvest Christian School students begin 2019 with many projects
Elementary students at Harvest Christian School work together to put the books of the Bible in order during their Bible class on Sept. 19.
Kindergarteners at Harvest Christian School love it when Pastor Gary Zikan reads to them on Sept. 20.
photos provided by HCS
On Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, Harvest Christian School fifth and sixth graders lined up the volcanoes they made for science. Each group had to describe the type of volcano they made and name a real life volcano similar to the one they built.
One-room schoolhouse memories come to life in anticipation of Lakeview Community Picnic
photos by A. Croup for PiCK News
Former students of Lakeview School, in Kroschel Township, shared memories of rural country school days. Top: Angie Kester Gangelhoff. Above: Dennis Kester.
by Ailene Croup for PiCK News
Country schools served the rural population long before busses transported students to the nearest city or town.
Lakeview was no different. It was built in 1902 and was the educational center for students in Kroschel Township. From the roof of the little white school house, the builders could see five lakes - thus the name Lakeview.
Students who had had the benefit of the one-room schoolhouse which served eight grades, transitioned to Sandstone High School after eighth grade. It took some adjustment for rural kids who had had such personal, one-on-one education for eight years.
They would wait at the end of their long driveways in the frigid winter for the bus that would take them to Sandstone and a full classroom with one grade only; their grade.
During the 66 years in which Lakeview was the center of the community, one teacher had the monumental task of educating local children from first through eighth grade.
Every child had the benefit of learning from every grade above them and the advantage of the repetition of lessons from the grades below them.
Angie (Kester) Gangelhoff was one of those students. The Kester farm, where she was raised, was 3.5 miles from the little one-room schoolhouse.
“We took a shortcut through the swamp and horse pasture,” Angie said, which cut the distance by a mile.
She wasn’t happy about the move to Kroschel Township because she had already started school in Finlayson, when her parents moved her family to their farm.
The school day began early for the teacher. She would not only prepare for lessons for each grade, but also would be responsible for starting the fire in the wood-burning stove. The stove did its best to provide warmth in the small building. It served a dual purpose.
A pan of water was placed on its flat top and students would place their jars of soup, brought from home, in the pan. As the water began to heat, the soup would begin warming through the morning, and be ready for lunch.
Some students like the Marks children, had a short walk to school. In the early days, children would walk several miles or may have been fortunate enough to get a wagon ride pulled by a team of horses.
For those children who walked, the day they will always remember was Nov. 11, 1940. It was the beginning of the week - Monday - Armistice Day.
“The morning was beautiful. It was 60 degrees and we weren’t really dressed for snow,” Angie said.
She and brother, Dennis, took their usual path to school, across the swamp and through the pasture where the horses grazed.
Class would begin at 9 a.m. and teacher Linda Lick Rabe had readied her schoolroom for the students.
By noon, rain had turned to snow and the wind whipped the heavy wet snowflakes into drifts. Students began leaving the classroom for the bitter walk home or were bundled into wagons.
“We had a long way home and the teacher wouldn’t let us walk,” Angie, who was eight-years-old, remembered. A walk through the woods was impossible. “You couldn’t see for the wind and snow.”
Six-year-old Dennis had just started school that year.
He remembered that some time after noon, he and Dwight Marks chased calves back home for John Marks. And, Mr. Marks gave them a ride in his team-pulled, hayrack to their home.
Angie believes the driver was their father. She also remembers all kinds of blankets on the hayrack.
The road was obscured by the blowing, drifting snow. Angie had no doubt they would make it home. “The horses knew how to get home.”
According to Dennis, Mr. Marks left them off at the top of what they called Charlie’s (Wichner) Swamp. It was a little more than half way home. Their father met them on foot and they began their trek home. He held Angie’s hand and battled the driving snow, one step at a time. Dennis followed.
Tears filled Dennis’ eyes as he recalled that long walk. He made his way by stepping into the deep footprints his father made. It was dark by the time they got home.
The Armistice Day Blizzard left 49 people dead in Minnesota registering 17 to 27 inches of snow with drifts as high as 20 feet. Angie and Dennis recalled it was more than a week later before they were able to return to Lakeview School.
The wood shed behind the school was kept filled by the area farmers. Among the chores assigned to students was keeping the wood bin filled in the schoolhouse.
Filling the water cooler was one of the chores Dennis remembered. Students would fill a bucket from the hand-pumped well near the schoolhouse, carry it in and pour it into a water fountain with the button spigot.
Children made their own entertainment at recess.
“For amusement, we would drown gophers. We’d pour buckets of water down gopher holes and when they came out we’d hit them with sticks. The teachers didn’t care,” Angie recalled. There were bounties on gophers and some Minnesota counties still have gopher bounties.
Dennis said there was never a need to mow the playground. Kids kept the grass down playing in the school yard.
“We played baseball,” Dennis said. “The playground had been a cow pasture so there were lots of lumps. The ball would hit a bump and fly high in the air. There was chicken wire over the windows on the north side of the building, where we played ball, to keep the baseballs from breaking the windows.”
Dennis also remembered taking a jar of fresh milk to school. As they jumped and ran and jogged their way the two-and-a-half-miles through the swamp and pasture, they would have butter at the top of the jar when they got to school.
Angie and Dennis’ youngest sister, Laura, remembered the outhouse - a two-holer. There was a boys’ and a girls’ outhouse.
It became a spot for socializing as they waited their turn in line.
Gertrude Nelson was Laura Kester’s teacher, in 1955, when she started first grade at Lakeview.
She was one of five first grade students. It was one of the largest single grades of students in the eight-grades which would total anywhere from 12 to 20 students.
Those five students: Laura Kester McCaughan, Nancy Rostberg Sylvester, Kathy Erickson Colsrud, Maryanne Peterson and Janice Marks La Police have formed a bond that has withstood the test of time. Another elementary classmate, Barb Goodwill Tayeb, joined them in the early grades at Lakeview.
After all these years, three of the five first graders: Laura Kester McCAughan, Nancy Rostberg Sylvester, Kathy Erickson Colsrud meet once a month.
Called “The Thursday Girls” by this journalist, their conversation is no longer about geography homework, dresses and who’s the cutest boy. It’s about winters in Arizona, grandkids and memories.
Kathy Erickson and Nancy Rostberg went through all eight grades at Lakeview. Laura went through seventh, starting her eighth grade year in Sandstone.
The Thursday Girls now include members of the Sandstone Class of 1967 including Roberta Ploeger Anderson, Judy Prichard Wickstrom, Laurie Proffit Baalson, Ailene Mohrbacher Croup, Poppie Halonie, Lola Larson Murphy Irwin and Toni Yaste Groe. Friendships forged at the little white schoolhouse 65 years ago have not faded, though friends may have moved.
In 1968, teacher Lillian Grundmeier rang the bell for the last time at Lakeview School. It remains in service to the community, 117 year later, as the Kroschel Town Hall.
The Thursday Girls would like to see the school bell returned to Lakeview along with the old hand pump. They both disappeared several years ago.
On Saturday, August 3, 2019, at 11:30 a.m., there will be a community picnic at Lakeview Schoolhouse. Chicken will be provided and visitors can bring a dish and memories to share. A program will follow the picnic.
photo by Ian Scanlon for PiCK News
This recent family photo shows Shelby with her family. Left to right: Uncle Ian, Grandpa Dick, cousin Kellen, Shelby with Harley, cousin Corbin, Grandma Dawn, Aunt Stephanie and Dad (Mark.)
National Bone Marrow Awareness month hits home for former Hinckley resident
Editor’s note: There are stories like this across America. This one is personal. It hits home in a big way because Shelby is the journalist’s great niece. Shelby’s grandmother, Dawn (Mohrbacher) Scanlon, is a 1970 graduate of Hinckley High School.
by Ailene Croup for PiCK News
Mark Scanlon lives at Norton Children’s Hospital in downtown Louisville, Kentucky.
He sleeps on a couch in the room where his daughter is receiving chemotherapy for leukemia.
Mark is there for his daughter, Shelby, to give her a piece of home and the security of having her father nearby in what is a sterile, impersonal environment. He is there to support and care for her beyond what most fathers do day-to-day.
The 17-year-old straight-A student was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive leukemia six months ago, just before the end of her junior year.
She received the diagnosis on May 20, 2018, just before prom - a sub-type of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Shelby had just a few more days to build memories of what would be her last year in high school. The rare, aggressive form of leukemia required immediate intervention. Treatment could not be delayed. Prom weekend was long and tense as they waited to begin treatment to attack the swollen lymph nodes which had developed in her neck and were growing larger by the day.
It was a blow for Shelby not to be able to finish school.
Her teachers at Gallatin County High School reviewed her past performance and gave her passing grades for her junior year so Shelby could go about the hard work of conquering her cancer.
It was a couple months after the diagnosis and start of chemo before Shelby was allowed to leave the hospital. Dad was excited to bring her home so she could sleep in her own bed.
But, new complications have come with every visit.
“It’s like a mouse trap,” Mark said. Every time he takes Shelby back to the hospital to assess the progress of the chemotherapy, they find something new which must be treated, delaying the next round of chemo. Most recently, the “cure” has produced a fungus around her organs.
Treating her leukemia has meant round after round of aggressive chemotherapy. Side effects of the toxic compound have left her with no resistance.
Her blood levels and platelets are closely monitored. When they rebound, it’s a signal she is ready for the next round. Sometimes the rounds last for two weeks and some four. Over the next couple months, Shelby will be facing the last few rounds of chemo. Then there will be two final weeks of the most toxic chemo and 6 days of full body radiation. It will kill her bone marrow and prepare her for a bone marrow transplant.
Doctors at Norton Children’s Hospital consult with Dr. Pui from St. Judes Hospital, an expert in treating Shelby’s rare form of leukemia.
Leaving Shelby alone is never an option for Mark. He meets with her doctors and monitors her treatment to insure nothing slips through the cracks.
“I want her to know that if she isn’t having fun, I’m not having fun. It’s a mental thing,” Mark explained. He has resolved to spend every minute he can protecting her. He is her father, confidant and caregiver.
The lymph nodes have disappeared after the chemo but have returned several times. She noticed during her most recent recovery period, after the latest round of chemo, one of her “lumps” had come back. The doctor asked her what she thought.
Maintaining her sense of humor, Shelby replied, “I’m just here for the slushies.”
Mark has not been able to work. Time spent with Shelby, his only child, no matter where, is precious.
A late fall, family fundraiser complete with games, silent auction and a 50-50 raffle was organized by Mark’s brother and sister-in-law, Ian and Stephanie Scanlon, who live in Crestwood.
The fundraiser brought in nearly $10,000 and has served a critical need. It will ease the burden of bills for a while so Mark can focus on Shelby’s treatment and recovery. But, the money will run out.
Mark had to give up the house he leased and his car. His mother and father have made a home for their son and granddaughter. It’s a place were she is loved and pampered for a short time. It’s a welcoming warm place where Shelby looks forward to going home and sleeping in her own bed again.
She celebrated her birthday in the hospital, last month. Shelby has won the staff’s hearts and they have become her extended family, organizing a party in celebration of her 18th birthday.
Dick and Dawn Scanlon, Shelby’s grandparents who live in Goshen, are there when Mark needs a rare day away or just for support. When night time comes, he’s at his daughter’s side.
Determined to continue her education and graduate, Shelby completes her class work online. A teacher from Oldham County comes to her home on scheduled visits. Because each county has its own school performance requirements, Shelby would need a different teacher and a different curriculum when she is in the hospital in Jefferson County. Thankfully, her Oldham County teacher goes above and beyond what’s required and travels to hospital when Shelby is receiving chemo.
Gallatin County High School staff are prepared to have her take her place on stage for graduation next May. They are holding her spot.
Recently, Mark posted this comment on Facebook. “I constantly go between wanting you to be my baby forever and being excited about all the amazing things you’ll do in this life.”
“I love you, Dad. I will always be your baby girl.”
November is National Bone Marrow Awareness Month.
Mark Scanlon is making a plea to those who will step up to donate life-saving bone marrow.
He said it’s hard to find matching donors for the thousands of those waiting for bone marrow transplants.
It’s simple to donate, he said. Donors will experience one tough day and some soreness for a week or so.
Their gift will save someone’s life.
His daughter’s donor has been located, tested and will be there when doctors are ready.
Anyone wishing to help Mark and Shelby can contact Dawn or Dick Scanlon at 12024 Springmeadow Lane, Goshen, Kentucky 40026.
For those who want to be tested and donate their bone marrow contact your local hospital for more information.
From kindergarten to seniors HCS students show off their skills in annual Speech Fest
by Ailene Croup for PiCK News
All ages participated in the Harvest Christian School Speech Fest last week. Students showed off their memorization techniques, dialogue and entertained parents and friends with their pieces. They all showed great poise and were expressive, entertaining and delightful.
photo by A. Croup for PiCK News
Katherine and Lance Hagman are newlyweds who share a common love of picking and repurposing. They are preparing for their next sale on Sept. 8, 2018
Hagmans' turn picking finds to recycled treasures
by Ailene Croup for PiCK News
Lance and Katherine Hagman are addicted to repurposing. There seems to be no cure for their addiction only satisfaction when they buy something old and return it to the public who clamor for their creations.
“I was always putzing around and had a little shop forever and ever,” Lance said.
“I have the itch to make stuff and it supports my habit of going to garage sales,” Katherine said.
This was how “the 48 shop” was born.
Just east of Kettle River on Highway 48, north side of the road, atop the hill surrounded by pines is an old 48 Chevrolet pickup and Chevrolet sedan with a light bar on top and a dummy under the hood. That is not a comment on the stuffed mannequin’s choice of vehicle manufacturers but a landmark to watch for on September 8.
The Hagman’s will be be selling their repurposed finds on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018. Many of them come with a story about how they were created or where they were found. The place they picked and the characters they run into are memorable and most times merit a return trip, like the picker they’ve lovingly dubbed “Junkyard Kripke.”
The Kripke character comes with a story.
Katherine’s picking passion is old shopping baskets on wheels. She was up in Hayward, Wis. and found a basket at Kripke’s. She couldn’t walk away from it and was determined to buy it. Kripke could not be convinced to sell. After all, it had a purpose to be where it was. The cart held cross country ski poles. He would not sell stating he didn’t know what he would do with the ski poles.
Undaunted, Katherine went on a shopping trip and came up with two laundry baskets. She offered them and $20 to Kripke and she returned home with the shopping basket.
They have since returned to Kripke’s picking haven to search out more treasures. Kripke retold the story of the Minnesota picker and the ski pole baskets unaware he was retelling it to the picker. Even the stories are repurposed.
The Hagman’s are teachers. Katherine is an English teacher who has taught in the Milaca School District for 20 years. Teaching eighth, 10th, 11th and 12th grade English is “the best job in the world,” she boasted. “I’d hang out with these kids every day. they don’t pull any punches.”
Lance is retired from the Hinckley-Finlayson School District (H-F). He spent all but his first year of his 34 1/2 years of teaching at H-F. His classes included forestry, wildlife, taxidermy, computer literacy and welding.
In the spring of 2016, he built a 4-foot by 8-foot teardrop, two-person sleeper/camper and sold it. He and Katherine thought - why not make some more stuff and have a sale.
Mother’s Day 2016, their sale was a huge success. They built a store and decided to have a sale during the Hinckley Smoking’ Rib Fest. Two years later their three sales a year, which include the Hinckley Craft Sale the first Saturday in November, keep them welding, sawing, sewing and painting.
The children in their blended family are all grown. As their family grows, so does the shop on the hill. After all, repurposing knows no season. Displaying their creations has been the driver for a new building, which is in progress.
There is an order to the treasurers the Hagman’s collect. Horseshoes in one place, old tractor seats in another, wrenches, crank shafts, old window screens, license plates and corrugated steel have a home in the sheds.
Many of Lance’s creations have required the welding skills he’s honed since childhood. He said he has always enjoyed tearing things apart. When he was a sophomore in high school, he dismantled a hay loader and made a silo diverter shute.
One of the first projects he remembers is the go-cart he and his dad made. It was welded with an old 1957 welder and powered by an old chainsaw motor. The go-cart and the welder are now at Lance’s shop.
Their house has a craft/sewing/painting room for Katherine which recently took over an adjoining room she calls “the annex.”
Lance’s yard art, bird shovels became the #1 seller. Because Lance doesn’t want to create them in assembly line fashion, each one is unique. A bird may have a wheel for its body, chain link for its neck and garden rakes for wings. Another may have a shovel body, potato planter head and washers for eyes. It’s hard not to be drawn to them and say something like, “Look how he used that harrow tine.”
He has considered having a “pick your own parts” day for those people interested in having him create a one-of-a-kind bird.
The best way to get an idea of their creativity is to spend a day at the sale.
“We meet people and that’s part of the fun,” Katherine said.
Is there an expiration date on repurposing old stuff? Not according to Lance who’s been doing it since he was a kid.
The Hagman’s creations can be seen at the48shop.com or at their Facebook page. Call to make an appointment to see the48shop.
'Cemetery Angels' ensure family, friends not forgotten on Memorial Day
by Ailene Croup for PiCK News
Memorial Day will soon be here and because of the “Cemetery Angels,” many graves which most likely would have been forgotten have been remembered.
Siblings Donna Wheelock and Diane Cabler began their mission in Fairbanks, Alaska and Seattle Washington. Distance has never been an obstacle for them. No matter where they’ve lived since 1986, they’ve found a way to come back to Minnesota and put flowers on the graves of friends, relatives and strangers. The circle of remembrance has widened and friends Lynnette Schafer and Jeanne Priest have joined the Angels.
The day began with breakfast at 9 a.m.. Every corner of the trunk was filled with artificial flowers. Their destination - as many cemeteries and they can visit around the East Central Minnesota and the West Central Wisconsin area in a day.
The “Cemetery Angels” took this reporter on a ride through the past to the present.
The first stop was Tobies and coffee - then, Rosehill Cemetery. Family and friends were remembered with flowers and whirligigs.
Names engraved in the headstones triggered stories of friendships and adventures with classmates and schoolmates.
They made their way to classmate Larry Sutton’s grave. Sutton was killed in action in Vietnam. The loss of the many casualties of Vietnam reverberates through the Baby Boomer generation. It is believed by some historians that the Boomer generation is directly related to the end of WWII in 1945, children of another war generation.
Donna said it seemed unusual that the two Vietnam casualties from Hinckley, Sutton and Alfred Webb were minorities. The loss by ‘friendly fire” also entered into their deaths. The American War Library website reports friendly fire losses were as high as 39 percent during the Vietnam War, WWII - 21 percent and 52 percent for the Persian Gulf War.
Donna is currently writing a historical novel. She was so excited to see the people of Hinckley had made a point of marking a Civil War Veteran’t grave.
American flags dotted the graves across the Rosehill Cemetery landscape. The local veterans had already made their way to the cemetery to dress them for Memorial Day.
The next stop, the Lutheran Cemetery across Highway 48 from Rosehill.
Jeanne, who volunteers at the Humane Society in Duluth, put flowers on her parents’ and aunt’s grave.
Then, she made a special trip a few rows away to William Grissinger’s grave. He was one of the last Hinckley Fire survivors. Flowers were definitely in order.
With many graves bearing the fruits of their labor, the Angels were back in the car, headed for Wisconsin, the next leg of the trip which took us through Cloverdale, near Lynnette, Donna and Diane’s old homesteads.
Diane recounted several memories of life back in the 60s. After living many years in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she relocated to Seattle, Washington where she has discovered a new talent - drawing. She currently has a picture hung at an art gallery near her home.
The Danbury, Wisconsin Cemetery was the site of an extended family funeral in progress. A touching story emerged as they talked about the loved one whose life was being celebrated. Two years before her death, she was united with the son she gave up for adoption when she was just 16 years old. Her son tearfully shared that they had two good years together before she died.
When the family left, the Angels went to work, placing flowers where there were none. They took care to remove the old flowers. Many they had placed themselves.
Donna said years ago they quickly decided not to use live flowers because someone would have to keep them watered. Often family members who lived nearby didn’t even visit the gravesite. So, it was up to them as it was passed on by their parents and they have reminded their now-adult children. It’s their responsibility.
A quick snack in Danbury and as we left town, the Angels made a point to drive past a large sign which said “Who murdered Gramma Betty Soens, on Dec. 21, 2001. It stated that anyone with information about the murder should call the Burnett County Sheriff’s Department at 715-349-2128.” It was family. Donna and Diane still have hope that Gramma Soens’ killer will be found. Gramma was found murdered. She was shot with a nail gun and robbed.
Next, and we were off on the not-so-well-traveled roads that lead to the St. Croix State Forest and Ekdall Cemetery. It’s an old cemetery that once had nearly 40 little copper lambs adorning the graves of infants. Donna said those lambs had mostly likely been stolen. There were still several children’ graves with cast lambs, peacefully protecting their charges.
At one time, Donna said the cemetery was so overgrown, it was hard to find the stones. Graves are far apart and the cemetery seems to be better groomed. The flowers and whirligigs added color and showed the care by people like the Angels.
She made her way to a grave at the end of the cemetery. She shared the story of the Grandma Kate Bacon buried there, and the family lore about that grandmother and Jesse James. Relatives named Jesse and other things that happened during that time added some traction to the story.
Onward to Grantsburg, Wisconsin. It was a well-cared for cemetery and the last of the day. The remaining flowers were distributed and the Angels were contemplating dinner. Twelve hours later, Cassidy’s seemed like the perfect finish to a rewarding day.
For those who find flowers on their loved ones graves, thank the Angels. And, pay it forward. Be grateful there are Angels out there who value the contributions and sacrifices of every individual, no matter how seemingly small.
Cinquanta's mission: Educate, stop slavery and sex trafficking in India
by Ailene Croup for PiCK News
Northern India and Friesland, Minnesota have something in common - Leanna Cinquanta. Three hundred million people inhabit northern India across an area about the size of Minnesota. She has lived in both places.
Cinquanta, a motivational speaker, founder and director of Tell Asia Ministries, Inc., returned last week to East Central Minnesota to ask for support.
No, Cinquanta is not an Indian name. The petite, 95-pound American is of mixed heritage including Italian. Her Mediterranean coloring, dark hair and olive skin have served her well for the past 20 years.
When she dons a sari she is able to “pass” as an Indian and move about the country without the government’s negative attention as she serves the poorest of the poor in the villages where she brings education, Christ’s word and most of all - hope.
“The Indian government wants to kick me out.”
She could be called a missionary, a visionary, a minister or an educator. Cinquanta does it all. Her mission began with a call to serve.
As a college student, her life had a different direction. She was headed toward a career as an equestrian, trainer and competitor. This was no hobby. Cinquanta was a six-state champion rider.
Her father recognized her gift and built an arena for her in Friesland. Friesland is a small community half way between Hinckley and Sandstone, two small towns in East Central Minnesota.
She spent her youth unencumbered by luxury, and considers herself fortunate to have been home schooled as a child.
“I grew up camping out,” she explained.
Home was a 12-foot travel trailer which took her nomadic family always to their next home. She explained how they would live in a shack in the summer on the property her parents had purchased, as they built the home they would soon inhabit. During that time, she learned to live without electricity and running water for long stretches of time. She didn’t know it at the time but this would be an experience she would draw on when she moved half way around the world to the impoverished villages of India.
Leanna Cinquanta described herself as a rebellious, bratty 15-year-old.
“I decided I was atheist. I have a great life. I can’t see God, can’t feel Him. I had a very happy life without him.
She had only been to church twice - one wedding, one funeral.
Her father told her, “The Bible was written by men not God and the pastors just want your money.”
Then her mother started attending church regularly and Cinquanta went, too.
She would sit in church and throw spit balls. She didn’t understand why the pastor didn’t get mad at her. He said, “I’m praying for you.”
She challenged God. “God, if you’re real show yourself to me.”
She was saved from freezing to death which she now calls a miracle on a ski hill in Grand Rapids.
March 28, 1986, is a date she won’t forget.
It was 5 a.m. when she woke from a sound sleep. “I was a teenager. I just wanted to go back to sleep.” A light was shining into her bedroom.
“All of a sudden there was an audible voice from across the room that said there was someone in the guest bed. A man’s voice. I looked at the guest bed and there was someone in the bed, asleep.”
Terrified, she watched the guest bed opposite hers as she crawled to the end of hers, preparing to escape. She can’t explain why she crawled back into bed.
It wasn’t very long before the person in the guest bed sat up on the side of the bed.
“Soon I saw Him. I knew it was Jesus. I was allowed to see him as he would have been on the cross,” Cinquanta said. His body was bloody, nail holes in his hands and his body looked tortured.
“I knew he suffered this just for me. I wasn’t scared any more,” she said.
She felt weak and fell on her face repenting. “He leaned over, put His hand on my shoulder. I looked up into His face.”
Cinquanta repeated the words He said. “My child don’t cry.” She said His voice sounded like a father’s with no condemnation.
She cried herself to sleep. When she woke up in the morning she couldn’t tell the story. For eight months she was silent about what had happened. Every time she began to tell the story, she’d weep uncontrollably. Her teachers and youth pastor noticed a change and she revealed what happened that early morning in March.
Her life changed.
Her family would build eight homes in her lifetime plus the arena. However, the arena would never fulfill its purpose.
Cinquanta considers her father, who has passed away, an aeronautical genius. He invented the first man-powered, flapping wing aircraft, which she saw lift off the ground several times. He taught her how to fly in 1989.
The call to God’s service would overshadow her equestrian career plan and send her half way around the world. The plan always included serving God in some manner.
“I’m sending you to the unreached nations, to an idolitrous nation,” was the message from God.
“I thought that it was some bad pizza,” said Cinquanta, smiling, putting her audience at ease.
She called her father and told her him to quit building the arena because she was going to India.
She left a will where her mother would find it, not her father because she knew it would break his heart. Her father cried as he put her on a plane. Everyone asked if she knew what she was getting into.
India is a poverty-stricken nation with villages where children are raised to work in the fields, where doctors are not allowed to tell a woman the gender of her unborn child. They fear the mother will abort the child if it is female. Families must provide a dowry for their daughters to give to their prospective husbands and it is often everything they own. The average income for a family in India is $600 to $700 per year.
If a family has boys and girls, only the boys will be educated. They can’t afford to educate the girls only to have to pay someone to marry them.
Often “recruiters” go to a girl’s family to buy her for as little as $15. They tell her parents she will be babysitting. She is then sold as a sex slave in the larger cities such as Bombay, Dehli or Kanpur. Sometimes girls are kidnapped when they go into the fields alone to go to the bathroom. Sex traffickers masquerading as matchmakers tell the families they will pay them for their daughters.
One girl is worth $2,000 to a brothel in India.
Northern India is known as the “poisonous hub of sex trafficking,” according to Cinquanta. It has 35 percent of global human sex trafficking and 45 percent of global slavery.
Cinquanta was going to educate the girls so they could get jobs and give them God’s word through the Bible.
“When you’re born into the caste system, the only way to get out is education,” she said. The government could educate the lower class children. But, then there would be no slaves. The children working in the fields are given just enough to subsist so they can never get ahead.
She knew she would have to train leaders from the area so they would invest themselves in the mission’s direction and take over her work.
And so her journey began as attempted to find a native who would trust her and listen. She didn’t speak Hindi, the language of most northern Indians, but she learned.
In her early search for those open to conversion to Christ, she was welcomed into Indian homes. The Indians “wanted” to treat her well.
She told the story of being honored with a rare treat in one of the homes she visited.
“Imagine you’re making $300 a year and you buy a box of cereal for $3.” They took the open box of corn flakes off the top of the refrigerator. It had been opened long ago and was doled out sparingly as a treat for their children.
Indians don’t eat with their guests. They sat Cinquanta down and place the box of cereal in front of her along with a container of scalding milk, a bowl and the one spoon they owned. She opened the box and eight cockroaches jumped out. So as not to offend her host, she
poured the cereal and scalding milk into a bowl and ate it.
“I have eaten a lot worse than that.”
In answer to what she misses, Cinquanta said, “In village I would like to be able to reach for a cold, sterile drink.”
The village wells are open and not very clean. Often, cattle graze around the open water supply.
She did get used to the bacteria and her body calmed down but it still stressed her physically causing her thyroid to die. She will take medication for it the rest of her life.
“For 20 years, I have not had a cold,” she said, explaining her super resistance as God’s grace and/or maybe there’s something scientific, too.
After being away from India on speaking tours, she said, “I have to get my booster swig of village water.” She will suffer with a short bout of fever for which she gets antibiotics and then she’s able to live with the impure water.
Cinquanta kept her left hand in her lap, but was very “vocal” with her right hand, as she answered the question about the was biggest challenge she met when she arrived in India.
“Having to go to the bathroom with no toilet paper,” was her answer.
She explained that a person’s left hand is literally used to wipe after going to the bathroom and then it is washed. There is always water but not always soap. The right hand is reserved for things like eating, and there is some skill to eating because it is all done with the fingers. The left hand is always in the lap and never on the table.
There is reward in all the hardship.
Twenty years after founding Tell Asia Ministries in a country which is 80 percent Hindu,18 percent Muslim and 2 percent Christian, 3,000 Christian leaders are being trained per year and 100,000 people are “coming to Christ” each year. Two thousand churches are planted yearly.
They continue the work though there is much persecution of Christians.
She and the leaders she searched for early in her ministry, have trained the police to rescue girls from brothels and have established “safe homes” for them which require 24-hour guards.
“Sometimes we’re able to get the brothel owners prosecuted,” she bragged with satisfaction.
They have established 110 informal education centers where 40,000 children learn English. This alone can raise them to middle class giving them opportunities for jobs that will bring them out of poverty.
She has also established Blue Haven School which is a self-sustaining accredited school.
Cinquanta believes education is key. The children learn and know they have a future other than one in slavery and sex trafficking.
For more information about Tell Asia Ministries. Inc visit teleasia.org. Email inquiries to To learn more about Leanna Cinquanta’s journey and mission to the toughest part of India, her book “Treasures in Dark Places” is a first hand account of what she has and will face bringing education and the Word of God to northern India.