Mekong River Team
I grew up in the 60’s during the Vietnam war. I have felt drawn to S.E. Asia for many years and feel this journey will allow me to honor all whose lives were dramatically changed by that terrible time. I am delighted to have as paddle partners my lawyer whose legal wisdom has been most helpful over the years, a high school classmate and world-famous field biologist, and my former student who now guides his own flock.
Dave Ellingson has taught courses in spirituality, environmental ethics, human development, and youth ministry at Trinity Lutheran College in Everett, Wash. He is a Lutheran pastor, Master Gardner, former distance runner and triathlete, is married and the father of five grown children and five grandchildren. He resides in Edmonds, Wash.
I am a living testimony of miracles constantly abounding. My name is Tom Glasoe and I am a Lutheran pastor currently ministering to three congregations in Pennsylvania. The fact that I am a pastor at all should be considered a miracle.
I was born on the streets of Saigon, Vietnam, in the closing days of the Vietnam War. I was found abandoned and brought to a nearby orphanage. From then on, the remaining days of my life in Vietnam consisted of nuns as my caretakers and walls defining my world. I was raised by a group of nuns.
When I turned eight years old, I outgrew the nun’s resources and expertise and was transferred to a state-run orphanage, Thu Duc, on the outskirts of Saigon. I was only there for three months but encountered terrible treatment and deep-seated resentment from the other orphans. These orphans were at Thu Duc as a result (directly or indirectly) of the Vietnam War.
In the fall of 1982, President Reagan signed into law an act that allowed unaccompanied minors from countries that were affected by the Vietnam War to emigrate to the United States quicker. I arrived in frigid Minnesota 363 days after Reagan signed the Act and I started my American life.
I grew up in Minneapolis in a foster family that took in four other Vietnamese children and I grew up like any normal American child. I cheered vociferously for the Vikings and Twins, prayed winter would be short and loved Prince.
All through my childhood, I always felt the hand of God was on me and I constantly heard the call into ministry. Thus, when I was in eighth grade, while watching Sister Act and saw how much fun Whoopi Goldberg was having in the church, I decided then and there to become a Lutheran pastor. I have ministered in congregations in California (internship), Texas and Pennsylvania.
Today, I live with my awesome wife and very active 8 year-old and 3 year-old boys.
I look to explore more of my Asian heritage as I kayak down the Mekong and encounter my Vietnamese people.
Friend: What are you going to do if you aren't going to practice law anymore?
Me: I'm not sure.
Friend: Aren't you at least a little scared?
Me: Of the unknown? . . Hell, that's the greatest adventure of them all . . .
40 years of practicing law, (criminal and personal injury), 25 years of raising two of the greatest kids I've ever known (my two sons), thousands of miles traveling the world, and now perhaps the greatest adventure of them all!!
Stay tuned! It's going to be wild! Here, hold my beer!
Dr. Deby Cassill
For twenty years, the invasive fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, has been Dr. Cassill’s animal of choice for studying two avenues of research: First, the evolution of cooperative societies composed of family units. Second, the rich emotional lives of animals.
Recently, Dr. Cassill published a model that explains diversified maternal investments in birds, mammals, reptiles, fish and sharks. She has well over 50 publications in premier science journals in biology and economics. Dr. Cassill is currently working on a book, Survival of the Misfits, that extends Darwin’s theory of natural selection to explain the fusion of populations into cooperative societies as well as the fission of populations into diverse species.