Dancing Lutherans

Written by Gaye Guyton

Although the term “dancing Lutherans” may normally be an oxymoron, today the seven of us were warmly included in two exuberant dancing circles. Worn dark hands clasped lighter hands drawing us into stomping, moving, joyful circles of welcome. In both the morning and the afternoon, we processed from village streets into a community meeting space wrapped in Malawian folk music accompanying the dancing. 

This was our introduction to two self-sustaining women’s groups. The first was a short walk away in Mgwayi. The women there were making bed nets until recently when their prices were undercut by Chinese imports. They are working on a new venture to launch a mobile restaurant— similar to a food truck — for people in the area who are such long hours that they don’t have time to prepare lunch. 

This afternoon, we met a group of widows in Mtsliza — young to middle-age — left penniless by the death of their husbands. Initially bereft, they retreated to their family homes until, as time went by, they came together for Bible study, prayer, and support. Realizing they had knowledge and skills, especially baking and sewing, they taught one another and now run a successful sewing business and dream of saving enough to purchase a freezer, rare in Malawi, to create frozen sweet treats to sell on hot days. 

And, always, always, there are children with big eyes and quick smiles, quietly observing or participating in the dancing and music wherever we go.


Written by Dick Shell

There is a lot of washing in the Bible. People are baptized and washed of their sins. Jesus’s blood washed us clean. And then there is the foot washing. People in the New Testament washed their feet whenever they entered a home. Mostly around Easter, we may practice that as a ceremony of humbleness and service. I was never really comfortable with that practice. But today, I washed about 150 pairs of hands.  The hands belonged to the children of Mtsiliza, Malawi. It was great. Symbolic and meaningful. I got wet and their hands got ready to put nourishing food in their hungry bodies. 

Greetings from Malawi

Written by Carolyn Shell

Today we visited a market and bought food for a family in Chilombo, a village community out in the country. Dick and I were assigned to help cook a meal for a woman with five beautiful children. We helped prepare the meal and then had time to visit with the village children. I had the pleasure to teach about 50 children the wonderful action song, “Hallelu,” which they loved. They got so excited they wanted to do some dancing games with me.  Then we started a tour of their area and I felt like the Pied Piper! Our guide, Ndaona, said there was a woman with a newborn baby and he pointed her out. He then astounded me by saying, “She wants you to name her baby. It would be good luck for the baby.” Wow,  what an honor! Dick and I agreed to call her “Sunshine.” The mother was pleased, and I was humbled. 

Read the latest from His House

My name is Martha Brannon, Founder and Executive Director of His House Foundation (HHF), a        501(c )(3) organization that provides direct services to families in need  and acts as a catalyst for increased sharing within our community.  HHF has a focus on assisting families that are homeless or recently homeless, and people experiencing crisis. We are proud of our commitment to do all this without boundaries, limits, or service areas.  We serve based on dignity and need. 

The His House Foundation team believe food and shelter are considered core essentials for human life and should be accessible without barriers.

We are writing to thank everyone for supporting our organization in 2020 and assisting in our response to the crisis of Covid-19. HHF immediately responded to emergency requests of food and basic needs.  We expanded our Abundance Food Share for the Carver County hotel program serving local homeless. 


Abundance is collecting and redistributing approximately 10,000 pounds of food each month in partnership with Carver County Environmental Services and their program of diverting food from the waste stream. Some of our food partners are Buddy Boy’s Barbecue, Little Caesars Pizza, Star Bucks, KFC and Chick-Fil-A.  We also pick-up perishables from several food shelves and deliver those items immediately to the hotels with homeless programs and people in crisis. The Abundance team delivers food and basic needs daily to all 4 hotels that participate in the county homeless program, and several other hotels where people are living after being excluded from traditional rental options.


His House coordinated 8 workshops for the government emergency rental assistance programs due to COVID-19: CARES and CHAP funding.  We partnered with Mt Calvary Lutheran Church, Excelsior United Methodist, and the West Interfaith Community Engagement team. The workshops focused on removing barriers such as technology, language and qualifications.  Our process resulted in over $100,000 in emergency back rent paid out to landlords.


Each month the wonderful His House volunteers assist approximately 8 households move out of homelessness and into sustainable housing.  This transition includes new pillows, bedding, towels, dishes, pot and pans, detergent and dish soap. We also have taken on the need in a coordinated effort of delivering mattresses for all family members. This can be as many as 6 mattresses in a household. Collecting and moving used mattresses so people will have a bed to sleep in their first night in their new home.  We estimate 288 mattresses have been collected and redistributed in 2020.


The Community Resource Center is in the basement of the Chaska Moravian Church with access on Walnut St.  We serve families in crisis with basic needs including clothing, winter gear, personal care products, and food.  Every day people request access or see the door open and stop by.  We made modifications during the COVID-19 crisis by following CDC guidelines and limiting the number of visitors.  Even though the Resource Center is open by appointment only, we served over 2,000 clients in 2020.   


His House Foundation provided emergency housing financial assistance of $9,275 to people that were homeless or near homeless and did not qualify for other programs.  Most of the funding was requested for people excluded from any housing options, literally homeless because of behaviors that put their housing at risk, or hotel stays for people waiting to enter the county’s homeless programs.   Approximately 7% was used for prevention. 


We are ready for 2021!   His House and our food share program Abundance is committed to increasing food access and basic needs to people that have barriers accessing these in traditional ways.  As more people slip into financial crisis, we are ready to address basic needs in a cohesive flow without barriers put in place that can allow personal judgements and stereotypes to interrupt that flow.  The state of MN approved HHF to provide services and case management to clients with greater barriers to stable housing.   We believe food is a metaphor for need and are committed to making food and necessities more accessible to all.

Martha Brannon, Executive Director, His House Foundation


If you were in church Oct. 21/22, you noticed a lot of quilts displayed over the pews. This output is from October only and will go to Simpson House, along with warm knit scarves, mittens and stocking caps, toiletries, and beautiful tote bags for female homeless to carry in lieu of a black garbage bag.

You may have noticed a couple of quilts that seemed as if they were made from men’s ties. That’s because they were! Darlene Soderlind graciously donated her deceased husband’s ties for us to make into quilts for homeless men. When we get fabric donated, it’s usually pink floral or yellow floral, so it was a real treat to get men’s neckties to make into quilts. Hopefully, some homeless man will remember better days, or days when he was a child and remembered his father or grandfather dressed up for church in a suit, shirt and tie. The pastel “shirt fronts” were leftover pieces from sheets that we use to back the quilts with. Darlene’s ties made two quilts, and we scoured some thrift shops and mentioned to people who have ties in their closets that don’t get worn any more, that we’d love to make more of these quilts for homeless men. So if you have some ties gathering dust, just put them in the quilter’s bin in the entry, and we’ll make them into quilts for homeless guys.

We can use more yarn also, as we try to ratchet up our donations of knit scarves, mittens and hats with colder weather approaching. Otherwise, we’re pretty set to keep plugging away and assume we’ll reach our usual goal of 1,000 quilts for the homeless in the metro area again this year. One of our long-time members who now quilts in heaven, Betty Renner, used to refer to this women’s ministry as a “joyful ministry.” If you have time, could use a friend or two, or want to do something for the homeless, we tie knots (no quilting or sewing skills are necessary). We meet in the Undercroft from 9:00am-3:00pm the first three Thursdays of each month. You are welcome to join us whenever you are able. If you wonder about visiting or joining us but have questions, just call me at 952-442-1105.