Country Girl Learning to Thrive in a Foreign City

By Tina DeJong

How could growing up on a ranch in what many consider the “middle-of- nowhere” prepare one for thriving in a foreign city? To go from wide open spaces to mile after mile of high rise buildings, from blue skies and fresh air to gray skies and pollution, being around people who grew up knowing all your neighbors and most everyone in town to not even knowing what your neighbors look like because your schedules are so different you don’t see one another, then to top it off, all the signs are in a completely different language and the main way of communicating with people is through charades because you cannot understand one another’s language – that should lead to homesickness, culture shock, and quickly finding a way back to “safety.” At first glance, the differences seem too immense to overcome and one would think that the country bumpkin would not even be able to last one day in a high-tech city! However, by God’s grace, He has shown me how to apply the lessons I learned growing up in the loving Winner community to thrive in this very different part of His world.

Country kids learn the importance of family and friends at a very young age. We work side-by-side in family businesses, share in one another’s joys and tears, and know that we can trust our loved ones to be there for us through thick and thin. Sure, we fight like cats and dogs at times, but that is one of the things that makes us stronger and it ends up bringing us closer as we work through our differences to understand one another better.

Of course there is the lesson of hard work and responsibility that go hand- in-hand. It is satisfying to work along side parents and mentors getting jobs done each day to keep the business going. I can still remember being almost eight when I was able to rake hay and finish planting my first field of oats/alfalfa. After being able to accomplish a task well then I could learn a different one, such as stacking bales, baling, and eventually windrowing! This process not only built up my sense of responsibility, it helped to cultivate a caring attitude toward the world around me.

Agriculture is not about being the most famous or the richest, but it is about developing the atmosphere where everything lives. We put in long hours of research and manual labor to produce the food that fuels the world. Hardly ever do we get recognized for it and if someone gets sick we may get blamed for it, so why do we do it? Because we care for those around us and have the hope that things will get better.

Flexibility is a must as the weather may not cooperate with what we wanted to do, something may break down, or an accident may happen. Instead of pouting about it, we figure out what we can do even with the current weather, fix what broke (pretty much anything can be fixed with duct tape, baling wire, and pliers!), or take time to help where the need is.

Those were the exact lessons that I needed to learn in order to be able to thrive in a big Chinese city. Getting to know good friends was the first important key. People who could show me where to buy what I need and who could help translate for me. These new friends have become like family as they are always there for me.

Figuring out how to do the jobs I was given well was my next task. Yes, it is a challenge to learn how to read signs or figure out what bus route to take, but so was learning to back up a tractor and feed wagon. With practice and
determination it becomes easier and I can now order food (knowing what I am ordering) along with navigate to a new place in town that someone recommends to visit.

My level of flexibility had to increase as I learned that time schedules are a suggestion and so are most “rules” for that matter. A visitor shows up in town and everything gets dropped to spend time with them. Someone is coming to fix your refrigerator and says they will come in the morning, but does not show up until early evening. You are standing in “line” when the two people who came in the door right after you are suddenly right next to you and then ahead of you – lines don’t really exist, you just need to keep pushing forward in the mass of people and remember not to leave any space between you and the person in front of you. When visa paperwork is due, you leave to do it whether you are in the middle of teaching a class or not. These are all things that have brought up some frustration at one time or another, but just as I learned to adjust my schedule and behavior at home based on life factors that are out of my control; I have learned to adjust here as well.

Part of that adjustment means studying the language to be able to better communicate. Joining a gym in order to make sure I get enough physical exercise each day – everything is conveniently located within a ten minute walking distance or I could have everything ordered straight to my door, so unless I make an effort physical exercise does not happen. As winter comes and the air quality gets really bad (pretty much in the hazardous range for three months) I’m sure to wear a mask outside and keep an air purifier on inside.

Then finally just as I had to pay attention to my surroundings on the ranch in case something was out of the ordinary and needed attention – such as extra water running on the ground indicating a leak or my horse getting high headed and perking up his ears because there was something coming over the hill – I need to watch the behavior of people around me. If there is a big crowd of people around a shop, there is probably a big sale going on and now would be a good time to stock up on cheap necessities. Using those careful observations is how I got to know the rhythm of the city: exercisers and breakfast shop owners out between 6:30-7:00am, people start heading to work between 8-9am, most stores open around 9 or 9:30, lunch from around 12 to 1 and then time for tea and Mahjong until around 3, then dinner can be anywhere from 6 to 9 followed by more tea and Mahjong. There are things that can be fast paced, but for the most part it is a pretty laid back city where people enjoy one another’s company and spicy food. I still prefer the country and I miss the wonderful community back home, I am currently happy and content with where God has placed now and how He has used the people around me both at home and here in China to show His love to me! So feel free to come and visit me anytime! My schedule is flexible and we can see pandas, drink tea, watch a mask changing show, play some Mahjong and bargain for goods in the market. Things are definitely different, but if you’re from the country you can thrive!

Blessings, Tina DeJong


Volunteers Needed for Salvation Army Bell Ringers

The Salvation Army in Winner will be dusting off their red kettles in preparation for their traditional Christmas kettle campaign. Bell ringers have been a familiar site at the Shopko in Winner and kettles placed at several area businesses throughout the Christmas season.

The bell ringing season will kick off on Nov. 24 at Shopko in Winner and run through Dec. 24.

A total of 90 percent of the funds raised during the campaign stay in the Salvation Army Winner unit to assist families.

Last year more than 124 people received assistance from the Salvation Army in Winner and Tripp County. All funds raised are used locally for services such as a disaster due to fire, aid to residents, groceries and special projects that benefit the community youth and members. The Salvation Army Winner unit distributed 132 backpacks to area youth and schools.

The bells will be run Monday through Saturday and there will be no bell ringing on Sunday. The time for bell ringing will be 10 a.m. to as late as 8 p.m.

Organizations can pick a day and split it up into shifts among the members.

Persons can contact Shana Flakus at 842-2736

Students Perform at Augie Band Festival

Winner and Colome High School music students performed in the Augustana Band Festival in Sioux Falls on Nov. 10-11.

The Winner High School students who were part of the festival band were Andrew Taylor, Merideth Calhoon, Sophia Lewis and Tedra Vrbka.

Colome students who performed were Jeremiah Yeaman, Julie Larson, Caleb Vandenbark.

The festival, in its 60th year, brought thousands of students from a five state area in two full days of ensemble and clinic work featuring three separate bands—gold, blue and honor.

Participating students are nominated by high school directors.

The grand finale concert was held Nov. 11 at the Washington Pavilion.


Three Named to All-Conference Volleyball

Three members of the Winner High School volleyball team have been named to the Big Dakota Conference all-conference team.

Selected from Winner are Alexis Richey, Morgan Hammerbeck and Sam Marts.

Honorable mention went to Abby Marts of Winner.

Members of the Big Dakota Conference are: Chamberlain, Cheyenne-Eagle Butte, McLaughlin, Miller, Mobridge/Pollock, Stanley County, Todd County, Winner and Crow Creek.


Winner Lady Warriors Fall Short in Sweet 16

The Winner volleyball team lost in five sets in the Sweet 16 tournament in Wall on Nov. 7.  The Lady Warriors took on Belle Fourche for the right to play in the state tournament.  The set scores were 22-25, 25-16, 17-25, 25-18 and 11-15.

Alexis Richey and Gracie Littau were 100 percent in serving.  Abby Marts and Morgan Hammerbeck had 2 ace serves. Hammerbeck had 23 kills and Abby Marts, 10 kills.  Littau had 29 set assists and Mackenzie Levi, 15.  Richey was 78 percent in serve receive and Hammerbeck and Abby Marts were both 68 percent.  Richey had 33 digs and Abby Marts 25. Marts had 2 solo blocks.

As a team, Winner was 99 percent in serving with 5 aces, 53 kills, 50 set assists, 71 percent in serve receive with 113 digs.

“We came out focused and ready to play,” said coach Jaime Keiser. “We were two very similar teams and it was back and forth the first four sets. I thought we had the momentum going into game 5. It all came down to attacking and who could make less mistakes and we came up a little short,” said Keiser.

“The last few points Belle Fourche got it to their bigger hitter which got us out of system and we had a hard time attacking the ball. We played with a lot of heart and left it all on the court. It was a tough loss,” said the coach.


Inez Woolhiser, 98

Inez Woolhiser was born Oct. 9, 1919 at Bonesteel, South Dakota, to Milton and Carolyn (Baker) Woolhiser. When she was 18 months old her parents moved to rural Tripp County, South Dakota. She graduated from Colome High School in 1938. In 1945 she attended the Winona School of Photography in Winona Lake, Indiana.

Inez was employed by Rosebud Photo Company for 40 years and worked as a free lance photographer for 20 years before retiring in 2004. During her career behind the camera she chronicled several generations of families taking their baby pictures, grade school and communion photographs, Senior portraits, engagement, wedding, anniversary and reunion photos. She had a talent for setting up and photographing a large group of people and making everyone look good. She even had the adventure of climbing to the top of the grain elevator to take an aerial shot of the Winner Livestock yard.

Inez was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church and Ladies Aid, and Winner Hospital Auxiliary. As a Life member of VFW Auxiliary, she served the organization on all levels including State Auxiliary President in 1974-75, where she was named Outstanding State President of the Year. In 2004, Inez was named the State Volunteer of the Year and went on to be named the National Volunteer of the Year. Her work for the veterans and their families was always foremost in her volunteering efforts as she joined the auxiliary through the eligibility of her brothers, Linden Woolhiser who was killed in action in WW II, Glen who also served in WW II, and Merle who served in the Korean War.

Inez is preceded in death by her parents Milton and Carolyn Woolhiser, son LaMonte Woolhiser, sisters Emily Edwards, Eleanor Hammond, Helen Totton, and Ruth Wilke, brothers Linden, M. Glen, and Merle Woolhiser. Step-grandson Tom Orr, brothers-in-law Harry Edwards, Maurice Hammond, and Ray Totton.

Inez is survived by her granddaughters Sheila Woolhiser of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Kimberly Woolhiser of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Dawn Shafer of Sioux City, Iowa, two very special people Mike and Lynn, their children and grandchildren, daughter-in-law Connie Woolhiser of Holiday Island, Arkansas, step-granddaughter Lori (Scott) Sanford and 2 step-granddaughters Samantha and Corrine Sanford of Roseville, California, brother-in-law Francis Wilke of Stanley, North Dakota, many nieces and nephews, and the numerous friends she made through out her long life.

Franklin T. Gish, 79

Franklin T. Gish of Lewiston, Maine, formerly of Limestone, Maine, died Wednesday Nov. 1, 2017 at Marguerite d’youville Pavilion with his loving family by his side.

Frank was born in Winner on Nov. 5, 1938 the son to Leonard & Rose Snow Gish. He attended Colome local schools and graduated from Colome High School with the class of 1956.

On Sept. 16, 1967 he married the love of his life, Charlene Poitras in Grand Falls N.B. Frank enlisted in the United States Air Force where he made a lifetime career and traveled the country with his wife and son Daniel. He proudly served throughout the United States, including time in Guam, Korea, Spain, Hawaii, California, and returning to where he met the love of his life at Loring AFB, ME for his final station. He served in different positions including, which he was most proud, as an aircraft mechanic for Air Force One under the Presidency of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon for six years. Other roles included Commander of Aircraft Maintenance at Loring AFB and Head of Squadron Nuclear Safety also at Loring AFB. He retired as MSGT after 28 years from the United States Air Force in 1985.

After his retirement from the U.S. Air Force, Frank worked for Boeing and Lockheed, Loring AFB Supply Squadron (civilian), and DFAS Limestone (Accounting Center for the U.S. Military). He also became the first in his family to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology from USM and an accounting degree from Husson College.

Among Frank’s interest was working around his yard, barbecuing for family and friends, fixing old cars, coaching and volunteering for local recreation boards, and being involved his son Dan’s youth sports teams. His greatest pleasure in life however, was the time he spent with his wife, son, grandchildren and close family and friends. He loved making jokes and seeing people around him laugh. He especially loved singing and dancing with his wife Charlene.

He is survived by his wife Charlene of Lewiston, his son Daniel and wife Cindy Gish of Lewiston, his grandson, Hunter Gish and granddaughter Lilly Gish both of Lewiston. He also leaves behind two sisters, June (Dale) Screvens of Hastings, Neb., Doreen Tennett of Grand Island, Neb., as well as many cousins, nieces, and nephews. Frank is predeceased by his mother and father and siblings; Philip Gish, Leo Gish, William Ace Gish, Lindy Gish, Gerald Gish, Roland Gish, and in-laws William and Yvonne Poitras.

You are invited to offer condolences and pay tribute to Franklin’s life by visiting his guest book at


Sutton Honored by Casey Tibbs Foundation

Renee Sutton of Burke was honored at the 28th annual Casey Tibbs Foundation tribute dinner Nov. 4.

Sutton was named the rodeo cowgirl great. She was one of six persons honored at the banquet.

Sutton has been involved with rodeo for many years. She has been a contestant, secretary, timer and held state queen titles.

Sutton has been the voice of rodeo for SDRA for many years doing the SDRA rodeo report for radio shows.

She has worked promoting the Burke Stampede Rodeo for more than two decades. She is most honored in raising her three rodeo children: Dee Haugen, Billie Sutton and Rehme Sutton.