Zipline catches up with alumni of the A/U Ranches and DiscoveryBound: Bill and Jill Morse, Niklas Peschke and Lyssa Winslow.
Bill and Jill Morse
Bill Morse and Jill Downing met at Sky Valley over Christmas in 1967 when Bill was a college sophomore and Jill a high school junior. They married in August 1969. Bill received his degree from Texas Christian University (TCU) and was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Army. While at TCU, they were chapter advisors for Adventure Unlimited.
Jill and Bill lived in Palm Springs, California, for more than 20 years. Bill was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army, taught school, and ran his own business from 1980 to 2007, when he shut it down so he and Jill could concentrate on clearing landmines in Cambodia. Jill received her degree in history and primary education from UC Irvine in 1981. Today she teaches English as a second language.
In 2003, they heard of an ex-Khmer Rouge soldier, Aki Ra, whose quixotic mission was clearing landmines by hand. Bill and Jill traveled to Siem Reap, Cambodia, to find him and learn more about his work. After they met him, they returned to the U.S. and started the Landmine Relief Fund, a 501(c)3 charity to help support Aki Ra’s work.
In 2006, Aki Ra was ordered to cease his unauthorized, guerilla demining. Aki Ra asked Bill to assist him in establishing a new, all-Cambodian NGO (non-governmental organization) to help clear some of the millions of landmines and unexploded bombs that still litter the country and have wounded one in every 250 citizens. They thought it would take three months. Bill stayed for nearly two years.
Cambodian Self Help Demining (CSHD) became certified in 2008. Bill closed his business to concentrate on their new work in Cambodia. In 2009 Bill and Jill moved there to continue the work they find so rewarding. To date, their work has funded the clearance of more than 200 minefields. They helped establish a second NGO, Rural Schools Support Organization (RSSO), which has built 24 primary schools for more than 3,000 kids and distributed more than 250 tons of food during the pandemic. RSSO is now establishing an organic community garden program with greenhouses and aqua ponds to provide new sources of income for those in need.
This statement from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy has reflected their work: “Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love. It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it.”
“None of this is done alone,” Bill says. “And none of it would have happened without Adventure Unlimited.”
Niklas loved taking part in DiscoveryBound (DB) Outreach events when he was in middle school, so when he could join the DB National Leadership Council (NLC) as an eighth grader, it was a dream come true! He has never forgotten the beautiful Rocky Mountains surrounding the magnificent A/U Ranches and hopes to return someday soon. For now, he has returned to the DiscoveryBound scene through helping organize a few of the DB 20s/30s Social Networking Event Series online with a few other adults.
Niklas graduated in 2018 from Principia College, where he majored in French and minored in political science and religious studies. After co-leading the CIT (counselor-in-training) program at Camp Owatonna (another home away from home) that summer, he embarked on a one-and-a-half year-long journey living in southern France and teaching English in middle and high school. Niklas also worked part time for The Mother Church as a Christian Science Organization (CSO) coordinator for France and the continent of Africa.
Some fun activities while in France included being a translator and assistant to a judge at a national cat competition in Castres, France (twice); being the youngest member in a semi-professional choir and singing in churches more than 700 years old; eating fresh baguettes and chocolatines every week; and performing jazz in a local jazz club.
Since June 2020, Niklas has been working as the international admissions counselor for Principia College and couldn’t be more grateful to be back at yet another home away from home. He says, “Here’s to more adventures!”
Lyssa’s DiscoveryBound experience began in middle school, when she attended the Outreach New England Winter Ski Weekend. She was most impacted, though, by participating in the National Leadership Council (NLC, class of 2011), which became an expanded “family” — a support system for personal and metaphysical growth. Her class decided that one of their pillars would be to “share CS by living it.” This pillar has been a guiding principle for her daily life and her career.
After finishing the NLC program, Lyssa attended Principia College, where she took advantage of every opportunity, including a double major, student leadership activities and qualifying two times in the women’s shot put for NCAA Nationals. She stayed on campus after graduation and worked as a graduate assistant for the athletic department, coaching cross country and track & field while completing her master’s degree.
After leaving the college campus, her path felt very splintered for a few years. Six moves across the country yielded further struggle and confusion. “This even includes a period of roughly five months where I didn’t even feel like I was receiving angel messages,” Lyssa says. “It was impossible to make sense of why or how the temporary opportunities I had would be beneficial.” Through an act of kindness, in the spirit of sharing Christian Science by living it, Lyssa gained a professional mentor, who supported her journey with opportunities and the space to find her perfect career in experiential marketing. (“People remember personal experiences more than traditional marketing tactics,” she says.)
Now Lyssa works to create engaging experiences mostly through large trade shows and conferences. She explains it this way: “It is like creating DiscoveryBound National events with keynote speakers, breakouts and fun evening events for large corporations.” Attending, planning and volunteering at DB Outreach National events gave her the perspective and confidence to succeed in experiential marketing.
“You know the feeling you get when attending a DB National event after being one of the only kids in your Sunday School for most of the year?” she asks. “That’s the feeling that I try to replicate for my clients every day by bringing people together with shared interests, to build friendships, generate ideas and create memories to implement into their everyday life. This inspires me because I know how important those experiences are to me. DiscoveryBound gave me the confidence and the leadership skills to serve, and work both within and outside of the Christian Science Community.” Finding her dream career path made it clear that all of her seemingly splintered paths were actually the perfect patchwork of experiences to succeed.
Lyssa now lives in Boston and enjoys being an active member of the DB 20s/30s community there. She looks forward to new opportunities to volunteer for DB events.
Where are you now? Let us know! Email [email protected].