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Hugging and Not Letting Go

Published December 15, 2012 by sojournerjulie
Security by David Bowman

Security by David Bowman

Ford is sick of being hugged.

Various relatives have told me “Enough with the hugging already! Let the boy go.”

But I’m not going to stop. After what happened yesterday, I just can’t imagine how I would go on without my son. I know it’s a cliche, but he really is my whole world. Everything I do, I do for him.

I didn’t really realize it until now. I thought my decisions… to be a Sojourner, to create a new life for us as a family away from the family where I was raised…I often felt selfish. But the horrors of yesterday’s events have been echoing in my brain. I try not to dwell, but I find my mind drifting to what my life would be like without Ford.

I can’t even contemplate. It’s too terrible.

I became a Sojourner because I needed… we needed to live our own life. I am and always will be grateful to the family members who did everything for us while I finished High School. Although some of our family looked the other way while I went through certain life changes, at least they never actively opposed me. And when I decided that Ford and I needed to move away, although they tsk-tsk’d and said it was a bad idea, they didn’t try to make it difficult for us.

Ford and I are “home” for the holidays. We have been since Thanksgiving. I was extra careful to have all my i’s dotted and my t’s crossed on the paperwork for Ford’s homeschooling so we could come back to see grandparents and everybody for a whole month. For more than a month…we’ll be here through New Year’s.

I have a permanent scar on my lip, I’ve had to bite it so many times. But it’s par for the course with my family. Everyone has opinions, and they’re not afraid to express them. There are certain rules I’ve stood my ground on, and others I’ve let relax. There are some rules that I don’t like but we’ve had to accept while we’re here. My parents think Ford should be limited to a half hour of computer use each day. They seem to think it’s just a brain-washing video game. They don’t understand what kind of a tool it is. I’ve bought him a tablet, and we’ve shown the elders how it’s a great way to read books. We don’t mention how he can also use it to access the web and a thousand aps. (Don’t worry. They won’t read this blog, not in a million years. It’s “new-fangled unnecessariness!”)

We still have a few weeks before we go back to Colorado. Rev. Mark said he might have a couple of short-term placements for me. We’re still hoping for a post where we can stay for a whole year. Ford’s good at making friends, but it’s hard for a kid to have to move around so much.

Whatever may come, I lay it in God’s hands.


Great Endeavors

Published October 14, 2012 by sojournerdoug


This has been an incredible weekend for science. Not so much for important, Earth-shattering discoveries, but for excitement, and meaningful endeavors.

Yesterday the shuttle Endeavor began its trip through the streets of Las Angeles to its new home on display in the California Science Center. I’ve seen some awesome pictures of the parade, with the shuttle just barely clearing trees and buildings along the route by mere inches.

The shuttles have been an iconic part of American culture since before I was born. It seems strange to be moving beyond that era, especially without a clear successor to the shuttle.

The other “bit of incredibleness” (as Kat refers to it) is Felix Baumgartner’s epic jump out of a pressurized capsule 128,000 feet above the Earth, landing with incredible grace on his own two feet. He actually broke the sound barrier on his way down.

Neither of these events advanced human knowledge or scientific understanding. What they did was to bring us closer to each other. With the Endeavor, throngs of Americans lined the street to see the immense spacecraft slowly make its way down the street. Some were almost close enough to touch it. This was a moment to remember, not just the shuttle itself, but the space program in its entirety and how far we’ve come in the last fifty years.

With the space jump, people all over the world watching this Austrian skydiver land in the desert of New Mexico. I was following the hashtag #Stratos on twitter, but few than half the posts were in English. This was not a daredevil stunt. This was a mission with extensive safety precautions and training and support.

This weekend also brought news for me personally. It looks like I’ll be moving on soon, as the Rev. is almost completely back to his old self. I’ll definitely be staying here through the holidays, as that’s an incredibly busy season in a church. Then sometime in January I’m headed for Las Vegas. Yup, you heard that right. It’s Vegas, baby.


Published September 29, 2012 by sojournerjorgenssen

Glory to God in the Highest!

I have a placement. Kat tells me I was supposed to blog about it when I first found out, but it’s kinda too late, I’m here.

Do you know what’s interesting about Detroit? You can go south and end up in Canada. This amuses me. And the cities in this area have all kinds of interesting names: Bad Axe, Frankenmuth, Wyoming (yes, Wyoming Michigan,) and Ypsilante. Then there are the pretty names like Ann Harbor, Brighton, and St Clair.

I’m in Dorian Bluffs, to which the usual response is “He sure does.” Not a terribly funny joke. It’s like an insider thing I don’t quite get yet.

Moving into my place here has been really smooth, actually. Dorian Bluffs Universal Unitarian is a big church. From what I understand, my main position will be to lead a mid-week bible study on… er… the Bible (the church has a large percentage of non-Christian members) and I think they’re kind of hoping I’ll coach the volleyball team.

My biggest challenges? Being a Vikings fan in Lion country, and walking up three flights of stairs to my apartment.

Overflowing Youth

Published August 16, 2012 by sojournerkat

Yeah, I know it was a few weeks ago, but it goes well with the Batman quote.

Holy Oreo Cookies, Batman, this church has a HUGE youth program!

I survived Sunday, but it was actually pretty normal for many churches. Just bigger, and a lot of the families are very well off. (OK… Really well off.) They have two services, with Sunday School in between. My extended host family took me out to Sunday dinner, then Jordan and Maria showed me all around the church before Senior High youth on Sunday night.

But the Junior High youth meet on Wednesday night. I was really confused when I saw just how many tables they were setting up… I was sure they didn’t have that many kids in Junior High… Well, it turns out that the Wednesday night meetings aren’t just the youth of our church, they’re from all over the community. Apparently, it’s the thing to do on Wednesday nights if you’re fourteen! They have dinner together, then play games and have a Bible lesson and stuff.

The selection of cookies for these guys blew me away. Someone actually made the rainbow Oreos with six layers of creme! I think the ladies of the church have a little bit of one-upmanship going with whose cookies are the most popular. Since most of the cookies are gone by the end of the night, I have no idea how they know who wins. But I think I saw someone in the kitchen taking notes on which cookies were gone from the plates first…


Published August 11, 2012 by sojournerkat

Thank God for air conditioning.

I mean it! The airports, the plane, the car, and the house once I got here.

After spending most of the summer in New Orleans, I am so very happy to be in a place where my clothes aren’t sticking to my sweat all the time. I actually put on a sweatshirt by the time I got to NYC.

Actually, I’m being spoiled completely rotten. I was met at the airport by Jordan, the youth pastor, and Maria, my host family’s grand-daughter. Jordan had actually looked up how to spell “Katriel” in Hebrew, and Maria…

Oh, Maria. She took one look at my towel and asked me if I was expecting a Vogon construction fleet! I see this as a good omen.

Maria’s grandparents are my hosts. Their house isn’t huge, but I have the upstairs all to myself. It has all kinds of closets and built-in storage, as well as a flat screen TV and internet and cable and Netflix and air conditioning and all kinds of amenities I never even dreamed of.

Tomorrow, I get to meet everyone at church. Exciting day!


Published July 31, 2012 by sojournerkat

I’ve got my papers!

And, of course, a towel.

Well, it’s an e-mail, actually. And a plane ticket that, although virtual, I believe will actually grant me access to an actual air plane.

I’m going to Connecticut. Peabrook is a small town in Fairfield County, about an hour north of New York City. The church is Faithful Heart, an Open and Affirming UCC congregation. Rev Mark says they’d like their sojourner to help with their youth and children’s programs. It’s a big church, with three pastors and several full-time staff members. That’ll be a new experience for me!

I’m feeling kinda melancholy about leaving New Orleans. I mos def won’t miss the heat… Being here has been a life-altering experience. I’m not even sure I can articulate why… I’m just not that eloquent. The combination of sad and abandoned juxtaposed with the restored and hopeful left me on a continuous roller coaster of emotion my whole time here.

I always travel light, but I’m going to be even lighter this trip. I’ve met a lot of people and given away a lot of stuff that meant a lot more to them than it did to me.

Doug, Julie, and Jake will have to keep up the posts for a couple of weeks. I’m going to be busy!

New Orleans

Published July 18, 2012 by sojournerkat

New Orleans 2007


I don’t know what I expected. I mean, I think I tried hard not to have “expectations” at all, but to remain completely open about whatever I’d find here.

Hurricane Katrina was… ummmmm… in 2005, so that’s seven years ago. I’m not sure anyone thought the city would still be cleaning up after all this time.

My work here is very ecumenical. Well, I think interfaith is a better word. The other day I was working in a community garden with a handful of Muslim youth. Last week, I was being mothered by a bevy of Jewish ladies. They were thrilled to hear that my Dad’s family is Jewish, but one lady in particular was devastated to find out that I was raised Catholic. She was only vaguely comforted to learn that, as an adult, I embrace God in a way that has trouble fitting in with any particular church.

That’s not to say I don’t want to… there is something attractive about finding a church family where you feel you belong. The trouble is, church families are made up of real people, and real people… well, real people have issues.

In the past few weeks, I’ve met a lot of people with issues.

Wait… that sounded bad…

OK. My so-called-job down here is rather loosely defined. I kind of fill in the cracks wherever I’m needed, and sometimes that means I’m just hanging around and talking to people. There are youth groups who come down here to help out in whatever way they can. Most of the kids are happy and bouncy and eager to lend a hand in whatever way you ask. Others take some more prodding; they think this a vacation, not a mission trip.

Sometimes the people who come down to New Orleans have some kind of inner struggle going on that they just can’t come to grips with. But being here, seeing how some people have just given up while others are striving and thriving somehow gives them a new perspective. I’ve sat and just talked with quite a few people, from a 13yo who thinks she wants to be a minister, to an 83yo who wonders about what else is left for him in this life.

My time here has been a true sojourn. I’ve wandered. I’ve shared. I’ve listened and learned.

And I admit I’m tired. I just got my next assignment from Sojourner HQ. It’s time to move on.