ND after NOLA

I don’t think I will think about humidity quite the same way after a few days in New Orleans summer. The first night was a major shock to the system as we left the airport to stand in 90+ degrees with high humidity as we waited for our shuttle to take us to our hotel. I don’t recall ever being quite so hot and miserable.

When we got to the airport in Fargo about an hour ago, we were greeted with 60s and much lower humidity. Thanks be to God!

The entire trip back we would occaisionally talk about things we saw or heard or experienced. We made lots of memories, good and bad, that will remain with us for a long time.

But I think the first change for us to adjust to with our return to ND is the fact that we will no longer be walking five or more miles a day…

Even though we are running on fumes and adrenaline, the past week was remarkable as we are pumped up to bring some new songs or stories into our churches.

So watch for us, because we will be coming to each of our congregations to talk about what we experienced and how we know that God is definitely working in the world and in our lives!

Last night in NOLA

After the gathering ended with massive worship (110 communion stations) sitting in the nosebleeds, we took a nap.
Then we met up with Monique and her adorable daughter to see the Garden District via streetcar.
After that we headed over to the French Quarter for food. Seafood. Cause we are by the sea.
Next we went to get on a ferry to the other side of the river in order to get a pic of the city.

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ELCA Citizens with the Saints day 4

Well, day 4 began with breakfast at IHOP where we ate pancakes and other breakfast foods.
Then we slowly made our way to the convention center for Practice Peacemaking.
At the center, we began our day with worship lead by a highly energetic group of talented musicians (just how ALL the bands could be described). The girls and I ended up on the floor in the 4th row, where Andi encountered a youth with a lot of gusto for music but not much control over where his limbs flail…
We then proceeded to the areas of fun: inflatables, workshops, places to draw or act or dance, ziplines, bumper cars, mini golf, etc. They did shop but ended up being tired so we left after walking around.
And we napped.
After our refreshing (but far too short) nap, we ate at the Checkered Parrot.
Then we went to the dome for the nightly gathering featuring SWITCHFOOT!!!!
Te focus for the night was justice, where each speaker encouraged the energetic youth to go home and continue to make a difference, one person at a time working to do what they can to change the world.
The meeting ended with a performance by Switchfoot that was highly anticipated and was a lot of fun. I myself had seen them perform a few years ago and was feeling excited to watch them again.
But no gathering is complete without the Community Life, when the teens get to have fun with their peers. For us, that has meant going to dances at a nearby hotel.
It is sad to think that tomorrow is the last day. We will be finishing up the gathering with worship in the morning (just like every morning) at the dome with all 36,000 attendees. Then the afternoon will be spent seeing a bit more of NOLA (New Orleans, LA).

Gathering Day 3

We started our morning with the EaND synod. All 660 (give or take a few) met for worship with communion then broke into small groups to talk about 7 practices of discipleship: worship, pray, serve, give, study, encourage, invite. We got to meet others who live just a few miles/hours from us. 

After that, we were supposed to have a “scavenger hunt” but I opted for rest instead of walking in pouring rain during a thunderstorm. The girls eventually discovered that there is a hotel across the way from our window and were excited to meet people without actually meeting them…

We then ventured out into rain to find food. We had a goal in mind but after getting drenched walking in rain and flooded streets, we found a little good-in-the-walk pizza place with DELICIOUS pizza and nicest owner!

The next on the docket was to get to the dome to stand in line to enter and claim our seats. It was our night for floor seating, but we opted for front row of the first level, which was a perfect option for us short girls!

Here are some pics from the mass gathering:

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2012 ELCA Youth Gathering (day 1-2)

Yesterday was the official start to the gathering.

Tuesday was spent traveling. We arrived in New Orleans on time only to stand and wait in some oppressive heat and humidity for a shuttle to the hotel, where we then waited to check in. We had FINALLY gotten to our beds at 3:00 am, but fortunately we were able to sleep in since the events didn’t start until later in the afternoon.

We woke up Wednesday and decided to walk a bit around the French Quarter.
We went shopping!
Souvenir shopping, that is… we bought matching shirts (Trouble 1/2/3 T-shirts and some masks).
Dinner was at Popeye’s.

Then the afternoon was spent trying to figure out where I was supposed to go for adult registration where I picked up the backpacks, shirts and bibles.
Altogether I walked at least 5 miles. That’s a lot of walking! Thus far, no blisters…

The gathering unofficially started with a tailgating party at Champion Square, an outdoor gathering place just outside the dome where people lingered eating food, talking and listening to the live entertainment.

The gathering officially started at 7 in the Superdome. Lots of people excited to gather together to hear great music and speakers.
Just as we were getting ready to leave, we were told to stay put due to a thunderstorm. So we sat around for 45 minutes or so as we waited for the storm to pass by. We still got soaking wet as we walked the mile back to our hotel in rain, but that was the most comfortable we had been temperature-wise since getting to New Orleans.

This morning (day 2) we are doing our service project. Practice Justice is our theme for the day. We will be intentionally doing God’s work with our hands in the community!

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the gathering begins...

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Waiting for the storm to pass

A faith-based response to domestic violence

Last week, there was an opportunity to learn about how we as leaders in churches and communities can respond to domestic violence in a faith-based manner. The intention was to learn about the ministry of caring for those affected by walking with them and helping them get the help and care they need.

We learned to better define what domestic violence is and is not.
What are some of the challenges and obstacles facing situations where one spouse is abusive or manipulative or controlling (and not necessarily physical or sexual since the emotional scars last longer).
What are some things that we as church leaders can do in our communities to help support victims and survivors, which involves letting people know that we care, that we want to hear stories and help everyone.

Because God doesn’t want people to be hurt.

All in all, it was a highly educational afternoon.
I personally learned some shocking statistics that struck chords deep inside me:
– 1 in 3 women at some point will be involved in a domestic violence relationship.
– Stalking is a serious issue and is terrifying (I was scared just hearing about how easy it is to stalk someone these days).
– People don’t just walk away on their first try or their second or their third or their fourth…the sixth or seventh try is usually the charm.

After I left that session, I realized that if those statistics about women are correct, then out of my family, 2 of us will be involved in abusive or manipulative relationships. I am one of five girls. Add in my mom and that makes six. Two of us will statistically be hurt by physical, sexual, verbal or psychological means.

And when you think about how TCM has 3 women on staff, 1 of us has been involved in an abusive situation. The statistic applies to us as well.

That scares me.

Especially when I think abuse that has happened with people I know and love.

I don’t want to think of anyone being involved in an abusive situation.
But people are.
Each day, thousands of people are being hurt in some way, shape or form.
And that is unacceptable.

My faith does not permit abuse.
I know that people sin and fall short.
But that doesn’t mean abuse should exist or be permitted or ignored.

My God is a God of love, who died on a cross to save us.
He was abused so that we would live and that we would not have to suffer.

Pastor Jessica and myself want to be available for anyone and everyone to talk with us (whether about this issue or anything else you have questions about). We may not be experts, but we are really good listeners.
Please stop by. Please call. Please text. Please email.
However you contact us, know that we care and want to help.

God’s peace,
Pastor Kara