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Update from Former LCH Intern Josh Graber—May 2, 2008

Hello Everybody! (What did I used to say way back when...Aloha? Howzit?)

I just got back from my mission trip to Africa! I was able to spend a month in Cape Town, South Africa and Madagascar. While I was there I visited ministries and missions to build relationships with Mount Carmel Ministries in Alexandria, Minnesota, the retreat center ministry I’ve been a part of for almost all of my life. It was an amazing experience and I think I found a lot of good connections between Midwestern ministries and what’s happening in these parts of Africa. It was an eye-opening experience in global mission that will continue to influence my work as a pastor.

Josh visiting Mada Farm in AfricaJosh visiting Mada Farm as part of his recent mission trip to Madagascar.

Now, it’s back to work. I’m finishing work as a youth director in Cambridge, Minnesota and I’m finishing up six independent studies in the next two weeks! If I get them done then I will be graduating from Luther Seminary on Sunday, May 25th. Exciting! It’s been a long time and a long road. It feels good to be this close to being done with seminary.

I am looking forward to my first call at Trinity Lutheran Church in Moorhead, Minnesota, which starts August 1st. It’s not Hawaii and it did just get another foot of snow last week, but the church community is a warm and supportive environment for a first call. I’ll be joined by two other first call pastors as part of a special two-year Transition into Ministry Program, funded by the Lilly Foundation, which allows me to be a Young Adult Minister in a college town during my first call, a desire that was born in spending time with young adults at LCH and in conversations with campus ministers at the University of Hawaii.

I’m not sure where I will be after Moorhead, but this year I received developer status in the ELCA. It’s the first year they’ve given this status to graduating seminarians, and my experience in Hawaii, especially helping to organize the OYEA program, was very helpful in getting this status, which I hope to use in the future to start new churches and ministries in the ELCA, maybe in Hawaii!

As for family updates, my brother Sam, who some of you have met when he visited, will receive his PhD in American Studies this summer and start an almost identical two-year Transition into Professorship program at Valparaiso University in Indiana. Oddly enough, this program is also funded by the Lilly Foundation (I’ll let you make your own Prozac jokes here!). My sister Lucy is doing a great job raising her daughter and my God-daughter Kristina, and she is pregnant with a new nephew or niece for Sam and I to spoil. My parents, John and Elise, are mostly enjoying being grandparents. My mother is still working at Ingebretsen’s Scandinavian store in Stockholm and my Father has been working on getting his poetry out, with some reward: two chapbooks this year and a probable book coming out this summer. Mom and Dad have also been editing the Mount Carmel Daily Texts Devotionals and doing some work for Holden Village, planning a reunion of the Christian Lifestyle Enrichment Program they started in the 1970’s. My cousin Nels, who visited me at LCH, caught the bug and is now planning a move to Hawaii, like the smart guy that he is!

Last week when I came back from Africa one of the first things I did was reread all the Christmas letters you all sent to me. I was especially moved by the letter Dot Hutchins wrote. I am amazed out how you all continue to hold me in care and prayer and wish I would have been better about returning the favor. But know that you have blessed me in ways that I will never forget and that will continue to shape and move me in new ways. As I write this letter reporting where I’m at and where I’m going so much of that report points back to you and the time you allowed me to share with your community. It was a growing experience, a learning experience, and a blessed experience.

Peace be to you all!

Mahalo Nui Loa!

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