Explore my Journey with me!

Hello there, everyone!

I realize it’s been far too long since my last update, and I do apologize for that. I see that my time away has provided some the chance to catch up, so perhaps it wasn’t all bad. Believe me, I haven’t forgotten about any of you. You are on my mind and in my prayers. I cannot thank you enough for joining me on this wonderful experience.Unfortunately the demands of reading, translating, studying for exams and writing papers (one of my dear classmates, Shawn, enlightened me that at least one paper is due each week until the end of the semester) leave me little, if any remaining time.

Now, that being said, I have some unpleasant news. As I’m sure many of you are aware of by now, my dad was indefinitely laid off from his job with Home Interiors on Friday, November 11th of this year.  I guess the date 11-11-11 wasn’t lucky for him. So suddenly his future is in limbo. Whether or not you knew it before, our family has been struggling to keep the boat afloat. I have no idea how this will turn out for the family, or (it scares me to admit it) if there will be a house to go home to in the future. I’m praying for the best, and I know my father is trying hard to stay positive and find work, but it’s in God’s hands.

Furthermore, I received a less than friendly response to my trip to Israel in January. I can understand that people would be concerned by the expense, especially since everyone has been so generous in helping me to help pay for tuition. Let me clarify that this is not something that I’m doing “just for the heck of it.” I considered the trip for several weeks before making my decision, looking at my finances to see if it would be a reality.

I got rid of my cell phone to save money, decline outings with my friends because I can’t afford the expenses, and have worked hard to limit the purchases that I do make. Looking at my last month’s expenses, I spent $128.65 for the entire month of October. $24 of that was for laundry detergent, $30 for a keyboard and cable for my computer since my laptop crashed, and $15 for gas for my car. I can’t exactly go without washing my clothes, use my computer without a keyboard, or run my car without gas. My shoes have huge cracks in them that soak my socks if it’s raining, and I haven’t purchased replacement ones yet because it isn’t an immediate need. Right now, at this point in my life, shoes are a commodity I can live without replacing.

So then why even go on this trip, you might ask? Two reasons come to mind. The first being that this trip is so important to me that I am willing to suffer with soggy socks so I can go. It is worth blushing a bit from embarassment when I tell people I don’t have a cell phone. It is worth buying the cheapest keyboard I can find and retyping my notes after classes because I can’t afford to buy a replacement laptop. It is worth receiving hurtful anonymous e-mails because this will be an experience that will change the way I see the world. It will open my eyes, my heart and my mind in ways that nothing else could. It will make me a more compassionate person, a stronger voice, a better pastor.

The second reason? I NEED a cross-cultural J-term to graduate from here. It is a requirement. Are there cheaper J-terms? Yes. will they provide the same level of knowledge and personal growth? Somehow I doubt that. I have spent my life playing it safe, saving money when I could be living free. I have gladly made that sacrifice because I knew that someday something important would come up that would really mean something to me, and I would want to be able to do it. That thing is this trip.

That being said, the “money we sacrificed for you” is not going towards this trip. I received a scholarship/stipend for a third of the cost so that I would be able to go.  The rest of the money I am getting from my savings account. The last payment will leave me with three hundred dollars to put towards tuition.

It really hurts me that someone would say something so hurtful to me when I’m already down. And without knowing the whole story. I’m sure there are others that perhaps feel this way as well, but please know that there’s more to the story. Any money gifted for this journey is going directly towards tuition. I would never take a gift so lightly as to regard it as something I earned, or “free money.” I am humbled that so many people stepped forward to help me and my family through this process. I only hope this post will clarify that. I am not “wasting money” here, nor am I wasting time.

I apologize for such an angry post, but I want everyone to know that I would never take such gifts lightly.

Yours in Christ,

Paul Johnson



Comments on: "Update on the state of things…" (3)

  1. It is not an angry post. It is a real post. I appreciate the reality. I think everyone needs regular doses of reality. I also appreciate your honesty.

    Part of the reality is educating others that seminary is more than “just” our tuition and classes here at Wartburg (or other seminaries). Yes, J-term special classes are required (3 of them), and at least one must be cross-cultural. And, yes this adds to expenses. There are also extra expenses for many CPE options in the summer (Clinical Pastoral Experience, also required) … I think people just need to know this.

    I think that a trip to the Holy Land for a seminary student would be in line with educational goals even if it wasn’t required! I am disapointed that anyone would send anyonymous emails in any situation (if you can’t sign your name, why are you sending it, examine the reasons), but in this situation it makes me especially sad.

    Lifting you up in spirit as I give thanks that you are part of our community!

  2. Jen Holtebeck said:

    Paul, your post didn’t strike me as angry at all. I think you gave the concerns of your anonymous emailer a calmer, more Christian response than most people would be able to! It says a lot about your character, as does your willingness to go without and trust the Lord as you follow his path for you. Keep your eyes on Him, and those of us back here at home will continue to keep you and your family in our prayers.

    P. S. I’m TOTALLY jealous that you get to go to Israel! Can I hide in your suitcase? 😉

  3. Carlyn Cooper said:

    Paul I am so sorry to hear this. Your Dad didn’t say a thing at Adult Forum on Sunday. It is a harsh world we live in and you are learning how to be God’s servant to a hurting people. God will keep you in His arms and give you the strength you need to get through this.

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