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Elisha intern connects engineering and ministry

“It was truly cool to see how my classes in industrial engineering, especially those that focus on starting a new business, fit with starting a new church like The Bridge,“ Kara Togel, 2017 Elisha intern at The Bridge, senior at South Dakotas School of Mines and Technology (SDSM&T).

Photos by Dave Stucke, Dakotas Conference.

For Togel, a member of Watertown First UMC, it was a time for her to explore “her fit” and call to ministry.  “I think you have to go for it. You have to be open and see what happens.  Even if you are not going to be an ordained pastor. You can find your fit,” said Togel about the Elisha internship program.

 “Bouncing in the Neighborhood” was one of the activities Togel was assisted with. Several evenings throughout the summer, a bouncy house and yard games were set up.  Families were invited and gathered at selected parks for grilling, music and family fun.

The opportunity to preach was something the Togel found she felt pretty good about. She was able to write and deliver the message “Compassion into Action,” at Peidmont Grace UMC and at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology chapel service. 

“Preaching for my first time I fell unsure that I was able to do that. I had a bunch of classmates tell me things like— ‘You were meant to do this.’ ‘Are you reading your call right?’ I was so pleased that the students accepted me.  I liked preaching,” Togel said. Listen to Togel’s sermon here.

The content for her sermon came from a youth mission trip to a reservation in Montana. Togel led the mission work with Dylan Deflethsen, a fellow Elisha intern and leaders from Rapid City First. The mission team built a shed, did some winterizing and built a round pen.

“I hadn’t gone on a mission trip for several years. I was surprised by all that we are able accomplish,” described Togel.

Togel also led Vacation Bible School in Box Elder which involved setting up, organizing and leading small group and large group activities like singing. Togel noted that VBS was not what she expected. “I thought I was going to like children’s ministry more. I really struggled with all of things involved with VBS happening at once.  I learned that it was not my favorite.”

Rev. Kori Lehrkamp served as the mentor for Togel. They would meet at a coffee shop once a week, usually Wednesday mornings and talk about how things had gone the past week and review plans for the upcoming week. “Kori was such a good role model, her energy and ability to work independently, really make things work for The Bridge,” said Togel.

Lehrkamp provided opportunities for Togel to be involved in two weddings and funeral.  “I was able to witness the planning of a funeral for a 25-year-old that died in a truck accident. I also took part in burials at the national cemetery. I observed a wedding rehearsal and two wedding ceremonies. I am grateful for the opportunities that Kori gave me,” said Togel.

Togel will attend Exploration 2017 in Portland, Oregon, November 3-5.  The three-day event will connect her to other young adults, age 18-26, who are exploring their call to ministry. She hopes to visit seminaries and complete her last semester of classes at the SDSM&T in the next few months.

The connection between her industrial engineering major and ministry is something that Togel hopes to continue to explore. “I think I will continue to be surprised about how the two connect in areas like management, startup and facilities planning.”