A former travel magazine editor, 29-year-old Midwest native Jess Hoffert is taking a 6-month break from the cubicle life to become immersed in the colorful culture of Southern California.

Unlocking the doors to a new journey

Unlocking the doors to a new journey

After nearly 2,000 miles of driving through the plains of Nebraska, the snow globe mountain scenes of Colorado, the martian-like terrain of Utah and Arizona, and a quick photo op at the Welcome to Las Vegas sign (much to the chagrin of Max), we made it.

Max Vegas.jpg

I’m still soaking up the fact that I’m here. Leo, Max and I are living in a church building in Santa Ana, California. A neighbor brought me tamales for breakfast yesterday morning. I go for runs underneath palm trees. It’s January and there’s zero chance of snow. Ever. This is our life for a while, and so far, it’s wonderful. Dare I say, it already feels homey. And that’s largely thanks to the warm welcome we’ve already received from Pastors Richard and Becky, and the great care of the congregation at Príncipe de Paz Church of the Brethren. I am deeply grateful for it all.

IMG_0597.jpg

The only real frustration so far has been with keys and locks. I have a keychain of seven keys. They open eight various locks, doors and gates that I need to access on the church property. Some keys open more than one thing. Others don’t open anything at all. I was already born with a lack of door-unlocking skills somehow. I swear it takes me at least 10 extra minutes to start my day because of keys. But I’ll get the hang of it.

I see these keys and doors as a metaphor for my next six months. I’m going to try to unlock some doors at this church, providing new ideas for youth and young adult ministries and giving them a trial run. I have a big set of keys that I want to try out. Some might unlock doors I didn’t know existed. Some may not work at all. And on the flipside, this congregation may unlock parts of me that need to be opened up. I can’t wait to see how this church and I can open doors together … and build some bridges in the process.

Here’s a tour of the place, along with all of the locks and doors that have become part of my life:

'Tis the season for sharing and eating—and running off carbs

'Tis the season for sharing and eating—and running off carbs

It's not adios, Iowa. It's hasta luego.

It's not adios, Iowa. It's hasta luego.