Mark Kohlenberg had a great week at Forest Home Camp in Feb. 2012 working on staff and delighting kids at Indian Village with his skits and animal sounds.
“I knew him as a good-looking blonde guy named Running Deer,” said Tori Bianchi Kohlenberg. “We didn’t actually meet until camp was over. I was staying with a camper whose Mom was late coming to get her, so I ended up hanging with the staff.”
Tori’s path to Forest Home included actions of determination and selflessness. Raised in a family that were not Christ-followers, at age 16 she came to know God through friends. She had a special needs brother and a special needs half-brother, both under the age of five. When the next baby was born with cerebral palsy and her parents were overwhelmed, Tori took extraordinary action. She moved out with the two special needs toddlers and became their guardian until she went to Pt. Loma Nazarene University with significant financial aid.
Mark’s childhood was more traditional. His parents, Terry and Julie Kohlenberg, raised their family at Journey and impressed them with contributing to the church with time, talent and treasure. Mark went to Granite Hills High School, then Cuyamaca College and now is working on his mechanical engineering degree from San Diego State University and works as an engineer in Santee. Tori is finishing her Master’s Degree and teaching credential and works full time with special needs kids.
“Our first date was having coffee and taking a long walk,” said Tori,“ but something just clicked. We talked for hours.”
“At first Tori and I went to Flood – for about a year – without any leadership duties. But also went to the Friday night service at Journey. After a while we decided to focus our spiritual service at Journey,” said Mark.
Mark serves as a leader in the high school Encounter ministry, plays guitar in the Worship Band and helps out in other ways in the Generations ministry. Encounter includes about 175 high school students. When the Worship Center is outfitted with a new sound system, the working equipment will be passed down to the Encounter group.
Tori is the Director of Club K-2, encompassing four classrooms and about 320 children, where the opportunity to change the life of a child is present every week.
“The I Live the Journey campaign is starting to impact us in little ways. They are measuring for the elevator and for the bathroom. The rooms will have new carpets, new tables and chairs, and other little improvements, said Tori.
Mark and Tori were married by Generation Ministries Pastor Brian Berry, at Journey on May 31, 2014.
“Journey has been a fantastic community for us, “said Tori. “I love worshiping with our friends Tiffany Moore and Aaron Lusteg.”
“We love being able to worship with my Mom and Dad, building a solid community with our friends, and knowing that we are contributing to the next generations of Journey, “said Mark. “I loved that our community came together in I Live the Journey and stepped up.”