It’s been nothing but crickets around here. For fair reason. The last six months have been wild and I have put other things before writing. Starting back in January, we took in a French foreign-exchange student who needed a host family. Only a couple weeks after that I got a call from my CES superiors in Salt Lake City asking us if we would move to Southern Oregon to take over teaching and coordinating seminary and institute in that area. For someone who typically really struggles with indecision, this was one of the easiest “big” choices I’ve ever made. We prayed about it of course, but I honestly didn’t feel like I even needed to, it felt so right. We love the desert and so many wonderful people we got to know there, and we were heartbroken at the thought of leaving our new home we built only two years ago. But it we knew we were supposed to accept the assignment.
After making that decision and having all the wild feelings associated learning of such a big change on the horizon, the excitement dissipated and the reality of being relocated set in. I’ll withhold the gritty details, but the relocation process proved to be just about as stressful and difficult as building our home a couple years ago. Selling and buying a home is challenging alone, but there’s another layer added by the corporate relocation process. The Church takes care of you pretty well when they relocate you. But the process is still nuts. We had a couple moments where we thought all of our work to sell our home in Arizona and buy the new one in Oregon was going down the drain, but as always the Lord had it all sorted.
Of course this news led to an interesting experience for Agathe, our foreign-exchange student. She got to watch our family as we prepared, listed, and sold our home. She joined our family on an epic house hunting trip over spring break, which included stops in Vegas, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. And she watched as I approached being released as Bishop prior to our move. We had a variety of experiences with Agathe in our home; many of them very positive and sometimes even profound. Others were just plain happy and fun. And we had a few awkward and difficult moments too. We sure learned a lot and all of us miss her. Maybe one day we will clearly know why we were inspired to bring her into our home at such a time.
We still had time for plenty of fun and adventures, but there was definitely an extra heaping dose of stress and work placed upon our family during those months. Our kids put up with a lot of craziness. And Lisa put up with a lot of craziness from me. In the end, we said goodbye to Agathe the day after school got out, and the movers packed us up the next day and we were off.
Frankly it’s strange how at home I feel in Oregon already. Almost as if I’ve been here forever. Sometimes I deeply miss my relationships in Arizona. And sometimes I miss the beauty of the desert. I have not missed the climate. Maybe when winter hits?
Oregon is beautiful and I honestly love it every time I go out. I’ve been doing a lot of mountain biking and trail running, and we took up kayaking as a family so we’ve been visiting a different mountain lake every weekend. The people here are kind and down to earth, and the members of the Church have been insanely friendly and welcoming. The Church is very cohesive here and the members are impressively committed. The kids have made friends and are having all kinds of summer adventures, and Lisa has been welcomed by the local ladies with open arms. For me, I’ve landed upon a big group of guys who all love outside adventure, and pretty much every day there’s a handful going on a trail run or a bike ride or the like.
For Lisa, leaving everyone and everything in Arizona has been hard. Not in any excessive way but just as would be expected for someone who’s been uprooted after dedicating a decade to a place and a people. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always thrived on change and never really struggled with leaving people or places. When I left for my mission, when I moved to Arizona, and now moving to Oregon, I’ve always been too excited for the adventure in front of me to be sad about whatever I left behind. I consider this a bit of a gift, even though I think it might make me seem a bit cold at times. That’s fair. I’m not very sentimental. Although I do still lament the loss of so many relationships in Arizona, I’m comforted knowing relationships are eternal.
My new work assignment has been awesome. I loved teaching seminary and really miss my students and colleagues. But I was ready for something with more variety. Seminary teaching is extremely structured and repetitive. My new assignment is exactly what I hoped for; I still get to teach quite a bit, but it’s more varied: I teach young adults in institute weekly, train about 35 called seminary teachers, and when school starts I’ll still teach some seminary. I get to travel a fair amount across southern Oregon and Northern California, meeting with teachers and priesthood leaders. Every day is a little different and every day I have to decide the best pays to spend my time to ultimately bless the youth and young adults in this area to come unto Christ.
There have been a few things that are uncomfortable and challenging, as would be expected, but on the whole I am very happy and I think moving here will ultimately be a great blessing to our family. It feels good to be learning and growing. I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve in this corner of the Vineyard! And who knows, with a little discipline, maybe I’ll get back to writing regularly? :)