So, you remember that one time when I decided to pick up everything I’ve ever known and move clear across the country? And when I decided to do so in only about 30 days?
Yeah, well, I figure it’s time that I put the whole story down in writing as best that I can. Seeing as how I miss home terribly right now and am having a hard time not being there to walk through this trial with everyone, I figure it wouldn’t hurt to a) distract myself by writing, and b) finally write out the story of coming to Richmond. After all, I know that as I write and reflect on the journey God has had me on in the last couple of months, I will be able to remember again just how much my coming here was ordained by Him.
Well – here goes.
I’ve learned a lot over the recent weeks. The first one I will share is perhaps the funniest and yet the most poignant and telling for where I’m at these days… I first flew out to Richmond on a Monday, 10/7. It was a long and lonely week, so when church came the following Sunday I was thrilled to finally start meeting some new people. Sitting at lunch after church, I said to myself and to my housemates/hosts/long lost neighbors (more on that later!), “Remind me next time I leave everything I’ve ever known and move across the country to NOT do so on a Monday!” We laugh, but it’s true… that first Sunday could not come soon enough. And now that I’ve had three Sundays here, I could not be more thrilled to have found such a wonderful family of faith.
Now let’s back up a little bit, back to why I ended up moving in the first place. Sometime in August it became official that my parents would be moving to Idaho. My dad had accepted the call to serve as pastor at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in Boise, ID. And, well, what that meant for me is that my free rent was leaving my Northern California hometown of Santa Rosa. My health had greatly improved earlier in the year thanks to God’s miracles in my life, and so lots of options were realistic possibilities. I looked into everything… work transfer, finding new work somewhere else, finding something in Boise (but still living on my own), and even staying put in Santa Rosa. For the first time I would have been thrilled to stay local for a little while longer. But God had other plans, and I had no idea just how much they would blow my mind. (Side note – I’m still laughing at God’s irony, and I don’t think that will ever go away.)
One possibility on the list that I mentioned? A work transfer. I was constantly checking out my company’s website for new listings of available positions. I had decided that I wasn’t going to apply to another city unless I had a specific reason – a friend local, some kind of connection with the area… that kind of thing. Richmond was on my radar due to the fact that I was here last October for my dear friend’s wedding, so when I saw the post, knowing she and her husband are still local here… I applied. I was hoping to transfer somewhere and continue working customer service, but I guess I was open to anything.
Fast forward a bit, and my manager in Santa Rosa got word that they needed lead agents in Richmond. I emailed the manager here almost immediately, but when I heard back I learned that they didn’t need anyone for customer service… they really just needed some lead agents to work ramp. She told me right away that if I was willing to work ramp that we could talk, but that they didn’t have anything available upstairs. I was hesitant at first, but then thought to myself that this could be the perfect opportunity if I want to start moving towards a career in this industry.
Shortly after that I applied with a “sure, let’s talk…” well… that was maybe September 5. I had a video interview with management the following Wednesday (9/11), and then Sunday the 15th I flew to RIC to see the airport and meet everyone. By Tuesday the 17th I had an official transfer date of Monday, October 7th.
Woah… that all happened fast. Like – really, REALLY fast. Especially since a) I’ve never really moved, b) I was moving over 2500 miles away, and c) my parents were simultaneously trying to sell their home and move to Idaho. I mean, the term logistical nightmare? It’s the understatement of the century.
But… we did it. Actually, God did it. We’ve just all been along for the ride. But before I go any further, I need to share how God provided for what is perhaps one of the biggest needs with a move – initial/immediate housing. And not only that, but through the circumstances surrounding my accommodations He revealed to me just how much this move is NOT just about me and NOT just about my job at the airport.
Backing up to Tuesday, September 10th. I had just gotten home from a Disneyland trip, and within minutes of being home my mom kicked me out due to an afternoon showing. I went to St. Mark and spent some time upstairs just relaxing and killing time. Little did I know, though, that my random idea to check out the LCMS national directory for the churches in Richmond would lead me to a housing arrangement, my parents to a beautiful reconnection of some former friendships, and ultimately to me seeing that God is up to SO much in this whole moving across the country thing.
See… as I went through the list of churches in the greater RVA (Richmond) area, all of the sudden a name looked familiar. Like, really REALLY familiar. I was vaguely remembering my mother asking me sometime recently “hey, is North Chesterfield near Richmond?” knowing my other connection already here. But I didn’t fully remember, so I started calling my parents. I called my mom’s cell… no answer. I called my dad’s cell… no answer. (I still laugh at that one because I was at church upstairs and he was there downstairs.) Then I called the home phone, and my mom picked up. I told her what I had been doing and then asked, is this who I think it is…? She confirmed, and I pretty much immediately began the process of getting in touch.
Who are these people, exactly?
My dad went to seminary from 1996-1998 in St. Louis.
The pastor of a church here in Richmond, who’s been at the church since he left the seminary in 2000, two years after my dad… he and his family were our next door neighbors both years in seminary. OVER TWENTY YEARS AGO.
A mere month and a half later, here we are. And God is STILL proving Himself faithful – over and over again. I still remember when I went out to lunch with him (long lost neighbor) on my visit here to RVA mid September. I was admittedly anxious that morning, having to find a church in a new place and a new city, interacting with new people. I knew this family years ago, yes, but it had been over 20 years. And then on top of all of that to be facing the fact that this may be home for me in the near future…? It was a lot.
Back to that Tuesday lunch meeting. We didn’t have a whole lot of time that day, but I didn’t need much time at all to start sensing that God was up to so much more than I could have imagined. I had a chance to hear about his heart for ministry along with some of the heartbeat that this church has for its surrounding communities. I was able to tell almost immediately that these people get it, and that they get it in a very big and very real way. I knew then and there that I was going to be surrounded by like minded people, not only in this family but in this whole church.
I left lunch that day and was nearly in tears as I drove back to my friend’s house. I was actually rather exhausted the rest of the day – you know, God had basically knocked the wind out of me! Though I couldn’t tell you why in that moment, I just knew that I was meant to move. I knew that God would have amazing opportunities waiting for me here in RVA, opportunities both to learn but also to give back to the people here in a variety of ways.
Only three weeks removed from California, that could not be more true. God is already teaching me so much, and I am honored to be in such a position. I am excited to see what is to come. And though I know it will not be easy, I know that the Lord will be with me through all of it and that He will provide in the ways He feels best.
The last three weeks have been some of the hardest three weeks I’ve ever had to face. And yet, it is already such a beautiful season and I cannot wait to watch as things continue to unfold. As I write this, my hometown and home county is in crisis mode due to devastating wildfires. I lived through it there in Santa Rosa two years ago, and now that they’re all walking through it again… and I’m not there. I’m here, in Virginia, about as far away from California as you could get. I’m not going to lie, that’s been really hard the last couple of days. But as I finally am writing out the story of God bringing me here, I am reminded that His direction and timing pointing me to RVA was so abundantly clear.
Ending up in Richmond, with the people and community that I have begun to find, is such an answer to prayer. It’s an exciting opportunity, and it’s a chance to start fresh now that I’m learning how to live free and how to live fully known and fully loved. My heart is constantly so full of gratitude for the people that I have already met here, but most importantly for my God and my Father for His love and grace and guidance as I take this next step on my journey.
Happy Reformation Sunday, dear brothers and sisters. May we always remember that Jesus came for you and He came for me, and that He came to rescue us from the darkest of nights and to set us free from the most impossible chains.
So… what brought me to Richmond?
I mean, work was the catalyst.
But God brought me to Richmond, and I could not be more grateful.