Saturday, December 18, 2004

Wow! So much has happened...

Wow! So much has happened since we wrote last. We moved into our new house and had a Home Interiors "open house" with 25 people attending. Our church had it's annual Harvest Festival on October 31st for over 200 kids (see Andrik & Kellin). I had so much fun decorating. Michael's had their autumn and Halloween stuff on sale for 90% percent so the church was able to really stock up. Our church is still in the process of construction with our new foyer. It is so exciting to see the progress. I am blessed to be able to be a part of the design and decorating process. We were just able to choose the color scheme and flooring for the foyer.

We were also able to decorate the sanctuary for Christmas and for the Christmas Dessert - an outreach our church offers each year involving music, drama and a yummy dessert. We sold out two nights and had a Saturday matinee.

I'm still trying to decorate my house by painting and picking up wilderness decor at thrift stores. Yard sale season is over until spring. I was able to use many of the things we brought from California to decorate the church bathrooms.

God has really eased us into this climate as we are having a very mild Winter so far. We've heard that last Halloween it was snowing and near 0 degrees. There is usually much more snow this time of year and temperatures near 0 or below. It has been mostly in the 40's and 50's. If we have had snow, it has melted by the afternoon. We are hoping for a white Christmas though and the weather channel seems to think it will happen.

One thing that is different about Christmas in Montana is that you can get a permit to cut down your own tree for $3. (Some friends of ours just cut down a 12 foot tree for $3.) Some other differences are that stores run out of stuff more quickly, everyone sends packages for Christmas and the post office is packed, people hang their Christmas lights in October in case the weather gets bad, but there aren't the traffic problems or crowds here like in California. If you go into Ross at 10:00 a.m. there's no one in the store but employees and I've never seen it messy!

I mentioned before about seeing deer and antelope, but since hunting season began that view has been quite different. We are now seeing deer in the back of pick up trucks and antlers cooking in pots in our neighbors garage. We hear people shouting to one another- "Hope you kill an elk". It certainly gives a new meaning for reindeer at Christmas.

God has certainly blessed us here and helped with the transition greatly, especially the weather. But there's one thing we'll miss about California this Christmas, besides all the great food, lots of shopping locations, warm weather and crowded malls and freeways- our family and friends! We love you and miss you. We're praying that you have a wonderful Christmas!

Monday, October 04, 2004

Five-Week Update by Andrea

Wow, we've only been here for five weeks and it seems like we've been here for several months. In the short time that we have been here, we have been involved in rearranging and redecorating our sanctuary, creating PowerPoint presentations and a DVD for the youth pastor, decorating the foyer and bulletin boards for autumn and painting and decorating Eric's office (which included dropping a gallon of paint on Eric's carpet). We have also been involved in our church's annual Bible conference by leading worship, decorating for the pastors' dinner, and creating the programs and bulletin board for the conference.

While we have been here, we have experienced weather ranging from warm 80 degree days to 50 degree days. We've had our first frost with mornings in the 30's and ice on our windshields, and about a week ago, we had lots of rain and our first snow storm. The snow was mostly in the mountains and some places in town got about one-half inch. It didn't snow where we live, though, and the snow melted within a day after the storm when the weather got up to the 60's.

There has been one new thing to discover after another. I'm still amazed when I see a deer or family of deer. When I go garage sale-ing (great bargains by the way), I sometimes see them eating someone's flowers or shrubs. They don't seem to mind humans at all. We've also seen a herd of antelope that were grazing about a half-mile from where we live. There are so many things that take my breath away - like the night sky with all the stars, the mountains covered with pine trees, and the fresh, clear air.

There are fields of hay that are harvested all around us. I've never seen so many dogs in the back of pickup trucks before in my life. God has been showing us new things each day and it is exciting but we haven't forgotten our friends and family. We look forward to seeing many of you soon. Montana's a great place to visit in the summertime and winter if you like snow!

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Home Offer Accepted

Well, our offer on the latest home has been accepted (Nickname: Blue Columns). We now have to pay an inspection fee and get earnest money in the next few days. Then escrow should close by October 15 on both our new and our old home. This is kind of exciting but scary on the financial end!

Sunday, September 05, 2004

OK! OK! Time For A Big Update...

  1. We moved all out stuff from the truck to storage with the help of quite a few guys from Hannaford. With that, we were able to get a few comforts for the rental. I was also able to get to my books so I finished my 4th and 5th assignments for class this week. All I have left for this block is about 30 pages of reading logs in the next two weeks.
  2. We finally received the call we've been waiting for. Although we lowered the price on our house in Rialto, we got an offer at the full, new asking price. The buyer seems to be good and wanted to start escrow immediately. This releases us to move forward on our plans up here.
  3. We also made an offer on one of the homes (Nickname: Big Blue New). We really liked the newness and size of the home. The only drawbacks to us were the price (just at the top of what we can afford) and the fact that it needs some work for sprinklers, landscaping, etc. We're not sure we afford to add what it needs. For that reason, we offered about 3K less than the asking price hoping that it might be accepted. It wasn't. At that point we considered offering the full price. 3K isn't that much, but would require us to finance and we're not sure we could afford the monthly budget.
  4. After some prayer and consideration, we have decided to make an offer on a home that is asking about 5k less than the other (Nickname: Blue Columns). It is a very nice house with only a few drawback as well. It has about 600 less square feel (one less bedroom) and the back yard is right on the interstate. On the plus side, it is already landscaped, has underground sprinklers, and is in a better neighborhood. It is ready for move in with no work to be done or money spent. We've decided that the back yard is large enough and we can plant trees or eventually add a larger fence. We also decided that we'll deal with the smaller home. After all, it's still about 500 square
  5. Lastly, we've posted some photos of this Sunday's Western Roundup at Hannaford. Youth Pastor Brad Ives spoke sharing about the prodigal son and about coming home. As I've helped him prepare the PowerPoint this week, Andrea and I couldn't help but think about settling in at our new home. It's great here and we know that God has called us here, but change is change. It's hard to feel settled. I've mentioned to several that in the past 6 years of our life, God has continued to remind us that we don't find true comfort and security in worldly positions, places, or people, but only in Him.

    I've felt secure in a five-year corporate graphics position at PDV, but then God called me to leave that and follow his calling into ministry. We placed our finances in His hands and he provided freelance and consultant work for three years while we served at FBC. Again, we've moved to a different state without a home to go to and with all our money wrapped up in our home. We have very little cash and things are very tight. He has provided for us through family and the church.

    Andrea and I feel very insecure. We have no real home to call our home and we are without most of our creature comforts. We literally feel as though we pitched our tent in this place for a short time and have been waiting for God to move us on. At the same time, we are still working on my office at Hannaford so I have felt without a home there as well. Finally, we have been especially concerned about our financial situation until we actually sell our home. Today, we have about $5 in our checking account.

    So today in worship Brad talked about "coming home." We realize that our true home is in the arms of God. All these things and concerns are only the decorations. God wants us to find our security and be settled in Him. I think He just wanted to remind us again before we get settled here. Thank you God. We're home!

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Getting Settled Temporarily

We're now a little bit settled in the rental. We've got our clothes out of Andrea's van. We've also had the opportunity to change our cell phone numbers. I'm a little anxious about finishing up this block of classes. I'm about a week behind on assignments and papers and unable to complete them until we unload our stuff into storage on Sunday.

Looking for Homes in Helena

We looked at homes yesterday and today. Wow. It's difficult to decide and to weigh all the different options. Please pray that God would give us guidance in choosing the right home.

It also turns out that we've been getting quite a few calls on our home in California. Unfortunately, there seems to have been a mix up on the pricing and our flexibility. Please also pray that the home would sell a a good price to allow us to buy up here in Montana without a lot of hardship.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Made it to Helena Safely

We and the truck made it to Helena safely. I guess the decision is final now :-) It took longer than it probably should have, but with two kids and two cars, we still made good time. Driving separately from the guys in the truck, you might suppose they got to Helena about 6 hours earlier.

Unfortunately, we got into Helena so late we had to spend an unexpected night in a hotel here instead of going directly to the rental home. Tomorrow we get to got to the rental as well as find somewhere to store all of our junk from California (the rental is fully furnished). As I've said above, please pray that our house would sell soon. Either way, we know that God has some fantastic plans for us. (In the mean time, I NEED to get this paper done as soon as I get settled.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Before the Move...

The load up day for the truck has been changed to Sunday afternoon after worship and the farewell event at FBC. For now, we have about 85%-90% packed up. Everything else has gone along nicely, except I have not had an opportunity to work on my paper. We have also not had any offers on the home. Please continue to pray.
Whew! This last week was quite eventful. I was quite busy, still juggling a full-time graphics job, with freelance work, school, and the position at FBC. Friday was my last day at the full-time position so now I can focus this last week on getting packed and wrapping up. At the same time, we had several new developments and events this week:
  • Pastor Dick called from Hannaford and suggested the idea of sending a truck down from Helena to load us up and drive back. Two men from the church will come down, but would plan on arriving and loading up Saturday, August 21. That works great, but we still need to stay for worship and the postluck at FBC on Sunday. Andrea and I can then drive our own cars.
  • Our agent in Helena, Deb, found a fully-furnished, short-term rental in Helena. We now have a destination. Actually, the home belongs to someone at Hannaford. Praise God!
  • We also had a yard sale on Saturday, August 15 and made a decent amount. We've been stretched pretty far on finances lately so it will really help out. Please pray for us that we can afford all the transitional costs such as stopping and starting utilities.
The moving date is getting closer and everything seems to be coming fast now. I just pray we can keep up and keep on schedule. This week I have some FBC meetings to take care of, a Wednesday rehearsal, a family lunch with my Mom, a term paper (#4) and other school assignments to complete, a freelance gig all day Friday, AND we have to get everything in our house packed by Saturday! Like I said...Whew!
We had our first "open house" today, but not much traffic though. Fortunately, we do have a couple of possibilities. One broker said that their client wanted to view the house again, and a family that visited the open house said that they would contact their agent to make an offer. We'll see as the week progresses. Meanwhile, I am struggling working on my third major assignment for the "Reaching Your World" block of my master's program. It's due tomorrow and I'm having difficulty. Please also pray for me because I have two more major papers due in the next three weeks.
PD mentioned that U-Haul is not renting trucks for interstate travel until September 8. Something about not having enough trucks in California. At this point, we really would need to start making some reservations for trucks, so we're thinking Ryder, Penske, National, Budget, etc.
We made an offer on the house we liked in Montana, today. We might have offered more than we can comfortably afford. We were countered much higher and cannot pursue this home. This turn of events gives us clearer direction on how to plan a move. We're still trusting in God.