Monthly Archives: July 2013

Driving Cross-Country With My Dad

I agonized for weeks over whether we should ship our stuff or drive a truck. A four day drive is not a walk in the park. At the end, circumstances clarified this choice forcing us to go for the most affordable one: driving a moving truck across the country. I knew I could not do this alone so I enlisted the help of the best driver and travel companion I know: my dad. Not living in the same country in the last years have made it hard for us to keep up with each other. This was then an opportunity to recover what the distance and the time had deteriorated.  

It turned out to be a great experience. My dad is an easy-going person with a young heart willing to take on any challenge. I was especially glad he was around when in the middle of Mississippi the windshield wiper of the truck broke off forcing us to improvise on a solution. Thankfully, with a short stop at a parts shop this was resolved and we could proceed on our long journey.

And a journey it was. We talked about everything while having this wonderful country as the scenery of our interaction. He told me his plans for the future through the forests of Alabama, I told him about discovering my calling through the nothingness of Arkansas, we cheered for Brazil’s soccer team while discovering the desert in Texas and we sang old hymns while being 80 miles from the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Every day we would start at early dawn and drive till dusk. All of this with our two dogs Joy and Teddy in the truck, who slept for 90% of the trip.

In the fourth day, we rejoiced while taking this picture at the beginning of I-40

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 We had driven over 2400 miles and our destination was approaching. No better welcome than the breath-taking views of Death valley that have welcome travelers to this great state of California for centuries. I thought about the many that have come before us, those who came by boat, those who came by horse, and those who came driving the Route 66. Somehow, I was part of something bigger and finally understood the allure of this land.

I joked to Priscila that we drove  “from sea to shining sea.” And indeed, America was beautiful. May God continue to shed His grace on Thee.

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Not Just Going But Being Sent

While we made this decision as a couple, we were certainly and still are not alone in this journey. God has placed key people in every step of the way to help us make this transition. This would be a good place to publically acknowledge them. Certainly we could not have done it without them.

From the very beginning, there were our families. They were the first ones to know about this move and the first ones to give full support in prayer and words of encouragement. Priscila’s parents were instrumental by agreeing to stay with our girls for 9 days in our house while we flew here to look for a house. Solange came a week before our move, flew with Priscila and the kids to LA and then stayed an extra two weeks with us to help us settle into the new house. My dad flew from Brazil to drive to California with me. He was a great companion and reliable driver on the road. He then stayed a few days doing extra handy-man work that was thoroughly appreciated given my poor handy-man skills.

Then there were friends, people who we have confided with for. People that prayed for us and encouraged us in this journey. Among them was the Robles who were there every step of the way even coming to help load the truck and staying with the kids on our moving day. There was also Ms. Carolyn Hinckle who became a mentor to us, a grandma to our kids and an intercessor for our family in the last months. Also, the Blankenships were a tremendous support through prayers, conversations and acts of love. Ryan was also there to help load the truck along with the faithful Suyung.

Beyond close friends, we were greatly supported by our church family. Every person we encountered showered us with love and encouragement. Many thanks to Tracey Yancey for organizing a farewell party for us and who were able to come. I can never forget Bill Bailey’s help in getting the house ready for sale and helping us with the loading the truck. Our dear Dennis Donahue and Cindy Croswell for being great realtors and helping us put the house on the market. That journey is still not complete but they have certainly been a great support to us thus far. And after we got here, our small group representative in CA, Dave Longman, came to the rescue by helping us unload the truck.

Even when we were here alone looking for a house, we felt the ever present support of our friends and family while going through a grueling house search. Their prayers and messages of support carried us through when we ourselves did not have the strength to believe.

We didn’t come here alone, we were sent. As we get here, we also know that we are not here to stay alone but to connect with others. We were created for relationship and that is where God does most of His work. Without it, life would be meaningless and cold. In this new phase, I look forward to knowing and being known.

Why a blog and why now

I have wanted to write a blog for a long time. In the past, I have some false starts where I wrote 2-3 entries and then just ran out of steam. I was hoping to avoid this problem this time. It wasn’t just an issue of discipline, the problem was a lack of material and/or inspiration to write. With this move to California, I saw an opportunity to try again. In my mind, the blog can fulfill a number of functions such as:

–          A way to allow our loved ones from Brazil and the East Coast to be connected with us in this journey.

–          A way to think and digest out-loud this unique time in our lives

–          A way to develop a habit of writing on a consistent basis (differently from academic writing which is more structured and restricted)

Above all, this blog is a published witness of the goodness of God in an age of skepticism. One thing is to do what you sense God is calling you to do. Another is to announce it to the world what you are doing and why. If you choose this path, you risk publically being proven a fool for what you believe. I firmly believe that moving here has more to do with an inner calling than with an improvement in quality of life or a career change. That is the only way to make sense out of all the sacrifices required to get here.

I invite you to step on this journey with me, even from afar. I hope this will speak to you, challenge you, amuse you or simply inform you about the life we are living here. If at any time this blog helps you in your journey with God, then it was worth it.  I sure know it will help mine.

Ps: I am having trouble uploading a picture for this blog. It looks like wordpress will not publish the ones I upload. Any help would be appreciated.

Moving to California

It was a risky move. A lot could have gone wrong. Certainly, many have done it before, but for us this was something new. We had lived in the same house for almost ten years and our previous move was less than 1 mile away. It is true that both of us have moved here from abroad but this was different. We now have two kids and are reaching a season in life when most are looking for a larger house to settle a growing family. Most are not planning a cross-country move to fit into a two-beds-one-bath house.
Yet, after some time of prayer, it felt right. I emphasize feeling because we did not allow ourselves to speculate much about what could go wrong. Given our personalities, we tend to count the cost almost to an extreme to every big move in our lives. We never made any decisions in haste. Yet, again, this was different.
Six months later, here we are breathing the dry air near the mountains in Altadena. It has been quite a ride since Feb 1st when we finally decided to come. We still have some challenges as our house in Charlotte has not sold and we are down to one car in a city where everything is at least 30 minutes away. Still, God has surprised us with some unexpected blessings.
When we decided to move, we were ready for a significant decrease in the quality of life. Charlotte really had everything needed for a family like ours: a short commute, a 20 min drive anywhere, parks and cheap housing. Moving to Southern Cali would mean cramming into a small apartment (given what we could afford) while paying twice or more for it. It would mean a tight budget, no pre-school for our oldest daughter and much less freedom to go wherever we wanted. At the end, we did have to move into a smaller place. Yet, we found a house with a backyard, a beautiful view to the mountains, a park in walking distance and plenty of trails for me to explore – all of this below our budget!
God is good! We didn’t expect or even pray for these things (although Priscila did want a house all along while I thought that would be impossible). I see this as God’s way of saying that He is in this and that while we will have to sacrifice and adapt, we should never discount God’s ability to give us good things. This is a new season in our lives and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us.