Howdy! How ya'll doin'?
It seems hard to believe, but we've now been out here in Texas for almost 2 months now! I'm going to try to give a brief summary of the past couple of months in the next few paragraphs...
In June, after we knew that we were heading out to Texas, we began a "farewell tour". We traveled up to Northern California to visit my parents in Rio Vista, and to officiate a wedding of a former student (Mary Thengvall Rotman) in Santa Rosa. We were actually able to attend the morning church service at Santa Rosa Bible Church, where I served as a youth pastor for almost 10 years. It was a blessed time... On our way back to the San Fernando Valley, we spent an afternoon and evening in San Francisco, even visiting AT&T Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants. We also stopped in San Luis Obispo, visiting Allison's aunt & uncle and a few more former students.
Our farewell tour not only extended north, but south as well. We departed after the morning service at Northridge Christian Church to cruise down to Mexicali, where we attended the evening service at the Iglesia de Cristo in Ejido Puebla. As has been somewhat of a tradition, I was asked to preach about 10 minutes into the service... Not only did Allison get to experience a service at Ejido Puebla and to meet some of my favorite hermanos y hermanas, but she got to eat at my favorite taco stand in the entire world, Asadero los Molcajetes. After spending the night at the Siesta Inn in Mexicali, we headed over to San Diego, where we connected with our great friends, the Bairds (Greg, Michelle, Taylor, & Garrett--Greg is the children's pastor at Shadow Mountain Community Church and heads Kids in Focus, a ministry to equip children's ministry workers). We watched the San Diego Padres in their beautiful home park, Petco Field. After spending the night at the Bairds, we had brunch on the way back at the home of Allison's godparents, the Berriers, and then dinner with our great friends, the Painters (Gary, Patti, Jacob, & Jillian -- their daughter Jenna slipped into the arms of Jesus after a 16 month battle with cancer on Christmas eve this past year...please continue to keep them in your prayers...).
In between those ventures, I flew back to Dallas on a quick house-hunting mission by myself--talk about trust from Allison and heavy responsibility for me. I flew into Dallas on a Sunday night, only to discover that Enterprise Car Rental had closed down for the night -- a fact that took me over an hour to discover--leaving me to scramble to find another car rental late that night. After 2 full days of searching (preceded by many hours of online hunting while in California), I settled on a 7 year old home on hill in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas--1500 square feet on a 1/4 acre lot. We put an offer in and agreed to buy it for $91,000 (a comparable home in the San Fernando Valley of California would go for $600,000).
We finished up our ministry at the Northridge Christian Church in July, with a camping trip, a paintball war, a Disneyland trip, and a Vacation Bible School program. In our off moments, we also mixed in goodbye meals with friends...and packing as well...okay, Allison did the lion's share of the packing... We finished up VBS at noon on Friday, July 27. At 2 pm, a group of 15 friends showed up to help us load our Penske Truck, a process that kept us busy until 9 pm that night. We cleaned up our duplex on Saturday and packed up my office at church that night. On Sunday, July 29, we had our Avalanche Ranch VBS program, followed by a "5th Sunday Fellowship" brunch. This was the first time that Hershey ever attended a church service, albeit from my office... Around noon, we had said our final goodbyes and had a final tearful time of prayer with our youth, and Hershey & I hopped into the truck, while Allison and our good friend, Stefani Childs, hopped into our minivan, and our journey was begun.
We divided our 1458 mile trek from Northridge to Dallas into 3 stages. On Sunday, we drove all the way to Tucson, Arizona, arriving late that night at the home of Shawn, Jenifer, Nicholas, & Sawyer Sheppard, some great friends from my days in Santa Rosa. It's not every day that your mortgage loan broker actually puts you up for a night on your move! It was a great blessing to spend the night with them, and that blessing was greatened the next morning as Shawn's mom, Mandi, came by to visit with us. After a later departure than planned, we had an early dinner that night in Las Cruces, New Mexico, with Allison's great-great aunt (or something like that), Tincy. After a wonderful time with her, we hit the road again, spending the night in Odessa, Texas. After only a few hours of sleep, we hit the road again for Dallas, which was now only several hours away.
We pulled up to our new home around 1 pm that afternoon, and were confronted by a set of conflicted emotions. We were so excited to finally be homeowners and to be at our new home, but there was a mixture of disappointment at the state of the house (weeds up to 6 ft. tall surrounding our house except where a huge pile of dirt that was supposed to have been removed prior to closing had been compressed by a drunk tractor) mixed together with homesickness (not exactly the right word, but the sense that we had really left California and all of our friends and family there behind). At 2 pm, we were joined by our great friends, the Montgomerys and the Bakers, who helped us to unload our truck. A couple of hours later, we were joined by Allison's mom and dad, who had driven out from Florida to help us get settled.
We were immediately struck by the fact that we were in a much different climate than we were accustomed to in California. If you've ever been to Dallas or many other places in the sourth in the summertime, you know what I'm referring to. Within the first 10 minutes of working to detach the car carrier, I was completely soaked with sweat due to a brief moment of exertion combined with 98 degree heat and very high humidity. And this was a feeling that would continue for the next several hours as we unloaded the truck.
We arrived in Dallas on Tuesday afternoon, August 31, and Allison reported to her first day of new teacher in-service at Covenant Christian Academy (www.ccanet.org) on Thursday morning. Not quite an ideal transition.....but it was ours..... I, on the other hand, was not to start my classes at Dallas Theological Seminary (www.dts.edu) for another 4 weeks, so I focused my attention on doing projects around the house and finding a job.
This move to Dallas was one of the biggest stretches of faith in my life... Allison and I were convinced that it was God's plan for us to move to Dallas and for me to pursue my Master's Degree in Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary, but we were not sure how exactly that was going to work out... When we made the decision back in the spring, we had no assurance of job or finances, etc. We had also just suffered a significant financial setback in the form of a tax bill of several thousand dollars. But God made provision for us. First, Allison was offered a job teaching drama and high school girls' Bible at Covenant Christian Academy in the Dallas area (after being flown out to Dallas to interview at a different school). Then God provided finances for us...which were sufficient for us to buy a house, pay for our move, and to even pay for almost $4000 in unexpected car repairs that began in June. He also provided sufficiently for me to be a full-time student at DTS, instead of being a part-timer. Then He provided a house for us to call home.... And finally, He provided a part-time job for me. I got a job working almost 20 hours a week teaching / tutoring junior high students in math at a charter school in the southern section of Dallas.
There's a lot more that could be said, especially since we've now been in Dallas for almost 2 months, and a lot has transpired in those 2 months. Allison has been teaching for 7 weeks now, and I've been taking seminary classes for 4 weeks...which has been an inspiring and humbling experience. We have also been leading a Spiritual Formation group composed of 4 couples from seminary. Additionally, we have led worship at a small Southern Baptist church in Mesquite that seems to want to hire me to be their worship leader on a part-time basis. But this post is already too long, so I'll postpone some of those thoughts for my next one....
We would love to hear from any and all of you, so please drop us a quick e-mail note when you get a chance!
Kevin & Allison Peterson