Monday, September 29, 2008

We're official

So, we finally became official residents of California. It took us 4 1/2 hours at the DMV, a vehicle verification and smog test, and taking the California driver's test but we can finally call ourselves Californians. At least that's what the license plates and driver's license say. We had a miracle take place on the way there! We have had a check engine light that has been on for several months, had it fixed several times, and keeps coming back on. We could never figure out what is causing it. We were going to go get it looked at again before going, because in California, you can't pass the vehicle verification and smog test if you have a check engine light on. When we turned the car on to leave - NO LIGHT!!!! It turned off by itself - which it has NEVER done, and has not come back on since. We were amazed! God is good, huh! But, back to the DMV, let's just say that the DMV system in California is no different than in South Carolina. It was a long wait in several lines, and I CAN'T BELIEVE they made us take a written driver's test. It was HARD! I hope none of you ever have to do this... and if you do, make sure you know what the legal blood alcohol level is, how old and how heavy you have to be to ride in the front seat, when you can turn in a bike lane, rail road crossing signs, etc. Just be prepared! whew. It is really weird to see the California license plates on the car, and we had a small ceremony of sorts, because in here you have to have front and back plates (in South Carolina, you only needed back) and I had a fun license plates that said something along the lines of Carolina Girls being the best in the world that had to be removed. Archie was sure glad, but I am going to miss it.

On Saturday, we went on a date to Santa Cruz. It is a small beach town about 30 minutes away that you have to cross through the mountains to get to, but it is really fun. It looks like an old movie. It has an amusement park on a boardwalk right up to the beach, and mountains surrounding it, and boasts to be one of the top 5 places to surf in the world. There were a lot of surfers out that day. The homes in the area were really cute, very cottageish and everyone rode big beach bikes around. We took Capo with us and just went for a walk on the boardwalk. It was a nice change in pace to having things to do and such. Here are a few pictures.

On Sunday, we held our first Launch team meeting. It was here in the apartments, we had it at one of the clubhouses. We prepared for it all week, and were praying for 20 people to attend. We had been inviting people to come for several weeks - some from the church who is supporting us in Fremont, some from meeting them at the Art and Wine festival a few weeks ago, and some just from meeting in the community. As we got ready yesterday, I can't say all of us weren't a little nervous about what kind of turn out, if any, we would have - thinking it might just be us families. :) We were blown away with 29 adults and 8 children!!!! We were so excited. It was a great time of meeting too. We shared dinner together, and were able to talk to everyone, had a time of worship (which Archie led), and then the three guys (Andy, Filipe, and Archie) shared their testimonies of how God had brought them to this place so far. Andy also shared the vision of the church and what we had planned for the next several months, and how each of these people, if they were interested, could become involved in the launch team. What an amazing answer to prayer. It was so exciting to meet people and talk with them and find out how they came and how they want to be a part of what we are doing! Praise God. We are just praying that God would use each of them and speak to them about how they can become involved and that if this is what they are called to, they will join us for such a time as this!

Just wanted to update quickly also, that Andy met with the vice principal from the school that we asked everyone to pray for, and he sounded very positive about us meeting there. He made it sound like if there was nothing on the calendar, than there would be no problem. We are still waiting final approval from the application process, but it sounds very very promising!
Here are a few quick things you can be praying for:
- Our first launch team meeting this Sunday after sharing the vision with everyone and asking them to commit. Pray that everyone who came last night will come back and we would have an even bigger crowd this week.
- Pray for the friendships we are making, that God would be in the midst of them, and allow us to shine His light on every person we come in contact with. We are only human! We want to be God's light to this community.
-October 11, we are having a family day in the park for everyone on our launch team, anyone they invite, and we also invited anyone who signed up showing interest in the church from the Art and Wine Festival (about 90 people, 20 of those expressed interest in being part of the launch team). Pray that we would have a good crowd, that it would be a good time of fellowship and ministry.
We are beginning to finally sort of learn our way around - today, I went to the grocery store and didn't have to use the gps on the way back! :) haha, well in my defense I took a different way to get there (and got lost even with the gps), so it was pretty good that I could remember how to get home from the next city over without any sort of map or anything. This place is huge! There are at least 4 major interstates and several smaller highways and expressways to get through cities. It's hard people!
We love you all and miss you all. Remember, you always have a place to come visit!!! ;)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Prayer Request

Just a quick update... earlier today I asked for your prayers for a meeting location for South Bay church. Since then, one of our top choices for meeting - a school in the area, has been in contact with Andy, and they have a meeting set up for tomorrow at 8:30 am (Pacific time - so plenty of time in the morning to pray for all you East Coasters) with the Vice Principle of the school. Please be in prayer for this meeting that God would be our guide in this meeting, that He would give Andy the right words to speak, and that He would grant us favor in this meeting! Thanks so much for all of your prayers. We will keep you updated!

orange groves and pizza

Can't believe it's been another week. Sorry there haven't been as many updates this week. Honestly, there hasn't been a lot to share. I mean, I could put the ramblings of day to day stuff, but how fun would that be. We would lose our readers very quickly! It has been a pretty uneventful week, still just trying to get settled. But I think we are pretty much there. In fact, the other day, Archie and I hung the last picture and got the last shelf put together. It's beginning to feel a little more like home. It at least feels like a place we can come and relax. We did however, have several good things go on over the last week:

On Sunday, Archie and I as well as Stacie and Mandy attended a church called Crossroads (whose pastor's name is Paul ;) ) who is going to be a big support for us. They are helping to plant this church with us and even committing to sending volunteers down to be a part of the launch team and helping us out. The church services were great, and we felt so welcome there. They had three services - one Saturday night and two on Sunday, and we attended all three, and were brought up on stage and introduced for all three. It was a good experience for us, and we'll be visiting there a lot over the next couple months.

Last night, we had dinner with a couple from here that Archie had met when he came back in February. He stayed with them at their house while he was here and got to know them some. They are such a nice couple and it was a pleasure to get to meet them in person. I'm sure we will get to see them more, but it was also nice to actually have someone to meet with and have dinner with. It felt normal!

Archie and I went to this humongous mall in the area the other day. We had no idea quite how large it was until we got there, but it was huge. Let's just say it has all the shops you ever want to go in, some of those specialty shops that you only find when you are like out of town or something, and the best restaurants all in one place. It was amazing! We didn't spend a lot of time there, just sort of walked by all the stores, but it was fun! And we ate at an amazing place! It's one of my favorite places to go, and haven't been to one in years. This is for you mom and dad!

This morning, we had our first launch team meeting. It was just the three families this morning, but we got together and planned for our meeting Sunday night which will include everyone who has showed any interest. We have sent out letters, met people personally and invited them, and will follow up with some phone calls later this week. We are very excited and can't wait for the meeting to have planning, vision casting, and get a little better idea where everything will fall in place. We are going to have dinner and a time of worship, then Andy will speak and we're meeting at the apartment clubhouse, so it will feel like a real meeting!

That's basically all that's been going on here. It really is an amazing place. We love the mountains surrounding us everywhere, and even just looking out our back patio is filled with a great view. We have an orange orchard right outside. Here are some pictures, of the mountains from a parking lot we were in and some pictures from right outside my back door.

Lastly, I promised a video tour of our apartment once it was all put together, it's pretty much there, so here are a few. It's pretty much what the pictures showed the first time, but it does show some more rooms! :) Hope you enjoy.

Please be praying for us this next week if you think of it. As we mentioned, we are having our first launch team meeting this Sunday. Please pray that it would be a beneficial time and that the people who come will feel like this is a vision that they would like to be a part of in reaching the lost. We are praying for 20 people!
Also, we are in the process of trying to nail down our meeting place for our preview services. We are meeting with people and we would appreciate your prayers as our team meets with officials for favor! Update again soon!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

General Observations

So, now that we have been here for a week or so, I have found some general observations about the city and California so far:

1. Every public bathroom in California has those cool seat covers. Back home in Charleston, you might find one or two bathrooms here or there, but not all. I feel so sanitary here, even if you are using more paper than you should.

2. There are SOOO many stop lights here. It can sometimes take you 20 minutes to go 2 miles. One day, as we were coming back from the Central Park where the art and wine festival was held, Stacie counted and there were something like 25 stop lights in less than 4 miles. You definitely have to plan for an outing! :)

3. There is a Montague street here - well actually it's an expressway, but close enough and it makes me think of home when I drive on it.

4. There are NO superwalmarts!! The closest one is 45 minutes away! What am I to do??? :) All of the targets and walmarts are the old kind. Guess I'll have to get used to that too.

5. There are mountains surrounding us on all sides. Everywhere you go you see mountains - except when it's foggy. It's very very pretty.

6. There is such a large international population here. It is really really neat. Even store/business signs have Asian symbols describing what they are. Us, being white are really the minority here. Alot of international people come here for jobs at all the hundreds of technological places surrounding our area - including Canon which we can see from our back porch, Ebay and Cisco systems less than a mile down the road, and Yahoo about 4 miles away.

We'll let you know some more as we discover them!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

city slickers

One week down! It's hard to believe we've been here for a week. It actually has felt like a long week, but I think it's because we have been so busy. We are starting to adjust to the California life, and even beginning to like it! ;) Don't worry, not too much! The weather is probably the easiest yet hardest thing to get used to.. It's great at around 75 to 80 during the day, but in the mornings and starting in mid afternoon it will drop to 45-50 degrees, so if you are wearing shorts, watch out! and when all of you come to visit us, pack accordingly! hint hint.. we now, have a guest bedroom that is almost completely unpacked as well. The house is really starting to come together, thanks to my mom! She came for almost a week visit, and we had a GREAT time. It was so nice to show her where we will be living, the area, and even where our church will potentially be located. She helped out tremendously in getting unpacked and settled in. We dropped her off at the airport this morning and I already miss her. Here are a few pictures of the house, I only put the rooms that look good so far (the others still have piles, or a few boxes still), and notice we still don't have pictures up. I'm telling you, we have been so busy! :)

We had our first mission's team come to help us this past weekend from Lakepoint church in Texas. What a great team. They sure put a big expectation for future teams. We had such a great time meeting them and working with them. We helped out the city
of Santa Clara with an annual festival they do called the Art and Wine festival. It's similar to the Flowertown/azalea festival if you are from Charleston. It was great we had about 25 people to help out and we just volunteered in whatever way we could with helping artists/vendors unload their stuff, face painting, crafts, trash pick up, you name it. We also had our own booth where we passed out balloons and gave away starbucks gift packets. We had 90 people sign up over the course of the weekend saying they wanted more information on the church! Help us pray for those people to have softened hearts as we follow through with them in the coming days and weeks. It was a great weekend for meeting people though and getting our name out with a good reputation in the city. We were even asked to come back and help with a Halloween event and Fourth of July event. We're excited. We met a lot of amazing people also, some artists and some of the people who worked for the city were so friendly and helpful - we can't wait to get to know them even more. Here are a few pictures of the event, and one of the whole lakepoint team.

Our first morning with Lakepoint, Archie led us in a song before we did some work around the city.

Archie helping one of the artists at the festival unload her work, and the Southbay church booth at the festival! Gotta hand it to Filipe, I thought it looked great!

Here are a few shots of us working at the festival: Filipe talking with people and Archie and Chris from Lakepoint playing some music, Andy from Lakepoint face painting.

We had our first worship service on Sunday morning at the Embassy Suites with the Lakepoint team. Archie was able to lead worship for all of us and Andy spoke for a few minutes. Here is a picture of that. We were very excited for this!

We got to take the team (and my mom) to San Francisco city Friday night. We got to see a few of the sights and enjoy some good food and hot chocolate from Ghirardelli chocolate factory. Just stay away from 6th street. It is seriously about a 65-70 degree angle drive up to the top, and we got stopped at a red light at the very top with brakes that are making funny noises!!! my mom and I were sweatin it!

Lastly, Caedmon, Andy and Staci's child, celebrated his 2nd birthday yesterday! They were able to throw him a little party, and it was alot of fun. He's so cute, and Lilly and him had a great time with his new slide! They are fun to be around! Capo was begging for some of Staci's yummy burgers! Caedmon even got a guitar for his b-day so now he can play along with "Awchie's 'tar" :)

We are still trying to learn the city and not rely on GPS so much, and we're even getting a little better. We'll be pros before we know it! Continue to pray for us as we learn our new home and get to meet more and more people.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

We made it !!

Hey everyone. I know some of you were wondering if we had just stayed in Vegas but we did make it here. We had some computer issues to work through once we were here, so I haven't been able to update. It turns out that my charging circuit went out and needed to be replaced. We got in to town about 5:30 local time on Sunday night and had dinner with our new team here and signed the lease on the apartment. We had packed an air mattress in the car to sleep on the first night, which was weird being in our apartment with nothing but an air mattress and the bags we had packed for the trip but at least we had each other. It was a little overwhelming, surreal and emotional. We had just driven across the country to find ourselves in an empty apartment in a strange town. If you have been following us across the country on this blog, you know that we have been taking pictures as we entered each state, well when we got to California, it hit us both. We were no longer on vacation- we were moving here! It was a little sobering. But now after having been here for a few days, it has turned out to be nice. We are getting used to it. Although we exchanged the paper mill smell when the fog hits in the morning for the "sweet" smell of garlic from the largest garlic capitol in the U.S. a few towns over.
We got a nice deal on a 2 bedroom apartment $2270 a month!! What?!!? That is still nuts to me, that's more than double or mortgage back home. It is a nice complex, very clean, nice gym, pool, and a starbucks :) Our original plan was for all three families to separate in the city and go to different apartment complexes to meet more people but we all ended up at the same one- Andy and Filipe are actually in the same building and Bekah and I are only about a 3 min walk away. It has been nice since we have no clue where anything is. Actually right now as I'm typing this Bekah is out by herself for the first time trying to get to the closest Wal-Mart.
For the last 3 days we have been trying to unpack a ton of boxes and find stores to buy things we need. Some of our stuff got broken in the move- you always have nicks here and there as much as you try to avoid it, but 2 of Bekah's favorite plates got shattered, she was really sad. One of them was a wedding gift, a Turkish wedding plate that some friends from Germany had sent. Other than that I was worried about my drums and guitars making it ok. Being that they are obviously made out of wood and I didn't know what kind of heat and moisture conditions they would endure getting here. I was really surprised and amazed to open up my Taylor case and find that not only was there no damage but that little baby was still in tune- that's an awesome guitar! Other than that we have been hard at work trying to set up bank accounts and basically switch our entire lives out here.
Bekah just got back from Wal-mart and has told me that 1) people are very impatient here in the Silicon Valley and 2) they have red lights on the entrance ramps onto the highway. You get on the highway and at the bottom of the entrance ramp they have three lanes where you line up like go-carts at frankies fun park and then one car from each row gets to go on one at a time using 3 separate red lights! My, we have a lot to learn. Her other comment about the trip was that no stores have cart returns in the parking lot, so you have to walk them all the way back up front in a crazy attempt to encourage mobility and exercise. Who needs it! (if you don't walk your cart back up- you will get the stare down from all the other shoppers)
Last night we got our kitchen unpacked and had our first meal here- spaghetti bolognese. Back home, as uncool as it is, we ate in front of the tv more times then not. So, since we don't have cable or anything at this time we ate to a DVD of Shrek 2- it felt a little more like home. Tonight will probably be "how to loose a guy in 10 days." I can't wait to see whats showing tomorrow. Sorry there are no pics this time but we are planning on giving a video tour of our apartment and some pics of our complex soon.
Lastly, Rebekah's mom, Tina is due to fly in tonight. Her Dad kind of surprised them both by sending her here for a long weekend. It'll be nice to have our first guest- so all you back in Charleston need to pay attention :)
Ok, I know I said lastly- but this is for real lastly- We would like to ask you guys to pray for our team but specifically for our place to meet. We have picked out an elementary school that would be perfect. Please join us in prayer that God would grant us favor with the principal of that school to allow us to meet there. We love you guys, pictures coming soon.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Vegas Baby, Vegas

Today we got up and continued west. Yesterday made our second casualty, we had to replace a tire that we had been nursing for a day or so and the only place we could find was a mostly Spanish speaking tire shop- but we managed. We are now rolling on almost all mismatched tires- awesome! But at least we are still rolling right? The other Causalty was my computer, it just stopped working. Tech support said it was either the mother board or the power cable, but since I bought an extra warranty after I ran my last computer over (like you never made a mistake) it is going to be free. :) I forgot to mention in yesterday's blog two things that I thought were funny. One, the name of a park that I thought was hilarious, I tried to take a picture but the sign came up too quickly., you might respond like I did, "Uhm... no thanks." Two, the other thing I thought was funny was that Capo has been a great traveler. Mostly sleeping during the trip and generally disinterested in the scenery (I'm mean he's a dog, what do you expect?) Except two days ago when we were passing through Texas he perked up and got very interested in a big pasture of cows, barking and all; it occurred to me that he had never seen a cow before, he must of thought they were giant dogs or something. I told him that everything is bigger in Texas, but not that big :) We drove for a while this morning and hit the Hoover Dam. I guess you'd expect a couple of Dam jokes from me at this point, but why be predictable? Instead here are a few pics of us being silly on the road:
We have continued to have a good time today too. Bekah was saying to her mom on the phone today and it's true: It's been a lot of driving, but we are not sick of driving, not sick of eachother, we are just having a great time. Today we pulled into Vegas and we are going to go see the Cirque De Soleil Show "O" If you've never seen a Cirque show, you need to, it's incredible. We haven't seen Elvis here yet, although I'm told this is now where he lives. On the way here at the Hoover Dam, they had pretty inexpesive helicopter rides and I have never been on a helicopter but always wanted to so... I went for it. Here are some pics. Notice the shot of the "beloved" civic with it's Carolina girl lisence plate. Bekah stayed back- being afraid of heights but I could've stayed up there all day. I would one day like to get my pilots liscence so this was awesome for me! I got to sit up with the pilot! Tomorrow we pull into our new home which should take us about 8 1/2 hours. We are excited and a little nervous because now the vacation is over but we are ready to see the place where we are going to live. We will be updating this blog when we get there so you guys can see where we live and all. I hope you've enjoyed reading these posts as much as we've enjoyed leaving them. Thanks for all your prayers. Here is that video for the Grand Canyon Bekah promised, pictures and video do not do it justice.
We're off to find one of those famous "Vegas $5.99 all you can eat, prime rib buffets. Catch you tomorrow! Archie

The Desert (Day 4)

So, sorry this is a little late, but we have had some computer issues, and we stayed in a small town that I don't think had a computer in it. It was super cute though - reminded us of Radiator Springs from the movie Cars, and it was even located on Route 66. We left Albuquerque, headed toward the Grand Canyon this morning and have really just been enjoying the scenery. We saw the sign for the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest which was really cool! it was about a 45 minute drive to go through the park but the veiws were breathtaking. We are really enjoying God's creation. here are some pictures.

Then we kept driving to gas up in this ancient city! seriously, I think some of the original buildings were still there. we were just waiting to find the saloon.

After a pretty long, but beatiful drive we made it to the Grand Canyon. I don't know if you have ever been, but talk about witnessing the glory and beauty of God. this was breathtaking. If you have not seen it, you MUST! Okay, I'll show you some pictures instead of talking about it... I have a great little video about it, but this computer I'm using won't let me load it, so I will post it in a futre blog!

Since we're from the South we have found that we have had a lot of "Bless their heart" moments! :) In these small towns, there are alot of country type folks who we just want to say Bless their hearts - or idiots! haha just joking.
We did find another Starbucks to Archie's content, and savored every last sip of it since we have only seen about 4 the entire trip. You would think, hey! It's Starbucks. But thanks Jessica for the yummy starbucks!
So, an update on the bumper stickers! We are currently even - four for McCain, four for Obama. Pretty surprising. but both sides have something going for it. In Albuquerque, we saw a huge McCain rally (gotta count for something), and on the road to the grand Canyon, I saw a highway cleaning sign that said this portion of the road maintained by Grand Canyon democrats - that I guess counts too! :) We have fourty eight states and counting on the license plates - only missing Hawaii (we may not get that one) and Vermont -surely some Vermont people want to come to the West Coast!
We are officially on Pacific time - 3 hours behind our Charleston friends and family. It feels wierd, and the sleeping part is catching up.Last night we were asleep by 9 and up before 7 - so weird.
Archie mentioned in a previous blog (as if you didn't already know) how he felt about the civic...

but over the past few days, I think he's created a slight bond with it (the 33-37 miles to the gallon has helped)

and even made friends with it...

Well, that's about all from today... we'll have more to post in a little while about more fun! Thanks for all the prayers and encouragement you all have sent our way. We love and miss everyone!!