It is hard for me to write this post. One, so much has happened in the last month and a half and I have not had enough bandwidth to take time to post. Two, my heart hurts to write out the very bittersweet reality of what has happened in the last month and a half with our family.
First, Covid happened. Which was a huge deal in NYC, as most of you know from the news coverage. What you saw about how bad it was – all true, from someone who was in contact with doctors and hospitals and people who lost loved ones. Then, after George Floyd, the protests began. While most protests were peaceful, there were plenty of people who took advantage of it to loot and cause havoc across our beautiful city. Stores that were just opening had to close down or board up because of the looting and violence. I have included pictures from around the city and from our neighborhood, both of peaceful protests and of the damage done by people who went crazy. Our pastor and church even participated in a protest with our churches in our neighborhood, with our pastor leading the prayer of lament.
And right in the middle of it, we found out that we would be moving back to SC. Last fall, Ed applied for and began a process to see what would happen with a church in SC that he really respected, Grace Church in Greenville, SC. He actually applied for a AV/sound position because that it what he enjoyed and from there, the Lord closed down that opportunity but began the opportunity for him to apply doing other things in the church. It was an extremely long process that began with him applying for an AV position, going through probably 20 interviews, us flying down to SC to visit the church and for him to have more interviews in person (right in March when Covid was beginning in NYC), and that culminated with him accepting a position. Here is what we wrote in our most recent newsletter to ministry partners when we were announcing (we wanted them to hear first which is why I have been silent about it all and somewhat absent on here):
For the last year, while Ed has enjoyed what he has been doing with Cru in NYC, he has sensed the Spirit doing something in his life. He applied for a position at Grace Church in South Carolina, just wanting to learn more and see if it could be a fit. Over the past few months, God has made it clear to our family that this was the place He wanted us to be so Ed said yes to the job when they offered. In June, our family will begin the transition of moving to SC. Ed will be serving at Grace Church in South Carolina at the Anderson campus as the Student Director and Community Life pastor. Ed’s time with Cru has given him excitement, vision, and experience for this role and we see how God has used His time with Cru to prepare him for this.
April, on the other hand, has really enjoyed leading our team and coaching Cru staff women this past year. She still feels God is leading her to continue investing with Cru in winning, building, and sending college students, so she will continue as a missionary with Cru on a local campus team (most likely with the Upstate SC team which includes reaching Anderson University in our town). We are still figuring out exactly what she will be doing, but there is a possibility that she could continue in a leadership role by helping to lead the team in SC. Bittersweet is the word that comes to mind when we think of this transition. We are very sad to leave NYC as our hearts are still very much with this beautiful city we have called home the last 3.5 years. It is hard to think of leaving NYC, even much more in a Covid world when we can’t really say goodbye to people or places. It is hard to think of leaving our team, students, and community. We are very aware that we will face some reverse culture shock as we adjust from urban life and a “coming down” of sorts from city living. However, a wise friend shared with us that if it hurts when we leave, it is because we have invested deeply and that is a really good thing. We are excited to see where He takes us and to deeply invest in the upstate of SC the same way we have here in NYC.
How does this affect your partnership with us? We still need faithful ministry partners to come alongside us to pray and give financially so that April can continue to serve as a missionary with Cru. We are asking that you would continue your partnership for the next few months as we are transitioning but then that you would continue on with April as she continues serving with Cru.
Needless to say, once we found out we would be moving, we tried our best to soak up all that Covid made possible in NYC. We couldn’t visit some of our favorite places and restaurants because they weren’t open or because protests were happening, but we tried to the best we could. Our friends did a phenomenal job saying goodbye to us in a Covid world, complete with drive by goodbyes from our teammates, social distancing goodbyes across our front yard from classmates, and our small group even did a sweet video (that of course made us cry) and a zoom call and our favorite NYC foods day where they had delivered all day foods that we loved from NYC. In case you are wondering, it was bagels for breakfast, pizza for lunch, our favorite bakery for afternoon snack, dumplings for dinner, and ChipNYC cookies for dessert after dinner. It was a good thing since our house looked like this!
We left NYC and traveled down to SC, being careful to make as few stops as possible and being as careful as we could when we stopped at the hotel to not touch or interact with people. We stayed with Ed’s parents, closed on our house the next day, and moved in. Whew, what a whirlwind! Also, we have never bought a house blind so that was a first. Thankfully, Ed’s parents live about 45 minutes away and looked at it for us as well as was here for inspection and walk through – couldn’t have done it without them. When our movers left, I was so sad…they were local NYC movers from our neighborhood and they felt like our people – I kept thinking “don’t leave us…you know our world…you know what we have gone through the past few months.” We are self-isolating except for small runs to the store, and learning how to engage in a different world. Our kids have noticed that people don’t honk as much here, that everyone talks to us, that they love running circles around our house, and that we feel like the oddballs wearing masks. Great observations kids – we aren’t in NYC anymore 🙂 Cases are rising in SC though, so we feel a little like we just walked back into it.
The next few weeks will be filled with finishing school with the kids, getting things squared away like changing tags and licenses, my taking a seminary class with Cru, and taking some vacation time so we can recharge before digging back in. We are so very, very exhausted because of the last few months – spiritually, physically, mentally – and we just need space to rest and recharge and spend good quality time with family and Jesus. To finish off, I will leave you with some beautiful pictures of our neighborhood.
Oh NYC…the Lord may be calling us elsewhere but you will ALWAYS, ALWAYS have a special place in our heart. City living may be hard, especially on large families, but the culture, diversity, food, influence, and grandeur of this city will never be matched. We will be back. Until next time…