Thursday, April 24, 2008

Moved to Portland: New Jobs

I have never worked so hard for a minimum wage job. I recently was hired at the YMCA of Columbia-Willamette as a Program Aide for a before- and after-school program at an elementary school. It's about five hours a day and I've never been so tired. It's good though, because it's tons of fun working with the kids and I am learning something new every day from them. I could start a whole new blog solely devoted to telling learning experiences from working with school age kids. I love it.

My goal with working with this age group is to gain experience. I could probably get a job that pays better right now, but I'm thinking more long term. After many talks with my wife, friends, and family, I'm heading in the direction of becoming a middle school teacher. Most people are afraid of middle schoolers, but I find it to be a pivotal time in their development. I want to be an influence on the lives of kids, and I think that this would be a better opportunity for me than a counselor or a pastor. The younger elementary school kids are a bit too high-pitched, crazy, and pee-their-pants problematic for me, which is why I'm more drawn to having good conversations with the 4th and 5th graders in our YMCA program. I am very appreciative of this experience as I can see the phase before they transition into middle school. But who knows? Maybe I'll end up doing something completely different! But right now this is the path I'm on.

Jen hasn't had as much luck with her job. It has been very draining on her physically and mentally. She works with Pre-Kindergarten kids at KinderCare and unfortunately there is just too much chaos every day in her particular classroom. We have been working through trying to figure out what she will be doing in the future. This is one of the reasons I have been so proud of her this past month. She has been so strong and diligent in going to work even when she often feels that it is the last place on Earth she wants to go.

With both of us now working with kids, you can certainly guess correctly that our stress levels are high when we both get home. But we are actually doing relatively wonderful! Yes, we have had our fights and arguments in the recent weeks that we've both been working with other people's psycho kids. However, we have been working hard to resolve our arguments before we go to bed and make sure that we are both on the same page and in peaceful agreement (Eph 4:26-27).

I can only credit our successful and joyful marriage to God and His gift of Jesus' sacrifice to us. How can I get upset at my spouse when I myself am just as sinful? I must show her mercy and grace just as God showed us grace through Jesus. I have no excuse not to be patient, kind, and humble towards my wife.

Lastly, don't get me wrong about working with kids. I absolutely love it even if they are psychotic sometimes. Anybody who works with kids knows that. Just today, I had such a fun time teaching chess to a girl in my class. She is one of the most disruptive, disobedient, and devious Kindergarteners I have ever known. But today I saw a glimpse of intelligence, respect, and humor in her that reminded me without a doubt that this is a job is worth doing well.

[Photo: Artwork on my fridge, given to me from some kids in my group]

Moved to Portland: New Apartment

We are moved into our apartment. Finally starting to feel settled. It almost doesn't seem real.

About a week and a half ago we packed everything up into carloads and delivered them from our friends' garage to our new townhouse. We found a great deal on a place that we hope to live in until we start having kids. At that point in time we hope to be looking for a house. It's good to remember that we can plan out our future to the best of our abilities and then know that they'll go wrong in one way or another. So we'll see how the coming years pan out.

I just have to mention the weather on our moving days because it has been so strange. Our first weekend moving from Seattle to Portland was super cold with hail and snow. Our second weekend moving, just two weeks later, was super hot with temperatures around 80 degrees. The first move we were worried about our fingers falling off and the second move we were worried about dehydration. Pretty weird, but relatively normal weather for the Pacific Northwest.

Anyway, we are so thankful to have found such a great place to live. We love the neighborhood, which is very ethnically diverse, relatively close to downtown, and just a hop, skip and a jump away from the MAX! My dad and I have already set up times to meet every other week for breakfast that includes me riding the MAX over to Beaverton. So cool.

Jen is excited about getting to live in a townhouse because it's the first place she has ever lived with stairs inside. It is very cute inside with all new appliances. The good things easily outweigh the bad in our place here. There's always going to be little things that we don't like about where we live, but in this case we both felt like God made it clear to us that this was a great opportunity. And it turned out too that we have the best apartment manager ever. She has been amazingly helpful with miscellaneous issues that we have had since moving in (i.e., water heater problems), and certainly put any burdens on her shoulders instead of us having to deal with them. She has been a huge blessing.

All in all, we are really battling financially, but it is good for us. We are very thankful that we thought ahead before our wedding by saving money and wedding gift certificates for this time. We had to go over our budget multiple times before we signed the lease to this apartment. We talked to God and to each other long and hard about this big decision and were both at peace with it.

I really don't know how anybody lives in an unharmonious marriage. It would just tear me up inside. Jen has been so strong through this transition time and I am so proud of her. And I am especially proud of how we have worked hard to keep Christ as the focus of our lives. The mission that we are on right now, how we work together to solve arguments, and how we plan on using our apartment as a ministry to our community, friends and family are all things that we are thrilled about.

I will talk more about our new jobs in my next post. Yep, I got a part-time job! Since we just got hooked up to the internet, I'll be posting more frequently. Stay tuned...

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Moved to Portland: Success

Just a quick update for all of those wondering how our move went last weekend...

We woke up on Saturday morning to pick up the truck at 7am and spent all morning/early afternoon loading up the truck and packing the last few items into boxes. Since it was just the two of us driving, Jen drove her car and I drove the Uhaul with my car strapped to an auto transport trailer on the back. Thanks to our gracious friends who happened to be visiting Seattle the same week we moved, they helped us out and we left the city about the time we were planning to.

The weather was perfect for us whenever we needed it to be. It was dry and occasionally sunny when moving stuff outside. We headed onto I-5 around 4:30pm, and then it immediately began pouring down rain and hail. This was one crazy weathered weekend. It was my first time driving such a big vehicle, so I wasn't enthusiastic about the conditions, but it ended up being a good drive. I had fun. We ended up in Clackamas around 9pm, with snow on the ground! Too late, dark, and cold to unload, we put a lock on the Uhaul door and got a good night's sleep. Again the next day, it was dry and partly sunny when outside unloading the truck, with rain, hail, and/or traces of snow falling from the sky after we finished.

Thanks to some other gracious friends, we are currently residing in their basement and storing most of our stuff in their garage. Early this past week we found a nice East Portland apartment that we applied for and are planning on moving into next Thursday. Jen will be transferred from her job in Seattle to a location only 10 minutes away from the apartment. I got word back from the OHSU job that they offered the position to someone else. Which is unfortunate, but not a big deal. Something will pop up, as I have applied to several jobs this past week. It really sucks being unemployed. I've only been without a job for a week and I'm already going crazy (although some would say that it's just my normal goofiness).

Anyway, our move to Portland was a flawless one that we are happy to be done with. Jen and I have learned a lot from our stresses so far. We have grown closer in this time, realizing that having a good relationship with each other is much more important than having the security of a place to live. We have had an obvious demonstration that material things, like an apartment or a house, can disappear. And having good relationships with friends is not only beneficial to us in times of need, but it is also beneficial to furthering the Gospel to be an example of what the Church does practically in peoples' lives. True home is having a community of believers, sacrificing for each other.

Moving from Seattle to Portland was much more stressful than just taking a few car loads of stuff to a new place in the same city 15 minutes away. Thankfully we are done with the former and are looking forward to the latter this upcoming week. And hopefully we will enjoy keeping the boxes unpacked for the next few years.

More to come on our transition into the apartment, new church community, being closer to family, and lots more in our new life in Portland...