So it turns out we had to move! When the Navy moved us into our Multnomah University campus house in the Summer of 2008, we hoped that the Navy would move us out a couple years later after I (Zak) finished my degree and went back into active duty. It was a long shot, but a possibility, that we wouldn't have to pay or go through the hassle of moving ourselves during the time that I was out of the military. Unfortunately that's not going to happen since we received notice at the end of May that we had to be moved out of our house by July 1st!
When we had our meeting with the university's housing office, they informed us that they would be demolishing our house, as well as 5 other houses on our street, so they could begin construction on new campus townhouses due to be open next year. As compensation for being inconvenienced on such short notice (5 weeks), they offered us a 3 bedroom unit in their existing campus townhouses. However, it is smaller than our 4 bedroom house, does not have a yard or garage, does not have washer/dryer hook-ups (there's a community laundry room), and most importantly, is part of a claustrophobic Christian commune with no non-Christian interaction. And the rent is higher! So we said "no thanks" and began looking for a place to live off-campus.
Leaving has proven to be difficult for us. Kathy had just planted her garden a couple weeks before we found out we had to leave. We had become really good friends with some of our neighbors on the other side of the street. Our house has been a food co-op drop for the past 2 years. We've thrown 2 block parties on our street and for a while even discussed starting a community garden! We had already toured the local school, talked with the principle and Koa's kindergarten teachers, and registered him for the Fall. We're close to our doctor/mid-wife, Wes & Jessi, and other long-time friends. So it's not easy to be leaving even though we've only been here for 3 years. More than the house, we'll miss the relationships we've intentionally been developing in that part of Portland.
What we discovered as soon as we began looking for a new place to live was that our rent would be doubling, regardless of whether we stayed somewhere in Portland or moved down to Sherwood to be a part of our church's community. If we stayed in Portland our new house would have to be within a 10 minute bike-ride of the campus so we wouldn't have to drive to both school and Sherwood throughout the week. If we moved to Sherwood we wanted to be within walking distance of a park/playground since there's no way we could afford a single-family home with a yard down there. So the search was on for a new place!
I think we looked at a total of 10-12 houses, evenly divided between Portland and Sherwood. Generally the places in Portland were single-family homes with yards, but were just as old/inefficient as our campus house (80 years) and in less than desirable neighborhoods with less than desirable schools. The places down in Sherwood were mostly townhouses, but newer/efficient and in well-groomed suburbia with spectacular schools. We had our likes and dislikes in both cities, but weren't going to submit an application anywhere until God told us where to go. So we filled out multiple applications and then waited to see which one to submit.
Our closest friends know the amount of anguish that Kathy and I experienced trying to decide where to move. We spent 3 weeks not waiting for a house per se, but waiting for God to tell us whether to stay in Portland or move to Sherwood. The house would come later; of greatest importance was where God was sending us. Why might we be getting removed from our house at this particular time? What opportunities does God have laid out for us that we shouldn't miss? Where can we take the greatest step of faith? Are we willing to make the hard decision of living where we don't really want to live? How can we be of greatest impact for God? So we prayed and waited. Waited and prayed. Prayed and waited. Until we only had 2 weeks to move and the newer listings began to not be available until after July 1st. Our deadline had arrived. And no booming voice from above.
It was frustrating not being directly told where to live by God. Abraham was told where to go. Paul was told where to go. Where was our direction? We've no doubt God spoke to us through our friends' counsel, but we would have preferred a neon arrow floating in the sky! So our conclusion was that God didn't really care which city we ended up living in - both were equally in need of His presence. He was giving us the freedom to do His work in whatever city we preferred to live.
We picked Sherwood. Honestly, we would have preferred to stay in Portland (who would pass up an opportunity to live in Portland!?), but ultimately felt that it is too important to be a member of the community that you're trying to reach. Scripture is full of men and women, who in an effort to be a light to a people, actually become one of them, culminating obviously in God Himself coming down and becoming one of us so that He could perfectly relate to us. It was unauthentic for Kathy and I to intentionally meet and develop personal relationships with people down in Sherwood, but then each evening drive back up to Portland! The closer we got to people, the harder it became to develop those relationships long distance. So we submitted one of the applications we had already filled out for a townhouse in Sherwood, and began concluding the urban chapter of our lives. Now we're suburban-ites!
We officially had the house on Saturday, June 26th, but we didn't move in until Monday the 28th. That way we had a couple days overlap to carry down some of our fragile stuff in our car instead of loading them on the huge truck. We were also able to take some measurements (OK, all measurements!) of the new house and make a plan for where everything was going to go on moving day. The nice thing about Multnomah tearing down our campus house was that we didn't have to clean up after ourselves, so moving out and doing the final walk-through was (relatively) easy, and our security deposit is guaranteed. I rented the biggest truck U-Haul had - a 26 footer I think - at 7:00am on Monday and it had to be back by 7:00pm that evening, so we had to hustle. Thankfully we have wonderful friends who, like everyone else in Portland, don't actually work, thus were free to help us move out on Monday! Later in the evening when our friends in Sherwood (who actually do work) got home, they also came over and helped us unpack the truck. About halfway through unloading in Sherwood it became apparent that we were not going to get the truck back in time, so we frantically unloaded the rest into the garage and Wes and I raced off to get the truck back in time. We had to get through rush-hour traffic, and refill the truck with gas, but we made it with a whole 15 minutes to spare!
Our new (as-yet-to-be-named) place is a 4 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom, 1500 square feet, 1 car garage townhouse in the middle of Sherwood. It's biggest selling point for us was that it's squeezed into a small townhouse neighborhood, so it'll be easy to get to know our neighbors. We also love how open the kitchen/living room is - it'll be great for having guests over. The place is within walking distance of a park (Stella Olsen Memorial Park), and if we're serious, walking distance to Koa's elementary school (Hopkins Elementary School). On Mondays and Tuesdays when I have classes at Multnomah, I can take an express bus that runs between Pioneer Square in Portland and a Park-n-Ride here in Sherwood, then take the MAX from downtown out to 82nd where the school is located. It looks like my commute will take a little over an hour each way, but that'll give me time to do some school work and get to know my fellow Sherwood commuters. Not only is taking public transportation cheaper, but this way Kathy and the kiddos won't be without the car all day.
So we've now been living here for a week. Until 2 days ago there were still piles of boxes all over the house. Now there's just piles and piles and stuff out of boxes everywhere! We're hoping to be settled in by the end of this week, but i'm sure that's wishful thinking! You can see pictures of our new house, and how our unpacking is coming along, in the Sherwood Townhouse photo album, or go on a video tour of the place before we moved in. We're also taking suggestions for the name for our new house!