Months and months ago, when Nate and I were sitting around dreaming of where life would take us after school, I mentioned that I was opened to moving just about anywhere... Montana, Idaho, Washington or Oregon, even New Mexico (knowing NM would only be temporary)... anywhere that is, but Salem, Oregon.
I had always seen charming pictures of the state capital and imagined that it was a smaller, less busy version of Portland... and then I went there. At one of Nate's trainings I realized just how deceiving pictures can be (I know, I should have suspected it being a photographer myself... you always avoid the unattractive things lurking in the background. I've told Nate that I can get cute pictures of people at any location... the key is to find the one cute spot amongst all the ugly.) Needless to say, it was not what I had expected. The streets were dirty, the buildings in much need of repair, the bus stops full of frightening characters... all much less "charming" than I had expected.
As the months went by, however, I had a change of tune. While my opinion of Salem hasn't changed, I've made a real effort to trust in the Lord to guide our growing family to the place that will be right for us, to the job that will be right for Nate... regardless of where that place may be. Looking back, there have been many instances where the Lord brought me to a place that allow me the experiences and opportunities I would need. First, leaving home. I had always anticipated that I would follow in my sister Jaycie's footsteps and go to BYU Idaho. BUT it just so happened that at the last moment I decided to apply to BYU as well and it just so happened that I received that acceptance letter first. I was so excited that BYU Idaho suddenly became a distant thought in my mind and I wasted no time in accepting the offer to attend BYU. While there, of course, I learned a lot about myself; pushed myself in ways that were often uncomfortable, but that helped me to grow; and of course, it's there that I met so many amazing people... including Nate.
Then there was Roseburg. Nate finished with school and we were both ready to experience some new adventures together.... adventures that we assumed would be in city where Nate would start a new job and I would finish school. But what the Lord had in mind for us was so much better. We moved from Provo to Nate's hometown, Roseburg, to move in with Nate's parents until Nate was able to find employment. It took us about 2 months to find a job and in the meantime I was able to get to know Nate's parents better than any other opportunity would have allowed. I was able to meet so many sweet people in their ward (people I still look forward to seeing when we go home to visit). I was able to work for 2 months at a job that reminded me yet again why I needed to finish my education. Some added bonuses: I now know my way around town and Rita's kitchen.
Of course, with time came that job that we had been waiting for. Nate had many interviews at this time, but the one here in La Grande felt like "the one" from the moment we pulled into town. Immediately I knew this was the place where we should be. (And man is La Grande beautiful in the fall... kind of sealed the deal.) I was able to finish my schooling in an amazing art program with instructors that have forever changed my life. I've had the opportunity to work with many of the youth of the church, both as Activity Day leader, YW secretary and now as Laurels advisor and have met so many amazing kids with such strong testimonies that they have inspired me to be a better person. I've met so many people and have had so many experiences here that have pushed me to be a better person. Who would have ever thought that I would have ever lived here in "The Big"? (I used to tease a friend, Kirk, at BYU about being from La Grande, never imagining in a million years that I would end up here. Too funny.)
And that brings us to now. The last time that Nate and I went to Salem together (Nate was training state employees on a new computer system) we stayed at this hotel that has the worst access to the street. Time and time again, within 2 cars someone would stop to let us out. If they hadn't we could have easily been stuck there 15 minutes each time. I couldn't help but have my mind changed a little considering the kind gesture we experienced again and again. From that day on I concluded to trust that the Lord truly would guide us to the place we needed to be, even if that place might be Salem. I'd like to think this particular experience was His way of helping me to accept this move. I noticed with my change of perspective came some relief on my husband's part. He didn't have to worry about finding a job in a place other than Salem.
So just last week Nate made the 6 hour drive to Salem to interview for a position managing and writing policy for the position he's currently working in. I felt so good about it. I knew that he could do it. I knew he was the best person for the job. I knew he had the right skills and personality.
At lunch today we finally got the call letting us know that Nate got the job. I am so proud of him. I know he's been stressed out, with a little one on the way, wondering how he could support his family. He's spent many sleepless nights dwelling on it... worrying about it. I am so proud of him. And I'm grateful that our prayers have been answered... although not how I originally expected. I'm grateful for the times in my life where I am humbled to remember that I don't always know the plan my Heavenly Father has for me. He knows better. And I truly feel like this is the right move for our family... the Spirit has already made that known to me.
I'm sad to be leaving good friends and my Young Women. I love them so much and am so proud of the decisions they are making. I'm going to miss being up in the mountains. I'm going to miss the flautas at El Erradero. I'm going to miss my cramped, but cozy little apartment that I've called home for the last 3 years. I'm going to miss being able to be anywhere in 5 minutes. I'm going to miss my lunches with Nate since he only works down the street. I'm going to miss going to art shows to know 3/4 of the people there. But I'm excited for some change... a new city plus an addition to our family.
Some fun facts about Salem:
It's the second largest city in Oregon after Portland.
It is a short 1 hour from the ocean (a plus that Nate and I recognized immediately after agreeing we could both accept living in Salem... we both love the ocean!)
It's an even shorter 45 miles to Portland (hello, shopping!), 15 minutes from the Woodburn Outlet Malls, and 2 hours from Roseburg (so happy to still be close to family).
It has nice milder winters, lots of bike trails, and tons of nearby photographic opportunities.
And finally, the crazy guy who caused such a ruckus lately on the Hawaiian Airlines flight calls Salem his home.