We’ve been in California for about five months now. It’s been just long enough for the dust to settle–and there has been much, much dust. It’s enough time to make a new house a home, to be plugged into a great new church, to be able to get around mostly without the crutch of googlemaps. But I suppose I should back up a bit. After all, it’s been five months!
As expected, our first few weeks in California were a blur of move-related tasks: finding a house, a car, picking up the vehicle we shipped from overseas, visiting churches, finding new cell phone providers, in-processing on base, receiving our shipments and unpacking, etc. As with the move itself, we’re learning that everything takes longer than it takes, particularly when there are two jet-lagged little ones to consider.
Although John traveled back to the states quite a bit for training, it had been a little more than a year and a half for me, which made the differences between our little German farming village and American suburbia all the more apparent. The roads in our neighborhood are as wide (or wider!) than many four lane stretches of the autobahn. The cars are enormous. There are enormous front lawns and side lawns- how peculiar! The hills surrounding Vacaville are speckled with windmills and cows, which reminds us a bit of the terrain in Germany, except that most everything here is brown, not green. There’s AC! I can read and pronounce all the labels at the grocery store. Complete strangers are so friendly it catches me off guard. At one point, John overheard a couple conversing with their child in English at Chick-fil-a and thought to himself, “Huh, they must be American!”
Housing, particularly with a family, is probably the biggest source of stress in a move like this. Thankfully, we had about three weeks from the time of our arrival before John’s formal training began, and we were hoping to at least have a plan by then! We spent months researching online, but it’s tough to make any real progress on such a major decision without ever seeing a place in person or knowing the area. We knew the market would be tough. Once again, we were arriving in the middle of peak PCS season- when about a third of the military moves. California is expensive and good places go quickly!
Upon arriving, we were still torn over whether we wanted to rent or buy. Knowing that John will be gone quite a bit and that we’ll be moving again in about three years, the idea of renting was certainly appealing. So we looked around, but realized that we wouldn’t actually be able to rent a place in decent condition with enough space that also allowed our dog at a rate even close to our housing allowance. We’re also growing tired of paying someone else’s mortgage. We had been praying that God would open the right doors as we walked through this process, trusting him to provide the right home for our family. And ultimately, with the house we ended up purchasing, it seemed like door after door was flung open wide.
We had narrowed down our options and decided to submit an offer on this house. It was in great shape in a very good location with a big back yard, especially for California. Our realtor warned us that it would go quickly, so we decided to come back and take one more look short-notice just to be really sure. We were sitting in the car waiting for our realtor to arrive when I noticed a family leaving the house with their dog and mentioned to John, “Hey, they have a German Shepherd, too.”
John decided to say hi and completely hit it off. He ended up talking with the owner for over an hour about the house, the neighborhood, the area, churches–everything. The owner told us their bottom line and said they’d accept an offer at that price immediately. We were floored. Who does this? We came in at just above the price and even though someone else made a significantly higher offer that same day, they accepted ours, telling us that they’d prayed about it and wanted us to have the house. John worked alongside them on several little repair projects that needed to be done before we moved in. Our loan was processed faster than any the office had ever seen, which meant we were able to close in half the time. We shared an amazing Mexican dinner with them downtown the night before they left.
Our realtor remarked that this transaction was really unlike anything he’d ever seen and that “good things happen to good people.” But we were able to share that we serve a good, good God who loves us and provides for our every need. Every step of this big, intimidating process was marked by His clear leading and abundant blessing. We are so thankful to call this house our home and look forward to the life we’ll share here for the next few years. Come visit us!