One significant need we all have is a network of people we can trust and go to and those who encourage us when we are down. When we move to a new location, building a network takes time and involves being open to people we don't yet know. We did have a small head-start, since my sister and my husband's cousin lived there already. They could answer some of our early questions.
In the small town we moved away from my husband had many family connections, and our church community was also a big part of our lives. That is why spending a Sunday in our new city while we were arranging Bible college enrollment and other details was important to us. It was not really about "church shopping," as some people term it. We decided to attend a morning service at the congregation close to where we were hoping to live that was part of the same type of church we were already familiar with. That Sunday morning there was a guest preacher full of zeal along with heart-felt congregational singing; we knew the Holy Spirit was at work there, and there was no doubt this was the place for us. After the service coffee was served in the gymnasium. There a senior lady noticed we were visitors. Sharing a little bit about why were moving, she launched into an encouraging story about God's provision for her own son who, mid-life and with young children, returned to school to become a pastor. It was easy to feel that these were "our people" and that we would be loved here.
My husband had a strong feeling about not misusing this network. It would have been easy to approach the deacons and find out if any of the business owners were looking for an employee. Instead, he applied for jobs that may not consider his years of experience in a family-run business. In hindsight, he said working in the retail sector for over two years taught him as much or more about dealing with real people as his Bible college courses in counseling did.
Building up the church network meant becoming involved. We joined a planning group for summer outreach, a construction-themed Vacation Bible School. We took our turn helping in the nursery on Sundays. We invited families and our children's new Sunday school friends over. We wanted to be a blessing; as we did so we also found ourselves being blessed.
Another network we were deliberate about cultivating was Christian school. Up until our move, I had been home-schooling our son at the kindergarten level, with the intent of sending him to Grade 1 in the fall. Since we were moving in April, that would be a five months without many peer connections for him, so we made inquiries about enrolling our son in Kindergarten for the months of May and June. The school approved our request, and this helped our family integrate into another welcoming community. Later, when all our children were enrolled, it was also the place I could resume my teaching career.
My next post will share how we were blessed by moving to a specifically multicultural city.
(choosing the school) Room for Special Needs
(going back to teaching) Turtle on a Fence Post