The move to California was emotionally traumatic for the whole family. As for me, I had to say goodbye to the dear people I pastored for four years and the church we had planted together. I will always believe God called us to plant Shiloh in a city with over 400 churches because we had the privilege of ministering to so many hurting people and we saw so much spiritual growth among our folks. We truly loved each other and we worshiped God with our whole hearts. It’s just that we were never able to break that 100 barrier long enough to get a momentum of growth. Sadly, it was a matter of being just a little too small when there were so many mega churches around us. It was hard to leave.
For Mia the move meant saying goodbye to the Midwest where she has lived her entire life. Her sister is in Glen Ellyn, IL and her mother in law (her late husband’s mother) is in Joliet, IL. Her friends were in Caledonia. She was taking a huge step of faith. God graciously gave us all the signs we could ask for that he was leading us to California. The ABF trailer we hired wasn’t large enough to carry all of our stuff so we had to leave quite a few things behind. As it turned out, a lot of the abandoned stuff was hers and that was painful too.
Ben (19) came with us. He was actually looking forward to the move because he would be able to start college in California. He was leaving a job that wasn’t really his thing. Elizabeth would be starting in a new high school for her senior year. Anna and Mary would be starting as freshmen. But all the girls would be leaving their friends behind. It would be an adventure but it was a painful adventure.
We felt like we were abandoning Caleb (23). He’s still in school up in Sault Ste Marie in the Upper Peninsula. At least he got Mia’s car in the deal. (We didn’t have enough drivers to take Mia’s car to California and it doesn’t have air conditioning anyway!) But there he is, up in the great white tundra, trying to finish his education. He didn’t say much but I know I would feel pretty lonely if my family moved 2500 miles away!
The trailer was dropped off in our driveway on 17 July. Two crews from Two Men and a Truck came and loaded it on 18 July. Around 5:00 that evening we took a couple of final pictures of the house and drove south toward Indiana. By the way, the house is still on the market if you know anyone who would like a great deal on a beautiful old house!
Ben drove the van with two large dogs, 16 birds in two huge cages, two geckoes, and two of his sisters. I drove the car with Mia and one of the girls in the back. We made it to Davenport, IA the first night. We had to find pet friendly motels all the way west. We stayed in Grand Island, NE, Denver, Cedar City, UT, and finally pulled into Bakersfield on 22 July. (If you look very closely at the map above you can see the faint outline of our route.) We should have caught the hint; it was 108 degrees when we arrived! But God had brought us across the country with no accidents, car trouble, or dead birds. The adventure was well underway!