I got my first job in America.
I interviewed for it over the phone whilst in Oregon. 8 hours drive from where I would be working… weird feeling.
But this is the start.
This is where our life picks up.
We will be able to stand up on our own now.
We will be able to start building our new life here now.
We travel back to Everson, WA.
I get set for my first day of work, nerves set in.
My alarm goes off 5.00am.
Time to get set for the day… shower, pack my lunch.
Take a breath.
Read my Bible.
Try to find some confidence in something other than what I am trying to concoct.
Not much confidence right now… not sure what I will be walking into.
The sun isn’t up yet but it is time to head out.
It is about a 15 minute drive from home to work.
Driving past fields and fields. Cows. Crop.
Approaching the drop off point, I have a 45 minute walk to go now.
Work starts at 7. It gives me a chance to listen to music, to pray, to think of why I am doing what I am doing… My family.
I got my first job.
I got my first job in America.
Our life was starting to make sense here.
After a long time of nothingness..
A long time of waiting.
A long time of questioning if it was the right call to move to the States.
But we are here.
And it can all start working out.
Working in a mill is tough.
Long days, tough on your body, tough on your mind.
Learning the different measurements… may not seem like the biggest challenge for others but for me it was another thing I had to learn to be valuable in America.
I needed a visa, I needed permission, I needed to learn these skills, I needed to adapt.
I needed a lot.
But this was a great first step in the direction we wanted to go in America.
I started my job Lynden Door this week.
I can provide again.
I can breath easier.
I will take 3 Polish and a chicken bake and 4 sodas please.
Taking the food back to the table where my family are waiting I take the drink orders and go fill up our cups.
Costco is crazy.
It is huge. It has everything you probably want for your home.
And it has great chicken bakes.
So we sit in the food court area in the Costco near Salem Oregon, we are still on our way back to Belingham but decide to take a major detour to go visit some friends.
It is the end of August.
We sit reflecting on the summer we have had.
My phone starts to ring.. Rachel’s Mum has received some important mail with my name on it.
We beg her to open it.
It has arrived.
I can now work legally.
The emotion overwhelms. I cry.
In the middle of Costco food court.
With a chicken bake in hand. I cry.
Now this seems a strange thing to be happy to get… Now I get to work but really what this means is that I am here legally for 10 years. And I don’t have to worry about being split up for 10 years.
It is a fear you see. Seperation has taken an affect on me.
We go back to our friends house and that afternoon I secure my first job interview in America.
I will be interviewing at a door manufactoring plant. Something I have never ever done before.
Do I understand the American version of measurements? NO.
Have I ever worked in a mill before? NO.
Will that stop me? No.
I can smile easy again.
It came to the end of the Summer.
I was fed up with waiting… When was my Green Card going to come?
I received my Visa in my passport in June and I was aware that it could take up to 3-6 months.
I was praying everyday for the chance that it could be the day that it would come and our life here could start.
So we made a decision as a family to go and house/dog sit at my father in laws home whilst he was away for the majority of August Elk hunting.
We were aware that it would be taking us away from the community that we were starting to form and putting us in a place where we would have to entertain ourselves…
Key factor in this decision…
Bleed out our savings whilst staying with the community we were with… or save what we have and enjoy August next to the Columbia River…
We chose to Dog sit.
It was a good month.
It was tiring. But good.
It taught us a lot about what we can do for each other and our patience levels.
Each evening we would take a walk along the rivers edge, we would go “treasure hunting” finding washed up fishing gear, collecting it and cleaning it.
We found a lot.
I took time to explore my ambitions with wood working, using driftwood and experimenting with the skills (I think) I have.
Truth is… that month it brought us closer. We laughed together, cried together, relaxed together.
It was a month that has been pretty significant in our journey in the States.
Our first summer was insane.
It was an incredible welcoming to an area of the world that we were new to.
BBQ’s, Church get togethers, board game evenings, meals together… People knew how to make us feel welcome and loved. We needed it.
Daniel took me up to Yellow Aster Butte, it was crazy.
There were hundreds of flies… that was the negative.
We camped out on a night where the skies were so clear.
The was a meteor shower that night… I was sat on what it seemed to be the top of the world with a friend I had known for about a decade.
It was again a great intro to the area and what was available.
Snowboarding, skiing in the winter, summers by lakes and up mountains.
What else could we want?
The biggest issue in my mind throughout all of this was that I still didn’t have my green-card.. And I hated not providing or my family.
We were house sharing with an incredibly generous and loving couple.
The sharing wasn’t hard. The dependance on others who had earned the right to have their house was the issue to me. I felt like I was robbing them of their earned privacy and home life.
One of the hardest things I have learnt is to allow people to bless us as a family. To give them the opportunity to bless and give to us.
And for me to be thankful for it.
That is still something that I am learning to this day.
An amazing city right on the border to Canada.
Hipsters. Beards. Longboards. Tye dye shirts. Breweries.
Small breweries popping up everywhere. It’s an incredible place to live. But not so incredible for a person who has struggled with a dependence on alcohol.
But it’s a refreshing place to live.
Close to the mountains, waterfalls, bays, greenery. Bellingham is a great balance between town and countryside.
It has the feel of small city with the fast paced life style but the incredible option to drive five minutes down the road to get lost by a lake or into the tree line.
The first date Rachel and I go on is a walk by the bay. We grab a coffee and watch the sunset.
We breath a simultaneous sigh of relief.. we made it.
Tonight we get to go and explore as a couple for the first time in Bellingham.
We have a babysitter.
We have a list of places to check out.
We are ready to go.
We go to the filling station. Burgers named after cars.. Nice.
Downtown Bellingham is picturesque.
Amazing buildings, quirky decor (red fish and chips bus, telephone box etc…). A nice touch of home.
We walk along Boulevard park. A walk way over the bay. Sun setting. Nice.
We take a seat.
Look over the bay with the sun setting.
Coffees in hand.
We have landed.
We say a prayer of thanks for getting us to our next stop in this crazy journey.
Date night fulfilled.
Time to get the boys.
Still no green card but definitely not the worst night to have.
Its moving day.
Brian and his son have come from Bellingham to help us with the move. U-haul trailer. Car loaded up. Ready to go.
Hugs and goodbyes are said.
Off on the journey we go.
It is a 385 mile journey, 6-8 hours.
The things is I can’t drive.
I don’t have my license. I don’t even have a permit. So I can’t even partner up with the driving.
There is nothing I dislike more than being a passenger. I like to be in control. This is not what was happening.
My wife is a fantastic driver. She is an incredible mum.
I am not a good mum. Far from it actually.
I will look at it now and admit.. I wasn’t a good parent at that time. I lost my patience, I got frustrated. To be honest there is no real way that you can solve kids screaming and shouting whilst driving over a mountain pass apart from a movie or melatonin.
We saw a lot.
All incredible sights.
The truth was that we were on a journey to find our new home.
To find our new place in life.
To fulfill what we felt God was calling us to.
To be able to rest in a place where we call home.
After a while of just being dad again I was offered the opportunity to join my Father in Laws painting team.
They painted high end homes.
It was crazy.
Looking over the valley. Million dollar views.
Learning a skill I never had before.
It was a great bonding experience. I enjoyed that work, it was hands on.
You could see the process of the work. Taping off, prepping the area, cleaning it, filling in all the holes.
Waiting for the follow up coat.
Covered up. All pretty on the outside.
No one will see the holes, scars on the inside.
Nice metaphor for life.
The move to the US was good. There were scars, hurting that would heal in time but with this time back together it was a good paint job over all of it.
The honeymoon period all over again.
Spokane wasn’t the end goal. We would be moving on soon.
Hoping it won’t hurt too much or hurt people too much.
Bellingham was the next step for our family.
Bellingham would be our new home.
So one thing that happens when you spend significant time apart from children… particularly in this situation – two young boys. Consistency out the window.
The next couple of weeks of life is all about adjusting back to family life.
Being dad. Being husband.
Spokane is nice.
Playing with the boys all day, being with my wife as a team. It is a breath of fresh air. It is so welcomed but man it is a shock to the system.
I am slowly finding that it takes two or three times for the boys to listen to me instead of the one it took before.
But what am I to expect the boys are use to just having mum, Gramma and G-pa. I have been skype dad. Text dad. Dad whose discipline doesn’t hold weight, or comforting words have no real meaning. Talking over the phone didn’t hold my kids whilst they cried at night. Talking over the phone didn’t immediately add me to any family days out.
I was not in the family selfies. I wasn’t in the picture.
Nothing hurt more than the first time I realized that my voice didn’t hold as much weight as before… that I would have to reconstruct my position in my family again.
Joy is when your sons run into your room in the morning and wake you up by jumping on the bed.
Joy is when your sons give you hugs and don’t pull away even when the hugs are getting to long.
Joy is being in the selfie with your sons. Being part of the memories. Being with my family.