Missions Monday: We're Alive (and in Texas!)

My friends! I am still here... albeit writing to you from a VERY different location than ever before. We've lived in Texas now for ten days. It actually feels like longer than that, but maybe that's because my hair, apparently angry with me for leaving North Carolina, went on strike and just now is starting to feel normal again. A week and a half of bad hair days feels like an eternity, am I right? (I am.) But other than my rebellious hair, the moving/settling in process has been a good one. 

I'm SO woefully behind on sharing updates with you guys (bad missionary!) but as of the last time I posted we were still traveling and raising support. About a month ago, we took a trip out to Houston to look for a place to live and for Jonathan to have a job interview. The next weekend we finished up our deputation and began really getting down to business with plans to move in March.

WELL, things had seemed to move fairly slowly and then the pace really picked up when Jonathan got the job (yay!) and found out he'd be starting less than two weeks later. We were thrilled he would be working but that meant everything had to come together really quickly, which it did thanks to lots of help and Jonathan's organizational skills (my worrying and "how will we get it all done?" skills were not much help.) 

That last weekend in Goldsboro was a flurry of packing, goodbye dinners and lunches with friends, digging through old pictures at Mamaw's (because I'm easily distracted) and packing for our road trip (oh, and determing literally three days before we left where we would actually be living. Not nerve-wracking at all!) On our last Sunday at Faith, we had a special commissioning prayer at the end of the service (thanks for making me cry, CP!) and said goodbye to all the wonderful people who have made our transition so great the past few months.

That following Monday (February 23) was loading day, and with the help of family and friends we got the truck loaded. (I say we... a bunch of guys loaded it and I provided them with Chick-fil-A. Sounds like a deal, right?) That day was a what some would call  "a series of unfortunate events." First, the truck place didn't have our truck ready and we had to wait two and a half hours for it to be driven from another location. Then the truck (AFTER being packed with all our stuff) decided to scare us half to death with a warning light that turned out (after hours of waiting on the mechanic and getting home at 2 AM) to be related to the extremely cold temperatures. (In short, the truck was fine... but the very idea of unloading everything was enough to make me sick all night.) 

Finicky little truck.

After that lemon of a day, we pulled out (after a tearful goodbye to Mamaw, and by tearful I really do mean ugly crying!) with a light snow beginning to fall. That "light" snow turned into a blizzard within just a few miles and pounded us all the way out of the state. (North Carolina was apparently angry with us for leaving too.) What is usually a seven-hour trip to my parents' house ended up, with the weather and the truck, being an eleven-hour trip (!!!) but we made it in one piece, which seemed a little like a miracle.

We spent about a day and a half with my family (mostly terrified that the totally premature "state of emergency" in Atlanta meant that we'd be snowed/iced in again) but everything turned out fine... it snowed (very pretty!) but melted before Thursday, when we left around lunchtime. (More tears... I can't see my dad cry. I just can't. My mom is probably offended that I won't say the same about her but she's wasted so many tears on commercials and animated movies over the years that they don't have the same emotional draw. Sorry, Gigi.)

The next two days of travel were the hardest, mostly because we had to move so slowly in our big lumbering moving truck (pulling our car!) but also because the roads were so freakishly bumpy that we were both about to go crazy. It was like constant mini-speed bumps. (So, as fun as you can imagine.) And while Jonathan did a great job with the truck, you can imagine how difficult it was to get that thing in and out of any kind of tight space. (If you want to test the strength of your marriage, drive for nine hours and then spend thirty minutes maneuvering a moving truck and trailer in a hotel parking lot. It will reveal a lot!) 

Last driving day... these smiles really mean, "Get me out of this truck NOW!"

Friday was the last leg (and it may have needed crutches by the end) but we finally (finally!) pulled into Magnolia (our actual town) around 6 PM that night. The Fergusons and some awesome people from church helped unload the truck (up three flights of stairs! THREE!) and then after eating, Jonathan and I collapsed into OUR bed for the first time since last July. (Our bed was in storage... we haven't slept on the floor. Mamaw's got extra beds. =) 

I have to thank my in-laws for helping us with all the moving stuff in Goldsboro- they could be professional movers, I'm convinced- and the Fergusons, who have been a huge help since we've been here. Also, people at church have given us groceries and gift cards and just been super nice. Thanks to everyone who helped us get here, whether through financial support or prayers or encouraging words over the past several months. We definitely didn't do it alone. God has gone before us and we're overwhelmed by His provision. As I watched Jonathan lead children's church yesterday, I was once again reminded of Psalm 37:4, "Delight thyself also in the Lord, and he will give thee the desires of thine heart." Jonathan's dream of helping in a church plant began over a decade ago and has come full circle... I think that's pretty awesome. 

It's the real deal!

SO... so far I really like Texas (especially now that it's made friends with my hair.) It's been crazy, and the past ten days have been filled with getting unpacked, meeting new people, starting a job (for Jonathan), settling in, and learning the area. By learning the area, I mean finding Target and since it's literally across the street, that didn't take long. Yes, I, Ashley McNeese, live across the street- walking distance- from Target. It makes me want to sing, with Maria von Trapp, "Somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good."


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