Nothing is the Same

I can’t even think of words to match the way I’m feeling

I don’t even think a book could say enough for you

I can only try my best, to put it in a song I guess

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I’ve been waiting to contribute to the blog until it either felt super important or until we actually got to Scotland. I’m glad that Hayley has been writing though, because moving is hard and learning how to relocate to another country is full of unexpected surprises. It’s been fun to share all of that with others.  Yet, by far the hardest, or maybe just the worst, part of moving has not been dealing with the Department of Education, waiting on Visas, losing Passports the night before we leave Ventura, deciding what to get rid of and what to keep, or moving furniture or selling vehicles at the last possible second. The hardest and worst part has been leaving our family church, friends and students, especially our students. I hurts so deep, I don’t really know how to explain it. As we left our last coffee with our students last Tuesday we listened to this song by the late Tony Sly. It seemed especially apropos.

 If I could freeze our small amount of time together

Then we could make believe this world would never end

Unfortunately truth is cold

So you stay young while I get old

But always know, I’m your best friend

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I moved to the Southern California in the Fall of 2007, passing Ventura, a town that didn’t mean anything to me at the time, as I cruised down the 101 on my way to La Mirada to attend graduate school at Biola University. After about a week, I applied for an internship in Student Ministries at St Peter’s by the Sea in Rancho Palos Verdes. During my interview, one of the committee members (Rob Farmer who became a great friend) asked me a very simple question, “Why do you want to be a youth intern? Do you want to be a youth pastor someday” It’s one of the only things I remember from that interview, besides the shock of finding out the a youth pastor named Chuck Hunt wasn’t a short nerdy white guy as I had assumed. My answer to Rob’s question was, “I’m not sure what I will ending up doing vocationally. It’s a question I have wrestled with, and will probably continue to wrestle with. I feel pulled in a lot of different directions. What I do know is,  I love youth, and I have a deep desire to see them know Christ and have hope in their lives. I don’t know if I want to be a youth pastor, but I know I will always be involved in youth ministry in some form or another.” A lot has transpired in the intervening seven years, but in many ways I’m finding myself in a similar place.

Nothing is the same

Everything is a better change

Sometimes I see silence in your eyes

Let it all crash down

When it ends it begins with you

I’m gonna learn every time you do

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I have had the absolute pleasure of spending four of those intervening years living in Ventura and working at Orchard Community Church. In many ways those four years seem like a dream, and I know that I will always remember that time with only idyllic images. I can’t believe I got to surf C Street whenever I wanted (although I usually preferred to go just north of Emma Wood where there is less of a crowd). I know I will always remember the sunsets and cool oceans breezes as I rode my motorcycle down Foothill on my way home from the church in the evenings, or the smell of the freshly cut grass as I officiated football games on Friday nights. I’ll miss Snapper Jacks, and UYogurt, and seeing matinees on Fridays at Paseo Regency in Camarillo, and the giant farm house we shared with Trevor and Rachel. Of course, as I said before, mostly I will miss my students and the time I had with them. It’s hard to imagine a time that I didn’t know them, or hadn’t shared so much of my life with them and their lives with me. I have so many special memories, of youth groups, Sunday schools, camps, retreats, coffees, overnighters, beach days, mission trips, sporting events, plays, dinners, late night phone calls, late night texts, hospital visits, tearful conversations in my office or over coffee, snapchat conversations, inside jokes, hopes lost, and dreams comes true. It honestly still hasn’t sunk in that I am not going to be there, with them, anymore.

And I’m as scared as anybody who has done this

I wouldn’t give it up for nothing Fi

You took my life, turned it around

And put my feet back on the ground

I owe you, eternally

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Hayley and I are moving to Scotland, and away from so much that we love and such a nice comfortable life, so that we can attend St. Andrews University. She will be working on an M.Litt in Middle Eastern Security Studies (“So she’ll be the one who can actually find a job” The uplifting words wisdom I received from an ex-pastors ex-wife this weekend.) I will be working on an M.Litt in Systematic and Historical Theology. At the same time I have just recently applied for ordination in ECO, a Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians. I still don’t know what I will end up doing vocationally. It’s still a question I wrestle with, but I do know I love youth, and I have a deep desire to see them know Christ and have hope in their lives. I don’t know if I will to be a pastor someday or a professor, or both. I do know that I will continue to serve in the best ways I can, and that Hayley and I are both open to whatever God has in store for us, wherever that may be, although I really hope that happens to be on the west coast, and not in a hot sandy desert somewhere. We have given up a lot to to this. I even sold my beloved Toaster today. We’re not going to waste this amazing opportunity.

I’m always

I’m always

I’m always here

 

I’m always

I’m always

I’m always here

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This is all to say that yes, leaving is hard. Duh. I haven’t cried as hard as I’ve cried this last week in a very long time. It feels like part of me died. Still, I am somewhat looking forward, and even a little excited, to see how the relationships we’ve formed with our friends in Ventura transform, and how we can be friends from a far. One my closest mentor type friends, Pastor Gary, has always been there for me, even after I moved away from Mount Shasta. I know from experience that youth leaders can still help in time of crisis, or perceived crisis, even when they don’t live in the same town, or time zone. In fact, I was reminded of the endurance of authentic relationships at my good friend Josh’s wedding this past weekend. Hayley and I had an amazing, and well needed, time of catching up with old friends, some we hadn’t seen in years, as well as connecting with new friends, and friends of friends.

So, after years of scheming and months of planning, we are getting on a plane tomorrow to finally begin a dream of an adventure, leaving behind memories, comforts, warm weather, good Mexican food, family and deep friendships. Yet, we know that the relationships we’ve forged will remain, and evolve, as we hopefully do the same.

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