About one year, eight months ago, we loaded (almost) everything we owned into a 26 foot Penske truck, our Subaru, and a trailer. And then we drove the 1200+ miles to Dulce from Rochester, MN. It was an education in traveling via truck, as both my husband and I drove through mountains, chugging uphill at ten miles per hour at times!
When we arrived at the parsonage four days later, we were greeted by members of the congregation who had cleaned the house thoroughly, laid out new towels for us (what a treat!), and were ready to unload the truck. The largest items were unloaded the next day by some really strong guys who made short work of it.
So, we've been here long enough to feel at home, and we do think of Dulce as our home. We've been here long enough to get our feet on the ground and have some idea of what ministry here looks like and feels like.
What have we learned?
1. God is faithful. Always. He is good, and His plans are better than anything we could envision on our own. (Isaiah 55:8) We might have desired to stay in closer proximity to our families, but God's plan was for us to come to northern New Mexico; and it is good for us to be here. I can't imagine a place for which my husband would be a better match as a pastor. And I cannot imagine a place that would provide more for me or our daughter, either.
2. God will provide. (Luke 12) And He has! In everything, God has provided for us. From a homeschool Co-Op and children's theater groups for our wee one to teachers for AWANA each Monday, God has provided abundantly for us and for His people here in Dulce. We have made personal friends and are involved in many things here. God has created opportunities here that we hadn't even thought about! We love hiking in the wilderness areas with our Outdoor Education group, and our daughter has a horse to ride any time she desires. Blessed abundantly.
3. We have a supportive community in the Jicarilla Apache Reformed Church. Our family has experienced many things since we moved here. When we have celebrated, our church family has celebrated with us. And when we have grieved, our church family has shared our grief. It is a blessing to know that we have a supportive church family here, as well as in Minnesota.
4. We expect to be here until we retire. Whenever that is. We are living here in Dulce, not just staying a while. We are striving to build deep relationships, inside and outside the church. When we visit Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin, we are simply visiting, not "going home." And when we return to Dulce, we are "coming home."
5. There is much work for God's Kingdom to be done here. Dulce is the right place for us, but not because it's perfect. There are many challenges here: alcohol, drugs, suicide, hopelessness, and grief, among others. We do not delight in the pain here, but in God's provision for the hurting and hopeless. We don't see ourselves in a hero role, in any way. Christians cannot solve the problems of the world...
But God can.