We could not be more excited to announce a huge change in the Petro house… Ethan accepted a position at a ministry in… SEATTLE, WA!! “What?!” you may be asking, “you just moved to NJ!”. You’re right, we did! But the story that’s been unfolding in our lives even before we existed as Team Petro is absolutely littered with the fingerprints of God at work. Let me explain, and be warned, it’s a long story…
Ethan and I both have tried to move out west, specifically to Colorado as singles. And the opportunities we had either didn’t pan out or we just didn’t feel like it was the right decision at the time. In high school, I began to really discover a love for outdoor adventure sports like hiking, mt biking, etc. And it was the same for Ethan as well. Jump to college and we discovered it was a passion. I led Young Life and absolutely LOVED the camp life. I worked for a summer in British Columbia on the coast, driving ski boats and teaching kids how to waterski, wakeboard, etc. It was there I realized I could do this the rest of my life. The scenery was gorgeous, wildlife unbelievable and I saw God work in huge ways.
I think we would both say that we knew someday we’d end up out west, specifically Colorado and those that know us well figured it was probably only a matter of time. This fall though, we can see where God began to work on our hearts, big time. Ethan read a book while we were away on a babymoon to Puerto Rico about making Godly decisions and pursuing passions, dreams, etc. We both decided that if we were passionate about getting out west, believing that it was a God given passion, then we should pursue it. So began a search for a business to purchase. We started in Colorado and realized that we didn’t want to be over 2 hrs away from a main city for zoos and things like that so we could be at the edge of the mountains. And we wanted to be close to water. For whatever reason, we both and neither of us having been before, began to consider Montana. In November, we put an offer in on an outfitting business as we dreamed long term of turning it into some type of Christian ministry/retreat center/camp for families, kids, and other groups. We didn’t really have a clear picture as we felt like God was still painting it for us. The offer did not go through, but what it did for us was made us consider a part of the country we had not previously considered.
We then decided that maybe it was wise to find a job with a salary and to get a feel for the business climate and then look to purchase something once we were already there. That led to an option in Spokane, WA. Washington? Mmm, we hadn’t thought about it, but we had looked into western Idaho (yes, there are more things than potatoes there), MT and why not eastern WA? Gorgeous mountains, great weather, incredible nat’l parks there, mt biking, white water kayaking, etc. The recreational opportunities were endless and there were a ton of great churches and schools out there. Ethan had spotted an irrigation opportunity in Spokane, so he decided to send in his resume just to see what would happen. We both love the Seattle and British Columbia area as we both have spent a decent amount of time there.
So in the meantime, I had been thinking about a friend that I had played club soccer with back in high school. We only played together for a little bit before an injury took her out of the season, but we had hit it off and would see each other randomly over summer breaks from college. Sometime that week, a friend of mine at home in Cincinnati had posted some old Young Life pictures and I happened to notice my old teammate in a picture. How random was that? So I “friended” her on facebook. So when Ethan mentioned Spokane, I remembered that my newly found teammate was actually living in Spokane! I asked Ethan what ministry opportunities were around the Spokane area whether it was YL or an outdoor ministry. He searched and came up with what appeared to be an incredible ministry that was based out of Spokane that takes groups and at risk kids from the Spokane area outdoors backpacking, climbing and rafting to encourage them and share Jesus with them. So cool! That’s what we’ve always wanted to do, be guides!
So later that night, Ethan is completely enthralled with this ministry and going through their website. I happened to look over his shoulder as he’s looking at pictures of their trips and I see my new fb friend/old teammate in the pictures!! I could not believe it. I think I scared Ethan as I yelled, “that’s Loran!!!” Now, he had no idea who I was talking about as I hadn’t told him about my newly found friend or that she was from Spokane. I told Ethan about her and I could ask her about the area and what she thought of it, etc. We ended up talking on the phone the next night for close to an hour as though no time had passed. It was great!
The next day or so, Ethan was again looking at the website, excited that if we were in Spokane, this could totally be a great fit for us ministry wise as this was the very reason we wanted to get out west. He happened to notice that they were expanding the ministry by starting a branch in Seattle and they actually had a job description posted. He showed me with a little grin on his face that I can tell when he’s up to something. And I have never read something that so described my husband from his business experience, his passions/skill sets and his character and love for Jesus. I told him he had to apply. He sent in his resume.
The next day we found out that the position in Spokane had been filled. Scratch Spokane. About a week later we headed to the mountains for a little last minute hiking and snow shoeing before li’l petro arrived and we had poor cell phone reception. We were so excited about the possibility of Seattle but our hopes were beginning to wane as it had been about a week with no response since he sent his resume in. We got home and were greeted by a very excited little girl when Ethan realized he had unnoticed voicemails, one of which was a board member from the ministry in Seattle. They wanted to phone interview him, and wanted to do it asap. We were both choked up- we knew God was moving. So the next night, Ethan interviewed and it was made clear to him he was on to round 2. Things appeared to be going very quickly before they were abruptly halted for quite some time. Between their interview process with other candidates and then the pending arrival of li’l Petro, it seemed like an eternity and the possibility of us taking the position and moving seemed less and less likely. Which was disappointing on one hand and a bit of relief on the other- we have a great small group here in NJ and had felt like our friendships had gone to another level with them, we were waiting for li’l Petro to arrive and had friends that cared for us like family anxiously awaiting the arrival with us and felt like maybe this was God asking us if we trusted Him enough with our dreams to say no to this Seattle opportunity, to trust that he would bring another opportunity for us later.
Wow. Seriously God? You want us to say no, after all of this? We began to pray that God would make it abundantly clear where we should be. That He would work out all the details, primarily with figuring out a salary that could support a family of 4 in a very expensive part of the country. Where is the line between wisdom and taking a risk? Ethan would be leaving a job he really likes here, salary and opportunity for growth are tremendous, but knowing that he didn’t want to be in irrigation for the rest of his life. Would God bring something else along sooner than later, or would we be talking about doing this for our “retirement”? But God, NOW seems like the best time- with kids to enjoy your creation, to be in ministry as a family, to live a simpler life… We have always said we want us kids to know what’s out there, to know what life is like outside of their suburban bubble, but that’s more for another post…Ethan was ready to withdraw his name from the process when God began to work in Ethan’s heart in huge ways. I literally saw God change Ethan’s heart to show him that balance of wisdom and faith and risk. The funny thing is, these passions and dreams weren’t ours, they were God’s to begin with. He’s the one who put them in us to start with. Why would we worry about when or how if we truly believed that this is what God had in store for us? So Ethan hung in there to finish the interviewing process and to see where God would lead us. I think we both felt like if the job was offered, then that was it. It was decided.
So over Memorial Day weekend, we took Ethan to the airport. I admit, I was jealous he got to go. We didn’t have arrangements for Hannah Gray and Tenley was just over a month old. Then there was a part of me that was really nervous about being alone for 4 days with a 5 week old and a toddler. I’m still new at this mom of two thing. Heck, by 5:00 I am MORE than ready for some help from my amazing hubby! :) This was the first time we had been in an interview process and I didn’t go with him to get a “feel” for the opportunity. We both believe that God uses discernment as one way to speak to us. Ethan needed to be the eyes and ears for both of us, so I know he was a little nervous about it as well. Ethan was participating in a super fun race that took participants from the mountains all the way to the ocean (hence the name Ski to Sea). It was a relay that used cross country skiing, downhill skiing, mt biking, canoeing, kayaking, running and… I think that’s it. Oh, and road biking too. And let’s be honest, I wanted to participate too! :)
I only had two chances to talk to him. The first was basically hi and I’m here as he had poor cell reception and wasn’t really in a place where he could talk to me anyway about how he was feeling about things. The second time came Sunday morning while he was waiting for his leg of the race to begin (it’s like an 8 hr race). And he was beyond excited. I could hear it in his voice. He knew what our concerns had been going into the weekend and every single one of them had been addressed and put at ease. The sense of community was amazing, he felt a connection with everyone he’d be working with, personalities for working and doing ministry together were a match and it was beautiful out there. And they were excited to meet him as well and the feelings seemed mutual.
I hung up the phone holding both my girls as tears began to fill my eyes. I think I knew then that we were going. They were good tears. Let’s be honest here, I’m not much of a cryer. I’m not a rock hard person, it just takes a bit more to get to me sometimes. But when the Holy Spirit is moving, I cry. When Ethan and I were dating, there were times where we’d be talking about deep stuff and I’d start to cry. The expression on his face was a mix of “oh no, what’s going on?” and “I’m sorry?” and “oh, please stop, it’s hard to see you upset”. So he’s familiar with this type of cry (and it’s not the ugly cry like I mentioned in my good bye entry). It happened when we interviewed in Annapolis. I prayed that if they wanted him for that job and that’s where we' were supposed to be that they would offer him the job on the spot (something that’s unlikely for a company to do). And they did. I cried and not from sadness.
I’d cry in leaders’ meetings when I’d take kids to Young Life camp. You could sense God moving, and He moved me to tears. So anyway, back to the story. I knew sitting with both girls in my lap that we were going to Seattle.
We picked Ethan up from the airport Monday morning of Memorial Day weekend and he was exhausted- in a good way. In fact, he was still muddy from the mt biking part of the race. He hadn’t even had a chance to shower yet. Gross. :) But I didn’t care. I wanted to hear everything about the weekend in detail. We got a call Monday night from Seattle saying they were doing a couple things on their end and we would hear soon. Then the call came on Thursday. They offered him the job. Was there really anything else to consider? We had our family, friends and small group here praying for us that it would be a clear and decisive weekend for us and that if we weren’t supposed to take the position, that it wouldn’t be offered or that we’d have some huge factor make itself apparent in the week after he came back. We received nothing but encouragement to go.
SO, we’re going! We’re leaving NJ on Wed, June 30th and actually driving east to the Atlantic Ocean where we’ll get a family photo in the ocean and we’ll finish in Seattle, WA with a family photo in the Pacific Ocean around Wed, July 15th.
Please be praying for logistical details regarding the move and housing and safe travels for us. As well as sanity for the kiddos. Maybe they’ll just be sleepier than they ever have been in their entire lives…??? We’re actually super excited about the cross country venture as we’ll be breaking the trip up with visits to friends and family along the way. Our longest driving day will at this point be between MN and Mt. Rushmore in SD at just under 10 hrs.
We plan to keep up the blog with pictures as we go along, but I guess that depends on our access to the internet. But we will do our best to document the trip.
Sorry for the length of this post, but I didn’t want to leave out the tiny details, because that’s where I find it amazing to see God at work, in the small details. As Oswald Chambers said, “God shows His amazing love for us not so much through his BIG blessing, but by the tiny ones, because they show His amazing intimacy with us”. We serve a huge and powerful God, but an intimate one as well.
This is us on the ferry from Seattle to British Columbia right after we found out we were expecting Hannah Gray…
Here is the website of the ministry we’ll be working for- www.peak7.org