Here, Hot & Happy!

5:03 PM

Our theme song that we always sing on road trips… that sorta-kinda applied to this one!

Side by side, driving the same highway
Leaving behind everything and everyone you love
The cost to pay, to tell the world of Jesus
Hoping that these bridges burned will not just be in vain

It helps to think that somewhere you're feeling just the same
And don't take even a moment for granted
Don't lose heart when the world crashes down

How many miles ahead? I can't count the ones behind
To all the friends that we've collected, all the people we respect
For the hope, the joy that comes with you
Made this up, I wrote it down and dedicate this song to you

We are here… in the great state of Arkansas!

It seems like positively years since finals week and packing up and heading out of PA. It hardly seems possible that it was a short two weeks ago that we left. Finals week was such a blur of change. I had my last day of work (ohmygoodness) which meant all sorts of fun co-worker goodbyes (sadness) and gifts (happiness!). And I couldn’t even enjoy it too much, because I mean, really, I needed to pack up our lives and put it in our Toyota Corolla and leave… all while Brandon was taking four finals in four days and grading final exams, too! Like I said, it’s a blur. I completed the miraculous and finished packing before 10pm on Thursday---we were set to depart early on Friday morning. Usually, my packing before any trip lasts into the wee hours of the morning… so either I was really prepared or really forgetful. It was helpful that Brandon kept saying, “They have Walmarts in Arkansas, too! If we forget it, we can just buy it there!”

Note: Walmarts are everywhere. It’s comforting and disturbing all at the same time. Actually, most chain stores are the same around America. I can see Walmart from the balcony of our new apartment. We ate some dinner at Panera last night, before going out to Dick’s Sporting Goods to buy Brandon some steel-toe work boots. This is suburban American. Just like home. Hehe!

Anyway, our travelling commenced with stops in Virginia and Maryland to visit friends and family. Then it was onward to Tennessee for our Schwartz Smoky Mountain Vacation 2014. I like to capitalize things. It makes them seem so much more important. I will share photos of our wonderful weeklong mountain vacation soon, but don’t wanna get sidetracked in this basic-update-on-life blog post.

So last Saturday, we left our cute little vacation condo with an estimated time of arrival at our new Arkansas apartment of 5:00pm. The driving part of our trip was relatively simple. It was the sitting-in-standstill-construction-and-accident traffic for three hours that KILLED our ETA. We finally arrived, slightly rumpled and annoyed at 8:00pm. We looked around our new little apartment and were basically thrilled. The apartment had a recent renovation so everything looks brand-spankin’-new. My greatest fear in renting an apartment that we had never seen in real life would be the possible smells. I’m sensitive to smells anyway, and being pregnant has made me ever-so-much-more sensitive. But the apartment smelled like NOTHING. What a relief.

Then it was let’s-go-to-Walmart-at-10pm because we need food. You know how Walmart trips happen…. the pile of items in the cart gets higher and higher, while you keep remembering things you need.

Then it was wake up Sunday morning and go visit a new church. Our thoughts are as follows: 1) hey, they give out homemade bread to first-time visitors! YEAH! Let’s come back next week and sit on the opposite side so we can be visitors again! (kidding… mostly… it was good bread!). 2) Wow, this church is big. 3) We really liked the sermon.. and then we realized that everything we liked about the church had to do with the Nigerian missionary who was guest-preaching. It was one of those hard-core reality check sermons where they talk about real-life persecution happening now in the African countries. It tears into the soul and gives perspective.

This work-week has thus-far been about unpacking and acclimating.

My Arkansas revelations:

It’s hot. Going from Pennsylvania cool springtime to Arkansas hot summertime feels like we skipped several months in the year. The weather forecast for this weekend is highs of 90 degrees. Ohman. I’m breaking out the sunscreen and smoothies now. I'm not complaining. I kinda like the heat. Besides, our air-conditioning works GREAT! ;)

I will not be able to miss the tornado sirens. Yesterday, I was just sitting on the couch, working on my laptop, when I heard the most AWFUL, HORRENDOUS, EAR-SPLITTING NOISE. I thought, that is a really loud saw and it is right underneath my window… but it wasn’t. So I googled “tornado sirens in Conway, AR” and guess what? They test the sirens every Wednesday at noon. Now I know they work and it’s ear-splittingly loud and I will NEVER miss a tornado siren because I can hear it everywhere in our apartment…. now I’m still not clear on what I should do if the siren actually goes off for real. Any tornado veterans wanna clue me in?

Apartment living is… interesting. We had a neighbor who likes to play video games REALLY loud late into the night. I hear the thumping bass on the other side of the wall, and honestly, it makes me feel not-very-charitable. I go to sleep while writing angry neighbor letters in my head. Also, my first real grocery shopping trip involved me carrying twenty bags of groceries up to our second-floor apartment and then collapsing on the couch in exhaustion.

It’s a college town. We laughed when we drove into this new town and the sign said, “Conway: City of Colleges.” There are FIVE colleges within city limits. We just can’t get away from college students! We’re actually living more towards the edge of town, so I can’t say I’ve seen too many college students. Though I’ve been pretty much holed-up in the apartment getting settled so maybe I will in the future.
And that’s about it.

We are here, the weather is warm and we are happy as clams. God is good!

Stay tuned for more updates soon! (and perhaps, I will post a baby bump photo one of these days… for all my dear PA friends who are dying to see! Hehe!).

And I love this quote that I saw on the wall of a Tennessee restaurant. For our faraway friends & family!

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