I was really lucky when we moved to Dallas. Having worked for ECSW for four years at a distance, I was already a part of that small community upon our arrival. Everyone at ECSW and their families have been so gracious and helpful to us during our move and transition. Even before we got here, they helped us look for a place to live and secured our housing. Upon our arrival, they put us up until our home was available and then helped us move in. Even now as we are trying to get acclimated, they continue to offer suggestions for services and locations, and are introducing us to other people in the area, which will potentially expand our community. Because of all their help, we’re already feeling pretty well established in Dallas, even though we've been here just over two months.
We had the opposite experience when we moved four years ago. When we rolled into Canada with a trailer behind the car and our dog in the backseat, we essentially knew no one in that part of the world. Some relatives of a friend who live an hour outside of Toronto put us up for our first night in the province, and this lovely Christian family kindly kept our trailer for us while we navigated the city streets and looked for a place to live. But once we left these kind strangers to move into the city, we were alone as we tried to figure out our life in a new country and culture.
The differences between these two moving experiences couldn't be more extreme. I remember well my panicked feeling when Matthew went off to classes in Toronto his first day. I begged him to make sure that his new cell phone was on and with him at all times, because I was gripped by the reality that he was the only other person I knew in that vast city. We had (and blessedly still have) friends and family all over the globe, many of whom were in communication with us and praying for us during this time. But when it came to getting help from anyone nearby, Matthew and I only had each other.
Those early days of isolation in Toronto were an experience we hope never to repeat, but we both did learn something through it all: it’s extremely hard to live a life disconnected from local community. Through our experience, Matthew and I also both developed greater compassion for anyone who finds themselves alone and without the support of others. God never meant for us to live our lives by ourselves. God lives in perfect community with Himself, and we as His image bearers are also to live in community with one another. When Christ ascended to the Father, He commissioned a community—the Church—to embody His message to the world. We need to live life with others.
So as Matthew and I continue to settle into our new home and grow our local community here in Dallas, I am even more grateful for the community we ultimately came to know, love and be a part of in Toronto, as well as those who have embraced me across my life. And I look forward to the day when we will all come before God to live together in community with Him forever.