“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD…
“I do not ask to walk smooth paths
Nor bear an easy load,
I pray for strength and fortitude
To climb the rock-strewn road.
Give me such courage and I can scale
The hardest peaks alone,
And transform every stumbling block
Into a stepping stone.”
~Gail Brook Burket
Well, we’ve arrived. I know it has been a long time since I’ve posted, but our lives have been busy with packing, moving, unpacking, studying for entrance exams, and exploring our new city. So, I wanted to give you all an update on some of the latest developments as well as a taste of where we’ve landed.
New Town: University City
First and foremost, I wanted to introduce you to our new hometown: University City, MO. U-City is an inner-ring suburb of St. Louis, resting just north of the Washington University campus. It was founded by Edward Garner Lewis, a publisher who bought 85 acres northwest of Forest Park around the time of the St. Louis World’s Fair. Since that time U-City has grown, becoming both a residential and cultural hub. Its downtown, the Loop, is packed with restaurants, bars, shopping, and theaters. Its neighborhoods are filled with brick homes and two-flats. Everything is walking distance and we’ve found several parks and playgrounds that we love hanging out at in the afternoons. In many ways U-City reminds me of Oak Park, with its older homes and beautiful residential neighborhoods. Many of the residential streets have been blocked off to through traffic, making them great for biking, jogging, and walking with the kids.
In addition, the residents of U-City are incredibly diverse and our neighbors are friendly. Since moving in we’ve talked gardening with the hipsters down the street, helped jump an undergrad’s car, patched up a biker who had a pretty rough spill on the street, and read stories to the neighborhood kids at the local library. Furthermore, my wife has landed a job tutoring and we’re looking into having our oldest start preschool in the Fall.
In short, we love it here.
New Occupation: Student
I’m also readjusting to being a full-time student. While Concordia‘s fall quarter doesn’t begin until the first week of September, I’ve already been hard at work taking exams, including the GRE and the Greek Entrance Exam. The past several weeks have been filled with practice tests, flash cards, parsing, paradigm memorization and grammar reviews. And if your brain hurts just reading that, know that my brain feels ten times worse. I can’t remember the last time I have studied so hard in such a short amount of time. Add to this the insanity of moving and unpacking and this certainly has been one of the most stressful times that I’ve faced in quite a while.
Still, there are many bright spots. The first is that I not only passed the GRE, but passed with flying colors. I received the highest score possible for the analytical writing section and one of the highest scores possible on the verbal reasoning portion. These are the two areas of the exam that Concordia looks at most closely and it is nice to know that I performed at such a high level.
Second, I passed the Greek Entrance Exam, effectively testing out of both the Beginning Greek and Greek Readings courses. This puts me ahead of most first-years at the Seminary and opens up the possibility of getting ahead in my coursework.
Finally, I’ve been offered a job at Concordia’s library. While I cannot begin working until after my first day of class, it is nice to know that I have a job on campus and one that will work with my class schedule. It is also nice to know that we will have some income as we move into the school year.
New Quirks: Yes…there are downsides…
As you’ve probably guessed, things are going really well for us. However, there are still some downsides to life here. Here are a couple of the hilarious/frustrating/quirky things about our move:
- Mosquitos: They’re everywhere. Seriously. I’ve never seen anything this bad in Chicagoland. I’m fairly certain I’ve contracted malaria and west Nile virus already…
- Humidity: The word “jungle” comes to mind. There is not a single day that doesn’t go by where we all don’t come home sweaty and sticky. Gross…
- Schnuk’s: Never before has so expensive a grocery store been invented. There is no way that a family of four with a grad student for a breadwinner can possibly have the budget required to purchase an average week’s worth of groceries at this place. We are already on the hunt for a local Aldi and will definitely be taking advantage of the seminary’s food pantry.
- Cardinals: Yup, they’re everywhere too. And I’m not talking about those beautiful red songbirds. I’m talking about those drunken religious fanatics known as Cardinal’s baseball fans. I’ve already been scolded on numerous occasions for being from Chicago and very nearly burned at the stake for being a Cubs fan.
But in all seriousness the biggest things we miss are our friends and family from Chicagoland. While being in a new town has been great, we miss the community that we had.
In the coming weeks we will be visiting churches, building relationships with new friends, both on and off campus, and continuing to prepare ourselves for the start of the school year. So stay tuned and, as always, thank you so much for your prayers and support.