Today marks one year of living in Ogden, Utah. Last year I packed up my apartment in Tacoma, WA and headed to a state that had never appealed to me because God told me to. It meant changes in friendships, weather, church, daily routines, and culture. As I’m looking back over the past year and the adventure I’ve been through and the places I’ve been, I’m very thankful for all the things I’ve learned by taking this step of faith. Whether it be something about culture in Utah that I think is foreign or a characteristic about myself, they’ve all had an impact on my personal growth this past year.
10. Utah Winters Are Fierce
I am a completely new to the whole “more than one snow day a year” thing. The Seattle area barely gets any snow during the winter and sometimes none at all. Its one of those areas where it snows an inch and people call into work. My first week in Utah I was greeted with a foot of snow. As a matter of fact, I remember shoveling the driveway of the house I was staying in 3 times in one day. Luckily I had my friend helping me, but still, I have never experience that before. Now that I think of it, I don’t think I had ever shoveled snow out of a driveway before that. Not only is there a bunch of snow in the winter, but I also learned about a little thing called “Inversion.” Don’t let the name fool you, it’s just a fancy term for smog and it will hover over the city. When it comes to winter, Utah doesn’t mess around. Thank you for the lesson.
9. I Suck At Snowboarding
Okay, I only went once and I hear that’s the worst it will get, but I still suck at it. My friends took me to the top of the mountain, strapped me in, showed me a few things for a half hour and then said, “See you at the bottom!” Well, 3 hours, 6 dozen falls, 3 gallons of snow down my pants, and a headache later, I made it to the bottom. After that, I sat in the lodge and drank coffee. Maybe I’ll go again this year to see if I get better, but I think I still have back problems from the last time I went.
8. Video Calls Are Awesome
My girlfriend was an Au Pair in Sweden for a year and six months in I moved to Utah. We stayed in touch by Skyping as much as we could. Thanks to Skype, we were able to know what was going on in each others life and stay connected. Luckily she is living in Utah now and seeing her in person is way better than a video.
7. Never Underestimate How Much God Can Provide
I had the opportunity to go do 2 overseas missions this year and saw God work in incredible ways. When looking at the price of these trips I never would have thought I could afford them. Turns out I couldn’t, but God could. When the opportunities came, God provided the money through work, friends, and family. It was incredible to see people who were so giving and who truly want to see God move all over the world. Thanks again to all those who supported my trips last year. I hope that one day I can take all of you with me on a missions trip.
6. Good Coffee Is Rare In Utah
When I lived in Tacoma, there was great coffee all around. Even if the place was not that good, it was still good. When I moved to Ogden, I quickly found that finding good coffee was rare. Some coffee tasted like smoked meat and others like flavored beans. I’ll admit, I’m a coffee snob so that doesn’t help, but still, flavored beans? No thanks. Luckily my friend at the church here owns a coffee shop and roasts. It’s great to have a place I can go to and still feel at home.
5. Utah Summers Are Fierce
I think the theme here is that Utah seasons are extreme. If your from the Northwest, you know you deal with the rain because the summers are awesome. The sun is out and the weather is not too hot. However, if I remember correctly, I think Ogden broke their record for most days over 95 this year. That made for a lot of sweaty days and a lot of sunscreen. Also, having a swamp cooler or AC is essential, otherwise you will stand in front of your freezer to cool off (that may or may not have happened when our swamp cooler was broken).
4. I Really Like Playing & Making Music
The past year I played less music than I had in previous years. This was a blessing because I found out how much I really enjoy it. Sometimes I wouldn’t play for a few weeks and found myself going a little crazy. I needed a music fix! I found that writing songs is a creative outlet for me. I think I wrote more songs this year than ever. If I had the opportunity to create new music with someone, I would jump at it. Whereas before, I would be a little more picky. That is probably because Utah doesn’t have as rich of a music scene as Seattle, but I think I realized that I like creating just for the sake of creating.
3. Slow Moving Culture Creates Great Friendships
Utah culture moves pretty slow. At first this was really annoying because I was used to a fast pace get it done and move on culture. Also, I was used to being able to go hang out at places late at night, like a coffee shop, even if I didn’t know anybody. Here its hard to find a place open past 10 pm. I did find that people still hung out, just at each others houses. Very different from where I was previously living. At home we would meet at a coffee shop, bar, or a show. Ogden didn’t offer many of those options, but I learned to love this part of the culture here because I was able to make some very close friends. I ended up becoming great friends with the couple that hosted me and my friend for our first 2 months in Utah. They were very hospitable and made us feel right at home. We enjoyed many great nights of laughs and long life talks. Its easier to invest in friendships when you are given an opportunity to hang out with people without the distractions of a public environment.
2. Have Patience In Everything
I would have considered myself a patient man before moving to Utah, but my patience was tested this past year quite a bit. My patience was tested with relationships, work, and myself. I would get frustrated that something was not moving as fast as I wanted it too and would have to take a step back to examine myself. Everyone is not on the same schedule as me, I’m not the only one with problems, I’m not the only one trying to get multiple things done. This would also teach me to have more grace towards people and instead of getting frustrated, I would see it as a way that God was using me to disciple them. My patience being tested allowed me to get to know people better and invest in their lives more.
1. Utah Is Pretty Cool
This time last year, you wouldn’t have heard me say that. I basically wanted to move back to Tacoma. Now after a year of being here, I have a great church, great friends, know of some local spots, and am having a great time. There is an awesome community of people here that I’ve gotten to know over the past year. Lots of young entrepreneurs, outdoor lovers, and a few coffee lovers. For the most part people will say “hi” when you are walking down the street and are generally friendly.
For now I don’t know how long I’ll be in Utah. I love the northwest and always will, but Utah has grown on me.
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.” – Proverbs 19:21