On Thursday, February 11th, 2016 the Werley family arrived in Steamboat Springs, Colorado! It took three full days of driving from Houston with our two u-hauls, a trailer and a packed 8 passenger SUV! Sitting behind the wheel of my 26 foot rig driving through the desolate dry land of West Texas I had a lot of time to reflect on all God was doing with our lives. We drove into Colorado in the middle of the night. Spent the night in a Holiday Inn in Trinidad. The next morning I walked outside to load the car and saw the white capped Rockies and I my first thought was, “I get to live here!” As we got on the road I wept a little that God had given us this opportunity. I was deep in thought and awe of the mountains around me until I got a call from Angie in the SUV with all four of our children…We needed lunch and we needed it faster!!
We arrived late Thursday afternoon to our condo with a stocked fridge, snacks and about a dozen men and women ready to unpack our trucks. The last time something like this happened was when we arrived in Anna, Texas to pastor First Baptist Anna. FBC Anna was about the same size as Anchor Way is now. In my limited experience, I have noticed that there is a different kind of personal support that comes to the pastor of a small church. I loved meeting everyone and was incredibly grateful for all that was done to prepare for our arrival.
We thought it was a reasonable goal to have the beds set up by the first night. However, the best we could do was lay out the mattresses! On Friday we had to return trucks, grab stuff from the storage units and figure out how to do life in Colorado. But our kids were in desperate need of some fun! Anchor Way Church is located in what could be considered a subdivision of Steamboat Springs. Subdivisions here are groomed during snow season to clear the cross country skiing trials and sledding hills. The sledding hill for three subdivisions is right in front of Anchor Way Church. We took the kids and papa sledding! As a native of deep East Texas, at 68 this was Papa’s first time to sled and he didn’t even break a hip.
Life in Colorado is different from life in Texas. We didn’t learn till Saturday we had to hire a trash service! As well as life in a small town is different. Every thing seems to require paper and/or talking to a real person. This has been an adjustment, coming from a huge city like Houston, where I could do almost anything at anytime online, without personal contact. In this town, of 12,000, everything is way more personal.
One thing we have noticed is how nice everyone is. Even the kids have commented on how kind everybody is in this small town. Every town has a few stinkers and I have met one here but by in large people here are incredibly kind and laid back. I often joke that Steamboat is like Hawaii in the mountains. Everyone seems to have a surfer, type-B, family friendly attitude here except they wear coats.
Speaking of coats. The weather was something everyone was worried about. Anchor Way was worried they would hire us and we would leave after our first winter. We were worried, being native winter flip flop wearing Texans, we would freeze. Our friends and family kept wondering how we would do in the weather.
On thing we keep hearing about the weather was, “it’s a dry cold.” Something inside me would also say, “Sure. Like dry ice isn’t freezing!” But now that I am here I can honestly say it’s true. The cold here is different. In the last 7 days we have not seen temps over 46 degrees and I can honestly say I have only really been cold, 1 of those 7 days. When the sun is up all I need is a sweater and blue jeans to be comfortable. It was a different kind of cold in Houston. Anything below 50 degrees in Houston was miserable here its just not that way.
On Sunday (the cold day this week) we had a heavy snow and my neighbor gave me a tutorial on how to use the snow blower. Let’s just say, I probably need a lot more practice and I am sure I will get it.
Monday I started work and Angie started schooling the kids. As the week went on and the wifi was turned on we started to find a rhythm. By Thursday our kids had started playing together again and our condo started to feel like home. We have been blessed to come to a church where friends are easy to make. We have already connected with many young families this week and they have been a tremendous help for us as we make this transition.
The people of Anchor Way have been incredibly gracious. Many brought us meals this first week, they’ve been generous and patient as we figure out this new land. I am looking forward to pastoring Anchor Way and seeing all that God might do with the people here as we love on this small town for the sake of the Gospel.
Thanks for reading.