Hello! Blessed be God!
On Saturday evening, my husband and I arrived in Oklahoma. Here are the first thoughts that popped into my head as we drove to our friends' house:
Praise the Lord! We're here!
WOW. That dirt is RED. I always thought the "red dirt" jokes were exaggerations. But the dirt is so red!
This place is HUGE!
There are lots of trees.
The ground isn't as flat as I thought it would be.
I haven't gotten around to snapping any pictures yet, but when I do, you will see just how red the dirt is. And Oklahoma City is gigantic! I guess I thought it would be similar to Wichita, KS (where I'm from), except a bit bigger. Wichita is pretty compact (you can get from one side of town to the other in 25-30 minutes), and I somehow thought that OKC would be the same way. BUT, we found ourselves driving past the air force base, then in several miles of wooded country land, then into neighborhoods-and we were still in "Oklahoma City" according to postal addresses. I'm still figuring out the system of where OKC ends and the little "suburb cities"--Midwest City, Del City, Norman, etc.--begin. Our friends have been telling us great things about downtown OKC, so I'm very excited to check that out, too.
In the couple days that we've been here, my husband and I have been hanging out with the family we are staying with (some of my friends from high school and their relatives), apartment hunting on the internet, visiting potential rentals, experiencing a car battery dying twice in one day (at which point we just bought a new battery), finding one of the many libraries (a high priority on my list), going to Mass (though one of the church's "daily Mass" times turned out to be a Communion Service, and I had never been to one of those before, and it was done weirdly, so that was a new experience), and watching turtles at Martin Park Nature Center! I highly recommend that park, even though we did not spend much time there, because we got caught in a downpour! It had really cool walking trails, wildlife, and was a very relaxing place to stroll and talk. Even though it's a bit of a drive, I am excited to go back sometime!
The drive is definitely something that I will have to get used to. Our first full day here, one of the women we're staying with said: "Always allow at least 30 minutes to get anywhere." And my dad, who used to live in OKC, agreed with that! Even though there are many highways running through OKC, because things are so spread out, it takes a while to get anywhere. In both Wichita and Steubenville, I could get to many different places within 15 minutes (but most places only took about 5-10 minutes), so I will need to adjust my travel time mentality somewhat.
Even though I haven't done a whole ton yet, I really am liking Oklahoma. The Catholic scene isn't what it is in Wichita (there are few places that hit the Wichita level of Catholic awesomeness), but there seem to be a lot of great opportunities for Catholic enrichment, and many daily Masses offered all around the city, which is fantastic! And the people here are amazing!
On the way into Sunday Mass, I was told "good morning" three times before I even reached my pew! And after Mass, the pastor introduced himself to us and showed us where the registration packets were. Then, we were surrounded by a swarm of older men in Knights of Columbus (it was Tootsie Roll Sunday, so they were doling out the candy), who were trying to get us to join the parish and gave a membership registration form to my husband.
Today, we went to a different parish, and after the service, a woman came up, introduced herself, showed us around the church, and gave us a registration packet. She was very kind, and said "We will be waiting for you, if you come back" and emphasized how welcome we would be in their parish. After we left the church, we had breakfast at Cracker Barrel, and talking with me for a bit and discovering that I just moved here, the hostess excitedly started telling me about publications to write for in Oklahoma City. Then, this afternoon, when our car battery died twice, random people were so kind and graciously helped jump-start our car, even though it was pouring rain for most of the day (it has been raining and downpouring a great deal of the time that we have been here). Furthermore, the people we are staying with have been amazing, and opened up their home, hearts, time, and kitchen to us as we try to find a place to live. And one of the women I met through my church years ago has been amazing and sent me tons of fantastic Oklahoma-related advice! God has really been paving the path of our move with so much love and grace!
Apartment hunting is very much happening over here; we went to a few sites today, which we aren't going to take. We didn't even go into the office of one apartment complex, because driving in the parking lot, we got the "ghetto Steubenville neighborhood feel," and we felt that we could find something better in OKC. But, we have some promising-sounding apartments and rentals that we are looking at tomorrow, so I'm sure St. Joseph will show us something good!
I hope that y'all have an amazingly blessed beginning to your week!