Hello, Orlando!

We made it. We made it. We made it.

As I write this I’m sitting in our sun patio, watching cars drive by on the road in front of our apartment in the cool yet humid air as a light rain falls. At 72 degrees it’s the coolest it has been in the afternoon since we arrived. When we got here we were greeted by temperatures in the high eighties and low nineties (and not to mention the Florida humidity!), and it has rained every day since. Welcome to Florida!

Florida State Line
Crossing the Florida State Line

It took us a total of two days, about 22 hours of travel time, four people, two cars, and one moving truck to get here. We left Joplin mid-morning about three weeks ago on a Monday and arrived in Lake Nona on Tuesday in the late afternoon. It seems so typical to describe the drive as “long” when people ask me how it was, but that’s truly the best way to describe it. As someone who hates driving, this trip was LONG. And I didn’t even drive the entire time like some of our driving crew did! Without a lot of things to break up the monotony of the drive, I was thankful when we got to pass through big cities that I had never been to before, like Nashville and Atlanta. When we passed through Nashville it was right as the sun was setting, and seeing the sun and sky reflect off of all the downtown buildings was absolutely beautiful. I was driving at that point, so I didn’t get to take it all in at once like I wanted to, but luckily Lauro was in the passenger seat and he got some great photos for me.

 

We finally made it to Lake Nona and our apartment complex, and after a quick check in and some final paperwork we were able to begin moving in to our new home! We were so blessed by the people who came from the church to help us unload our stuff and start unpacking. By that night we had the master and guest beds assembled and the kitchen all unpacked and put away—a big accomplishment! Especially when you’re doing all of that without air conditioning. Yes, that’ right. Our air conditioner was broken the minute we walked in the door. The filter was completely frozen over, so there wasn’t any amount of cool air being produced to relieve us from the Florida heat. It wasn’t until about a week later that it was finally fixed after two attempts by apartment maintenance and one by an outside A/C company. (There’s always got to be something that goes wrong, right? I honestly would have been worried if there wouldn’t have been any problems at all when we moved in. At that point in the moving process we just expected road bumps and inconveniences and learned to go with the flow.)

The Sotos
Pre-move photo of our little family

So here we are, starting our new life in Orlando, Florida. We had our first Sunday with Thrive Church on the 4th of this month and it made us so excited for the growth the church is experiencing now and how it will grow in the future. We’re starting to build more connections and relationships with people and deepen the relationships we had when we got here. Just thinking about how this church is going to expand and impact the community and reach people and teach and disciple and worship and love, all for the glory of God? I feel like a giddy little kid just thinking about it! Jesus is just so good, so, so good, and I want everyone to know and experience that goodness.

What is so amazing about serving our good God is that you get to be part of a body full of His people who are striving for the same thing: to live like Jesus. There is no way we would have been able to make it to Florida without the help of our friends and family, our brothers and sisters in Christ. Without them, we could have just forgotten about packing up our house in Joplin and loading up the moving truck. Driving our two cars and the truck to Florida would have been impossible. And even if we would have made it that far, I can guarantee that Lauro and I would have been absolutely MISERABLE travelling for a combined 22 hours without any help. It would’ve taken many hours to unload all of our stuff into our new apartment and get it all unpacked. Just imagining how our move would’ve gone if we had to do it all alone frightens me! I don’t think I can ever thank our people enough for how much they helped us. On both ends of the move we had so many people helping us, encouraging us, and giving us advice (and as young, married college students whose biggest move was a six-hour drive hauling our stuff in a borrowed horse trailer, we needed all the advice we could get!). People have packed, loaded, driven countless hours, unloaded, unpacked, suffered in the heat, offered us a place to stay with air conditioning, and provided household goods, food, and meals, all for us! I feel so undeserving, but that’s what following Jesus is all about, right? Giving to and loving those who don’t deserve it? That’s what Jesus did for us all, right?

I will always be so thankful for God’s people. He created us for community and to do life alongside other believers, and this move has shown me just how vital that is. By design we were made to be together, living and loving and serving others and each other. We were made to help shoulder one another’s burdens and to rejoice alongside each other’s victories. As the family of God we need each other to encourage and build one another up, not for our benefit, but so that we are able to go out and show people the love of Jesus with a full and encouraged heart sustained by the limitless love of our God and the support of our fellow believers.

Will you continue praying for us as we settle in to our new life in Orlando?

  • I am still looking for a full-time job here. Pray that I will trust in God and be patient, knowing that He will provide one at just the right time.
  • Pray for the Creative Arts ministry at Thrive Church. Lauro has started planning and organizing all the different aspects of this ministry, and soon we will be inviting people to join us in serving in those different areas. Pray that as the foundations for this are laid that Christ would remain as the center focus.
  • Please continue to pray for our financial support. We have been in absolute awe of how much God has provided for us already. We couldn’t be more grateful! As this is a three-year process, we ask that you will keep praying for the support we have to raise as we continue to trust our Provider.