We Left Utah, Friends and Family for Oregon – Part I

In one of my previous posts I talked about our decision to move to Oregon from Utah as being in response to a spiritual prompting. This post will relate at least some of that story.

Laid Off

August of 2014 began just as any other month that year. I was coming up on my third anniversary working for the Department of Labor on the OSHA website. We had lived for seven years in our three level condo in West Valley City, Utah and had many friends in the neighborhood.

There was talk at work of the upcoming contract renegotiations. Working with a company that is basically a government contractor, renegotiations are part and parcel for the course. They always happen and you trust that those who are in charge of negotiations are able to work out a deal that keeps the majority of the team stays, if not the whole team.

This round of negotiations was different in that we knew there would be cuts on our team. We had brought on several developers earlier in the year for some upcoming projects that had been approved, but with the rumors floating around we were pretty sure that many of those new team members would be laid off.

Working as part of the content team I was shielded pretty well from the cuts. Or so I thought. Just days before I was  leaving with the family for our summer vacation I received the unwelcome call. My last day would be the day after I returned from our vacation. This was a surprise to me and the team. No one thought that any of the content team would be cut in these recent negotiations.

The Job Search

After leaving the job I began the process of looking for other work. But after literally hundreds of applications, dozens of interviews and three months of time… no offers. I was forced to consider that we might have to move from our home. At this point we weren’t able to pay our mortgage payment, having depleted our savings and not having a stream of income. So I extended my search from the Wasatch Front to other areas; applying for jobs in Cheyenne, WY, Fort Collins, CO, Phoenix, AZ, Las Vegas, NV, Boise, ID.

Applying for positions in many different areas I hoped would open up an avenue that I hadn’t seen before. I did end up having a few phone interviews and ended up on one or two short lists of hiring managers. One interview was for the position in Cheyenne. One of the short lists was in Phoenix.

At the same time I was beginning to do a lot of planning and research for beginning my Book of Mormon writing. So First Nephi was reading material. First Nephi relates the story of Lehi’s family being forced to move from the home they had known their entire life and relocating to the wilderness. Eventually they came to the promised land and were able to flourish as a people, but I’m sure the first few months were especially hard.

One day, as I was running errands, I was pondering on this. An idea came to my mind that I needed to abandon the “shotgun” approach I was taking in my job search and focus on one single area or region.

As I thought on that it seemed a good idea. The only problem was, where? I wanted to try and stay relatively close to family. That was the reason for searching in neighboring states. However, I didn’t seem to be gaining any ground except in Phoenix and Cheyenne. And when I really thought about it, neither of those places felt right. It was a little more solidified when I was passed over for the position in Cheyenne. Phoenix was still in the running, but there just wasn’t that good feeling when I did research about living there. Not that Phoenix is not a great place, there just wasn’t a connection.

When I had the thought about narrowing my focus I pleaded with Heavenly Father and basically just asked a short, one word question: “Where?” No answer. Which was not unusual. I continued on my errands and noticed that I had missed a phone call on my cell. I had been riding the motorcycle doing my business and I just can’t answer the phone. This phone call turned out to be a recruiter from Portland, Oregon calling about an open position she was working.

Enter Portlandia

I had briefly looked at a few positions in the Portland area, but I hadn’t considered it seriously up to that point. It was a long way away and neither I nor my wife had ever been there. But there was a nagging feeling that I should look more closely at that area. And the more I looked, the more I liked. There seemed to be a connection that was lacking in any of the other places. The job that the recruiter called with was not quite the right fit, but the seed had been planted.

Lynda and I considered Portland. We prayed and thought about it individually and then came together to discuss it and pray about it together. We had an overwhelming feeling that Portland was where we needed to focus our job search efforts. That was where we would move.

The only block to our move was financial. We were living on unemployment and barely able to put food on the table and keep up with most of our bills. Mortgage hadn’t been paid for a while and so we had to make plans to leave our home. But underneath it all we had set the goal to move to Oregon as soon as we could. Our hope was to receive an offer of employment and then make plans for the move.

Scouting Trip to Portland

In May of 2015 I made plans to visit Portland myself. Do some job hunting, look at neighborhoods and possible places to live and gain a little familiarity with the area. To save as much money as I could on the trip I planned to travel on the motorcycle, stay at a campground outside the metro area and not do a lot of “touristy stuff.”

I travelled with my cousin Dan Lyman and my dad. We left early one morning and after a long ride that day they paid for a motel room where we stayed the night before finishing the trip the next day. It was a real fun trip and I even had a couple of interviews, one phone interview and an in-person. I will tell you, changing into a shirt and tie in the campground bathroom was a very… different experience!

Moving Out of Our House

The next month, June 2015, was when we were forced to leave our home of more than seven years. We packed up our belongings, stored the bulk of them in a storage shed and the rest we took with us to Orem, Utah to live with my in-laws. The expectation was to be there three to six months until I found a job in Oregon.

We actually didn’t leave for another year!

Read the continuation of the story in Part II.