This was literally Jon’s text to me today at 10:06 a.m. to let me know it’s a done deal! (Note: I wrote this last night – Wednesday – but our Internet is out and I couldn’t post it.) We’ll be in Pittsburgh for our first year of marriage, ah! So now I have to go backwards and catch you up, because I never wrote a little update before we heard the final decision.

I can’t believe it is already two weeks ago that Jon found out his options for locations, but yes, it was February 16 that he got a call from manager of his program. We were surprised to hear we had only four places to choose from: Pittsburgh, Southfield (MI), Grand Rapids and Milwaukee. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? COLD?? Yes, I know. I was not loving the sound of all northern, cold cities.

We were surprised because there are a lot more than four locations that get people in Jon’s program every year. Our top choices from a list we saw of places people have gone in the past were Denver, or Costa Mesa (CA). We knew we might not have these options this first year since there were second-year people that were placed right before Jon’s group, and therefore got the first choices, I guess you could say. Also, some locations on the list we saw are pretty much for mechanical engineers only. However, we were still expecting more options and options that were more spread out across the country. We did find out that at least one other location still had outstanding requests for people, but since a few participants had already been placed there, while some other cities had no one yet (like our options), they had to focus on placing people in those locations that didn’t have anyone.

So, we had to rank those four options. We looked up all kinds of statistics about each city – crime index, weather averages, cost of living, median household income, average rent, etc. Another big consideration was what Jon would be doing at each location, because the work is very different in every place. We knew from the beginning Pittsburgh was our first choice…it’s the least cold, it’s closest to home and it’s the electrical headquarters, which will be great for Jon. It also had the lowest crime index! Believe it or not, Southfield came in second on that statistic. It’s outside of Detroit, which many have said is the worst city in America (?) Sorry to those who live in Detroit…I was surprised we ended up putting Southfield second because originally we thought we’d put it last. We put Milwaukee last because the weather only sounds pleasant for about two months of the year, and Jon liked the sound of the work there the least. So we ranked them exactly the way I listed them above.

Jon was really great and just had a positive attitude about all of this, finding out great things about these cities, especially Pittsburgh. Apparently Pittsburgh has made a lot of progress in recent years and really come out of the “steel mills and factory smoke” stereotype it’s had for many years. It was actually named the most livable city in America in 2011, which is in regard to infrastructure, education, culture and environment, etc. This was good news to me, as I didn’t really have much to go off of about Pittsburgh! (Other than that my friend Annie is from there and loves it, and that everyone from there loves the Steelers…)

Jon sent in our ranking the following Monday or Tuesday, and then the manager of his program set up a conference call for him the next Tuesday with the manager in Pittsburgh. We weren’t surprised that it seemed likely we would get Pittsburgh because the guy Jon has been in contact with was encouraging him to strongly consider it and seemed to think it would be a good fit for him.

Yesterday Jon had that conference call, and it went really well. He got a better idea of what he will actually be doing there and thinks he will enjoy it! And today he got an email confirming that’s where he’ll be, so it’s official!

We were surprised to find out Jon doesn’t have to start work until June 18 because we were thinking his start date would be June 1. I’m glad because that’s less time we’ll have to live apart and more time we’ll have to get everything packed up! Somehow we have to get all of our stuff to a central location to have it moved, and I have to figure out what I can live without since I won’t be moving yet…And Jon is afraid he won’t have anything to sit on or eat with since most of our stuff will come from wedding presents! 🙂

Really, though, we are excited, and thankful the Lord’s plans are coming together for us…believing that familiar verse: “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)

So, any advice for a soon-to-be misplaced southerner? Tips on moving or living in a cold city?? Help!