The Story That Left Our Hearts in San Francisco

[fa icon="calendar"] February 23, 2016 / by Anne Marie Matos

Craig_and_Anne_Marie_MatosA story helps to paint a picture. It invites you on a journey, and it’s always full of twists and turns. As a HOUSE we love to hear stories. Whether it’s meeting someone for the first time and hearing the story of how they came to San Francisco, the stories represented within our own church family and being encouraged by all the amazing things God is doing behind the scenes, or even a good story from a complete stranger talking about their own personal journey through the good, the bad, the ugly. There is something powerful that takes place when we share them.


Craig and I have attempted to write down our story. It helps us to remember where we came from, why we started, and serves as a healthy reminder of what God has done and will continue to do.


I’d love it if I could share some of that story with you, starting with the initial call to build His HOUSE. It’s my prayer that it would encourage you to start thinking about your own story (no matter what season you find yourself in) and grab a pen or a MacBook, and put that story down. For there is beauty in your story –  and no one will be able to tell it better than you!


The Time is Now

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was Sept 2014 just a week before our wedding anniversary. We traveled a 15-hour flight on Virgin Airlines from Sydney, Australia to El Dorado Hills, California to be in our best friends’ wedding. Yep, plural. Our best friends ended up marrying each other, and we had the honor of being the Best Man and Matron of Honor at their wedding. It was an absolute blast seeing the lovely Mr. and Mrs. Lopez say their “I do’s.”

Not to mention, it was refreshing to be back on American soil after being away from Northern California for all those years. Seeing old friends, family, and enjoying all the American sales and outlets we could find, we did our best to make every moment of it count. Yet, there was one thing in particular we just knew we had to do before returning to Sydney after a very short stay. We had to come and see our beloved San Francisco.

Craig and I had always had this massive love for The City. It was something before even meeting each other we just felt drawn to, better yet called to. So with only 48 hours left until boarding a plane back to the land of Oz, we jumped into my mom’s white Nissan Rogue and made our way down from Sacramento. Like any good foodie/coffee lover, we started our trip at Tartine Bakery, and then decided to walk around and see where God would lead us. 

It wasn’t long before we found ourselves in the Mission standing on the corner of Church Street, when we both experienced this deafening whisper from God. I remember standing on that very street corner looking around at all the eclectic people who were spread out over the Dolores Park hill to our left: young, old, vibrant, demure, some laughing with friends while others appeared to be homeless and begging for food. It was such a huge spectrum of humanity right before our eyes. Yet it was the look on my husband’s face to my right that I would never forget.

When I turned to look up at Craig, I noticed the same deer in the headlights stare that was written all over my face. It was as if we were both saying: “did you just hear that too?” In that moment we knew we had a game changer on our hands. It was in that moment that we felt we had heard the “Call." We didn’t know what it would look like or how it would all come together, but we were pretty confident that God was showing us our time in Sydney, Australia was coming to an end. It was time to embark upon a new season. It was time to pick up and move. It was time to come build His ‘HOUSE.’ It was time to make a new home. 


The Move

Craig and I left San Francisco and headed back to Sydney completely changed for the better. I remember walking back into our flat in Sydney with our suitcases in hand, looking around and saying to Craig “This is not our home anymore, this just feels like a hotel room now,” words I thought I would never say.

We had spent the last few years of our life intentionally making that place a home and building into our local church, Hillsong. We had friends there – better yet, friends that had become family. So why all of a sudden did Sydney no longer ‘feel’ right?

After talking it over with Craig and realizing we were experiencing the same thing, we decided to simply ask God to start shutting doors of opportunity, if it truly was time to move and start outworking what he had planted in our hearts.

Thinking to ourselves it might be 6 months to a year down the road, we were quite surprised to receive an email from our landlord just a few days upon our return. Before our trip, our landlord had spoken to us about renewing our lease – she was so pleased to have us as tenants, yet this email had a very different tone. It read along the lines of I am sorry to inform you that the owner of this property will be moving to Sydney, Australia for a few months, and has decided it would be more economical to not renew your lease and will take occupancy of the residence, have 30 days to vacate the property

WHAT? We couldn’t believe it. If this wasn’t a shut door then we didn’t know what was, and it didn’t stop there. Things started to shift at our workplaces and within a couple of weeks we were left with an array of closed doors.


Yet there was one door that seemed to be wide open – the door to San Francisco. Craig and I theoretically would walk through that door on December 5, 2014, as we boarded our one-way plane ride back to California with a sense of nervousness and excitement of what God had in store.

As we made our way back there was a verse that was spoken over us that resonated in our hearts, one that we haven’t let go of, even today: Joshua 1:1-9 says, “I will give you every place where you set your foot…be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” 

Topics: Church Planting, Missions