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Couple returns to Carson Valley

by Nancy Hamlett

When Eddie Almeida left Gardnerville, a lot of friends thought he was crazy. People migrated from Southern California to the Carson Valley, not the other way around. But Almeida had a purpose, a calling, and he risked the uncertainty, the possibility of violence and the separation from friends and some of his family. Now, five years later, Almeida and his family are back home.

Almeida and his wife, Susie, grew up in California so they were familiar with all of the negative aspects of street life in LA. They moved to the Carson Valley in 1976 after their twin boys, Neil and Nathan were born.

“We know how we turned out,” said Almeida. “We wanted something better for our boys.”

“We were looking for something stable, clean and open,” said Susie.

“And we found it in the Carson Valley,” added Almeida.

Their first home was on Tillman in the Gardnerville Ranchos. A year later they moved to Fredericksburg, and in 1979 they built their home on Oro Way off Kimmerling.

“When we first moved here we had an unobstructed view of the mountains. There were no other homes. Look how it has grown,” said Almeida.

It was also in 1979 that Almeida, who was raised in the Catholic faith, discovered with a lot of introspection and study that he wasn’t really what he considered as a true Christian.

“There is a large difference between proclaiming that you are a Christian and living as a Christian,” said Almeida. “I gave my life to Christ, and a few months later Susie gave her life to Christ.”

Almeida and his family, which now included four sons, joined Carson Valley Community Church where he eventually became the youth pastor and ministered to the prisons.

“But I didn’t feel adequately equipped to teach,” said Almeida. “I knew I had to learn to preach, to teach, to become a pastor.”

Yet the thought of leaving the safety and security of the Carson Valley to attend seminary was at times, overwhelming.

According to Almeida, there were huge doors that had to be opened before the decision could be made, including housing, business, money and acceptance to the seminary.

“These were no small doors, they were more like aircraft hangar doors,” said Almeida. “They were huge to me, but to God they were nothing.”

n Pieces fall into place. All of the pieces fell into place, including acceptance to Master’s Seminary in southern California. Almeida, his wife and their youngest two sons, Eddie and Simon, left the Carson Valley in 1993.

“Sue and I knew it was going to be hard leaving Neil along with Nathan and Jennifer who had just gotten married,” said Almeida. “We would also be leaving the youth group plus all of our dear friends. It was almost more than I could understand or bear.”

Almeida enrolled in the seminary, which is affiliated with Grace Community Church.

“It was very academic and many of the students had already graduated from college and they were an average age of 26 to 30,” said Almeida. “I was 40 with school 20 years behind me. The other students were bright, intelligent and I had trouble keeping up. I was like a man running with the horses. It was real humbling.”

Although Almeida felt frustration, he never wavered from his decision. He took his time with the schoolwork, taking five years to complete the three-year requirements.

“Because we studied the historic, grammatical and literal translations of the old and new testaments, I had to learn the original languages including Greek and Hebrew. But believe me, I am in no way a master,” said Almeida.

n Period of adjustment. While Almeida was busy attending classes, the family was trying to adjust to life away from the Carson Valley.

“It took the boys almost two years to adjust,” said Susie. “I think it was hardest on Eddie, yet he chose not to return with us. He graduated from LA Baptist High School and is attending College of the Canyons while working at Von’s.”

Simon is a junior at Douglas High School.

“Moving back to Gardnerville has been hard for Simon,” said Almeida. “While in California he attended a private school with 800 students in grades 7-12. Douglas has changed a lot in the last five years. He’s changed. His friends have changed. But it wasn’t as shocking of a transition as moving to California because he knew some kids when he returned.”

The Almeidas returned to the Carson Valley one year ago this coming July. And this past Sunday, marks the 11th week since Almeida opened his home as a place of worship – Berean Bible Church.

“When we built our house we originally had plans for a stained glass window in that wall,” said Almeida as he pointed to the intricately designed wood planks in a radiant design. “But instead we installed that cross that we’ve owned forever. It seems fitting now, as though God’s hand guided us 20 years ago.”

Almeida said that, after seminary, he could have stayed in LA or gone anywhere that God asked him to go, but for the sake of family, he is glad to be back in the Carson Valley.

“I would have been happy anywhere, but I don’t know about Grandma.” He pointed toward Susie. “She may have revolted if she wasn’t near her grandchildren.”

Neil, a deputy with Douglas County Sheriff Office, is now married to Cassie and they have a daughter Alyssa. A baby boy named Ethan is due in July. Nathan works for Whipple Electric. He and his wife, Jennifer, have two children, Joseph and Trent.

“When we left they were kids, and when we got back they were young men with families,” said Almeida. “But I have to tell you, I was in denial of being a grandfather for six months. It was okay for Sues to be a grandmother, but I was far to young to be a grandfather.”

Almeida is glad to be back in the Carson Valley with his family and friends. He is busy with the church and working at Whipple Electric to support the family. Whatever spare time he has is spent studying.

“Or I might catch a glimpse of Sues mowing the lawn,” said Almeida. “But in all seriousness, it is a blessing to be here with our family. And it’s neat to be home with our dear friends.”