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New Year, New House

December 13, 2015

We have moved every year since 2011.  And not little moves.  In 2011, we moved from Alaska to Washington State to begin support raising for our one-year term in Congo.  In 2012, we spent six weeks on the road and then moved to Congo.  In 2013, we moved back from Congo and spent five months traveling to raise support for long-term ministry in Congo before settling in Idaho for training.  In 2014, we moved to France to begin language school.  Finally, this year, we excitedly settled in Congo.  So, 2016?  Well, clearly it’s time to move again…but this time, thankfully, it’s only to a new house.

When we arrived, we learned that some structural problems had begun to develop with the 100-year-old that MAF owns – their only owned property in Kinshasa.  We hoped to be able to stay in the house for our entire first term (about two years) and then find a new place when we got back from our furlough.  However, as the rainy season started and really got going, especially this past month with record rain fall, the house began settling faster than anticipated.  And we were given the green light to begin finding a new place to live.  We felt like we should probably move sooner rather than later, not really knowing how long the house will remain stable.

So, this week we began the process of house hunting.  In Congo, renting a house is more of a privilege bestowed by the homeowner to you.  In other words, you rent the house, in whatever condition the owner chooses – and the houses in our price range often come with just walls.  During our first year here, Matthew helped two MAF families move into new-to-MAF houses.  They both required several weeks and several thousand dollars just to make them inhabitable.  New plumbing and fixtures, kitchen cabinets, electrical installation – the works – let alone paint and air conditioners and appliances.  This was not something we really had time for!

And this was my mental state last Monday as we looked at how to begin the house-hunting process.  I love our house.  I love its location, our neighbors, the familiar neighborhood (we live across the street from where we spent our first year).  I didn’t want to move!  I may have spent a few minutes in frustrated prayer.  I may have moped about the house a bit.  And, oh the stress.  Our goal was to move within in a month!  What girl doesn’t dream of suddenly adding moving to her list between pregnant and Christmas?!?!

So, with Matthew very busy preparing for the audit at work, I tasked myself with getting the ball rolling.  I asked around about trusted realtors.  I got a decent recommendation and gave him a call.

Tuesday evening, once Matthew got home from work, we set out to see his first houses.  He was great – he listened to our budget, our size, our neighborhood, and the fact that we needed something nearly ready for move in.  We saw six houses the first night.  Only two really fit well, one was very very small but close and the other was in the neighborhood next over and a bit over budget, but very new and beautiful.

Wednesday night we saw a few more houses (I lost count) and found one that seemed to fit “best”:  it was small, but big enough, it was actually closer to our MAF teammates than our current house, it had a pool, but zero yard (the pool was completely walled, so kid-friendly), and it was move-in ready, even though the style was what we can only describe as “ugly and dark.”  The price was in our range, so we decided it was probably the best we were going to do.

Thursday evening, we saw another house and then went back to the one with the pool.  We sat down to discuss the details.  Suddenly, the manager said the price was higher than we’d been told.  This is common when you’re white.  It just is.  We talked him down to something reasonable, but still a bit above what MAF pays, so we’d be paying a bit out of pocket.  Not surprising, but unfortunate.

As we pulled out of the driveway, not exactly feeling excited, but grateful to have found SOMETHING, our realtor said there was one more house, but it needed just a bit of work, but he thought we might want to see it.  We were skeptical, since Matthew doesn’t have time to do house repairs and we needed to move fairly quickly, but whatever, one more can’t hurt.

It was close…as in, walking distance from our current house.  We pulled in and noticed the yard was overgrown and there were construction materials around the yard.  We internally rolled our eyes.  Nope, this wasn’t going to work.  But, the yard was huge.  That would be nice.

As we walked through the house and saw the parts that were unfinished, we noticed what HAD been done was done very well.  A modern, clean style, very well put together.  By the time we got to the end, though, there wasn’t enough done in the house to warrant us getting it – we simply didn’t have the time to finish.  The guardian of the house laughed a bit and said, no, the owner would finish the work and hoped to have it done in just a few weeks.

After learning more, Matthew went with the realtor to the owner’s house to discuss the goings-on at the rental.  We were curious – it was a great size for us, with a nice yard, and it was simple and bright, unlike the other house with the pool.

The owner talked about how his last renters had destroyed the place, so he was having it redone.  He prioritized having good renters who appreciated the house, versus renters who promised to pay more (and often didn’t pay at all).  He desired to see the house in perfect condition, because it had been his family’s house.  He explained all he had planned and immediately, with Matthew sitting there, got on the phone to make sure necessary things could still be completed before the end of the year.

Finally, price was discussed.  It was a big house, with everything redone and fancy things like kitchen cabinets and air conditioners included, surely it was out of our price range.  Nope?  He was totally fine accepting what we offered, because he knew we would be consistent and timely renters.

Saturday morning we met with him at the house to go over more details and prioritize projects.  Some things will still need done after the next few weeks, but what was most important to us?  He even asked if I had preferences for wall colors or kitchen cabinets?  And what rooms would the kids be sleeping in, so he could make sure those air conditioners got in first.

While there is, of course, still the possibility of this not working out for any number of reasons, my week started out pretty hard pressed and discouraging.  However, by Saturday, I was excited about this new place and how it almost fits our family better than our current house.  Sure, work needs to be done – what if it isn’t?  Sure, we might not stay there long term, because whatever is next planned for the MAF property might fit our family better than another MAF family (though this property isn’t ours – it is MAF’s, so the goal is that whatever is planned next fits the ministry and team best…nothing has been decided yet, still in the think-tank stages).  Sure, lots of things could change between now and the next few weeks, but I look and see how God has provided and, more importantly, I learned something very valuable this week…

The last half of our time in France I looked so forward to being settled.  I had been unsettled and living out of boxes or in temporary situations for four and a half years.  I was so over it and really put a lot of confidence in how settled we would feel once we got here.  Suddenly having to move really uprooted that, so I looked to God for answers.  Skeptically.  But, I am reminded that Matthew 6:20 says …”but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”  My treasure should not be in my Earthly home, nor should my comfort.  So, even if things fall through with this house that seems so exciting, I will seek the Lord, His comfort, and His joy provided for me.  And maybe they won’t fall through and I will stare in awe and wonder at how God provided more than I deserve…once again.

 

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Chris WA State, USA permalink
    December 14, 2015 0829

    Thank you Lisa for your post–very timely. And a great reminder to not hold our earthly residence and settled state too highly. We shall pray that the move goes well. And that God will use this circumstance to encourage others in their own personal situation where He may be asking them to pull up roots with their eyes trained all the while on Heaven.

    Chris-Faith Pres, Tacoma, WA, USA

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