Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Looking for a home

The last few months and more earnestly lately I have spent several hours a day looking for a home for my family. This right now is primarily an on line process as we are on the road staying with friends and family. I spend from 2 to 4 hours a day looking at possibilities.... details of number of rooms, bathrooms, schools in the area etc.. Is this apartment in our budget? What is our budget? Will there be space for us to serve others in our new ministry? Will Dave have a space for his office? Will we be close to public transport so Ethan can get to his school? Will there be enough windows to let the sun light in so we can survive the long Chicago winters? 

As I look, I find my mind wandering.... wondering what will our new lives look like in Chicago? As I have narrowed down a few places for Dave to look at in person, (Am I crazy to let my husband pick out our apartment/house? The younger 2 children and myself will stay with my sister as Dave and Ethan go into Chicago to finalize a place for us and than we will join him. ) I am reminded of all the houses that we have called home over the years.

Our first home was a cute 2-bedroom apartment over a garage in Abilene, TX while we were finishing up school. Good memories beginning our nest together.

Our second home was a church parsonage in our first ministry job in Minnesota. We were so excited when the church leaders opened the door and we saw our house for the first time. A very large (after living in a small garage apartment anything would have felt large) 2 bedroom with a finish basement...what a bonus! I loved my large picture window in the living room. We were pregnant with our first child so I was eager to make one of the rooms into a nursery. I had so much fun turning this house into a home.

Our 3rd home was in Uganda and it was a very large 6-bedroom home by lake Victoria. The house had been empty for a while and had been vandalized and needed a lot of TLC. We were able to rent it at a low cost and proceed to fix it up over the next few years. Our first year we hosted over hundred visitors so it was such a blessing we had all those rooms. I had fun redoing floors, painting and stenciling...hours and hours of work. The house transformed into a beautiful home. The landlord noticed and with pressure from her extended family she more than doubled our rent. We departed bitter- sweet from this home because of all the money and time we had invested.

Our 4th home was on top of a very large hill with a less than desirable road. The home was a newer construction with 3 small rooms and a garage that I transformed into a bedroom and school room. I loved our porch on this home with its beautiful views. Dave built a playground for the kids (4 kids during this time) …so many great memories in this home! But as time passed we began to out grow this small home. Our landlord had built a much larger 2-story house next door that had sat empty for a long time and he graciously lowered the rent so we could live there.

That became our 5th home. Oh what space we had now. We enlarged our one-room school and several others in the community joined. This house was similar to our first home in Uganda but a bit smaller with only 5 bedrooms. So many good times with lots of visitors and parties in this home. When Timothy was a baby there was a small attic fire and everyone was down stairs and did not know but he cried and ended up saving us all with his warning. Dave and Mark one of our co-workers put the fire out! Our home was saved!

Our 6th home in Africa was in Rwanda. We rented a furnished place when we first moved, as our shipment with all of our stuff in Uganda would take a while to come. We were so thankful to find a 3-room duplex that was fully furnished. It was a tight squeeze but we were ready to get out of the hotel. A few weeks after we first arrived in Rwanda 14 Oklahoma Christian students joined us for the summer. It was fun learning about Rwanda together. This house although temporary ended up being in the neighborhood where the church and school that God allowed us to help start was in.  At that time the neighborhood was new and water was a bit of a problem and after 2 months of no water we decided to move our next house even though our furniture had not yet come.

Our 7th house, I new would be our home seconds after I drove down into the tree-covered driveway. It reminded me of the old colonial homes of my Kenya youth. The house was a simple bungalow style with a breath taking beautiful yard.
View from my porch in our Kimihurura home                                                        
I must admit out of all of our homes this is my favorite. It had unique flooring in the living and dinning area. It also had a fireplace. After converting the garage into a bedroom (one of my trademarks) we had 6 bedrooms.  We had a large parch with ½ of it screened in. This was one of my favorite spots to spend time with God. We hosted many guest and had lots of parties! I think one of my favorites was my surprise 40th birthday!  It was a sad day when we had to leave that house as the landlord needed to replace the roof and do some other upgrades that would place the house into a more expensive rental than we could afford. We had almost 6 wonderful years in that home in Kimihurura.

Our last year in Rwanda we found a house that both Dave and I could agree on and was in our budget. After extensive renovations during the first few months. I grew to really enjoy this home. My porch grew on me especially after a few parties. ( I am of the opinion that a good party helps to turn a house into a home).
My sister Debra, my self holding our foster baby Gabe, and our son Caleb with one of our dogs                                                                                                          
Shortly after we moved in we answered the call to move to the U.S so we were only in this home for a year. In hindsight I am glad that God pried me out of my Kimihurura home a year earlier because he new I needed to grief one loss at a time. Leaving this new home was not as difficult.

Over our 19 years in Africa we had several extend furloughs and lived with family and friends and house sat and stayed in Visiting Missionary houses. We have always been blessed in these seasons. My kids have developed a quick adjustment to a new place becoming home. I hope this is a skill that will serve them well in life.

This last year was our first year back in the U.S to live for a longer season. God blessed us by opening a door for us to stay in Missionary Furlough Homes in Wheaton, IL outside of Chicago. These are fully furnished homes even down to the linen and kitchen utensils. It was a great landing spot for us. We had hoped to stay there for another year or 2 but that was not the plan. We are now transitioning again. We are moving into the city of Chicago as missionaries and hoping to partner with East African Diaspora to plant a multi-cultural church.

First task is to set up home base. Thanks for indulging me as I have walked down memory lane. It is building to my faith to record all the houses that God has turned into homes for my family. Not only much needed shelter from the storms of life but also where joy has flowed out to our family and community.

I am encouraged not to get bogged down in the details but trust that God has this! I am praying and would ask for prayers that He will provide the place that can be our next home not only for our family but a place that we can serve out of.