November 14, 2013

Down by the River

That's where our new house is.  Across the street from the river.  Our. New (to us). House.
 *disclaimer - the following pics are all from my phone, sorry for poor quality!
The view from the road (the river is behind me, beyond another row of houses)
Let me back up...

A friend forwarded us a post from Tangaza, it's a Google Group, similar to Craigslist but for the Moshi area of the Kilimanjaro region.  Someone was renting a house in Shanti Town.  It was only the 2nd house we'd heard of being for rent in this area. Shanti is a very desirable area of town to live in, and it's where all our friends live, and the area we know best, so we really wanted to stick close to it.  The other listing we'd seen was for purchase, not rent, and it was over a half million US dollars.  Notsomuch.
Anyway, we set up a time to go see the place because, well, why not?  In the mean time, a friend-of-a-friend told us there were brand-new apartments available near Soweto (where Hope school is), and another friend told us their house would be available starting in April, but their guesthouse was available until then.
We went from not even really thinking about house hunting to having three options on the table.  Not bad.
The apartment had several plusses going for it, but location was a down.  With no car we'd be stranded and it'd be hard to get to friends' houses if needed.  The other friend's house was nice, but higher than what we wanted to pay and it wouldn't be ours, we'd just be living in someone else's house again. We decided to think about it, pray about it and make a pro's-con's list.
Then we walked through the house.  Our house.  I had a 'feeling' right away.  Just like I did when we stepped into our house in Charlotte.  I just knew.  The location was perfect, the rent was... do-able, and it was in good enough shape that only a few small repairs would need to be made.  It was bigger than what we needed with 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, plus a separate (but attached) 1 bedroom 1 bathroom apartment.  But our house in Charlotte was bigger than we needed when we bought it too, and we ended up being able to bless so many people with our extra space.  God had plans for those extra rooms.  Aaaannnnndddd onto the pictures :)
That huge tree is a mango tree, one of two on the property.  That is technically the 'back porch' but it's the main entry. The door to the left, near the "L" is where you walk into the kitchen.  The L that is jutting out toward us is the attached 1 bedroom apartment.
This is the view looking at the back door, from the living room.  That first area with the red floor is the dining room, then the kitchen.
This is the view standing just inside the front door, shooting through the kitchen/dining room to the living room. The two windows on the left face the road/gate, the other window looks onto the garden. 
This is one of the bedrooms - three are exactly the same size, and they all have those built-in wardrobes with shelves/hanging space.  They're about 11'X9', so not huge, but do-able :) The 4th bedroom is a little smaller, so we'll use it as the play room.
This is the house as you just pull through the gate.  That's the front porch, the two windows on the left corner are the living room, the small window on the porch is the dining room, and everything to the right of the porch is the apartment. 
This is the view from the yard of the back house.  See the gate to the right? And the pup in the driveway? He'll be ours too!
Anyway, also on the property was a back house, that's where the landlady lived.  The current tenant (who we'd be contacting and dealing with) said that she kept to herself and she hardly ever saw her.  There are over a dozen banana trees, some papaya trees, a handful of orange trees, and a garden loaded with cucumbers, peas and more - all tended to by a gardener, who would stay on with the new tenants. There was also a dog on the property, a sweet but playful puppy, that would be left as well.  The location is within 5 minutes walk of at least two of the families we know, and a 10 minute walk to several others.  The neighbors to the left are students at our school, and British/Tanzanian couple with two kids.  The neighbors to the right are pastors of a local church.
After a week or so of praying and thinking about it, we went back to meet with the landlord of the house.  Turns out the back house on the property was available too.  The land lady was moving to Dar es Salam to be where her husband works.  She told us in the meeting that we could find people to rent the back house, and that we would be in charge of collecting all the payments, splitting the water and electric bills, etc.  Wowza.  This is a whole 'nother ball of wax.   We were gonna have to sleep on it. We also found out she's a Christian, and knows a few people that we know here in Moshi - small world.  She was very pleased, and relieved I think, to find out we were missionaries and that we would take care of the property.
So we told her we'd pray about it, we spread the word about the back house and kept praying.
Then a good friend of ours that we'd met in February when we were here (and immediately felt this weird-God-connection with), said she would rent the back house.  Crazy.  God-Crazy.
We went back to the landlady with some requests, and we prayed and prayed and prayed for favor and wisdom. We knew that this would be a pivotal point.
The major things we were asking for: 1) that we could move in near the 1st of the year, and that she'd hold it for us until then. 2) that any repairs needed to bring the house up to a higher standard would be taken out of the rent, and that we could use our own fundis to do the work.  (Oh, right, fundi (foon-dee = worker)
She agreed to both terms!
Since then it's been kind of a whirlwind.  We've gone over there at least once a week with a fundi to walk through, get quotes, and check on the overall 'okay-ness' of the house.  We've got a plumber doing work, an electrician, a carpenter, and possibly a welder coming to do work on the house.  Thankfully Martha (the landlady) has agreed that 90% of the work done, though we are paying for it up front, will be deducted from the rent total, which will be due on Dec. 10th.  That's the only downfall to the deal - all 12mos of rent is due at once.  It's pretty common here, and typically I wouldn't mind.  It makes it nice knowing you're all paid up.  But since we just paid a big lump sum of 6mos rent for the house we're currently in, it makes coming up with 12mos. rent a bit rough.  Not to mention the money to actually furnish the house.  It's completely empty - no stove, fridge, anything.  We are completely confident that God will provide, but it does make it al a little daunting- I'll be honest :)
Anyway, so that's the story of how we got our house.  Completely authored by God - seriously he's the only one that could have come up with all the details playing out like they did.
On and don't you like the color ;)  LIME green, ohhhh yeaaaahhh.  Hahahah.  TIA (this is Africa)  We'll paint it (at least the inside) eventually, but it's low on the priority list since, ya know, we kinda need beds to sleep on and a stove to cook with. :)

Thanks for hanging in there til the end!  We're so excited about what this means - putting roots in Moshi, getting comfortable here and getting busy with more ministry!

If you'd like to help us with this move (it's going to cost over $8,000 for us to move: furnish the house, pay for rent and pay repairs) you can make a one-time donation through Freedom House Church, safely and securely.  We're also hoping to add 20 new people to our monthly support team, so if you'd like to sign up for recurring, automatic deductions you can do that at the FHC website too!  It's takes a village to raise a... missionary family ;)   Thanks in advance for all your support - every amount helps, big or small, and every prayer is felt, big or small!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!