It would be easy to say that Matt and I have been addicted to houses since the beginning of our marriage. We bought our first house one month after saying ‘I do’, with grand ideas to flip it… right before the market flopped. We once spent an entire vacation in California dreaming and planning our ideal rustic A-frame. We have lived in 11 houses in the 14 years. We have loved finding each one. But this latest house hunting adventure has been the most, well, adventurous.
In case you missed it HERE and HERE, we are moving to Kampala, Uganda on August 5th! In true Erdman style, we decided to turn up the pressure and wait until July 22nd-26th to secure our future abode. We have spent hours online looking at all the available options. We felt we had a pretty good grasp of our target area and a reasonable budget. How long, internet, how long until we learn that you are a lying liar that lies out of your liar screen (Shakes fist, bangs head, cries a little)??!? On Monday, Matt jumped on a plane from Arusha to Entebbe, Uganda armed with a directory of agent phone numbers and four scheduled appointments. On the way to the airport, our family made a list of what we really wanted in our new home. On The List was everything from a safe location to a yard with trees. It was definitely filled with both necessities and far fetched dreams (like closets and washer/dryer hookups). However, we felt confident, maybe even a little cocky, with our preparations and plans. That night, Matt arrived in Kampala, confirmed his morning appointments and slept the sleep of the blissfully ignorant.
Early Tuesday morning, Matt arrived at the first rental property. Our plan was for him to get to the location and call me via WhatsApp so that we could video tour together. The second we connected, I could hear in his voice, something was wrong. We shall call this first house ‘Over Budget Ugly House On Scary Road’. Oh, man you guys, the lying internet tricked us good. Every agent changed their tune when face to face. For the location we needed (to be within reasonable driving distance to the girl’s school) we were told we would have to DOUBLE our budget.
Let me tell you a few things that are important to this story. First of all, right now we are so spoiled. We live in a village on the outskirts of Arusha and we pay $150 per month for a three-bedroom house with a yard and outside room that is Matt’s workout space (important item on The List). I love our current house and the quiet area. I knew we would be giving up village life for the big city, but there was something in me that was convinced we were going to find a little slice of sanctuary. We have been praying about this for months. YOU have been praying with us. Both Matt and I felt peaceful, but the next three days were C.R.A.Z.Y! On Tuesday and Wednesday, we proceeded to look at houses we will call: ‘On Budget But Scary Neighborhood’, ‘Way Over Budget Fixer Upper’, ‘New Construction Scam’, and lastly ‘No, Just, No’. Matt beat the bushes, but everyone was telling us that these properties were the only ones available.
Time was ticking down. We had one day left and no sanctuary in sight. So, on the eve of what really needed to be ‘signing the contract’ day, Matt and I were trying to decide between ‘On Budget But Scary Neighborhood’ and ‘Way Over Budget Fixer Upper’. It was a tense moment. As we were talking, a text came in with a picture of a new property. One last chance, from an agent named Bahati, which means “luck” in Swahili. Off Matt went, racing across town on the back of a boda boda (motorcycle taxi) to look at this last house. He almost did not go because the agent said it was a shared property with no gate, which has always been a no-go for us.
Thirty minutes later my phone rings, and Matt says, “I am just going to start with this”, and pans out to a view of Lake Victoria from the balcony off the master bedroom. In my heart, I knew instantly, we had found it! Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to ‘On Budget Slice Of Sanctuary’. Four bedrooms, in a nice area, ten minutes from the girl’s school. The owner agreed that after we made the first payment he would build a wall (hehehe!) and put in a sliding gate so that it would be a single house property. Miraculously, every single box on The List was checked. This house has things I did not even dare put on The List. Like green space and a view and a little bit of a village feel. It is an older house, one of the first built in a developing area, which is why it is in our budget.
All week I had felt like God was going to answer our prayers, but as time slipped away, I started to wonder if I had missed something. If we would have had to settle with one of the other properties, we would have still believed that His plan was right and good. But this feels big. This house feels like a gift, a confirmation, like I can feel the ridges of His palm as He carries us forward. I am so very thankful.
I have not even seen our new home, but I already love it. I hope we get to stay there for a long time. However, I have learned to hold so loosely to houses. To appreciate what we have at the moment, knowing that we could move again soon. Recently, I have been listening to a lot of wise people talk about transition for global workers and one of the quotes I have written on my heart is, “unpack your boxes and plant your trees.” I am going to plant my trees at this new place in Kampala, for my own soul. Right now, we are facing our last week in Tanzania. We still have an alarming number of items to check off our to-do list. There are too many hard goodbyes on the horizon. So many tears waiting to be shed. But we have a place to land, and sanctuary is waiting. Here we go.