I Don't Care
Updated: Aug 29, 2022
Anyone that knows me well, knows I generally don't care what people think. It's not that I'm rude, or aloof, I just am not swayed by popular opinion or trends. I will not wear wide-leg jeans with rips in them no matter how many times they (try) to come back into fashion (ps. it wasn't cute in the 90's and it still isn't). If my order is wrong at a restaurant, I will send it back. People can give me eyes all they want while my kids are barefoot in public, or if they're playing in the puddles/stream fully clothed. I don't care that people see me put that stoneground flour in my cart so I can make my own bread, but then chuck in a dark chocolate Kit-Kat at the register. I do what I want. I'm a grown up.
So when we moved a few weeks ago and I found myself being elusive about it, not giving out very much info or really sharing about our new space, it sort of shocked me. Because, really, typically, I don't care.
Then I realized I'd been trying to hide it because it looks bad. Well, maybe it doesn't look bad to the average Joe. But to me, a missionary living solely on the support of individuals around the world that have partnered with the vision God has given us for South Africa, it looks bad. For a week or so I felt a little nagging presence, telling me to share with everyone where we live and how amazing it is. But what if people see, and they think we don't need their support anymore? What if people see and think we're not being wise with our money? What if new people see and don't want to partner with us because it doesn't look like we need it? These are the oft-unheard thoughts of a missionary. It shouldn't be so, but sometimes it's just hard to keep our minds from wandering in that direction. Do we take the vacation or will partners think that's a waste of their money? Do we buy the bigger car so we don't get stuck in the mud roads, or will it look like just a bit too much? And so it was with this house. Do I show people we live in paradise or will the judgements come flying in?
But that's when God spoke loud and clear: How could you ever try to hide this miraculous thing I've done for you? I'd be lying if I said I wasn't tearing up even now, remembering when I heard his voice say those words. How could I, for one second, even try to hide what he has done? He is why we are where we are. He has gotten us this far - all the way around the globe and back again - so why on Earth would I need to hide this miracle, for fear of it 'looking bad' and 'costing us' partnerships? Is he not bigger than that?! So now I'm shouting it from the proverbial rooftops: we live in paradise, and it's only because of God. And yes we still need partners, but it's not because we live on the beach! :) Here's our balcony (with laundry drying because, you know, real life, lol)
But now you must know how we got here. Because the story is what makes it so flippin' unbelievable.
We had been here about 7 months when we started looking for a place to rent. The Southcoast of KZN is sort of like the Florida of the USA - it's where everyone goes to vacation, retire, etc. There are loads of holiday homes and rentals, but not very many long-term rentals. We were finding it nearly impossible to find a home that was a) furnished, b) allowed kids, c) a long-term rental, d) had water tanks (because water is always an issue here), e) within the budget. Let alone a space that had a place for the kids to play, was in a safe area, etc. We had sort of given up looking for the moment when we were at a new small group and they asked for prayer requests. I mentioned that we were casually looking for a place to rent, but that it was nothing urgent. One of the ladies in the group encouraged me to be very specific (to God) in our list of must-haves for the house, because she felt like God would give us exactly what we wanted, then shared her testimony of it happening to them. A few moments later, her husband asked how soon we wanted to move. We said we were in no rush, that we were just casually looking. After group the couple approached us and said, "You probably don't want an apartment if you want a yard for the boys, but you could rent ours if you're open to it. We're going to the UK for five years. We were just going to lock up and leave the place empty because we've been burned too many times by short term renters, but we'd be open to letting you guys stay. And there is a nice yard just down the stairs the kids can play in." Admittedly, I wasn't too thrilled at the prospect of living in an apartment. But we figured we'd go look at it, because we like seeing different homes in the area anyway, and we didn't want to be rude to these strangers who were offering to let us live in their place without even knowing us!
That evening we went home and made our 'list' together: safety/security, a good outdoor space for the kids, an outdoor porch/area to eat, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, gas cooking option, water storage tanks, furnished, quiet area/neighborhood, close to church, at least one bathtub (our previous place had only stall showers and J was quickly outgrowing his storage-tub baths), somewhere to store our bikes and camping gear. Several days later, we went to meet our (new) friends on a Friday afternoon. We all fell in love with the place almost immediately... but what really sealed the deal was seeing the lovely yard, the pool and easy beach access. Not to mention it ticked every other box on our list. We told them we'd love to rent their place but were positive we couldn't afford it. We gave them our price range (which was absolutely ridiculous and anyone else would have smacked me in the face for saying that's what we could pay for this apartment) and we all parted ways to pray about it. That Sunday she found me after church and said they would let us rent it for the lower end of our price range. I couldn't even believe it. We agreed to get together in a few weeks' time and hash out the details.
And I thought that was the end of this beautiful miracle that God was doing for us. But it wasn't. Over the next few months we formed a quick and solid friendship with the Roux family. We helped as best we could with their transition to the UK by packing, arranging and sorting their things, their thoughts and their feelings with them. We empathized with them, shared lots of laughs, some tears and some great meals.
By the time their move day had come, we didn't want them to actually go. When the truck pulled away with their things on Friday afternoon it all became real. We shared one last meal together and said our goodbyes. Saturday morning, some other friends of ours helped us move from the small farm town of Port Edward, 40 minutes north to the suburbs in Uvongo. It didn't feel like our house. It just felt like we were house-sitting for the Rouxs while they were on vacation. It made us miss them more, felt surreal. We've hung our own photos, arranged things in a way that works for us, and broke in the braai quite a few times already. It's slowly starting to feel like home, but I still find it hard to accept that we live in a flat on the beach. We get to see whales and dolphins jumping in the waves every day. Never in a million years did I ever think we'd live on a beach anywhere, least of all in South Africa.
Now that we've been in here a few weeks, we've found even more winks from God. Little things that were on our general wish list for a while, have been showing up in cupboards and closets. We wanted to get Judah a toy guitar with real strings, because his electronic one broke. The Roux's daughter left hers behind with a note on it just for him. Owen has had a keyboard since he was a baby, he has always loved music. This is the first time he hasn't had one. The Roux kids left one behind in the closet for the boys. I've been wanting a good mixing bowl - I'd been using the liner for the instant pot because all my bowls are too shallow to use a hand mixer in. There's a gorgeous set of stainless mixing bowls in the cupboard. Our boys love waffles and frozen waffles aren't a thing here. They left a waffle maker in the cupboard. Owen loves dogs and was sad to leave the ones on the farm. There are 5 dogs in the complex and one of them in particular already loves Owen. So many little things that seem silly and inconsequential in the grand scheme of things - but God cares about it all. And I'm so thankful he loves us so much that I'm not in the dog house for trying to keep our little slice of paradise under wraps. So who's coming to visit first? ;)