Wednesday, August 18, 2010

There's No Place Like Home

I have avoided posting details about our housing situation because I had hoped to be able to eventually tell the WHOLE story from start to finish, which requires, ahem, a FINISH. But seeing as there is no end in sight to our domestic dilemma I have decided to share the hairy journey with you up to today. If you like resolutions and nice neat endings, you will not enjoy this post one bit. You will, however, have a very real peek into the lives of four travel-weary vagabonds who are on day 52 of suitcase-searching, laundry-mat loitering, and hot-plate cooking. If you want to continue with a dreamy vision of us skipping down the streets of Paris without a care in the world, I warn you, STOP READING RIGHT NOW!

First, let me assure you that although you may sense a bit of whining on my part, we are quite certain that God does indeed have a place for us (sing with me, "somewhere a place for us..."). We have each pitched our fits in turns, gotten over it, and reminded each other of God's faithfulness. Finding a place to live has been an exercise in patience, trust, and hope. We do not doubt that God is FOR us, and that His plans for us are GOOD. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair.

The day after we arrived in France (July 27) our field director told us enthusiastically, "I think I have the answer to all your problems! I found a house in Massy that is being totally remodeled, it has three bedrooms plus an office, a fully equipped kitchen, and is available September 1. We have an appointment to go and see it tomorrow."

Go and see it, we did! It was a darling house, close to our language school, with a wonderfully large (by French standards) kitchen and dining room. We learned that in France, in most rentals the kitchen is not equipped, which means it does not have any appliances or even any cabinets for that matter. This house had it all, and we immediately submitted an application.

One week later we learned that our application was denied. We believe (though we are only guessing, for we were given no explanation) that our income was not considered sufficient by the rental agency. You see house number one cost 1400 Euro/month, which was greater than 1/3 of our income, which is the general standard for determining if a renter is qualified.

No worries. David and I set out on a massive Internet search, selecting only houses that would be in our price range of 1100 Euros a month or less. We looked within a 30 kilometer radius of our language school, and came up with 9 viable options. Our field leader took to the phones to make appointments for us to see these rentals. He is very good to us that way--since we don't speak French yet.

We were able to get appointments to see four of the nine. Of the four, one stood out far above the others for a number of reasons, including the fact that it was available immediately, it had 3 bedrooms PLUS a basement room that we could use for storage, and it had two toilets. It was a row house, so it even had a nice patio and a tiny yard. There were draw backs--for example, there was space for a dishwasher OR a washing machine, but not both. There was room for a refrigerator OR an oven, but not both. There was NO place for a clothes dryer and we were pretty sure that our queen sized sleigh bed would not fit into any of the bedrooms. But we decided the positives outweighed the negatives, and we were certain this was the best one we had seen in our price range, so we submitted an application to rent it last Thursday.

We called on Friday--no word. We stopped in on Saturday--no answer. We called twice on Monday, and the agent did not return our calls. We called on Tuesday morning, the agent was out. We stopped in yesterday afternoon and found our agent outside her office smoking a cigarette. She told David, "Non" and explained that they found another applicant who was a "better fit." We really have no idea what that means, nor do we know if she ever would have bothered to call and tell us the answer. But one thing was clear--house number two was no longer an option.

Our shipping container was due to arrive in France on Wednesday, the 18th of August, and so we had a bit of a sense of urgency in finding a place to live. In an effort to take the next visible step before us, we went to the apartment that was third on our list and submitted an application. As with all the others, this one has its pros and cons. On the one hand, it is absolutely FULL of charm, it is on the large side, and is has space for every appliance a girl could want. On the other hand, it is about 25 minutes from the language school, on the third floor of a building with NO elevator, has no parking, and has not one iota of storage space. Not even a closet.

Apartment number 3 is available immediately, and the agent seemed positive enough about the transaction that she told us that if we got our insurance (you have to have this before you can rent a place) she thought she could give us the keys when we met on Saturday to sign papers.

And so it would seem that we could have a place to live. None of us are very excited about it, but at least we wouldn't be homeless. And in that frame of mind, we began our drive back to the north side of Paris where we are being temporarily housed. We stopped off at IKEA to look at armoires and other creative storage pieces. And we tried to encourage each other.

"It's just for a year."

"Once we're moved in the stairs won't be an issue."

"It IS really cute."

"It sounds like we can rent a parking space half a block away."

We are all trying to be content. And we all believe that IF this is where God wants us, He will give us the grace to enjoy it. But then again, what if this isn't where He wants us?

And why would we think that? Well, there seems to be the possibility that an apartment in Massy--1 km from our language school--might become available. It might not. All we have heard are whispers and rumors. No one is saying anything for certain; yet, our field director seems to be urging us to wait a few more days before committing to apartment number 3. We have no idea what the place in Massy looks like or if we would want it if it did become available. But we all seem to like the idea of being closer to the language school, so we think that waiting might be a good idea.

When we arrived back at our crash pad last night David got a call from the shipping company. It seems that our container, which was supposed to ship on August 4th, did not leave the states until August 11th. This means that our belongings are still in transit, and we probably won't get them until the 28th of August. Is this good news or bad news? We really don't know. We are anxious to have our things, but we want them when we have a place to put them. Could the impediment of our shipping container be a holy hold-up? A divine delay? A providential postponement? C'est possible.

And so today we wait and pray. Actually we played a grand old game of Hand and Foot, trusting that while we were at play, God was at work. He's always at work.


  1. Oh my word, what a world of craziness you are all in right now. I am sorry you do not have a spot to call your own yet, but you are right, God is going to provide for all of you, in ways that only He can. I am anxous to hear the final chapter of the story. Missing you.

  2. Wow! Living abroad...amazing what you're going through. I can't wait to hear the end of the story.

  3. It took us 3.5 months to get our belongings from Australia to Spokane. I pray it doesn't take that long for you guys.