We found a house! Now we just have to finish building it. So this is a really long story, that I’ll try to make short. Here’s my attempt at doing so:
We originally wanted to build a house here in Geita; when we were raising funds to move here, that was our plan. But we didn’t raise anywhere close to enough money to do so. So we knew we’d become renters once again, but there were several things we were looking for in a rental house (not in any order):
- close proximity / walking distance to the market, accessible to regular people
- a decent-sized kitchen (most houses here don’t have them — people cook with charcoal just outside their back door)
- cheap monthly rent (because we had initially planned to build, we have no money included in our monthly funds with which to pay rent on a house)
- small and unimposing, yet big enough for us to raise our family in and have guests
The housing market in Geita is not a booming one. But we managed to find a house that satisfied the first three of these requirements. The house is about a mile from the market on a road that lots of people walk on. The kitchen is inside, and bigger than any of the kitchens in our previous apartments in the states. And the rent is $200 / month. However, the house is bigger than we’d intended to live in. We wanted a house that wouldn’t scream to Africans that we have more money than they do, though the simple act of driving a truck and wearing different clothes every day already does that to a great extent. We’ve prayed a lot about the whole situation and feel this house is the best one for us — that our hospitality and kindness will have to be what shows Africans we are different, not making it look like we have a little less money than we do (even though smaller houses without kitchens rent for the same price or even more than the one we’ll be in). But I don’t think we’ll ever be comfortable with the money and comfortability issues while here — please pray for us that we will be wise in how we use (and appear to use) money. And you all should know we have a house that is big enough for any of you to come visit, so please remember us when you’re making vacation plans; we’d be really happy to host you in our home.
This long story short thing isn’t going so well… It’s really common here to find houses that have been started, but not finished. Many people start building houses, but then run out of money, or just decide not to finish it until they actually have someone who will be paying rent on it. Because it is also customary here to pay one or two years‘ rent up front when you sign your contract. The owner can then finish the house with that money (and you might even get say in the colors and whatnot) and the renter is assured a place for the next couple of years. This is what happened with our house. It had a foundation, all the walls, and a roof. The owner had plenty of money to finish it, but figured there wasn’t any point, since there was no one to live in it yet. Mr. Msenya was excited about the idea of us living in his house, though, because it makes his home a better investment. Most people who build homes here do so as a form of investment. The cost of homes is always going up, and this is a safe place to put their money, in order to help at retirement. They can either retire and live in those homes, rent them, sell them, or give them to their children. But it’s a well-known secret that if you get foreigners to live in your house, they will take good care of it. That way the house is in better shape later when you actually need it. Also Mr. Msenya was excited about the work we’d come to do here, and wanted to help us in some way.
So I’ve spent most of the last two weeks overseeing about ten or so guys who are working on finishing the house. I’ve been buying sinks and toilets and paint and trying to convince Mr. Msenya not to put tiles in every room and on the outside walls of the house (succeeded), not to get aluminum windows (failed), and that a hot water heater is more important than getting tinted windows to show the world you have money (succeeded at getting the heater instead of tinted windows, but not at changing Mr. Msenya’s views on showing wealth).
We are currently working through the following two financial situations:
- Many of you know that Christie and I are raising money for a new vehicle (that will last for our full 8-10 years in Tanzania), and that we haven’t reached our goal yet. You also know that we bought a used truck to drive until we do reach that goal. It is our plan to continue raising funds for the new vehicle while we sell my Wrangler in the states, and then to sell this truck for about the same price we bought it (vehicles hold value really well here), so that we can pay for the new Toyota.
- Christie and I did not originally have in our budget to pay rent each month, but we’re trying to rearrange things so that money will be available. But we are payingthree years’ rent up front to move into the new house — which amounts to $7200.
It is a sad reality of being a missionary that we sometimes have to talk about financial needs, but it is indeed a reality. We would ask that you…
- pray that our Father who owns the cattle on a thousand years will bless us with a way to take care of the above issues
- consider helping us in some way — maybe you normally contribute monthly, but could front us money now for the next year?
- consider taking up a collection in a Sunday School class
- think long and hard about whether or not you might like to buy a yellow 2000 Jeep Wrangler