Pizzeria… or Villa?

How God provided a home for our family

We had a difficult time finding a place for our American to call home.  In Africa (and possibly everywhere else), our relationships are more important in the process of finding a home than the money we bring to the table.

As we were looking for a home in Abéché, we went to see the house of an old friend near the airport. The owner had converted a Lebanese Pizzeria into a home for MINURCAT troops. The floor plan was a bit odd, with windows into the hallway facing the living room. It was going to need a bit of work: we would have to clean out one of the toilets, the linoleum on the floor was all ripped up, the backyard had all sorts of weeds.  Someone had shattered the toilet seats. However, it was the best we had seen so far, so we prepared ourselves emotionally to go for it. The landlord was willing to cut the price by $50 per month from our best price.

However, while I had been in town buying a few supplies, I told my merchant friend about our need for a house. He said that he had a place, and that he would be willing to show it to us anytime if we were to swing by.

After seeing the former Lebanese Pizzeria with the girls, I felt to take them right away over to our friend’s shop and see if he might be willing to show us the house. It was approaching sunset, one of the busiest times at his shop. Yet he stopped all he was doing, closed his place down, jumped into our car and showed us the way.

As we got out of the car, Sarah noticed the pretty pink and baby blue gate… And she was in love with the place from that moment on. It was lovely in every way; it has:

  • tile floors throughout the house,
  • large windows and screens
  • large rooms
  • an inner and an outer yard
  • two outside bathrooms and an inside bathroom
  • no cracks in the walls or ceilings
  • besides the main building, there are four outer buildings, three of which have their own porches
  • barbed wire on the walls
  • neighbors, from the president’s family (automatically giving an extra measure of security to the home)
  • a picnic table with parasol, made of cement
  • a quiet neighborhood, but a direct route to the paved road

The door to our new homeAnd best of all, there are no signs of leakage after several years of sitting vacant!  This place was a potential blessing, not only for us, but for others as we could welcome them to stay with us.

The only concern we could have would be with the price our friend would want us to pay for it. As we parted, I told him what we could offer, and he did not sound too excited about that. I suggested that we take a day to think about it all, then get together on Wednesday.

For me, that Tuesday was a day of rising and falling emotions. At the end of the day, I sat with Sharon and made sure that we were offering as much as we could offer him, which we were.

I remember walking to the shop (it was a distance away, but I wanted time to think and pray about the house one last time). I was sure that the Lord had already spoken to my friend’s heart; I was merely going to find out what that was.

It was a busy late morning; one NGO in particular had four members restocking its groceries as they were preparing to re-start their well drilling projects. Once they left, Lo and Behold, there was no one in the shop but my friend and his two brothers (one of which is also a very good friend)! I told them how living in the village had An extra room for guestsgiven us an awareness of what we could and could not offer for a house, and that we could only offer the original amount I had mentioned.

My merchant friend, the owner of the house, replied, “We would not do this for anyone else but you. We know you and your family well, and want you to have the house at the amount you can pay per month. You are like a brother to us, and we are treating you like a brother.” My heart was very touched by all this.

Right away, I sent the girls an SMS that said, “We got the house!” There was lots of joy, jumping and praise as a result!


How about you? Have you found a place to call home in your adopted home country? If so, how did you find it?

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