Mtwara is a rather slow beach town in the most southeast corner of Tanzania about 600 miles south of Tanga. During the last two weeks 6 people from our team visited Mtwara to begin looking for houses to rent. In February or March of next year we return to Mtwara to stay.
Before departing our team had very little background knowledge of Mtwara nor did we have any contacts for our housing needs. In fact there are no real estate agents in Mtwara. We all became real estate agents by simply walking around and finding people who had homes for rent. Doing this kept us very busy, but God blessed greatly: we found lots of contacts, saw lots of houses, spoke lots of Swahili, and made lots of friends.
In summary, the Meeks and Frasers seem to have settled on two simple houses in an area about 1-2 miles out of town. Both houses are on ½ acre lots. The Trulls and the Kellis’ have yet to find the places that fit our budget, our needs, and our vision.
There was one place, THE PLACE that Heather and I were just about to close a deal on. It is this unfinished house you can see in this picture: on the ocean, without a gate, and an almost perfect landlord; he was waiting for a tenant before he completed this home. Rehashing how great this house is makes my heart ache. The landlord wanted $800 per month for this house, but I was able to talk him down to $400 per month because I explained that we did not want him to make the house fancy or furnish it. We only asked that he get water and electricity going. He actually agreed to my proposal on the condition that I paid for one year in advance. All seemed so perfect, so we made our plans to sign the contract and to get him the money. Unfortunately/fortunately, after Heather and I cleared our heads, we could not make ourselves feel good about this house.
Even though it was a great deal, the financial commitment did not feel right. Also, it was not in an area where the average Tanzanian lived, but it was in Shangani East, where all the white people (wazungu) live who stay in Mtwara At first we tried to console ourselves that we would only be in the house for one year, and that we could use that time to find another place….this is good reasoning, but still…it just felt like too much.
This particular housing decision forced Heather and I to do a serious gut check to determine what our vision and calling will be in Tanzania. As bad as it felt to turn down the house of our dreams, we heard God saying, “wait.” Wait for what, we don’t yet know. Our last housing decision in the States was also about “mission,” and we also had to wait. Our long time dream was to move into a neglected neighborhood in Searcy, AR in order to be an intentional Christian presence there. After we decided to move there, it took about 1 year of praying and seeking God before we found the place. When we finally “found” THE house, we felt like it had found us. Based on that previous experience with God, I think Heather and I will find our next long term home in Tanzania by getting out among the people, and actively waiting on the Lord to show us the spot where he would like to place us.
We thank you so much for your prayers about our future home. May God use all of us in the homes he has provided.