Saturday, June 23, 2012

It's 'quite lovely'

We had been waiting for this past Thursday for several weeks now as we had targeted that day as our main 'move-out' day. We had a free truck rental that day from our storage unit so we saved the last of the big stuff for that day (couches, washer, dryer, freezer). So when I woke up at 6am, I wasn't expecting anything more out of the day than the satisfaction of finally getting our stuff out of the house. I was also a little anxious about whether or not we'd fit in our storage unit and what the backup plan would be.
When I got up and checked my email (typically the first thing I do every morning - working for a global ministry means that I typically get 2-3 emails from people at our other offices around the world who've just finished their day), there was a message from Mike in the UK office that he had some potentially exciting news. Apparently, a gal from his church randomly stopped by the office (which is located in a small room on the second floor of the old Colchester Baptist Church building) and asked how things were going. Mike told her that they were anxiously awaiting our arrival. He also mentioned at the end that if she knew of any houses for rent to let him know.
About a month ago, we had started looking online for housing. There are actually many houses available for rent there, however, as we started looking, most every house has one or even two common walls (row housing) and there are very few in areas near the good schools and the office downtown. We did find one that seemed like it could be good, but when Mike contacted the realtor to find out about it, it had already been rented. Further, the realtor told him that things were going very fast these days and that it would be impossible for us to secure a place until we were ready to move in (i.e. start paying rent immediately). So, we shelved the housing search, somewhat expecting to probably have to arrive in the UK without a place and try to find one there.
So back at the church now, when Mike mentioned in passing that he was looking for houses for rent, the gal who had stopped by the office told him that yes, she did happen to know that one of the deacons in the church was moving to south of London and was looking to rent his house out. Since Mike had been a deacon for years until this year, he knew the young man and his wife fairly well (and was a bit embarrassed to have not known they were moving!). The house is within cycling distance of the office and even a long walk (less than 2 miles), and near a very good school.  So Mike contacted them right away and learned that indeed it was for rent and they were actively trying to get it rented - there was even a showing scheduled that afternoon. Mike told him that we would very interested and let them know our budget, which was about 20% lower than what they were asking for a rental price.
He was somewhat taken aback by their enthusiasm about this, as they went on to explain how excited they would be to have another young Christian family coming to live in their house (they are about our age).  Apparently, they have been hosting a 20-something's home group in their home for several years, and recently they had all been praying that they could find a Christian family to rent their house and possibly keep the home group going. In fact, they were so certain this was an answer to their prayers that they were willing to lower their rental price some to try to make it work for us. They know all about EMIUK and felt that it was their way of supporting our ministry.
So, Mike and his wife Marietta went over that night to check out the house, and by their words, it is 'quite lovely'. :) It is a detached house, which as I mentioned is pretty rare in the city, and it has ample space to house visitors (which we expect to be doing regularly :) ). I mentioned how close to the office it is, but it's also just around the corner from a very good school (though getting into schools is tricky there, apparently, as the good schools are all 'over-subscribed' - love the subtle differences in terminology - so we'll have some praying to do to hopefully get them into this school).
Anyway, all of this transpired the day we were moving out of our house here - probably the most stressful day of this whole process. So getting that piece of very unexpected news and learning the back story of the house and the family who own it was more than an answer to prayer - we honestly hadn't even got around to praying about that specifically yet! :)
We are very excited to have a home waiting for us (all the details haven't been finalized just yet, but it appears to be all set) and are excited at the prospect of continuing on their home group. Meeting other Christians in the UK can be much more difficult than it is in the US (we've been told), since their numbers are so much fewer and people tend to be a little more private about it. So we see this home group as another answer to prayer (this one we have actually prayed for!) as we have been a little concerned about moving there and feeling isolated from the community, not making friends, etc.
So we are thanking God these days for this unexpected blessing. As we prepare to drive out of Colorado Springs early tomorrow morning, have a few more details of what the next phase of life will look like is a huge encouragement.
So, California, here we come! (By the way, if you haven't noticed, I will be increasing the rate of posting on the blog again, similar to when we were in Uganda. I hope to update about once every two weeks. I'll ask for a little grace this Summer perhaps, but after that we'll be updating regularly about our life in the UK.
Our closing prayer request is that our visas would be approved. It was a big undertaking and expense to apply, and there are no guarantees that we'll be granted approval. Please pray for favor amongst the UK Border officials.

Monday, June 18, 2012

'Emi' is growing up fast!

I wanted to share this cute story from one of our project leaders, Bob Smith. Bob, a licensed surveyor, and his wife, Marilyn, have been co-leading trips with EMI for over 10 years.  They are in Kenya right now about to wrap up their latest trip. Bob sent out this emailed update this morning:

"Some of you might remember this from 10 years ago when we took our 1st trip to Ahero, Kenya, to work with the ministry of St. Lukes. While we were there, the EMI team was asked to name a baby that had born during our visit. Well, we all decided that she should of course be called 'Emi', and the ministry loved it! So, here is Emi, now 10 years old and sporting a new dress that we bought her today. She eagerly put it right on. I think on our next trip we should bring her an 'EMI' t-shirt! After that, we need to prepare for her graduation!"

Emi, with Marilyn Smith

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

UK update

The clock is ticking down on our departure from Colorado Springs. I thought I'd give a quick update on where we're at with things and what our schedule is for the coming weeks. Enjoy!

* I took a successful, 3-day trip up to visit our Canada office in preparation for being in the UK office. It was a very helpful trip and a great chance to learn about how the Canada office works. It was my first time in Canada - what a nice place Calgary is!
* Alisha and the boys are out of school now! Alisha resigned from her job and officially checked the boys out of the school (though she did make it clear that she would love to return to teach at the school when we return, and also hope to re-enroll the boys back at TCA).
* All the soccer seasons have ended! The boys love soccer season so they're a little bummed. The EPL also ended, and if you haven't heard, Manchester City scored two goals in stoppage time to win their last game and snatch the title out of the hands of our beloved Manchester United! It was an agonizing end to the season - Graysen was in tears once again (ref. the Oregon Ducks' loss in the BCS Championship game a year ago!)
* We are in full-swing moving mode, with about 75% of our house packed and moved into storage! I'm sure many of you can relate- moving is not the most fun way to spend your days, but we were blessed with a supporter offering to pay for our storage unit and with some friends here who loaned us their trailer for the month of June, allowing us to move ourselves over the course of the month.
* I sold my Jeep for the full asking price this past weekend within just 18 hours of posting it on Craigslist. I had 8 people contact me about it within a half-day! Fortunately, one of my friends and co-workers here at EMI is leaving tomorrow for Africa for 6 weeks, so he's letting me borrow his car to get to and from work.
* Since we're moving out a month early (our lease contract is through July 31st), the rental company has been showing the house to prospective renters in hopes of finding someone to move in at the end of June so we wouldn't have to pay rent in July.
* We move out of our house June 24th.
* We drive out of Colorado Springs on Weds. June 27th, heading for the Bay Area.  We'll be up and down the West Coast visiting family/friends/supporters as much as possible during July and the first week of August.
* We fly out to the UK August 14th.
* We are in the middle of the very complicated visa application process. We've submitted applications online, paid the fees and gathered a number of important documents. Next week we have to go to Denver to register our 'biometric data', which includes fingerprints, retinal scans, photos, etc.
* We won't be able to secure a place to rent in Colchester until sometime in late July.
* My trip to Guinea in September is almost fully recruited - I just need a structural engineer to join us. The trip dates are set for Sept 11-21 - once again, on the 'Africa Mercy' ship, this time docked in the port at Conakry, Guinea.

Prayer Requests:
* That our visas would be approved quickly and without issues. It is a huge process and our situation is fairly unique, so pray the border agents aren't confused about what we're trying to do.
* Continued financial provision for this very expensive endeavor. We have been so blessed and overwhelmed at what looked like an impossibility. God has clearly provided for our needs in this so it has once again been a great faith-building exercise!
* A renter to take over our house here in COS so we wouldn't have to pay rent in July.
* Sanity amidst the move as two perfectionists deal with a house in shambles!
* Wisdom in packing - knowing what's worth taking over to the UK. We get 3 free checked bags each (missionary tickets) - which is a blessing and a curse! :)
* That we would be good parents to the boys during this transition time. They are fairly excited for it, but there are definitely anxieties attached to packing all your things and moving across the world. They're being troopers, but this month of packing up has been and will be hard for them.