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.

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