house hunters international (except not)

So, we’re homeless at the moment. Not living on the streets or anything. We’re in a guesthouse. But we only have it reserved through next Thursday night (Britt & Pam’s last night here) and, even if it’s available after that, it’s $25/room (we have 2) and not in our budget beyond that date.

Ideally, we’ll have an apartment/house to move into by then. Some moments I think this is probably pretty doable. Other times I think there’s no way on earth.

A few hours ago, I posted a pic on Instagram/Facebook of us sitting in a little coffee shop. We all look happy with our little drinks, but a few minutes after the pic was taken, we were writing pros and cons of the houses we’ve looked at so far (on napkins–so cliche, I know), and before I knew what was happening, I said, “I’m going outside,” and leaned up against a building and cried.

There was a little more to it than just the housing situation. There were a few plans made for the evening (while I was in the restroom) that sounded zero awesome, and I started feeling some things about some things (and people) that were also zero awesome, and yeah.

A few minutes later, Gabe came out to rescue me from myself and said, “Hey, about those plans for tonight. How about you don’t have to go? I’ll go with Britt and Pam and any of the girls who want to come, and you can be alone in our room and blog or read or whatever.”

Yes, please. Thank you. That’s where I am right now. (And between then and now we went to Tuol Sleng–the genocide museum. I might blog about that later.)

Oh, and while I was outside crying, I pulled out my phone and pretended to be very into it (so no one would ask me if I needed a tuk-tuk), and three or four people on Facebook had said, “Hey! Did you see Househunters International?? A family from Columbus, OH just moved to Phnom Penh, Cambodia!”

We don’t know them (yet), but we have friends who know them. And I can’t even imagine the stress of looking for a place to live while everyone’s watching. And I haven’t seen the show and don’t want to make assumptions, but we’re looking at places to rent (not buy), and they cost anywhere from $200-$450/month, so maybe not the same. Or maybe?

So, let me fill you in a little on our housing situation. One of the first homes we went into during our last visit in 2011 was a beautiful new apartment on the 4th (?) floor. It was 2 bedrooms, 3 baths, and $400/month. We could totally do this, I thought. From that point on, we envisioned ourselves living in a small apartment overlooking the city.

Well, after living at Abbey Lane in community with everybody (including mostly people who don’t look like us), we thought, “Are we going to live in this beautiful African/Mexican/Nepali/Eritrean village in Ohio and then move to Cambodia and live in a gated apartment complex with a bunch of other white people?”

It just didn’t sit well in our hearts.


House #1:

Yesterday, we looked at a house that’s being lived in for another week, then it’s up for rent. Perfect timing, eh? It’s a Khmer-style house with three bedrooms. It comes furnished. The furnishings aren’t what we’d pick, but you know what they say about beggars & choosers. There’s a big courtyard outside (all brick, no grass) and a wall around it with a big gate. It’s on a dead-end street with lots of Khmer neighbors. It’s not quite in the location we were thinking of living in, but it’s not far. The girls weren’t really feeling it. $450/month. With an intimidating catch. The landlord wants 6 months’ rent upfront.

House #2:

Today our friend Melissa showed us some houses on her street. We’ve kind of fallen in love with her street. It’s a bunch of row houses four stories high. The first place we went through was pretty yucky (but it’s going to be cleaned/renovated). We would live on the first threeย floors, and they’re going to turn the top floor into 2 rooms to rent out. He’s asking $450/month, but Melissa (small and sweet in stature but big and powerful in negotiation) told him that was way too much. Also, it won’t be ready for at least a month-and-a-half.

House #3:

Melissa’s landlord (a sweet lady) introduced us to a friend on the street who said she had 2 floors for rent (the 3rd & 4th floor above her 1st & 2nd floors). They were beautiful with brand new tile floors and new stairs. $350/month. With one little problem. The living area is on the 4th floor, which means they would build a teensy little, very high spiral metal staircase that we would climb climb climb every time we want to get into our house. $350/month.

House #4:

The lady who would live below us in House #3 told Melissa in Khmer that, if we wanted, she would move all of her stuff onto the top 2 floors, and we could have the bottom 2. For just $250/month. But it’s pretty cramped and a little yucky and the stairs are so narrow and steep, and we have to duck to get up them. The bathrooms are teeny (a sink & toilet & the bathroom is your shower), and yeah, I just don’t know.

We have some other people willing to take us around, and we’re probably going to do that. I just feel overwhelmed.

I don’t want something too nice, but I don’t want something too not-nice. I don’t know exactly where we should live, and everybody (bless their sweet hearts) has his/her own opinion about certain areas of town. I don’t know what our budget is. Right now we’ve raised about 15% of our monthly support, so we should probably try to find something for about $35/month.

I also don’t want to spend all of our time with Britt & Pam searching for a place to live (although they said that’s fine with them).

And I don’t want to rush into anything. But we pretty much need to rush into something.

So, if you could just pray for wisdom and peace and unity among our fam and pray that we’d (mostly me) trust God has his hand in this, that would be AMAZING.

Thanks, friends.

11 thoughts on “house hunters international (except not)

  1. Sharon

    Praying. And want to say, there’s no way God worked out the past few years for you all the end up in Cambodia now, and that he won’t work out the housing situation. Can’t wait to hear the end of this story ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Sarah Farish

    So friend..I’ve not missed a post, but I’ve not had a chance to comment. I am keeping notes in my journal and planner…prayers for Marla. This one at the top. I want to give an opinion – how in the world could I? I have no idea what you must be seeing and feeling. But, I love you…and I know I am praying for where HE wants you – because I KNOW that’s what you want – even if the house/place is ummm….not the dream;) LOVE YOU!

  3. Lisa Jergens

    I have been following your story for a while now and am amazed at what God has done already and is doing now! Rejoice because you are on the threshold of great things. Any discouragement you are under is only rooted in fear. God loves you and has so much in store. You have been obedient to His call and there is provision for you. I am on my knees praying for you and God is on the throne laughing and rejoicing over you! Hallelujah!!! Bless you friend!

  4. valerie (in TX)

    What Laura said. ๐Ÿ™‚ Maybe you can find what will “do” for now and it doesn’t have to be long-term. I have no wise words, but know that I WILL be praying for all of you! Praying for wisdom and clarity and confidence and discernment and peace and rest and a spirit of unity. Much love to you!

  5. Lori

    firstly I am sorry I stupidly texted you in the middle of your night. Duh! Then I hoped maybe you weren’t getting texts :). Praying all over this. That you see clearly where God wants you to be and when. Like you need more opinions but maybe starting in the gated apartment is a good time to acclimate while you figure out more things?

  6. Nadine Webb

    Marla, I have not read through all the comments so please forgive if I am being repetitive. I am feeling your “overwhelmed-ness” and praying that God will give you both clarity and peace. Breathe. I suspect that in a short time, you will look back on this day and wonder why you even worried about it at all, especially in light of all those “not-coincidences” you wrote about just hours ago, right? ๐Ÿ™‚ Sister, I’m walking arm-in-arm with you in the Spirit, thankful that God gives us a brain and free will, and that God can use us even in our “mistakes.” Don’t fall into the mental trap of the fear of choosing the wrong place. He can use you mightily in any one of those places, or none of them. It may be a matter of just choosing well, not choosing perfectly. I’m thankful also for the reassurance from Jesus that our Father knows what we need even before we ask him, and that when we don’t even know what to ask or how to pray – when all the energy we can muster produces only tears or heartache – He’s stepping in there too, collecting those tears and interceding with the words we cannot produce. I can’t wait to read about your first house guest in your new digs. ๐Ÿ™‚ To God be the glory!

  7. Kristin

    Praying for you guys! Remember all the other times when things have been scarey for you and uncertain and really not clear and how God totally provided and you were left praising Him in the end! I know it’s hard in the process, but I’ve seen/read about you going through it many times before, and also seen/read about the praise and thanks afterwards. Maybe this isn’t encouraging, I don’t mean it to be offensive, but am reminded of how we should be confident of God’s faithfulness in past situations. He won’t ever let you down. I also know sometimes these fluffy words aren’t really helpful in the moment, when you are pressed against a deadline and no decision seems clearer than another. I like Laura’s words. Sometimes something might turn out better than what we think though it doesn’t seem glamorous at first- and if not, it doesn’t have to be permanent (though I know you’d probably like it to be). You aren’t alone in the decision! I’ll be praying for family unity to figure it out! There’s really no right or wrong, just whatever seems to work for you guys and fit with what’s most important to you. The less glamorous things will get worked out. ๐Ÿ™‚ Love you!

  8. laura

    Your blog post really resonated with me because while this is not even close to the same, I recently went through something where I had similar freak-out thoughts. I lost my job in March and spent the whole summer 1.) wallowing in my misery 2.) getting a good tan while overeating and being extremely lazy and unproductive 3.) more wallowing 4.) trying to find the most perfect job ever while skimming over everything that had anything not so perfect about it 5.) being overcritical and overemotional and extremely frustrated and generally clueless. Sigh. A wise friend told me that sometimes the most perfect thing doesn’t just fall into place at the most perfect time, and that even if I took a not-so-fantastic job that I didn’t have to stay there forever. Huh. I spent a lot of time crying over my situation and wondering why things were so terrible (poor me, enjoying the summer off with my kids and collecting unemployment) when in reality, they weren’t so bad. I did end up taking the not perfectly perfect job, and surprisingly, I have grown to kind of like it (a lot) and I know this is a great stepping stone to something later. I’m learning things I wouldn’t have learned had I not just swallowed my pride (and quest for perfection) and taken this job. I might just stay here longer than I planned. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Now while I know this isn’t the same as your situation, (nor am I judging or comparing or any of that) I just wanted to encourage you from the perspective that even if the house that you choose isn’t perfect, it isn’t FOREVER and you might just grow to like it or realize that it was a lot better than you thought after all. Remember that you’re all probably really exhausted still and you have a lot to do while you are not at 100% yet! Tons of people back in the U.S. (and I’m sure other places) are praying for you and support you guys so much. It will all fall into place. Much love <3

  9. Danielle Cevallos

    We moved to Bangkok a year and a half ago and finding a place to live was sooooooo hard! I feel your pain! It is weird feeling homeless, and so unsettled, when you already feel unsettled being so far away from the home you used to know…Praying for you guys!

  10. Sue Oda

    A friend of mine just told me about a couple from their church here in Troy who just left to be missionaries in Cambodia. I will get their names and text to you.

    Marla, any new venture whether it is a new job, a new home, or a new country brings new challenges and sometimes new languages (I am not talking English vs Khemer sp?) and new adjustments. God is on top of it even if you’re not. What does Scripture say, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these “things” will be added unto you” Hallelejah and Praise The Lord! Your new home is waiting right around the corner! Praying for your family!

  11. Julie Barnhill

    Of course, I will! I know a person or two who frequents that area–I’ll reach out and see if they know anybody who know somebody.

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