It’s a gift! That’s the only explanation.
The story started last fall when our landlord spoke to me. “Are you going to renew your lease in April?” he asked. “I have people who want to lease it and they will sign a long lease. Please let me know as soon as possible.”
My heart sank. We didn’t want to sign a long lease, because we knew the place was only temporary. We are praying that God will direct us to a permanent place for our ministry.
I began searching the Internet. “Here’s one – a house with an outbuilding on about five acres,” I told Paul.
“Wrong area,” he said, reading over my shoulder. “It would be too far for the Thailand preachers to come.”
“What area, then?”
“I don’t know. It depends on who comes faithfully to the preachers training. We will need to be close to the ones I can work with.”
I closed down the computer. It was hopeless. How could we find land when we didn’t know yet where to look? We would have to rent again – but where? According to Thai law, if you have foster children who are of both sexes, you have to house them in separate buildings. We have one girl, which means we would need two houses. How could we find two houses close together like the one we had?
We prayed about it, and I worried a bit. I don’t like leaving things to the last minute, especially big things like finding a place to live.
Then in January we met a missionary couple at a meet-the-local-official event. “Do you know of anyone who needs to rent a house in April?” she asked me. “We are going back to America and the house we’ve rented for six years will be available. It’s a nice house and the rent is reasonable.”
“Yes – we do,” I said. “But we have to have two houses next door to each other.” (Hopeless, right? Nope!)
“There are two houses on the property. You can rent them both for 15,000 baht.”
That was half of what we were paying for the three small houses we were renting.
I dragged Paul over to look at the house – and was amazed. The house is huge and beautiful, in a quiet gated community. It has a western style kitchen – with real cabinets, a stove and oven, and hot water to the kitchen sink! It even has storage areas, which is unheard of here. The smaller house next door needed work, but would do for a boys’ dorm room.
The kids thought the best part was the community swimming pool next door. My friend who lived here before assured me that hardly anyone used the pool. It was like a personal pool right outside our door. Except that we don’t have to maintain it.
It was perfect. Too perfect. Paul was reluctant to rent it because it was so very nice. We minister to poor people who already think we are filthy rich and who thought our modest little house was a mansion. He has worked hard to teach them that, while it is our joy to give, his ministry is about the Gospel. He wants to work with people who have a heart for the Lord, not those who are looking for the foreigner with the biggest budget.
We’ve already lost some to a group who hands out money freely. If that is what they want, that’s okay with us. We have plenty more people to work with. But if they saw the lovely house, many would be bound to think we have so much money that surely we could give them more – and the fact that it was so much cheaper than the current small house wouldn’t carry much weight.
Besides, Lahu people show up by the truckload all the time. They arrive without warning and come for meals, and often to spend the night. Sometimes they need a place to stay when a relative is in the hospital. Sometimes they come to Paul for counsel, or to ask for medicines. We are here to serve them, and we don’t want to turn them away. They would have trouble getting past the gated entry and it would be difficult to put them up in the new house.
But it couldn’t be a coincidence that a house that met our needs so well, had so many added pluses –and which was so much cheaper — would fall into our laps at exactly the time we need it. It had to be from our God who provides so generously.
That’s when we hit on the idea. If we kept the third house which we used as a dining room, meeting room and office, the people could stay there, just as they always do. We negotiated a deal with the landlord and rented it for about the equivalent of $200 a month.
We signed the one-year lease here and moved in. It was an exhausting business, as the house was coated in masonry dust from a ceiling repair before we moved in. Nothing like a massive cleaning job in the hottest part of the year! Moving in 105 degree heat wasn’t fun. But, we did it and we are here.
We are enjoying the lovely house the Lord provided – for about $430 a month rent. And we are trying to enjoy it as the temporary gift it is. We still need and are praying for our own property in Thailand. We believe that in the future as the restrictions and conflicts lessen, the property in Myanmar will be a great asset in ministering to the tribals in Myanmar, Laos and China. In the meantime, though, we need to own a place in Thailand. The kids IDs are connected to a place, and it has created problems that we rent instead of buying property. (Thai law is a mystery to us!) Having all our ministries in one central location so we don’t have to travel will make life easier, too. Now we have to make arrangements for leaving the kids here while we rent property in two different locations for preachers’ training. Owning our own property would be cheaper in the long run and it would be better for the kids for us to be on hand all the time.
Besides, we are praying about a school for the hill tribes kids. They have no opportunity for education. We could provide that, but we need a place for the kids to stay. More about that later. We are trusting the Lord to direct to a place and to provide the finances we need when the time comes.
Meanwhile, though, I’m going to go down to my beautiful kitchen and cook something! God is good!