Little House in the Bushveldt

The ladies over at the Baptist Missionary Women want to share pictures of what missionary homes look like around the world, so today’s Wordless Wednesday will include a lot of words as well. I’m afraid sometimes to share what our house looks like, because missionaries can be kinda judg-y towards one another sometimes, and so can supporters. Your house might look too nice, too not-nice, too dingy, too out-of-style, too in-style, too…too…too… Anyway, hopefully this will be a help to someone.

We built our house in a village in Africa in 2006. Our house is typical of a somewhat well-to-do rural South African: cement block house and “zinc” (corrugated iron) roof. We have many neighbors with houses not quite as nice as ours, and a few with houses nicer than ours.

Over the years we have made our home nicer. Originally we had no ceiling nor tile, only cement floors. Now you will notice tile in all of the rooms. We wanted to communicate to the Africans that a house could be bettered over the years through continual work and savings. Our garden as well has improved yearly. Our next project will be repainting. You may notice the dirty walls everywhere–ita vita African! (especially with lots of little kids!)

So I’ll start from the outside and work my way in:

View of our backyard: water tank; shaded sandbox for the kids, laundry lines, and some storage.

View of our backyard: water tank; shaded sandbox for the kids, laundry lines, and some storage.

From the arched driveway.

From the arched driveway.

The dirty, bad-grass area is where I plant a veggie garden on occasion.

The dirty, bad-grass area is where I plant a veggie garden on occasion.

My favorite "butterfly" tree. The entire garden is our (especially my husband's) labor. It was bush grass when we built.

My favorite “butterfly” tree. The entire garden is our (especially my husband’s) labor. It was bush grass when we built.

Bushes separate this side of the house. This side of the house never gets to fully dry during the rainy season, so you can see mildew on the wall.

Bushes separate this side of the house. This side of the house never gets to fully dry during the rainy season, so you can see mildew on the wall.

Other side of house looking out into the front yard.

Other side of house looking out into the front yard.

Burn pit and compost pit.

Burn pit and compost pit.

Side view of house from the back by the water tank. Shows window of homeschool room and side door from the store room.

Side view of house from the back by the water tank. Shows window of homeschool room and side door from the store room.

Another view of the side of the house with the side door. The box on the wall was for a telephone line. It no longer works; we use cell.

Another view of the side of the house with the side door. The box on the wall was for a telephone line. It no longer works; we use cell.

Living / Dining Room / Kitchen:

We built our house planning to start a church in it. So we built a large main living area to one side, holding a couch for a “living room,” our family table, the kitchen, and a bathroom. Seth’s study also comes off of it. We held several of our first church services in this room and can seat about 25 people fairly comfortably inside it. When you walk in the front door, you are in the middle of this large room.

To your right past the kitchen and dining area is a door that used to lead to a garage, which took up about a third of our house’s square footage. Just a few months ago we remodeled that garage into two rooms: a store room in the back and a school / guest room in the front. That’s why our driveway appears to drive right into the house–because it used to!

Then to your left is a hallway leading to three bedrooms.

So starting from the front door and our main living room area where we used to have church…

Turn slightly to your left and you see our "living room."

Turn slightly to your left and you see our “living room.”

View straight on when you walk in the front door: you see the door for the bathroom on the right and the study door to the left. This is the center of that large room.

View straight on when you walk in the front door: you see the door for the bathroom on the right and the study door to the left. This is the center of that large room.

Here is a view of the entire room from the homeschool room (old garage) door.

Here is a view of the entire room from the homeschool room (old garage) door.

Another side view from the kitchen of this large room.

Another side view from the kitchen of this large room.

The dining room area, taken from the kitchen.

The dining room area, taken from the kitchen.

DSCN0030I just want to share two decorative items that make me happy. First, a blanket my sister made for me when we saw pictures of the ugly couch my bachelor husband had bought before I married him. (My husband is quick to say that he bought the best one he could find. “If only you had seen the other choices, Amy…”) The blanket is a reproduction of a Renoir painting of two girls singing around the piano, which I love because I did quite a lot of that growing up and was a piano major in college.

DSCN0032Then the painting over the couch was an auction store find from our teammates here. The green frame and orange highlights go perfectly with our living room, and we needed a large picture for that wall. Best of all, however, it’s a picture of the Capitol Building. Love that touch of home in our living room! And it’s not too overt, since the Africans don’t know what that building is! (Most of the other pictures on the walls are garage sale finds from furlough.)

Next comes the kitchen, which a lady built for us. Going through her instead of a company saved some money. We learned a lot though about building in the village. One thing is to constantly check the work. There are errors all over in this house that some might not notice, but we certainly do. One example: they added 300 centimeters onto our bathroom, stealing it from the kitchen.

So our bathroom is quite large, and our kitchen is very nice for an African, but could be even larger, if they had measured correctly. When we first showed our house to some Afrikaner friends, I will never forget the husband taking his wife in his arms in the bathroom, looking back at us and laughing, “You could go ballroom dancing in here!” Well, it’s better to laugh than to cry, right?

Poor lighting: I took it at night.

Poor lighting: I took it at night.

The window looks crooked because of my blinds there, but it actually is crooked! Another building error. Seth had to put up the curtain rods crooked (to the window, but level to the ceiling) to make it look correct.

Don’t you find it interesting what someone’s kitchen communicates about them? On the counter is a container of tadpoles we’re raising, with a jug of extra river water and cooked lettuce for their food. Next to that is some melted beeswax for my lip balm projects to raise money for our church building, and the box on top of the cupboard contains the empty containers for the lip balm.

The fridge has five decorative items (Seth hates clutter, so it’s quite efficient): Daily checklist for homeschooling; picture study for the week; our monthly verse, character trait, and hymn; a recent art project by Callie; and the Brother Offended checklist. And on the floor a free carpet sample from my dad’s store where he works, shipped from America after furlough. 🙂

Closet in bathroom

Closet in bathroom

DSCN0058And here’s our rather large bathroom (notice the homemade window screens):DSCN0056

Next comes Seth’s study, where he kindly shares some bookshelves with me and space for my piano.

From the doorway. This is to the left of the bathroom, which is to the left of the kitchen, all of which open into the main room.

From the doorway. This is to the left of the bathroom, which is to the left of the kitchen, all of which open into the main room. Our one indoor plant, an orchid, is thriving there getting afternoon sun.

Please don't notice the messy piles everywhere. Still trying to clean up from our furlough shipment!

Please don’t notice the messy piles everywhere. Still trying to clean up from our furlough shipment! Notice our one concession to African art there over the piano. We wanted to help the poor artist.

Books, books, books. And guitar for church.

Books, books, books. And guitar for church.

IMG_2433My only other piece of African art is a clay pot that a national church gave us for a wedding party they threw us when Seth returned here with his new American bride. A lady in their village has a pottery business. For years I had a grass broom in it, but Seth burned it last month, saying it looked too dirty! (I did actually sweep with it, haha!) So I got some prettier twigs for it.

DSCN0024Okay, moving ON to the hallway to the left of the main room and study. The nice thing about owning your own home is that when you need more space, you can get creative with where to build some; or just add on. We made a hallway closet to put more shelving in for more BOOKS a couple of years ago. The hallway shows two doors to the left: first, the kids’ room; and second, the baby’s room. To the right is the master bedroom.

Kids’ Bedroom:

Bookshelf (used to have two in here!) and Thomas the Train (best. toy. ever!)

Bookshelf (used to have two in here!) and Thomas the Train (best. toy. ever!)

Closet

Closet

Usually there is a triple bunk in there, but right now the single bed for the top is removed and put in the homeschool room since Seth’s dad is coming to visit. Between the triple bunk, bookshelves, a closet, and a grocery corner cupboard (that we originally bought when first married for our rental home which had limited kitchen space, but it fits perfectly behind the kids’ door!), there isn’t a lot of space to move around in there. We custom-made rolling drawers to try to utilize more space under the beds. One holds shoes, socks, and underwear, and the other holds small toys like cars and blocks.

There's the ladder, stored for now, which leads to the upper bunk. You can see the dirty wall, where the kids' feet hit when the upper bunk is there. The curtain is ripped. :( I have the replacement, but Seth hasn't had time to hang it yet.

There’s the ladder, stored for now, which leads to the upper bunk. You can see the dirty wall, where the kids’ feet hit when the upper bunk is there. The curtain is ripped. 😦 I have the replacement, but Seth hasn’t had time to hang it yet.

Corner cupboard and fan behind the doorway.

Corner cupboard and fan behind the doorway.

We had this honkin' wardrobe custom-made to fit behind the door to save space. But it doesn't fit--barely too big. :(

We had this honkin’ wardrobe custom-made to fit behind the door to save space. But it doesn’t fit–barely too big. 😦

Next, what we call the baby’s room. Obviously, that’s where we keep our babies until they’re old enough to sleep through the night and not roll off the bed and all that good stuff.

I'm going to put a bookshelf here instead.

I’m going to put a bookshelf here instead.

This is a small room, because the master bath cuts into it’s space.

The storage tub has Lincoln Logs. (second best toy ever!)

The storage tub has Lincoln Logs. (second best toy ever!)

DSCN0033Across the hall is our master bedroom and bathroom. The bathroom takes some space from our bedroom, the hallway, and the baby’s room, and is arguably the best decision we made in making the house. We debated heavily over not doing it, since we didn’t want to look rich to the Africans; but it is essentially hidden from them and has been SUCH a help to us with the other bathroom being more public and having several guests and a large family ourselves.

The bathroom is the wall jutting out there behind the drawers. That's a non-electric walking machine in the back.

The bathroom is the wall jutting out there behind the drawers. That’s a non-electric walking machine in the back.

My husband rigged a fold-up table to the side of the wardrobe for a desk for me.

My husband rigged a fold-up table to the side of the wardrobe for a desk for me.

IMG_2425 IMG_2428

 

 

 

 

School / guest room: the single bed usually goes on top of the kids' double bed to make a triple bunk.

School / guest room: the single bed usually goes on top of the kids’ double bed to make a triple bunk.

Moving back to the other side of the main room where the garage used to be is a store room in the back and a homeschool room in front (or guest room as needed, which has been the only case so far!) Because I really want to show off my homeschool room when it’s finally done, and we still currently don’t have all the furniture needed or pictures up or books organized, etc., I’m just giving one quick shot of that.

DSCN0052 DSCN0053

 

 

 

 

Wow, this post took time! I hope you liked seeing our house. If I forgot to explain something important, please let me know. I’m getting impatient to finish this… Also, I apologize for the poor quality of pictures. Someday I’d like to get a fancy camera!

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About Amy

I'm Amy, a missionary wife and mother of four children, blogging about our lives and perspectives on culture in South Africa.
This entry was posted in Missional Monday, Wordless Wednesday and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Little House in the Bushveldt

  1. Ann Bedford says:

    Loved seeing your home. It is organized, utilized well and very nicely decorated. God is good.

  2. zebranay says:

    Love your house and I love the details. It really helps me to see you’re home and someday I WILL come to see it and all of you!

  3. TIMOTHY PHILLIPS says:

    I loved the tour of your home. Thank you, Amy! We pray for you regularly.

    ~Sheila Phillips

  4. Charity says:

    Lovely, Amy! My favorites??? Books everywhere and kids reading books (that’s the homeschool mom in me) and Western toilets (that’s the Asian missionary side of me) and the yard space (that’s the Carolina girl in me!) God is good and you have made a great home. 🙂

  5. Thanks so much for linking up and giving us a tour of your home. It’s lovely. I also love all of your books. I have a book addiction! I love seeing how God has blessed missionary women all over the world!

  6. Dee Snyder says:

    Thank you for the tour, Amy. Love your house and the “secret” goofs you shared. Typical and believe it or not– even in the USA contractors make mistakes!! Love the wooden cupboards and desks. Your “garden” is wonderful! Where in SA are you? We spent 10 months there 12-13′ filling in for missionaries in Jo’burg.

    • Amy says:

      Oh wow, you’ve been everywhere haven’t you? We are in the northern province, Limpopo, about an hour from the Zimbabwean border. We’re in Elim, to be exact.

  7. Cathy says:

    As the mom of a missionary, my daughter and her family are in Nepal, I am very thankful that her living quarters are not a shack like we always imagined. I am sure your parents are just as grateful for your home. It is encouraging to us to know that you guys are ok.

  8. So fun to tour your house and grounds. Thank you for sharing!

  9. senkyoushi says:

    You have a lovely home!

  10. Patty says:

    So glad to get a chance to see your home, Amy! From one African missionary to another, I think you’ve done well on the balance! Can appreciate all the crooked windows, slanted walls and floors, dirty hand and footprints on the walls, and the continually mildew-y wall 🙂 Can’t wait to see your homeschool room all finished. The tadpoles cracked me up ~ ours lived on our front porch 🙂

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