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:
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…
I 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.
Then 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?
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. 🙂
And here’s our rather large bathroom (notice the homemade window screens):
Next comes Seth’s study, where he kindly shares some bookshelves with me and space for my piano.
My 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.
Okay, 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.
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.
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.
This is a small room, because the master bath cuts into it’s space.
Across 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.
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.
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!
Loved seeing your home. It is organized, utilized well and very nicely decorated. God is good.
Thanks, Mrs. Bedford! That’s encouraging!
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!
We would love for you to come!
I loved the tour of your home. Thank you, Amy! We pray for you regularly.
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. 🙂
Thanks, Charity! Great assessment. 🙂 I watch with avid interest your journey in trying to find e-books for homeschooling. 🙂
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!
Thanks! We’re bibliophiles, too, obviously!
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.
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.
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.
So fun to tour your house and grounds. Thank you for sharing!
You have a lovely home!
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 🙂