May 30th marks 5 years at our home. FIVE! In our first 8 year of marriage we moved many many times. The longest we lived in one home was 1 year. Now we have been in our home for 5 times that. We have truly grown to love and appreciate the stability of being in one place for so long. It has shown us the toll moving so often was taking on us. We have had SO many memories in some really great and some not so great places. But no matter how nice or yucky our home was, we made so many memories. Here is a very BRIEF overview of our past homes:
1. 2004/2005 Our first home! Our honeymoon house.
We sure loved this place. We were the first to live in the fully renovated granny flat on a beautiful beef farm in the Orangeville area. It was our first home. There was a steep learning curve for me learning how to cook, keep up a home and be a wife. But this was our honeymoon year and we have so many incredible memories in this wonderful 1 bedroom home.
2. 2005 Allergy basement
Just before we started the missionary training in Durham, we had a summer where we needed a place to stay. We had to move out of our honeymoon house but couldn’t move into our student housing in Durham yet. A friend of ours graciously let us stay in her basement. They had been using it for storage and had also previously been lived in by a heavy smoker. We were so blessed to live here. This is the home where we discovered we were pregnant with our first, Canaan! But we quickly realized it wasn’t going to work out. My allergies were TOTALLY out of control here with all of the stored antique furniture and the smoke scum all over everything. We ended up staying in this place for about a month before I could no longer control my allergies. So we quickly moved in with Norm’s parents for the remainder of the summer.
3. 2005 Mom and Dad Copeland’s House
While we were living with Norm’s parents I had my first encounter with serious morning sickness. I couldn’t keep anything down at all. It was so awful. I was so grateful for Norm’s parents taking us in last minute like that and I felt so bad that I was such a terrible house mate with the constant puking.
4. 2005 Lakeside Waterless Shoebox
Our first student housing apartment in Durham was right next to our beautiful pond. It was incredibly tiny and had zero running water. We had two tiny bedrooms. Our queen size bed went wall to wall on three of the bedroom walls. We had a tiny fridge, a mini stove and almost no counter space. Our “living room” was big enough for our small kitchen table and our make shift sink. It was super crowded. We had to haul water into the apartment to wash our dishes and had to haul out the dirty water. We also had to use a community bathroom. This was not easy while being pregnant!
5. 2006 Waterless Chalet
After a semester in our lakeside apartment we moved up the hill a tiny bit to a slightly bigger apartment. It also had zero running water. But it did have space for a couch and a pack n play for Canaan for when he was born. This was Canaan’s first home! While pregnant it was always such a chore going down the hill to use the bathroom or take a shower. I was usually up several times a night, during winter I might add, to use the bathroom.
6. 2006/2007 New Student Housing with plumbing!
We were SO SO SO excited when the brand new student housing was completed and we were selected to move into one of them. We were beyond thrilled to have running water and our very own bathroom! It sure made bathing Canaan much easier, much less washing dishes and everything else. We lived here for about one year.
6b. Jungle Camp
This one doesn’t fully count as a move. But we did build our own home with no power tools and lived in it for a month. We carried our belongings in and we were not allowed to leave during the one month period. We had no power, other than a car battery we charged using solar power. This battery powered a few little lights. We had water plumbed into our kitchen sink only. We warmed water for our showers in the stove we built. Canaan was 3 months old while we lived in the “jungles of Durham.” We had a great time. It was a wonderful component of our missionary training.
7. 2007/2008 Quebec City house sitting
Once we completed the missionary training in Durham we moved to Quebec City to begin our French studies. We were so lucky to find a wonderful couple who were taking a sabbatical year. We rented their fully furnished house and cared for the house and property while they were away. We were always very nervous that we would break one of the many delicate things in the house. But we very much enjoyed our time at this home. This is the home we discovered I was expecting Emmaus! We were also very excited to have a washer and dryer right in the house with us! No hauling laundry out of the house! While we lived here in Quebec City they had a record year of snow fall with over 17 ft. We felt like we lived in a snow globe!
8. 2008 Ancient Mount Forest House
Once we were finished with our year of French studies we moved to Mount Forest. I was pregnant with Emmaus and we wanted to stay in Canada so that we could have our midwives deliver Emmaus. Mount Forest is about 15 minutes away from Durham. We were having trouble finding an affordable place to live in the area for a short period of time. We needed to be somewhat flexible with the number of months to rent and it was less than 12 months. Most places had a minimum of 12 months. We were very excited to find out that the parents of our friends had a house sitting empty in Mount Forest. They said we could rent it for a very minimal amount and pay for the utilities. We were overjoyed to hear this wonderful news. But we were very disappointed when we arrived and found it in very poor shape. It was full of stuff and very dirty. It was NOT good for my allergies. Our church blew us away and came up for a work day to clean it out, wash it thoroughly and give the bedrooms a coat of paint. It was still rough on my allergies but was doable after that. I have to say though… every single time I got in the old cast iron tub to take a shower with my ever growing belly, I was CERTAIN that the floor would give way and I would fall clear through to the kitchen below. Thank God that never happened. But we did have troubles with the heat. The furnace was too outdated to get refilled with oil. So it had to be completely replaced in order to heat the house. Let me tell you… we were SO cold. It was nearly December before the heat was turned on. This was Emmaus’ first home!
9. 2009 Camarillo Apartment
When Emmaus was about 6 weeks old we moved down to California to commence our partnership development. While we were in California we prepared for our move to Guinea, worked hard to find people who would partner with us in our ministry, worked on our French and loved living in the same town as my family. We sure loved this great apartment and we were so blessed by many people donating furniture and housewares.
10. 2009 Guinean House
We only lived in this house for 3 months. But we had SO much happen during these three months. We completely outfitted it with DC power that would charge whenever the city power was on, which was hardly ever. We also had a generator to top it up when there was no city power to charge our system. One great thing about this house was that it always had water. Emmaus, Canaan and I all had malaria at the same time. Norm was our super hero and kept us all alive… to this day I am not sure how we made it though those two weeks… But God got us through. For about half of the time we lived in this house we were under “house arrest.” Guinea was on the brink of civil war and the embassy wanted all foreigners to stay in their homes for safety. We were eventually evacuated and had to leave on short notice. It was a very difficult three months, but we also had some amazing times experiencing life overseas, making life long friends, and seeing many new things. This house was one of the worst ones when it comes to germ factor. I especially had a hard time with the bathrooms and always felt dirty. Our house had NO kitchen! Before we arrived they plumbed in a sink. After we arrived we had the local wood workers build some “cabinets” for us. They were essentially large shelves.
11. 2009 Mom and Dad Rutledge’s House
After being evacuated from Guinea, we stayed with my parents for the next 6 months. It was a good time to recover from the traumatic few months in Guinea. I was a mess emotionally and needed time to get myself back together again before heading back overseas. The boys loved their time living with Grandma and Grandpa. We made many fun memories here. Lots of playing outside and family time. During this time at my parents house we found out we would not be going back to Guinea. So Norm headed back to Guinea to pack up our house and sell off as many things as we could before shipping the rest up to Senegal.
12. 2010 4th Story Dakar Apartment
After discovering we would not be able to return to Guinea we decided to move one country north to Senegal. We lived in the capital city, Dakar. We were once again very blessed to be the first to live in this apartment. It was so nice not having old germs and grime. We did however live in an incredibly dusty neighbourhood. We also lived on the fourth floor… with no elevator. There was very little running water. It usually only ran well at night. Our Senegalese host family lived in the apartment right next to us. Our building was in a little valley and every single time we got a good rain it completely flooded our road. We often times had to wade through sewage water to get in or out of our building. Across the street from us was a mosque. The speakers for the call to prayer were at the exact level of our apartment. So many many times a day starting early in the morning we had extremely loud calls to prayer being blast right into our apartment. It was often too loud to hear the person next to you. It was a very busy building with people coming and going all the time. Once we had thieves trying to knock our door down. We celebrated our first African Christmas in this house. We didn’t have a bath tub, which is normal for West African apartments, so the boys took their baths in plastic tubs.
13. 2011 Giant Dakar Apartment
After about 9 months in our first Senegalese apartment, it was becoming very clear that my allergies were getting very bad and could not stand the dusty neighbourhood and smoke from charcoal cookers blowing in our house all the time. Friends of ours were moving out of their wonderful apartment so we decided to move in there. This was our favourite African home. We had near constant water, except for when we had city wide water outages, that would last a week or two. We had three large bedrooms, a giant living room and actual kitchen which I loved after having two houses with no real kitchen in them. And the boys were THRILLED to have a bath tub! We also had a large balcony which provided a wonderful place to play and hang our laundry. The main door to the apartment building was locked so we had nearly no traffic coming and going. And we only had to go up one flight of stairs. This apartment was dearly loved. We were so sad to leave it when we finally decided my health was not tolerating Dakar and we had to return to Canada.
14. 2012 Student Housing Temp Apartment
Once we returned from Senegal we needed a temporary place to stay while we hunted for a more permanent house. We were so blessed to have a student apartment become available for us. We found that immediately my health began to improve. We had a wonderful few months living in an awesome place with hardly any belongings and tons of space. It was a great time of healing physically and emotionally. Canaan lost his very first tooth in this home.
15. 2012-present! HOME SWEET HOME!
Once we decided to stay on permanently at the home office here in Durham, we needed to find a place to stay in town. We checked out the costs of renting vs buying and decided that it made most sense for us to buy a house. We were so excited and a little bewildered as we never pictured ourselves owning a place. After house hunting for a few weeks we finally picked a place. We were so blessed to be house hunting during a time with lots of houses available. God truly blessed us with a gorgeous home. It is beautiful on the outside but needed a LOT of updating on the inside. We ripped out a lot of carpet, scraped endless amounts of wallpaper, tiled the floors, took out a wall, painted all the trim, doors, walls etc. After moving constantly it was so refreshing to stay put! The boys were so accustomed to moving frequently. But this is the house Berea was born in and has never lived elsewhere. She was literally born in our bedroom. We fall in love with our home more and more. Today is our 5 year anniversary of getting the keys. Five years of wonderful memories. And hopefully many many more years to come. When we purchased this home we were a family of four, with no intentions of changing that. Now we are a family of five going on seven (adoption). God knew all of that and provided us with the perfect home even for a larger family than originally planned. 2017 has been a year of renovations. We are currently working on our laundry room/bathroom renovation. We moved the laundry out of our downstairs half bathroom and added a tub/shower. The large entry way is now our mud room/laundry room. It is a much better use of space. We hope to finish this reno in the coming months.
Thank you God for keeping us safe through each move, for giving us the strength emotionally and physically to get through each one, and for bringing us all together more and more with each new place.