I was so upset about not being out of the house by the time the owners returned. I was stressing out in a big way, lots more than I usually do. The kids wondered what my problem was. They know that God always takes care of us, so they couldn’t understand why I was so upset.
Well, part of my problem was that I had actually made a plan in my mind for how we would get out of the house early enough to come back and clean the house after all the kids were out and nobody would be there to mess it up right after I cleaned. We actually found a house and got the keys by the 15th of July, so it looked like everything was going according to plan. But then the management group didn’t clean the house like they said they would. It was going to be a step down from the quality of living we had gotten used to. We would have had lots of space, but the appliances were older and didn’t even work, in some cases. The house still smelled like dog, and there was still dog hair in the carpet. The rental management group, Strano and Associates, said they would get everything cleaned and in working order, but they didn’t do it. They told us it had already been cleaned, and when I found dog hair in the corners and in the middle of the room, it didn’t seem to faze Linda Linder, who runs the property management group. She still insisted that the carpets had already been professionally cleaned. She had told me that the dishwasher was being replaced because it didn’t work. But then my husband got a call from a repairman who said that he was supposed to go fix the dishwasher.
There were so many things that we didn’t really like about the house that I went straight back to the rental management office after getting the keys and told her that we couldn’t live there. Linda told me that I couldn’t get out of the contract. We held our ground until they finally let us out of the contract about 2 weeks later. We would have hated living in that dark and dirty house. That kitchen was not a happy place, and I spend too much time in the kitchen to have one that is dark and dreary.
We went through all of that and then we had to try to find a house in less than a week and get out of the house we were in by August 1. All of that stress was just too much!
I went to the park with Emma one evening and met a woman named Crystal who told me about her church that met just across the road from our subdivision in the Elks building. At first, I wasn’t interested because “churchy” church is a real turn-off to us. But she told me a little bit about it, and I realized that I needed someone to pray for me and we needed someone to come alongside us and pray for us to find the right house at the right time.
So we went to the church that Sunday. They greeted us at the door and told us that the pastor was out with a kidney stone and the lady I had met at the park wouldn’t be coming, because her husband had a kidney stone and she was taking him to the hospital. The worship leader was gone. The service was not going to be typical, so we shouldn’t judge the church by what we saw that day. Well, the people were very friendly, and we enjoyed the fellowship, so I went back to the Tuesday prayer meeting. I met the pastor and his wife that night. They were very nice and genuine. I really liked their views of the purpose of Christian people gathering together. Not church as usual, but coming together like the New Testament church, working to help the poor and needy. They want to buy the Elks building they rent, but it will cost lots more money than they have. They are trying to raise the faith level of the people so that they can all pray and believe for the amount of money they need. They understand the power of agreement and the laws of sowing and reaping and other principles of faith that we learned along our journey. The building has a kitchen and lots of other amenities that would work well for feeding people and helping people in the ways they have in mind. The sermons have been about faith, and they have been so confirming and uplifting. I say “amen” a lot throughout the sermons. And our heart is to help poor and oppressed people, too.
The church prayed for us that first Sunday. I started calming down and getting my faith back in order. I stopped yelling and getting upset about every little thing. The kids were thankful, I’m sure. Not to mention Gary. It was nice to know that people were praying for us. I knew that God was at work, but I didn’t know what He was doing.
I really wanted to be out of the house by Aug. 1, but it was impossible. We couldn’t find a house to move into, thanks to occupancy limits in neighboring towns that were unfriendly to large families – discriminatory, if you ask me. (We have encountered lots of injustice along the way.) On Aug. 2, the owners came to our door and rang the doorbell. It was one of those dreaded moments when your worst nightmare is about to come true. I’ve had a few of those in the last several years. I immediately told them that I had tried to get us out of there, but I just wasn’t able to. They assured me that everything was okay. Their stuff was still in Israel and they were staying with a brother-in-law. So it was okay that we were still in their house. They gave us 2 more weeks to find a place to move to. They understood our situation and were not upset at us. OH, heavy sigh and lots of happy dancing, and even a hug or two!
We finally found a house that we would be allowed to occupy and got the final word of the owners’ approval on Aug. 13. We rented a truck the next day, loaded it all day long, took the first load to the new house at midnight and went back to pick up the rest of the kids and the rest of the big stuff after midnight. We were out of the house in 2 weeks, just like they wanted. But there was still some stuff in the house that we couldn’t get because of lack of time and manpower. At 9:00 that Friday night, I knew we were going to need help. I called the pastor and asked if he could get some people and trucks together to help us move the rest of our stuff the next morning. He said he would do that. Gary and I had to take the moving truck back by morning, so we did all we could do that night and then returned the truck at 5:00 AM. We then went back to the house and did some more. We didn’t get in bed until 7:00 AM. We knew we couldn’t get up and get back over to the house by 10:00, the time I had told the pastor we would meet him. So we texted him and told him to cancel that time, and I called him later and asked if we could possibly do it Sunday instead. He said he would announce it, and we would do it after church at about 2:00. He was so nice about it and very willing, actually anxious to help us. We walked into the service just as he was announcing that they needed people to help a family move. He said, “Oh, here they are now” and everybody looked back at us. It was perfect timing. Nobody really knew us yet, but now they knew who he was talking about.
At 2:00, we were at the house, and several pickup trucks and a trailer pulled up and lots of people hopped out to help us finish our move. The pastor took charge and organized an assembly line to get our boxes packed into the trailer and then each pickup truck. They worked so fast and efficiently that everything was loaded in no time. We saw how the Body can work together to make things easier and less stressful when they have leadership that encourages such things. After all of that, they told me that they would come back and help me clean whenever I wanted to do that. We set the day for Tuesday. They came and cleaned the whole house just the way I had envisioned being able to do it with the house empty. But they did it in 3 hours. It would have taken me several days. And I couldn’t have gotten it as clean as they did even if I had a couple of weeks. (Cleaning is not my forte.)
I needed to do some laundry and asked the owners if I could use their washing machine and dryer a little bit longer. I used it Tuesday night for the last time, and we were out of the house for good. We never could have accomplished it without the church’s help. We have had a bad taste in our mouths about “churches” because of the way we’ve been treated in the past, but this group of believers has been better than family to us.
The owners started getting picky about things that were broken and saying that we needed to fix things ourselves. We had already offered half of the deposit because we knew there were some repairs that would have to be made. They kept insisting that we make the repairs or hire someone to do it. We kept telling them to take it out of the deposit. We were able to get an estimate from the pastor who helped us clean, since he was a carpenter with 26 years of experience, that showed that the repairs would cost far less than half of the deposit. We were being generous in our offer, which is what we wanted to be. It put my mind at ease, knowing that we were being more than fair in offering half of the deposit.
If we had gotten out of the house by Aug. 1, I would never have visited that church. I wouldn’t have met Crystal. I wouldn’t have had anybody to call for help when we just couldn’t do everything ourselves. I wouldn’t have had peace of mind about what’s happening with the owners and their demands. I wouldn’t have had the prayers of the saints that have carried me through another uncertain time of accusation and expectations that are impossible to fulfill.
I keep facing these fears, and I would so much rather not have to go through them. But the Lord keeps making me go head to head with people opposing us and falsely accusing us and expecting more from us than we owe them. People seem to think that we’re naive and gullible because we’re kind and compassionate. They try to take advantage of us and take from us what God has blessed us with. But God always helps us to see what is going on and defends us from their schemes. We are still in the middle of the conflict with Strano and the owners of our former house. Strano kept $822 of what we paid them for the house that we never occupied for even a moment. We never moved one thing into that house. We barely spent one hour in that house, but they made us pay $822 rent for the last half of August. And we don’t have our half of the security deposit yet. We are waiting, again, but God is always faithful. His timing is perfect. You just have to wait for it.