I (Johanna) love watching House Hunters International. In fact, even Matt has to admit to getting sucked in every now and again. We are always intrigued when we see random families pick up and move to another country, each family with their own particular timing, place, and reason for going. We love to see a glimpse of other places, to see different home sizes, food, culture. We always roll our eyes when we hear Americans say, “This room is as big as my closet back home.” It’s fun to see the update months later as they have their new place decorated and have clearly begun to make a home.
This past week, we found ourselves living (for the second time) an episode of House Hunters International. Unintentionally picking the hottest week of the year, according to all the locals, we hauled our girls up hills and down alleys, through crowded city streets and past thousands of apartments where clean laundry waved cheerfully from every balcony and every now and then a friendly face greeted us from a window. Armed with Gatorade and Barbies, we saw on average four apartments a day. The good, the bad, and the “this wouldn’t work in a million years.” The funny thing was, we gave every apartment a chance. “Oh, so we would just have to replace all the windows, repaint and generally restructure the apartment? Oh, and it’s only 300 years old? I guess it’s a possibility….” We talked ourselves in and out of each apartment, sometimes back in, and then usually back out. But in the meantime, we learned a ton of valuable information about this beautiful city we hope to call home.
Genova (Genoa in English) is a labyrinth. There is no other way to explain it. When you come into the city, you are struck by its density. But it’s only as you make your way through the city streets that you realize how incredible it really is. Because the city is built from the sea up into the hills it is filled with steep streets (trust me, you realize how steep after a week). The neat thing is that the city also has built into it an elaborate series of staircases, elevators, and lifts that can take you from one part of the city to another in a relatively short time. We explored, wandered, and marveled at how easy it is to navigate the city.
The week was very useful as we evaluated what we are looking for in a new apartment. From a very practical standpoint, we are hoping for two bathrooms to help us take care of guests (those of you who have stayed with us probably agree wholeheartedly with this one…). We want to be in a zone where other families live. We want to be in a relatively active zone where we could potentially do everything on foot without having to drive everywhere. The idea is that so many people in such a close proximity would serve as an extra push for evangelism. Other than that, we are pretty flexible. Oh, actually, after seeing a few apartments we also realized we do not want to renovate an ancient apartment in ruins.
As you can see, with these general guidelines, we found lots of possibilities. In fact, too many. Sometimes we preferred a location. Sometimes we preferred an apartment. The girls loved anything with empty rooms to dance and sing in. They weren’t much help in the whole process, but they brought a lot of joy to various real estate agents.
So where did we land? We are still in process but we have it narrowed down. The truth is that we are confident the Lord will give us Gospel opportunities wherever we live. We are convinced that evangelism is a mentality, a willingness to reach out and a desire to be a light in the community. This can happen in any context as we choose to see every person as a soul in need of Christ. We are free to be wise (http://www.amazon.com/Free-Be-Wise-Biblical-Decision/dp/1462719171) (Couldn’t resist, love my dad.)
We are excited about the future. Every new season of life offers new opportunities for growth in Christ-likeness. Pray that we will continue to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Whoever that neighbor might be.