Yesterday marked a very important event for our little family of three: We finally said goodbye to the first property we ever bought and called our own. And it’s a good thing! We are over the moon and you better believe I bought some champagne (called Crémant in Luxembourg) on the spot when I received the news that our house has registered. Honestly, all glory to God for carrying us through this trying time and giving us a solution and a way out of what has become a nightmare and a bottomless money-pit.
As you may or may not know, my husband and I moved around a lot in our lives thus far (first, as kids growing up, and also now as adults – must be in our blood or something). When we lived in Cape Town (the first time around) we soon decided that perhaps buying property is not a bad idea. I mean that’s the logical next step, right? Property prices in Cape Town weren’t great – even back then – so we decided to move back to Pretoria, where we’ll get a lot more worth for our money.
We looked at a couple of properties and when we saw this particular house, it wasn’t in the best state, but it had SO MUCH potential and we were in love with the space, the view and the dream instantly. We were pretty young and dumb though – never thinking of location and surrounding property value, etc. So we lived there for 4 years, slowly but surely doing the place up (we got as far as revamping the granny flat, our kitchen, and Juwan’s bedroom). We had the best times while we lived there – we were close to our family and this was where we decided to start our own little family. So we have a lot of good memories of living there, but our time spent here was also one of the more challenging times in our marriage (read all about the pregnancy and post-birth issues we experienced here).
For a long time, I couldn’t look at the pictures from that time and feel happy. There were troubled times. The crime was on the increase in the area and we didn’t want to raise Yuvi in those circumstances. And even after we moved back to Cape Town in search of a safer life, we were still haunted by this property. We had many different tenants in the house – most of whom struggled financially, not always making payment at the end of the month. Water and electricity rates were sky-high every month and maintenance just never stopped. We were plugging holes with every last cent we had leftover and then some.
The situation got really dire when the last tenants we had decided to up and leave over a weekend, mid-month – just sending a WhatsApp to the rental agents to let them know how sorry they are, but they can’t keep up with the rent (which wasn’t unreasonable btw). The location of the house was just not in the best of Pretoria’s neighborhoods and as soon as the house was empty, the first of a couple of break-ins took place. Within two weeks the house was completely stripped of every single metal thing they could find: window latches, tap mixers, copper piping, copper wires in the ceiling. EVERYTHING. I was visiting my parents around that time that it happened and I was there to see the damage. When I entered the yard, I was struck by how neglected the house was. Weeds and an overgrown garden was the least of it: rubbish, broken furniture and glass bottles were littered across the yard. The place was dirty, filthy. And then I saw that the kitchen safety gate was kicked out of its frame – cement strewn across the kitchen tiles. The floors of the hallway and living room was a mess because of the holes in the ceiling where the robbers were walking in the ceiling. All the windows were open and they couldn’t close. I cried so much, my heart was broken. What was once our home was being destroyed.
We were incredibly fortunate that the insurance covered this, even though it was a battle to get it all done initially. We immediately upgraded the house’s security system and my dad helped me keep an eye on the place, for which I am eternally grateful.
Soon after this, the time came for us to leave for Luxembourg. The house has been in the market for a long time already, with no real interest. We started marketing the place heavily (or tried, with the help of agents), but eventually we were approached by a private buyer. These were people of a similar age to ourselves and they seemed to love the place just as much as we once did. I was so incredibly thankful to have found buyers. But the selling of the house was slow and tedious.
I could probably go on about it all for a few hours, but I won’t. My point really is that this year (it took about 6/7 months for the house to finally sell) was really hard for us – especially financially because of the bond paid for a house that was standing empty, but we have grown so much closer to God because of this house. Sure – buying it was probably not the best idea, and spending more money on it to “fix it up” when we weren’t going to stay there forever was probably a worse idea, but because of our struggles, we were on our knees more often. I’ve learned to trust God. Completely. I’ve learned that He cares for the littlest of the birds, so if I trust Him, He will care for us too. In all our needs, no matter how hard it is to keep head above water. He provided for us financially till the very end of this transaction and the timing with everything was always impeccable – nothing happened as fast as I would have liked, but it was always perfect. We were in so deep that we thought we would have to default, but we kept on hoping and trusting and asking, and we made it! God carried us through this. And this morning I read this: “So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you!” – Hebrews 10:35 You know, just a little reminder at the exact right time, to keep on trusting in God. To remember – always remember – how GOOD it is to not rely on myself and other humans to provide in all my needs, but to give EVERYTHING to my God.
Now, I can finally look at these pictures and think of this house and recall only the good, and only see the growth that took place through all of this.
Love and peace to you all,