Thursday, July 25, 2013

La Casa De Sinclair | Part 1

Have you ever wondered what a missionary home looks like?  Of course missionary homes across the world are quite different, but how about a home located in the interior of Cameroon? I know that when people think of homes in Africa, they often think of grass-roofed mud huts. And while you will find grass-roofed homes in certain areas of Cameroon, we are surrounded by homes with tin roofs that are constructed of either cement, or mud blocks ...with the latter being most popular due to the low cost.

The search for our home began very shortly after we moved here. We were living with the Needhams and Tom was taking Ben and Matt around the Bamenda area looking for housing.  We had about exhausted all of the possibilities in Bamenda, when one day Tom suggested that they check out the "old Crawford house." What is very interesting (and I might have already told this story...skim past if you've already heard it) is that Ben and I stayed in this very house when we visited Cameroon during our college days and before we were even married.  Former GFA missionary Dale Crawford and his family lived and served here until health problems required them to return to the states. We spent a weekend with the Crawford family to get a glimpse of their ministry. The day that Tom suggested they stop by this house nobody was around. They peeked in the windows and weren't able to actually see anything, so Tom suggested calling the landlady, Susan Tebong.  She informed them that a tenant had recently moved out and she was in the process of fixing up the house to rent it out again!  They arranged a day to view the home with her and on that day Ben made an offer. Evidently she'd already received an offer from some Catholic nuns looking to rent the home, but Ben's offer happened to be higher, so she accepted!

Even though our landlady had painted and cleaned, the house was still in rough shape. I actually came down and cleaned and scrubbed some more before we moved all of our things in over Thanksgiving weekend.   The last tenant had raised pigs and chickens in the house, so you can imagine all of the filth!  It took me a very long time to feel like I was living in my own dirt, and not somebody else's, if you know what I mean! Slowly but surely we worked on the house and it eventually came to feel like home.

It honestly is a continual work in progress.  We are constantly painting and working on home improvement projects. The most recent was to add new doors and screen to the house.  But, I thought it would be a fun blog series to give you a tour of our absolutely gorgeous home. So, today I'm going to start with a diagram of the layout of our house!

I will explain a few things about this (very bright!) diagram. As you can see our house is in a "U" shape.  The courtyard portion is outside. All of the black lines signify the location of doors that enter the interior of the house.  The big black line at the front of our courtyard is actually a large iron gate that we slide open and shut for an extra measure of security. Half of the courtyard (the front half) is covered by a roof.  We have a table, grill, containers for water, etc... all stored out there. The back half of the courtyard that is butting up to the house is mostly open. There is a little garden in that section.  In a future post I will share photos and it will give you a better idea of what I'm talking about.

The "outside laundry/store room"  is the only room that is not connected to the inside portion of the house.  It is kind of like our garage, but without the car! Ben keeps all of his tools in there, and my washer and dryer are in there as well.  I have to go outside the house to do my laundry, but I'm always under a roof, and the gate is locked, so I'm completely safe.  

We have four doors that actually enter the inside of our home.  The kitchen door is the door we primarily use.  The two doors at the back of the courtyard have just been redone.  We added metal doors there and changed the wood doors that were there into screen doors. This is SO nice because I can open up the metal doors during the day and the screen doors allow a breeze to flow through the parlor!  The metal doors are also added security. The door at the front of the parlor is a big double wooden door on the inside. and then a big iron door on the outside.  We recently added screen to the iron door as well, so during the day we open up the big wooden doors. I really love it!

You can't really tell from the diagram, but our house is big.  It is HUGE actually.  I will never forget the first time my mom and the Whitely's visited.  It was time for bed and Kathy asked, "What time does the shuttle leave for the bedrooms."  We still laugh about that. :) Our home is almost 2,400 square feet (not including the courtyard, but including the outside laundry room), with all of that being on one level.  Another thing that makes our home appear so big are the high ceilings. As you can see from the diagram, the parlor is the biggest room. The portion of the parlor that butts up to the office is where we have our big dining room table. One gorgeous feature of the parlor is the (almost) floor to ceiling windows that run down both sides of the outside facing walls.  Our view is breathtaking! During the rainy season you can see a big waterfall flowing down the mountainside from the front picture windows. The side picture windows give you a view over the whole village of Bambili. 

The house was built back in 1976 by the late husband of our landlady, but sadly he died before they were ever able to live in the house. Our landlady has a very unique heritage. Her birth parents are British. However, she was adopted as an infant, and her adoptive mother was British and her adoptive father Argentinian. She spent much of her childhood years in a German boarding school in the country of Argentina. She went to university in the U.S. which is where she met her husband...a Cameroonian.  Susan's many European influences can be seen in the building of this house.  The fact that this house has an inside kitchen with cabinets is one influence as most African homes have outside kitchens.  All of the bedrooms have floor to ceiling built-in closets, which is another feature you don't often see in homes here.

I'm so thankful how God orchestrated events and led us to this home. We are so blessed and I'd love to share this blessing with you. So, please stay tuned, because I'm planning to do a post each week, with pictures, about all of the different rooms in our house, so you can actually "see" where we live.  This will have a couple benefits. One, you will get to see our beautiful home. And two, it will give me a reason to deep clean each room and make it presentable for viewing! :)  

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1 comment:

  1. I'm so anxious to see/ read these home posts. Thanks for putting the time into this, Bec!