Tom looked for weeks, trying to find the right place of us. We almost took a place in the Old City, but were nervous about it because we would actually share a living room with two other people - weird. Then there was a nice place in a Jewish settlement northeast of the city, but it was right up against the north end of the West Bank wall. I didn't feel good about it. Then it finally came down to a so-so place out in a rich Jewish neighborhood, but it was so far away from church we didn't know how we'd get there every week OR a very, very nice place (on the inside) out in a very poor settlement that was closer to the university/church. But I was worried about the surroundings of the second place because I thought it would be hard on Joni. We finally decided on the so-so place far away from church, and just accepted the fact that it might take us hours to get to church.
The day Tom went to sign the contract (two days before we got here), the guy who he was staying with (the Elder's Quorum Pres, Kyler) urged him to go ask the university housing people one more time about possibly getting a place in the dorms. He had gone into that office MANY times before, and the lady just kept blowing him off. First she said there's no such thing as family housing, then she said they're way too full, then she said we could maybe get on a waiting list...blah, blah, blah. In other words, we don't want you here, so go away. But he decided to listen to Kyler and go anyway. He walked in, approached the same lady who had blown him off so many other times, explained that he was about an hour away from signing a year long contract, and out of the blue she says, "Okay, I can't make you any promises, but I am going to put you at the top of the waiting list, and on Sunday, you might have a two bedroom apt in the married housing." WHAT?!? He started freaking out because now he had no idea what to do!
He tried calling me about five times, but it was 3:00 am in Utah, and I didn't have my phone in my room, so I didn't hear it. He finally called Kyler to ask advice. He also ended up calling the Branch President because he was planning on co-signing with Tom on the other place in just one short hour. The advice they both gave was to do anything he could to hold off on the one far from church, and hope the family housing thing worked out.
So on Saturday, the 4th, the kids and I flew in to Israel without a place to live. We stayed in a hotel in the Old City, and called the housing lady the next day to find out that,
WE GOT IT!
We could hardly believe it. This lady who had blown off Tom so many times, had now pulled some major strings to get him in! We know the Lord softened her heart so that we could get in the place we should be.
So we live in the dorms. They're old, and very utilitarian, how dorms often go, but we are soooo grateful for this place. Oh, and when we showed up to sign the contract to live here, they suddenly offered us a three bedroom place instead of two bedroom! And it was still hundreds cheaper a month than the other place we almost lived.
We are now within walking distance of school and church, which is obviously a major plus. The grocery store is only about a ten minute walk. And we live really close to a couple other young families in the branch. Our neighborhood is pretty eclectic because we live near the university, so there are locals, plus a lot of internationals.
We circle around to the back of the dorms, and this is the door to our building (behind the flowers). Big rose gardens like this are NOT common, so we are very lucky to have pretty surroundings. Joni looooves the roses.
Just inside our front door and to the right. We have no oven and no microwave. Let's just say I'm going to be an EXPERT on cooking everything on the stove (and we're currently looking for a decent toaster oven, so that could help quite a bit).
This is on the way out of the little complex we live in. You have to go through a guarded gate every time (very normal here).
I thought I'd include a picture of our local grocery store, since it has become our second home. We can only buy as much as we can carry home, so we go almost every day. I HATE...let me say that again...HATE not being able to read labels. Tom is my translator. But I am getting a feel for things. I already know my way around the store, and I know how to read the prices and the weight, so I can at least compare prices. And things are very expensive here. A 1/2 gallon of milk costs roughly $3.50, and I think a box of macaroni and cheese would cost around $4.00. So we buy a lot of produce, pita, hummus, and lamb, because that's what we can afford.
We are so grateful for our home and our neighborhood. We feel like we are exactly where the Lord wants us to be.