We had no idea how difficult it would be to settle in England. How hard could it be? They all spoke English – admittedly some with an account so thick it was hard to recognize – and they were a first world country. Besides, we have had plenty of experience with relocating. We had done so in Bangladesh and Germany, Malaysia, and the Cayman Islands. So, when Pam declared that she had found us a place to stay for the first eight days of our arrival I was dismissive. Why would we need eight days to find a permanent place, I protested? I argued that we would need no more than five. Foolishly, it now appears. Fortunately, we went with her plan.

After our arrival we were busy in our rental flat completing our Covid tests, getting prepped for my first conference with Teach Beyond, signing up for a bank account, and finding a place to stay. The tests and the conference went as planned. The bank was another story. The problem with finding a place to stay was that as it turns out, no one rents furnished flats in this part of the world. University towns, yes. London, certainly. But outside of that, most places are unfurnished, and we simply cannot afford to buy furniture for a flat on our limited budget.

This meant that there were virtually no places for us to rent. Letting agents were even reluctant to take our calls. We finally found a helpful agent and basically took the first place she showed us, a tiny one-bedroom unit close to the train station and across the street from a park. The problem was, it wouldn’t be available for another four weeks. There were no other units available at that time. So we signed the agreement and started scrambling for intermediate accommodation.

The obvious answer was to contact the mission and ask if they had some kind of emergency accommodation. Lots of missions do, and we have used such accommodation in the past in both Germany and Bangladesh. After numerous emails we did find out that there was such a place, a manse attached to a local Baptist church that was currently without a pastor. The missionaries who regularly used the manse were also absent, visiting family in Canada, and the place was empty. We secured a key, hired a cab, collected our bags, and moved in.

The place has been a blessing. It has given us a chance to deal with the dozens of calls and emails we have had to plow through in order to get over this transition hurdle, a warm place to sleep, and a place to relax and reflect in the evening. The office space gave us an opportunity to finish our book on our time in the Cayman Islands and get it sent off to the publisher, and the kitchen allowed us space to cook our own meals and avoid the expensive restaurant food that can rapidly destroy any budget.

The current residents, Len and Mary, get back today and that will mean we will be a little crowded for a few days. But our own place becomes available in just three days from now, so the timing has been just about perfect. Len and Mary call this place “Sanctuary.” It certainly has been for us. All our anxiety about where we would stay on our arrival had been looked after by our loving God long before we arrived. And as in many things while walking with God, we just had to trust and follow to see what He had already prepared for us.