Creating a new home

Creating a home in a new country is a fun challenge.  Because we still own a home (with a basement full of stuff) in the US, I did not want to purchase too many duplicates of things we already owned.  Really thinking about what makes “home” helped me choose my purchases.  I LOVE to bake – cooking dinner, not so much!  That meant a stand mixer was on the top of the list, after buying the basics – couches, chairs, beds, tables, washer & dryer, ‘frig, etc.  That led to muffin tins, pie plate, cookie sheets.

My husband & I love to have people over for meals, so we purchased a dining table that easily seats 8.  We have had up to 14 people over, though, by dragging in the kitchen table & chairs, porch chairs, office chair, etc.

Because of the large numbers of people we serve, a crockpot was next on the list – so easy to get a crockpot & a kettle of soup simmering – no last-minute anxiety about getting the meal ready.

And having pretty things is important to me, too.  3 quilted wallhangings soften the plaster walls, add color, personalise our home, and deaden the echoes of a new house.

Have any of you made big moves – how did you decide what is important to you?

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    Melissa, I made several big moves around the world while I was in the Air Force, but when I moved I took ALL my possessions with me. My furniture–enough for a 3-bedroom house–has crossed both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans packed in big crates. Thus, I experienced the opposite problem from you. I never had to decide what was important to me. Because the military shipped my stuff around the world, I never had the motivation to purge on a regular basis. I just accumulated more stuff. It was only after I settled down a couple of years ago (in a foreign country) that I began to sort through what’s really important to me. I have donated many things to the Belgian equivalent of Good Will. I have kept, however, some things that I acquired through my travels that remind me of such fond times and places. Beyond the necessities, I encourage you to surround yourself with such treasures that you can envision in your home when you get back to the States. I’m guessing the quilted wall hangings you’ve found are hand-made locally. I imagine they’ll provide nice memories for you after you leave behind the friends you’ve made in Africa. If you love fabrics, there are many vibrant patterns to be found, I’m sure. I traveled to Tanzania and came back with several pieces of the fabric the women traditionally wrap themselves in (I forget what it’s called). I have found that they make lovely tablecloths, so they get lots of use, especially during outdoor grill parties. My most favored treasure is a simple milk gourd that I talked a Masai tribesman into letting me have. It’s got lovely beaded designs around it that I’m sure his mother or wife sewed for him. I display it now in my sunroom, and on hot days I can remove the cap and still smell the odor of dried milk! It simply brings back good memories–really! I bet the local pottery is also attractive and unique. That might be something you want to invest in. Enjoy adapting to the new culture and experiences!

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      Hi, Jennifer – thank you for commenting! You are right – we have had opposite experiences wrt moving – we moved here with suitcases! Bought furniture & appliances – it’s the little things that make “home” that are taking a while. The 3 quilted wallhangings are actually things I brought from the US – to remind me of life there. I have bought lots of local fabrics though – and have made table runners and other wall hangings (not quilted!) from the local fabrics – in Zambia, they are called “chitenges” and are used as wrap skirts, baby slings, to bundle up packages (& then the bundles are balance on the tops of the women’s heads!),, as layers for warmth or to “protect” from rain, etc. maybe I can post a pic of something I’ve made…
      I love the story of your Masai gourd – I have heard so much about them from a friend who lived among the Masai for years…. what a treasure. And more manageable than the 4′ wooden giraffe I’ve been contemplating!! I appreciate your advice to buy things I enjoy here AND can picture back in our home in the US – thanks for that wisdom!

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      Really?! Wow even though the military moves all our stuff I still go through it all before every move – or try to anyhow! 😉 – and get rid of stuff. Keeping things with real meaning, that we need and don’t just want and getting rid of the rest.

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        Yes, well Holly, such was the life of a senior officer…never had much free time. 🙂 Welcome to the neighborhood.

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    Hi Melissa!
    What a great opportunity to live in a new country! I have always thought it would be a great marriage-builder to move somewhere far away where you don’t know anyone but your spouse, and how great to get to learn about another culture.
    I’ve never moved to another country, but I have moved many times, and I HATE dragging a ton of stuff with me. The one thing I have noticed though, is that in addition to the basics I love to have some “comfies” with me. Throw pillows for the couch, or soft blankets that I love, etc. This makes me feel “at home” sooner because I can relax. My only other advice would be to the observe your own family’s habits, and see where you guys spend the most time in your home, then focus on the things for that room first. Then you can worry about the rest later.

    Have a blast!

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      Adrienne – you are exactly right – moving to a new country has been GREAT for our marriage! We rely on each other, and God for comfort and support – instead of all the familiar things we are used to. We have appreciated that in other (US) moves, too, but it’s magnified here.

      Thanks for your advice about “comfies.” I guess I should have written that we’ve been here 2.5 years, so I have done some of what you mentioned – I knit an afghan, made some throw pillows, etc. And you are right – the rooms we spend the most time are & should be, top priority!

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    I’ve never faced the challenge of moving overseas but I often challenge myself to pretend I am moving cross-country, and force myself to let go of what I wouldn’t want to take. I love to hear about your sense of priorities – your new life sounds fun!

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      Hi, Diane – well, moving here, it was fairly easy to narrow down our belongings – we moved in suitcases, and left almost everything in the basement of the home we still own. I am trying to remind myself of how much I enjoy living with less, so that when we move back, I can pare down all the boxes of stuff in the basement! Otherwise, I might just end up adding things from here to what we already own – and that would be way too much!

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    You might find that when you move back some of your things just aren’t as important as when you left them. Styles change, experiences change you. I found that my frame of mind changed when we moved to a smaller home. Just didn’t need as much stuff anymore.

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      Hi, Barb, I sure HOPE that is the case – I think happily living here w/o so much “stuff” has taught me that I can survive with less! And so many people here have so very very little – seems shameful, somehow to have so much!

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    We loved living overseas in Germany – which granted is a little different then Zambia! 😉 (Where are you at by the way? My daughter was recently there for a visit with her best friend who’s parents are missionaries and live just outside Lusaka). As a military family we have made several overseas and cross country moves. We didn’t take everything with us, most of it but not all, I loved shopping “on the economy” and redecorating European style. Can you say I should buy stock in Ikea already?! *snort*. As Americans we all tend to think we “need” all our stuff, but in the end it’s just stuff. I have found it very freeing when the moving truck pulls away with all the stuff and we are pared down to just basics. Really taking a hard look at what do we Need vs Want which it sounds like you’ve done a great job of. Just remind yourself when you go back that you lived without it already – ruthlessly go through every box and don’t put any of it actually IN the house until you’ve decided if it’s something you need/want or that adds beauty. 🙂 If you are a believer then definitely pray and ask God to give you a vision for each room/the house and he will.

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      Hi, Holly – Yes, we live in Lusaka – so things are not very “rough.” What is the ministry where your daughter’s friend’s family works? Did you daughter enjoy her visit? And yes, my style has changed, living here – much more industrial/modern/rustic than it used to be. I am a bit curious to see what our US house will look like – what we will move/keep/change from before we came here. And – yes, I am a believer, and He is a great support in this adventure!

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        :)_They are part of SIM/Flying Mission Zambia — yes she enjoyed it very much and has some awesome photos!

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