Spoiler alert: the title of this blog is not what you think it is. It’s about an actual flood. Yes, real water. Ok back to the story…
After my language class yesterday, I took my 30 minute power nap. Let me tell ya, language learning sucks all the energy out of ya. In my pre-field training we were actually told that, on average, a language learner immersed in culture requires at least two extra hours of sleep per day (about 10 hours). I didn’t believe it then, but I sure do now! I had about 5 minutes left of my power nap but I awoke to the sound of gurgling from the bathroom sink. I’ve been staying in an airbnb for the first three weeks of my time in Croatia. During this time I’ve been looking for a long term apartment relentlessly. It’s been a grueling search that’s brought me to my knees (a lot)…more on that later.
I slowly made my way to the bathroom gurgle (it didn’t take long…the airbnb I’m in is a quaint little 25 square meters) and found what appeared to be a bit of flooding. It had been raining all day. Most, if not all, bathrooms in Croatia have a drain (much like the drain in your average shower) on the floor. Well, to my dismay, there was water coming up out of the drain…a bit of a clog or something. I texted Lucija (my airbnb host) to let her know what was happening. Although I didn’t want her to have to come over here in the rain, she insisted her and the handyman would be on their way soon.
Lucija and the handyman arrived and what I thought would be a quick fix ended up taking about an hour or so. Lucija and I chatted for quite awhile…we’ve gotten to know each other pretty well as they had to come by a week and a half ago to replace the water filter in the airbnb (I didn’t have hot water for about a week). She asked me how my apartment search had been going.
You see, finding an apartment in Split is a different ball game than any I’ve ever played. Most Croats own the apartment or home they live in and probably own others as well that they rent to tourists during the tourism season. Thus, it’s been a developing issue over the last few years that the majority of people rent out the apartments they own only to tourists…I mean, they make a bunch more money than if they were to rent long term. Thus, it’s a move of God to find a long term apartment here.
Rewind to last week….well actually, maybe rewind to when I arrived. Or even a few weeks before I even left. I remember telling my team leader on the phone, “I’m mentally prepared to live out of my suitcases and move from place to place for the next 6 months, but I don’t want to do that.” Honestly, I didn’t think it would happen (and I don’t know if it actually will). Anyway, upon arriving on February 21, I started searching for an apartment. My teammate Judita has been an angel and truly God’s provision throughout this process (calling realtors, setting up showings, doing all the talking, etc.). However, by day 3 I have to admit I was already getting anxious. The reality was setting in how difficult this whole “finding an apartment” thing would be. I was already counting down the days I had left in my temporary airbnb before I had to leave. The looming fear of having nowhere to go kept replaying in my head. It was almost as if I was having an identity crisis and forgot that I was and am a deeply loved child of God. A loving Father doesn’t uproot His daughters life in her homeland to bring her to homelessness and in lack. But somehow, that reality seems to be lost when fear and lies from the enemy set in.
So last week as I started language school, the days were counting down until I had to have another place to live. One week away, six days, five days, four days, three days…ok. What am I going to do? Friday and Saturday I spent most of the day combing through Njuškalo (basically the Croatian version of Craigslist) re-searching for apartments. I had already looked at 85% of the listings but called the remaining ones I hadn’t. On Friday I called a realtor, we set up a time to meet on Saturday, and go view an apartment in Manuš. About a 15 minute walk away from my teammates, close to the city center, and great space. I really loved the apartment, really hit it off with the realtor and the owner. We talked about life in Chicago, what my family thinks of me moving here, and the importance of mentoring and discipling young people. It was awesome! I was already asking the Lord to move in my relationship with both of them and expecting Him to do big things. Saturday and Sunday I daydreamed about what the space could look like. The photos I would hang on the walls, the plants I would buy, the meals I would cook with friends in my kitchen.
I told the owner my budget and she said she would talk to her husband once she sees him again on Monday. She said she was excited for me to live there and we would talk soon. I only had a few days left in my airbnb so it was awesome seeing how God was opening doors at just the last minute. Monday came around and I expected to hear from the realtor. I sent her a message on WhatsApp while I was in language class, letting her know I’m looking forward to hearing from her and I hope she had a good weekend. She called me an hour later and asked a few questions for the owners (i.e. how do I get paid, what is my income like, how do I pay rent-all normal questions to ask as there is no credit score check, previous apartment check, etc.). A few hours passed and I hadn’t heard anything so I called the realtor and asked if she’d heard anything from the owners. She said she hadn’t heard but would get back to me as soon as she hears.
As the time went on, I began having a bad feeling about all of it. Then I woke up from my post language class nap to the gurgling. And the flooding. Fast forward back to talking with Lucija. As we were chatting about finding an apartment she casually mentioned, “Since you’ve had so many problems while you’ve been here at the airbnb, we decided you can stay here until Tuesday for free if you don’t find an apartment.” What…ok thanks God for that provision and ease of the tension. I thought I probably wouldn’t need that as I’d be moving into the new place in a couple days, but that’s great to know anyway! I was relieved and grateful to see that God was still providing and showing His hand even in the unknown.
Tuesday afternoon rolled around and it was time for my post language class nap. No call from the realtor yet. Today I didn’t wake up to the sound of gurgling in the bathroom drain but to a phone call from the realtor. As I looked at my phone ringing, the feeling of fear and looming dread set in. “I don’t feel good about this, Lord. Soften the blow. Sustain me with your grace and peace.” I picked up my phone. “Alison I am so sorry to tell you the owner said that her husband only wants a Croatian couple to live in the apartment. I’m really surprised and I think she is upset too as she really liked you. Maybe it’s because you are a foreigner.”
Ouch. “Would it help if I show her my visa paperwork? A proof of my employment?” No. It wasn’t going to happen. The sting of it all…being a foreigner, being a single missionary, etc. That hurt. “Ok Lord…I trust you. You are faithful. I trust you even in this.” She apologized profusely, asking me if I had somewhere to go, and assured me she would continue looking for an apartment for me. I hung up the phone. The lump in my throat grew as I cried out to the Lord. The cyclical feeling of getting so close to finding a new home to settle and finally unpack my bags was again snatched from me. As the tears rolled down my face and I lay in bed, I was reminded of just 24 hours prior. Before I even knew I needed it, God provided. I could stay here. “I will never leave you or forsake you. I am with you wherever you go. Trust me. I didn’t say it would be easy but I promised I would be with you. I am with you. Keep walking. Keep trusting, beloved child.”
A couple hours later I texted Lucija. “Hey, I didn’t get that apartment. Is there anyway I can extend my time here past Tuesday?” “Yes! The airbnb is available until April 1. We can give you a very discounted rate and you can stay here until then. Let me know.” I took a look at my calendar and saw that I’m set to leave for a ministry trip on April 1. Perfect timing…check. I’ll return mid-April and watch a teammates dog for a few days while they’re out of town. After that, they leave for home assignment late May and have already extended the invitation for me to live in their house until they return to Croatia mid-August. There’s many details I’m thinking and praying through but I’ll save that for later.
I’m not sure where I’ll live yet or where I’ll stay in the next few weeks…if I’ll stay where I am now or what God will do. All this to say…sometimes God uses broken water heaters, floods in the bathroom, and gurgling drains to wake us up and show us that He is always working and providing for His children. I don’t know what lies ahead, but I do know that it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when. I don’t question if God will provide, I just don’t know when.
Even when I don’t see it, You’re working
Even when I don’t feel it, You’re working
You never stop working
Way Maker, Miracle Worker
Promise Keeper, Light in the Darkness
That is who You are