Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Moving In and The Great Fridge Adventure

From the time I was born until I moved out of my parents' house at the age of 21, I lived in 3 different houses, 2 of which were before I was 1 year old. So, I really didn't have any experience with moving until I moved out of my parents' house. Since moving down here just over a year ago, I have no lived in 3 different houses and just finished a brief stint staying with the pastor's family.

Moving in to this new place has been quite the adventure, much more than I had anticipated. First of all, the apartment has been vacant for several years, so it had become a storage space for the owners of the house, who are the pastor's parents. Here's how my week has been going...

On Tuesday, we went over to the new apartment and helped a couple of guys from the church/school move several many boxes of books and bags of clothes into other storage spaces. Then, we picked up my bed from my previous residence along with a couple random bags I had there. We were supposed to grab our suitcases from the pastor's house and stay at the new apartment that night, but it was after 5pm that night, and I was able to reason that we had no fridge or food and would still have to sweep and clean... And so we were able to stay another night with the pastor's family.

On Wednesday, we packed up our suitcases and headed off to school. While there, Hermano R moved all of our stuff to the new apartment. Thank God for him. After school, the director took us on a couple errands she had to run, and then to the supermarket where we were able to get much-needed sustenance. Then, we got back to the new apartment and went to work.

I began by cleaning out the fridge, since there was so much ice built-up you couldn't even use the small freezer compartment. In the process, I stabbed a small hole in the metal freezer compartment, but didn't think anything of it, even though there was a hissing sound and air escaping.... I was really just more focused on the ice and don't know much about how mini fridges work.... But more on that later.

My roomie was able to cook us dinner in the meantime, and sweep out the bedroom. So, we moved our beds in first. Then, I arranged a few of the things that were left behind so that they weren't in the way, and decided to take off the loud, not-well-attached, and slightly-in-the-way closet doors. The ceilings in the bedroom are high so there was plenty of space on top of the closet to store them.

Then, it was go time. While my original plan was just to clean the bedroom, get stuff that Hermano R left outside inside the house, and call it a night, I started realizing how much needed to be done and how much I didn't want to spend the next week or so slowly getting the house put together. So, I started working, unpacking boxes, hanging the shower curtain, cleaning kitchen cupboards, and taking down the shelves above the kitchen sink.

Here's the thing about this apartment. The bedroom is nice and big. We were able to quite easily divide the room into two parts and each have plenty of space for our things. The bathroom is cramped and the sink is pretty much in your lap when you're on the toilet, but I'm not planning on spending too much time in there, so I'm not worried about it. The living room is small, and it's hard to quantify it right now since there are still boxes in there, but I suspect the kitchen table will still fit comfortably in there if we are able to get the couch in.

Then there's the kitchen.... The kitchen is tiny. It's in the walkway as you come in, and I just have a feeling that whoever designed this house has never actually cooked anything ever. There's a sink with a small amount of counter space on either side, and the other side is where our mini fridge is along with food shelves which will hopefully also fit all our pots and pans and dishes and such. Above the sink side were three shelves, the two above the counters at about eye level and the one above the sink a little higher.

My roomie had already put a couple loafs of bread on one and two cartons of eggs on another. But, as I went around cleaning and organizing the whole house, I decided to take one shelf off so we could actually access the counter space without there being a shelf in our faces. The shelf wobbled as I took the bread down, and I soon discovered that the wire shelf was attached to the metal brackets with bent over (but not twisted together) twist ties and that several of the metal brackets were screwed into rolls of paper that had been used in place of plastic anchors, so they came off with a little bit of effort.

So, part of the housing renovations involved pulling all the shelves off of the wall. Now there are a dozen holes in the wall, but there's an ACE Hardware in the mall that's within walking distance, so there will be spackling and painting happening soon.

On Thursday morning, I opened the fridge in the morning and found it still warm.... I had broken it. As far as I can tell through what happened and through talking about it to someone else, I had caused all the gas to leak out of it. So, I pulled out my soldering iron once again, the same one I had started using to melt the ice after I stabbed a hole in it with my knife. I managed to solder over the hole so that when I turned it on, there was no longer a hissing sound of escaping gas.

I was feeling super handy and maybe like I had saved the day, but when we got home after school, the fridge was still warm. So, even if I did effectively fix the hole, it didn't actually matter because there's no gas left to cool anything anymore. Live and learn, right? But we were out of luck, because we still didn't have a fridge. The good news was I had an awesome excuse to cook and eat the entire package of bacon I had bought.

On Friday, we told the director about our predicament, but the pastor wasn't coming home until late that evening, so she promised he could take us the following day. We had already tossed most of the refrigerated foods at that point, so one more day wouldn't really matter.

On Saturday, we went to the discipleship program through the church, and then to the used appliance shop afterwards, which is actually where I got my first fridge. They were closed, since they're only open until 1pm on Saturdays and it was nearly 5pm by then. So, we opted to go to a discount new store to see what they had. I insisted on not paying more than $300 for a new fridge, primarily because that's all the cash I had saved up at that point. The plan was to get a new mattress or maybe a TV, but fridge takes priority.

As soon as we walked in, a small fridge caught my eye, and I fell in love with it. As I got closer, I found the price to be just under $300. Just to be certain, I made a quick tour of the other fridges in the store, but only one other one was cheaper, and it was an off-white mini fridge. It took less than 5 minutes to confirm my decision on the pretty little white one that I first laid eyes on. The pastor, ever the diplomat, talked them into giving us a missionary discount, so the total ended up being about $270. Since my roomie chipped in 1/3 of the price (she won't be here after June, so it was unfair to ask her to pay for half of a fridge she's only going to use for 5 months), it was a sweet deal.

The guys from the store wrapped it up, wheeled it out, and refused to put it in the car because I guess you can't put a fridge on its side because of the gases and such. So, we had purchased a fridge, but couldn't bring it home quite yet. The pastor planned on asking someone at the church the next day who had a truck.

On Sunday, we went to church, and then the pastor did ask the guy after church. However, he had a cap covering the bed of the truck and seemed hesitant to take it off for whatever reason. As the pastor and he discussed it, another woman spoke up and offered the use of their truck, which they hadn't driven to church, but did have. They also have kids that go to the school, so the plan was the following day after school. I mean, we'd gone this long without a fridge....

On Monday, the couple along with a couple guys from the school went and moved the new fridge to our house near the end of the day. So, we got to come home to our new fridge, all wrapped up in plastic. We pulled all the plastic off and it felt like Christmas Day. We still had to wait to plug it in for whatever reason, so that night before bed, I plugged it in after making a solemn promise to not stab a hole in it, filling the ice cube tray with water to test it's functionality.

You would think that that would be the end of the story, right? That the fridge worked and we all lived happily ever after? I wish it ended there.

On Tuesday, I went to check the fridge and found the ice cube tray filled with slightly cool water and it was decidedly not cold. The problem was the electrical outlet. I should have known better since the electric burner that is our stove didn't work well in that outlet, and neither did the soldering iron for that matter, but I thought I would give it a shot, primarily because the location is absolutely ideal and there are really no other nearby outlets.

So, before school, my roomie and I moved the fridge into the living room, pushing the table to the side and moving the chairs to the other side of the room. We plugged it into the outlet there and were pleased to find that it made a lot more noise there than it had in the kitchen, and were hopeful that it would actually work there.

Well, we got home from school and I was certain that we couldn't possibly have any more bad luck with fridges.... AND I WAS RIGHT!!!!!! There was a breeze of cold air upon opening the fridge, and inside the freezer compartment was one tray of completely solid ice cubes. I have never in my life been so excited about ice cubes. I may have jumped up and down and hugged the fridge several times.... Ok. I totally did that.

It's now Tuesday afternoon, and although the fridge is currently located in a slightly awkward location in the living room, it's working. And I'm so thankful for the way it did all work out, even though it was one issue after the next. But as I remember the whole story, I also remember how many people came together to get this fridge: the director and the pastor, the couple from the church/school, the guys from the school, and the couple we're living with, who brought us 1 - 2 meals every day since they knew we were without refrigeration.

I'm feeling super blessed, and all for a fridge, something most people take for granted.

One of the hidden benefits of having a roommate is that they will make you a sign to hold up when you do stupid things so the world can laugh at with you....

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