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We Chose This Life

taken from our balcony

From the first time I saw We Are the World on MTV in 1985, I was hooked on Africa. I was 6 at the time. I dreamed of coming to Africa to “help”. I had no idea of the journey that would unfold as I followed that dream.

As the years passed, my attention was consistently focused on learning more and more about Africa. I was enthralled with the culture, the people, the stunning landscapes and deep history.

I’m also mesmerized and awed by the sea. I love the coastal culture and for me there is no greater representation of God’s power and creativity in nature than the full moon reflecting off of the sea, palm trees swaying in the wind. Utter bliss.

This love of the coast combined with my love for Africa, naturally led me to Mombasa, Kenya. It’s the culmination of everything I love about Africa, and specifically, the Swahili culture. Swahili is actually an Arabic word meaning “coastal dwellers”, and has now defined a people, region, language and rich culture.

I did not grow up in a financially well off family. However, I did grow up in a family that fostered the idea that we are to dream big and believe in our ability to make manifest those dreams. Since I was 16, my dream has been to live on the beach in Mombasa. 18 years later, here I am.

Ilea and I married on May 8th, 2010. We sat down and said “we are going to believe this Mombasa dream into fruition; we’ll make it manifest, despite all of the odds against us”. We had no money, no concrete plan and very little income. Less than one year later, we are sitting on our balcony, overlooking the sea.

This morning, I woke at 6:30 AM as usual, and stood outside as I sipped my coffee and took it all in. We live in a quaint little two bedroom, one bath condo on the third (top) floor. We have an amazing rooftop where we spend our nights stargazing with my telescope (thank you Ilea and family!). We have a beautifully landscaped common area for a front yard that leads right up to the beach.

The mornings are filled with sounds of exotic birds, geckos (yes, they make noises) and ocean waves; and nothing else. The afternoons are quiet, and the breeze flows soothingly through the house all day. In the evenings, our home is filled with the ever-present symphony of laughter, children and talking from families and visitors on the beach, only 50 meters away. I never tire of that song.

Our home has a new coat of brilliant white from top to bottom. We have no furniture other than a mattress that lies on the floor, draped in a mosquito net. It’s the perfect blank canvas to paint our story and create what my mother calls “a heaven of peace”.

We keep looking at each other and saying, “hey, this is where we live”. We are constantly in awe of it all.

We do the work we love and are passionate about. We have purpose. We have a beautiful marriage. And we just landed the most lucrative (and really cool) consulting contract we’ve ever received. Our adopted Rwandan son, Francois, is moving here to live with us in a month. More on that soon…

In some ways, our lives today seem surreal. But as I contemplate it more this morning, I realize again that this is how our lives were designed to unfold. We were created to live this way.

Every step of the way, we deliberately chose to believe that we could achieve this. We choose not to let fear conquer us. We choose to believe in abundance, that we’ll always have more than what we need. We believe in each other. And we believe that the universe and our Creator are always working for us, not against us.

We chose this life. We didn’t let doubts and social norms stop us from bringing it into fruition. We got out of the way and let it come to us. And now it’s here.

We are blessed, and oh so grateful. And we’re just getting started.


  1. Kevin Miller on September 1, 2011 at 2:05 PM

    Thanks for the picture! The beach…my 2nd pic after the mountains. Hey, few days go by where we don’t step outside, look up and say “Look where we live!!” So sad that folks don’t put much premium on that needed inspiration in their lives. Love that you’ve made it happen brother.

  2. Justin Lukasavige on September 2, 2011 at 1:59 AM

    I’m excited about where yu live, but more so about how you’re impacting people.

  3. Ilea Angaza on September 2, 2011 at 7:39 AM

    Beautifully written. I’m so happy I get to share this life with you. I love where we live and what we get to do – and so grateful that we’ve stumbled upon work we feel called to do – even when monkey’s break into our kitchen and steal the chocolate.

  4. Jared Angaza on September 2, 2011 at 12:06 PM

    Thanks bro. We’re certainly blessed to be in an area that we love. And we realize that most folks don’t want to live the way we do. But it’s our little slice of heaven. So many people descrive heaven as this place where everything is perfect. But not for us. Our heaven is here, where we are serving others, living in community, persevering through hard times and reaping the benefits of getting through it, loving the dynamic culture and the melting pot of people, and so on. We are blessed.

  5. Dan Miller on September 2, 2011 at 1:53 PM


    What a great insight into the life you guys have chosen. The question is – doesn’t everyone chose the life they are living? I know that’s a hot potato and we certainly see people who feel trapped in the life they are living. But when we accept responsibility for where we are then we immediately put ourselves in a position to control our future. If we are responsible, then we have hope and can choose our future. Anyone who feels trapped, or who is waiting for someone else to save them, gives up their option of designing the life they want to live. If it’s “not my fault” then I have no rationale for moving on or planning the next day.

  6. Joanne Miller on September 2, 2011 at 1:54 PM

    So very, very happy for you both. I understand living by the beach, believe me. Dad and I love Franklin and our home here but there is always a part of me that could so easily pick up and live near the beach. I, too, feel the most power from God when at the beach watching the birds soar over the water. Listening to the waves crash and watching the sun set over the horizon or the moon glow over the water. Love it. So tranquil. So beautiful. We are eager to get over there to see your slice of Heaven. And we will do it next year, come Hell or High Water! 🙂 love you both, Mom

  7. Jared Angaza on September 2, 2011 at 5:18 PM

    This is a hot potato indeed. And yes, I do believe we all chose the life we live. Every decision we make, every minute, determines what life we live. I run into people all the time that are clearly letting the world dictate their life story. As you know, we don’t roll that way. We deliberately define what we want, and then push until we make it happen.

    Seems to me I learned that from my father….Thank you for that. It’s one of the best investments in my life you could have ever made.

  8. Jared Angaza on September 2, 2011 at 5:20 PM

    Our door is always open mom. We’d be elated to have the opportunity to show you our world over here. I think about it often. Excited to share it with you both someday. Much love!

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