Home. Feels right.
Two days ago, we returned to Corfu after being in the U.S. for a few months. So that was the status I posted to Facebook. Simple, uncomplicated. In addition to some warm welcomes for our return, I received a couple of more challenging responses, such as:
“I guess I am not home yet.” This one made me a little sad.
“And… home is… where?” This one, of course, from one of my missionary friends.
We entered our house after two days of travel, and needed to stay up for about three more hours to reach an acceptable bedtime. We went through the house to see how everything had fared during our absence, and seeing things pretty much in order, we began unpacking. Computers were set up and bags were checked for casualties. Only one mug was broken in transit.
We found something to eat and settled down to watch something on TV while having supper and trying to stay awake a bit longer. We were in our own space, and finding our footing on foreign soil yet again.
Our own space; foreign soil; the combination is familiar at this point.
It’s a good thing we left when we did, though, to make this return trip to the field. Because we were in the U.S. for medical reasons, it required our staying in one place instead of the usual busy time of travel. It gave us an opportunity to spend a lot of time with our youngest daughter, and it was really nice having her around. It gave us an opportunity to attend our son-in-law’s senior music recital and spend Christmas with him and our oldest daughter in their home. It gave us time to really feel a part of our home church family, attending multiple Sunday morning services, small group times, and special events.
This particular church became our sending church after we were already on the field, through an unusual set of circumstances. We have good long-term friendships with some people in the church, and we felt a part of things through the small group we attended before we left for field, but as far as the church body as a whole goes, we’ve never really had the chance to “bond” through regular involvement as members because we are traveling so much to keep up with other supporters whenever we are in the States.
This time was different. Different was good. We began to feel like a part of a family and it was comfortable. The week before we left, the morning service included a song by pastor Chuck Maxwell that was written specifically for our church. I sang out strongly until we reached the lines that said,
“Every time we gather, there’s a chance for life to change,
Every time we scatter, we go in Jesus’ name,
Our God is not confined to this one time and space…”
I couldn’t sing so strongly. I got choked up realizing that this group does meet together regularly, and lives are being changed. And we aren’t there to be a part of it. We are scattering in His name, hoping to be a part of changing lives in other places. They send us out well, but it was a new realization of one of the things we miss out on when we choose to follow God to another country.
Then came the goodbyes with close friends and family.
That seems to be getting harder. My adult children are a real joy to be around, and we love spending time with them. By the grace of God, it appears that we didn’t totally blow it as parents! We have some pretty amazing kids, and God is providing for them and blessing them and they are walking with Him. I really enjoy just hanging out with them! It was hard to hug them “one more time” and then walk away.
Our parents are in good health, but they – like we – are getting older and we realize we won’t always have the opportunity to say to one another, “I love you; see you next time!” So that is difficult, too.
And then we journey “home.”
As I sit here typing in the early hours before sun-up, because, you know, jet-lag,
I’m processing this somewhat familiar transition more deeply than usual.
I meant what I said about “Home. Feels right.” It does. In that place in my heart where God touches that spot and reminds me that Home is where He places me. Home is the place and the circumstance He has called me to. Home is where my husband and I are together. And we look around us at this place that isn’t really like the place we grew up, but we put our stuff in it and make it our own. In a way, it’s more ours because it isn’t really much at all like the place we left to come here, so it doesn’t belong to anyone else. Then again, it’s not like the other houses here, either, because we’ve added our own touches that make it uniquely ours.
And there are adjustments, of course, because each time we are gone for a while, we come back to find that our landlord has changed something around the property. He’s probably the best landlord we’ve ever had – a good man, and conscientious. Just occasionally the improvements he makes in our absence are not necessarily the ones we would have chosen, and so we have to readjust our expectations!
As we move around the kitchen preparing supper, finding our rhythm with one another in the space that is uniquely ours, it begins to feel comfortable once again. It will be even more comfortable after a few days, after we are completely past the jet lag, and the house has been thoroughly cleaned, and we visit with our local friends, and listen to the familiar liturgy of our church service here on the island, which is so different from the other one, and yet comforting in its own way.
There is always change.
One upheaval follows another, regardless of where we are. But underneath it all, there is a foundation of peace. Sometimes I have to listen carefully for it, like a still small voice. But it’s there, assuring me that this is right.
This is a life I have chosen, because He has called me to it.
And He is there, providing that steady stream of peace that flows through and fills the crevices where circumstances occasionally break through. It’s an undergirding that helps me find contentment and the strength to stick out the uncomfortable parts of the transitions, knowing that there is a steadiness on the other side.
Like many people in our line of work, it seems like there are little pieces of my heart scattered all over the world. If home is where the heart is, there are little bits of “home” in a lot of places. A big part of my heart is still in Albania, too, and I’m not sure anything will ever be quite the same. But for now, this is where He has me. It’s where Matt and I are together, serving His purposes, in this house that is uniquely “ours.”
So for now, this is “home,” and when I listen closely, it really does “feel right.”