Monday, January 19, 2015

Where is Home for the Missionary?

Home sweet home.  We've shared our homes with you, but where is home really at for us? 
Recently my family went back to America for Thanksgiving through Christmas.  When we arrived, people asked us, "Are you glad to be home?"  When we returned to Australia, people asked us, "Are you glad to be home?"  So, this got me thinking, where is home?  We've heard the cliché: Home is where your heart is. 

Some say, home is where your family is. 
So, what if you have family in both places?  Where is home?  You have parents in America, and your husband and children in your place of service. 
Often missionaries are torn between two places, the place where they grew up, where parents, siblings, and childhood friends live and the place the Lord has called them to serve.
Where is home?
Oh, we have a Heavenly home, you say.  This world is not our home, we're just passing through.  But for the here and now, for where we are "just passing through" where is home?
I am only one person, and I cannot speak for missionaries everywhere, but here are my thoughts and then I'll share the thoughts of other missionary women.
In short, missionaries will always have home in two places.  I spent 32 years in America, and have been in Australia 3 years.  How does one just pack up and move from a place they've known their entire life, and no longer call it home? 
On Christmas morning, I remember sitting there looking at my dad, stepmom, brothers, and nephew, then looking at my husband and children.  I realized then that at that moment, home was right there.  It was so simple.  Most of my loved ones all in one room.  I wanted that moment to last forever.  But, alas, time moves one.
I am now sitting in my home in Australia.  A part of me will always want to be there in America with my family, but a part of me will always want to be here, to the land where God has called me, to the people He has called me to.
We have a pull between two places, home and home.  Most of us know that as much as we love our "old home", time has moved on, our family has moved on, things and people have changed, and we will never fit in that "old home" again. 
We look at our "new home" as home, yet as long as we have family and friends there we all have a little yearning for our "old home".  Thus, we will always be torn between the two.
I asked our ladies in the Baptist Missionary Women group on facebook, "Where is home?"  And here are their responses (I know it's a bit lengthy, but if you want to know how we feel, please take the time to read)...
~ Home? What is that? I know for my kids and husband the hardest question for them is "where are you from?" I just don't get why we have to define home or put a location on it.
~ Home is where family is.  Or, home is where your wifi connects automatically (that's is, if you have wifi...)
Being "real" at the moment, I find myself very conflicted when thinking on this. Most days, I genuinely feel that (where we are serving) is my home. God called us here, I live here, my things are here.  But there are those days in my heart that I long to be "home" - where my children and grandchildren are.
Home is not a house or a place, it's where we as a family are together. I will never forget my son yell "home sweet home" when we arrived at our hotel room after a long day at a missions conference.
We have lived here for almost 15 years now. I will be honest... I look forward to going home some times. Although, that is where my church is, but really no longer where my friends are since my real friends are in the ministry also. My family is spread all over. But, when we've been in the states a few weeks, I'm ready to go home again, which then I say is back (where we are serving). I love being in the states where I can read everything in English, but I feel more comfortable here (where we are serving) in my house with my things. It's a hard thing to say really where my home is. Is it where we live now? Is it where we serve, where are hearts are? I'm home here. But I miss so much in the states. And when I'm in the states, I miss so much from here. So , where is home? That's a hard question.
Missionaries are kind of a people without a country. That said, we love our field and have no desire to live in any other country. When we refer to home it's the mission field.

Home is where my family is...and if I ever get the idea that I'm "home sick" it's never for a specific place, just for a stationary place (because we're on deputation). I just try to think about how in years past, women would travel half the world with all they owned in one box and set up a tent for home or dig a house out of the hills in the parries or whatever. I just try to make myself think like that and realize that home really is what you make it.

~ Not having "home" for years on end was turning me into a mess. I realized I needed to invest myself wherever I was, for the time I was there. It hurts a little more to leave it, but the comfort of embracing where I am is healing. Sometimes it takes a while, but it's worth the effort! Love people around you, connect with them, get involved in the ministry if possible, Love the place God puts you and the people He puts you with. I have "home" in many different places!

~ Home is where my heart is which means it is in too many places to name.

Home is wherever God's will is for our family. At first, living in this country it didn't feel like home, but it was home nonetheless. Being in God's will brought peace enough to endure until it felt like home. This year, it feels like home.

'Home' is relative to a missionary wife, or at least to me. It is a tentative term. It sounds super spiritual, but it is in truth a sad heartfelt cry when a missionary says home is Heaven! Home is where we are welcome, comfortable, in control, surrounded by loved ones, etc. this is neither the mission field, or the states for me- and it is in ways both. I can honestly say I do not feel completely at home in either place, and yet I so love both places! I am content knowing the Lord guides and places us where He wants us, and that is our home for that time; but it will change, It always changes.

I share all this to also show that we are real people, we are not super spiritual Christians.  We miss our family, our friends, our home church, Cracker Barrel, Wal-Mart, and the list goes on, but at the end of the day, we are right where God wants us, and we wouldn't have it any other way
So, we may not necessarily know how to answer you when you ask "Where is home?" or "Where are you from?"  Don't feel sorry for us, having two homes is an adventure!


Tori Leslie said...

Great post!! I loved reading all the responses. After living here for 15 years and having my two oldest children already in America, I can finally truthfully same that home is here. I'm so thankful for what God has done in our hearts and had finally done what I thought was impossible. Ultimately, home is my final destination but for now, sweet Croatia will do!

Anonymous said...

I think that home for the missionary is where ever the Lord has placed you to minister and the people in that place, are your people.
I have heard many missionaries say this very thing.