One of my favorite sessions at MTI last year was one on grief and loss. We discussed 6 areas of guaranteed loss that we would face when living and working in a new culture. As I begin the process of reflecting on my first year here in Kenya, I continue to be drawn back to that session and it has become the filter through which I have been thinking about the last year. I have been sharing about these losses and their related gains over the past few months. Today I will talk about the loss of a stable home.
I have seen a lot of posts from missionaries about home in the last month. I think there is something about this time of year that makes us all miss home. We are headed into summer in the southern hemisphere. My Christmas tree is a branch cut from a tree that fell a few weeks ago. I can’t find red hots to make apple cider (but someone did send me mini marshmallows for hot chocolate, so I have that going for me). There just isn’t a lot that feels like Christmas here. There isn’t a lot that feels like home.
Home for me is my family. Home is Cassie and Eric and Maven. It’s the room at Trav and Elizabeth’s that was mine, even though I never lived with them. It’s Mexican food and college football and bubble tea. It’s a place where I almost never need Google maps and where police officers make me feel safe, not fearful. I understand the rules and I feel competent in most of the things I do on a daily basis. Home is a place where we stand in neat lines at the bank and no one ever crowds up next to me when I am talking to the teller. Men hold doors open and no one yells “Mzungu! (white person)” when I walk past. Home is my community, but I talked about them in the last post, so I won’t do it again here :) It’s a place with smooth roads and real sidewalks. Home is a place where I can understand everything that is said at church and I never turn around to find that the person who has been pulling my hair is an adult (true story). It is a place where people understand how amazing the state of Texas is….seriously, why do I have to explain this so often? :)
Before I moved here a little more than a year and half ago, I would have said that home was in Dallas, TX on a little street with cute houses built in the 1950’s. Now, home is a more confusing word. I live in Kenya, so that is technically my home now. But truthfully, it doesn’t feel much like home, not in the same way that Texas did. I really don’t expect that it ever will. I know that I have been writing about gains alongside my losses in this series. The truth is that today is a hard day and I mostly see the loss. I miss home more often than not. I do have a super cute house that I moved into a couple of months ago. I am so grateful for space to host guests and to have a washing machine – something I hadn’t had for 18 months. I am happy that it is cozy and cute. I hope it is a place where people feel welcome. It’s home, but it’s not….home…not yet.
I do not expect Kenya to have the intangibles of home quickly, so today I rest in the grace of knowing that Jesus is better than pothole-free roads and cultural competence and, yes, even Mexican food. He has not brought me here to see me wither away, but to find greater joy in Him as my idols are exposed and my fingers pried off of what I found comfort in and placed firmly on Christ. That, friends, is what I am gaining here. It is not an earthly home, but a greater longing to be in the Home that puts me close to Him.