Many have said to us, “Welcome Home!” And some have added, “Not that this is really your home.”
This is called “Home Assignment.” (Years ago, it was called “Furlough.” Mission organizations changed the name because furlough implies “rest and vacation,” which is not what we are doing.
Well, that’s not entirely what we are doing. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Yeah, right, Amy….all of your pictures show that you are working really, really hard.” Of course, you don’t really want to see pictures of Gil working on sermons or me making appointments. Right? But it is true that December is a bit of a down month for us—it’s not really the time when churches want us to come speak. So instead we are making up for lots of lost grandparent time.)
Anyway. Back to the “Home Assignment” label. Where is our home?
We grew up in California (when I wasn’t in Liberia, in my case). We went to school, met each other, got married in California. Our families are here. We are flooded by memories….people, places, events…everything that made us who we are. We speak the language; we understand the culture; there are so many who love us here.
Yet Gil and I have lived over 6 out of our 9 years of marriage in Tanzania. Life in the States has gone on without us. We can’t keep track of our friends’ kids. Our nieces and nephews have grown up and we have missed it. We are nomads here: We own no home or car and are dependent on the hospitality of others. Tanzania has changed us; we aren't comfortable with the American way of life. We feel out of place, like we don’t belong.
So then is Tanzania home? We’ve lived there for over 6 years. We have invested blood and sweat and tears (especially sweat) into our ministry. Our children are Tanzanian. Places are familiar to us and we have grown comfortable with the way of life. (Well, until the power goes out).
Yet we will never be Tanzanian. We will always be foreigners, always attract stares wherever we go, always seen as different from the majority. We will never truly understand what it’s like to be Tanzanian. We’ve moved houses four times in the last four years. And our community at Haven of Peace Academy, especially among the staff, is always, constantly, changing. We’ve said good-bye to so many good friends over the last few years that we’ve felt some burnout and depression. It’s made it hard to emotionally invest in anyone other than our students.
As a typical MK, I never felt the need to put down roots. Until I had kids. Now it’s a struggle. But it’s one of those struggles I must be thankful for, because of its sanctifying work in me. For this earth (as it is now) was never meant to be our home. It is all temporal. And as much as I long for security and roots, I must remember that they will always be an illusion. Nothing in this world is secure or permanent. “Home” will never be entirely Tanzania or California. My Home is yet to come.
And [the heroes of the faith] admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country--a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.