Not yet home - Where is home when you're on mission?

Not yet home - Where is home when you're on mission?

This term in Focus Groups we’ve been working our way through the Bible, looking at the story of our true home. The home we long for. The home we were created for. We know that we’re destined for the perfect home, with God forever. But how do we process not yet being home with God when our experience now is hard? Not yet home is a series of blogs where members of our church family can share their experience of home. This is Anais' story.

For the last few years of my life, the word ‘home’ has taken many shapes and forms every time I’ve been asked questions such as: ‘Where are you from?’, ‘Are you going home for Christmas?’ or ‘When is your next home assignment?’

Having moved from my country of birth five years ago to London, and then intermittently onto the mission field as a missionary, I have had to craft succinct but truthful responses to those questions in an attempt to capture how torn my heart often feels. I always know which of my three ‘homes’ people refer to in their questions, yet part of me feels at home in those three places all at once! So a longer, honest answer to those questions would require having seat and a cup of tea. For me, being able to only be in one of them at the time often felt as if I had left some of my identity behind, ready to be picked up again upon return.

Before going into missions for the first time, I remember attending a training session that talked about transitions, and, in particular, how to make transitions easier for missionary kids, who often move countries with their parents many times from a young age. I don’t have children, but I remember one piece of advice that stuck me which I promised myself to somehow put in practice.

The speaker told us how important for children to have stability and continuity and how simple gestures could help make transitions less hard and uprooting. In particular, they mentioned how some families have some specific household items which they always carry with them and that are familiar to the children. These can easily remind them that, despite the change of surroundings, they are still secure and looked after by their loving parents. This could be as simple as a specific tablecloth, favourite bedsheets or a decorative object that could immediately help the child think about the space as their new home until the next transition.

It reminded me of the time we moved house whilst growing up, and how strangely comforting it was to see my mum’s paintings and sculptures, our old crockery or other pieces of furniture, which I knew by heart, in this completely unfamiliar new space.

I have been putting this principle into practice over the last few years, which have involved at least 5 transitions from one country to another. Not only have I made sure to always carry with me a couple of significant items which would remind me of the different homes I have (and still) belonged to, but I have also come to realise there is one thing that I don’t need to fit in a suitcase which will serve the same purpose.

God is and has been the most valuable element of stability through every transition. He’s the one to whom I’ve run for shelter at the end of tiring days when I didn’t necessarily have access to a familiar friend’s comforting embrace. He’s been my rock when I felt I didn’t fit in the culture and loneliness crept in. He’s been my shelter and has made me experience the cosy-ness of His tender arms around me when the 4,000+ miles of distance between me and my loved ones seemed only too real. So, when I look ahead to the future, apprehensive of what God might ask me to call ‘home’ next, this verse from Isaac Watts’ hymn comes to mind:

O God, our help in ages past,

our hope for years to come,

still be our guard while troubles last,

and our eternal home!