“I don’t want to own anything until I know I’ve found the place where me and things belong together. I’m not quite sure where that is just yet. But I know what it’s like.” ~Audrey Hepburn: Breakfast at Tiffany’s
We are down to less than four weeks before we head back to Quito, and as usual, my emotions are all over the place. When we’re here, we find ourselves looking at houses for sale, and thinking about where we might possibly live if we came back, and who would Dan work for, and what color would we paint the living room, and what church would we go to, and so on. Then we go back to Quito, and our thoughts turn to how to make our ministry better and what kind of apartment are we looking for and does it really matter if we paint it or not because it isn’t ours…
I don’t know if there is any way to reconcile those two worlds. Ecuador is not the place where we plan to buy a house and be forever, but it IS the place where we need to be right now. Our house that we’ve lived in for 10 years is being sold, and we have to find somewhere else to live. This is the house where we raised our children. It’s the house that we moved into just 8 short months after we arrived on the field. We struggled through the first months and years of missionary life there. We had Christmases and Easters and Thanksgivings and birthdays and vacations there. This house was robbed once, and even though it took months for our sense of security to return, it was still home and we knew that healing from that trauma didn’t mean finding somewhere else to live. It was as if we needed each other–the house and us. When our house sells, it will be torn down. It is old, and it would take way more money to fix things than it would to just start over. And the property is worth probably a half million dollars or so, and we know that a developer will snap it up and raze our memories and put up a high-rise with apartments made of glass and steel, and our house with the aggravating wood floors and the crumbling bricks and the 16 foot ceilings and the huge master bedroom and the crazy plumbing will just go quietly into the night.
Coming back to the US presents it’s own set of realities. This part of our world has changed. People move on. We’ve missed births and deaths and job changes and house changes and kids growing up and church changes…so coming back to Ohio would not be “coming home”. It would present it’s own set of challenges that would be, in their own way, more difficult than the reality of our move to Ecuador. We would be returning to a home that has no history for us. Our three oldest children are grown, and they will probably never actually live with us again. There is no “home where we raised our family” here for us. There are places and people that make things more homelike FOR us, but it’s not OURS. We are always on someone else’s turf, and that’s a harsh reality sometimes. The other reality that would come with returning to the US is that Ohio is no longer necessarily the only place where we feel loved and welcomed. We have people in Georgia and Texas and California and Indiana and Illinois and Arizona…people who love us. So where exactly would “home” be, anyway”?
We are not planning to move back anytime soon, unless the Lord makes it quite clear that it’s time. We are going to head back to Ecuador and pack up our memories and move them to a new place, whether it’s an apartment or a duplex or a house, and we’ll start making some memories there. Dan, Patrick, Oliver and I. Maybe the Lord will finally give us that baby girl that has been tugging on my heartstrings. I don’t know who she is, but in my heart she has a name and she needs a momma and a daddy and some brothers and sisters. Maybe He won’t. Maybe He will bring things to an end and we’ll be back on US soil before we know it. Maybe He will change things up and we’ll end up somewhere else on the planet, doing something that we could never have imagined.
“It’s funny. When you leave your home and wander really far, you always think, ‘I want to go home.’ But then you come home, and of course it’s not the same. You can’t live with it, you can’t live away from it. And it seems like from then on there’s always this yearning for some place that doesn’t exist. I felt that. Still do. I’m never completely at home anywhere.”
― Danzy Senna