Where is home?

8 06 2011

One of the challenges people living expat lives face is that ‘rootedness’.  Where is home?  What is it about?

I have been meditating on this concept for a while.  Do we go ”home” to South Africa – when we do not have a house set up there at the moment?  Is this still very new and foreign nation our ‘home’ when we are uncertain of how long we will be here? 

I love having a home base, a little nest to make into a personal space and feel ‘at home’ in.  The first thing I like to do when we go anywhere is make our bed, spreading out my smell across a few metres of tent floor or chalet space.  This is more important than unpacking bags, making a cup of tea or spotting the newest birds to discover.   

I like to know that I will not be moving around very often: living in the same space for many years is a reassuring thought. Having an idea of how the same space can unfold over many years seems delicious: the prospect of seeing a tree growing into a massive jungle-gym, or developing décor as a theme over a decade or two truly appeals.

Alas, real life does not turn out that way.  God has blessed me with a nomad for a husband. There are new discoveries around this bend or over that hill and we need to go there to explore!  I cannot blame Deon.  God’s delightful way with me is that of a heart for peoples in various places and the missionary heart seeks to discover new societies, unknown territories and venture into unfamiliar areas.  I realised many years ago that I needed to be prepared to give up cushy ideas of settled living.

The immediate ‘home’ choices are between Johannesburg and Mbale.

Joburg winterAh. Smoggy, frenetically paced, city of my birth. My first home was somewhere on the left of the picture, where I was abandoned by my caregiver for a day as a baby.  I am familiar with the breaths of the city, knowing so much about it after living around it for about 35 years. 

But it is dirty, corrupt and freezing-my-arse-off in winter. 

It was a relief to fly over  and out of the scene on Monday.  Although I will always be a Joburger, the city and its surrounds are no longer a happy home.

entebbe aerial


Flying into Entebbe is a remarkable experience. One sees a number of forested islands being hugged by gallons of water. Ancient style dugout makoros float along, with luxurious modern bungalows in the background.

The green expanse soothes the eyes after a dull grey flood of veld in SA. Green banana plants, bushes, trees and agriculture rise up out of the ground in a profusion of fertility and life.

Mbale would be a pleasant home: we are welcomed gladly when we arrive, our house is beginning to feel ‘homey’, and we missed this place while away.  But it feels a lot like a seedling in a temporary box: I know this is not long term. I don’t want to love the place because it will hurt when we leave.  Is that the way to think of home?

We intend striking out on our own in the future: travelling around, living in our tent, to explore all the mineral opportunities possible. Where will “home” be then? Would it be our great spacious tent? Or the back of our 4×4 where I will keep our bedding?


God reminds me of the truth repeatedly:  my home is not a place. My Saviour slept in fox holes.My security and comfort is not in something temporal here – this is all just too fleeting anyway.  My identity is in Him.  My home is in Him.  Yes, my home is where my heart is.

  He also reminded of the greater truth: all this here is temporary. We are not meant to get too comfortable in one space here.  Go out , see what others call home. Get to know the wide range of people God has created.  Share His love and invite people to your house-space.  

And then reach for the eternal HOME, the only real one, that we can all count on. 

An so, come Lord Jesus.




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