Sunday, May 26, 2013

This picture is an intersection of my Kandern home and my Chicago home.

Reflections on Home….

Last week we held our annual Senior Transition Seminar where we prepare our seniors for the coming life changing transition they will go through. Besides graduating from high school and going to college, these kids will, in all likelihood, be saying goodbye to countries and cultures they have lived in most of their life, to take up life in their passport country. One of the practical things we had the students think about was to figure out how to answer the question: “Where are you from?”

It is not new information for them to think about how difficult this question is to answer. For years they have hated and dreaded this question. And knowing that most people they meet during their first few days on a foreign college campus are NOT going to want to hear: “Well, I was born in Russia, then I lived in Uzbekistan for 10 years, then Kyrgystan for 6 years. But I went to high school at a boarding school in Germany before coming here.” Yet that is the way most of our students could answer that question.

I, too, hate that question. A few years ago, I came up with my standard answer for people who I know don’t really want to know about my life. When asked: “Where are you from?” I say: “Chicago is home.” That’s what most people really are asking anyway.

Even “home” is a mixed bag. We’ve all heard the cliché “Home is where the heart is.” I believe it and my life has called (and still does) 7 different places “home”. They are places that I am/have been comfortable in, that have played a part in shaping me, places that I miss, where people are near and dear to my heart. Home for me is: Mexico; Jamaica; Ithaca, NY; Rochester, NY; Camp Troutburg; Chicago and Kandern, Germany.

I’d love to tell you memories of all these homes, to tell you about the people who were a part of that time in my life. I’d love to show you pictures of each place and show you how my heart leaps when I’m reminded of moments there. But this letter isn’t the time and place for that. It is, on the other hand, the time and place for me to reflect on how my current home became home for me.

Fifteen years ago this coming summer marks the first moment I came into this community. It began an adventure I never imagined. It was the first time I’d lived in “the country” and the first time I’d lived in a place where I didn’t speak the language. It was here that I came alive, loving teenagers and feeling so useful in ministry to missionary kids like me. Here is where I grew to love the simple, peaceful life of a small town with a creek running through it. Kandern is where I encountered the best chocolate the world has to offer, also great yogurt, cheap gouda cheese and raclette meals. This is where I got to marvel at students who speak 3-4 languages before they even enter my classroom to learn one more! Here is where I’ve been able to see history older than our entire country around almost every corner. BFA is where I have been able to invest in lives in a way I didn’t think was possible.

And this is the home that I am now leaving. After these years of joyful service to God and to missionary families, I am faced with a need to say goodbye. With the seniors I am a class sponsor for, I am approaching the same transition time they are. I am going through all the “lasts” of life here and all the goodbyes that will be necessary to face in a few weeks. It’s not an easy stage of life to go through, but a necessary one.

This life changing move comes from many months of praying, counsel seeking and facing the truth. The decision to leave BFA does not come from a desire to end this chapter of ministry. I continue to be passionate about loving and serving missionary families and empowering God’s work around the world. Unfortunately, I have not been able to get the necessary financial support in order to stay. It’s disappointing, but I also feel that God is using this struggle to bring me into a new phase of life.

I do not know where God is leading me. “Chicago is home” yet I do not feel like God has promised to let me settle there once I leave BFA. My future is wide open. I would ask you to pray for my future. Please pray that I would see where God is leading and I would be obedient to what He is asking of me. I am confident that God is trustworthy. Although I am sad about leaving this home, and scared about the unknown future, I know I can rely on my Heavenly Father to be all that I need. Please pray that I will cling to Jesus as I face the challenges of this time of “Transition”.

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