If home is where the heart is, then I can’t really say I’m heading home. I’m not sure where I’m heading, exactly, but it’s not home. Yes, the United States is where I was born and raised, but it’s not home.
If home is where the heart is, then, if anything, I’m leaving home.
I knew when I came to Chile that I would make some friends and would grow to love them as brothers and sisters in Christ. I knew we’d make some good memories and have some good times.
I didn’t, however, expect them to become quite as special as they have to me. I didn’t expect to love them quite this much.
And what I didn’t expect, most of all, was for them to show me so much love and affection. Maybe I always expected to feel somewhat like an outsider, just here for six months and then gone. Maybe I didn’t really expect to feel as if I were a part of the group, that they would all be nice to me but deep down they’d know I was leaving and so they wouldn’t get too attached.
I definitely didn’t expect to get what I got. I didn’t expect to get multiple sendoffs, gifts, and tributes. I didn’t expect the heart-to-heart messages and emotional words I received both on my phone and in person. I didn’t expect endless hugs and tearful goodbyes.
If I thought I could come here for six months and then leave without feeling too much attachment as I made a decision about where to serve the Lord full-time, I was wrong.
My family in Chile has made sure of that.
Jesus promised me this precious new family I have in Mark 10:29-30 when He said, “Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mothers, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.”. I’m sure there must be persecutions and troubles to come, but they will surely pale in comparison to the incredible family He’s given me here in Chile. He’s fulfilled every word as far as that goes.
But now the time has come for me to leave.
I know so much will change by the time I come back someday.
The twins will probably be past the “being held” stage by the time I see them again.
Some of the young recently married Chilean couples will probably have kids by the time I get back (I’m not posting a picture here, so there’s no pressure!)
The Sparks, who have done so much for me, will have long been out of language school and started a new church plant, Lord willing.
I’m not sure what the other missionaries will be doing, but I’m sure there will be new churches started and exciting stories to tell.
The training center will be completely remodeled and good to go (At least, I certainly hope it will).
Many of the students that are now in the training center will be either starting churches or heavily involved in one somewhere.
And I don’t doubt there’s a good possibility that Omega Baptist Church will have been added on to and grown. They’re already planning to knock out a wall for more space in the auditorium as soon as I leave and they have the use of my apartment for the children!
Everything will be different, and yet there will be so many things that will be the same, waiting here for me when I get back, I’m sure.
And I can’t come back if I don’t leave, can I? And I know that every step I take leads me closer to that moment.
So, because of that, even with the pain of leaving Chile and my wonderful new family here…
Even with all the tears…
Even with the feeling that I’m ending a moment and a memory I can never quite get back…
I’m excited to be going back “home”.