We are home! After weeks of camping and traveling, the freshly laundered sleeping bags are hanging on the line to dry and we are now sleeping in our own beds!
Our final flight landed in Boston at 8:30pm where we were greeted by the wide smile and warm arms of “Miss Alice,” our dear extended family member who rents the apartment in our house. She even brought a bag full of fresh fruit and granola bars to compliment our all-day diet of airplane peanuts and mini cracker packages.
For the ensuing two-hour drive north, we talked over each other about all that we had missed and experienced in the last three months. Despite the late hour, the energy in the car grew as the kids began to recognize the landscape, and by the time we pulled into the driveway, the air was electric. Doors were flung open and kids had launched themselves from the car even before it rolled to a stop. Our headlights on the garage door lit up a celebratory welcome home sign, and another was draped over our front door where bags of groceries humped like welcoming gnomes.
Inside, the house smelled of lemons and glittered from the attentions of other friends who had even gone so far as to mop the floor in my bedroom and closet! What’s more, our Lifelines teammates had come in and cleaned out, then restocked, our refrigerator and lined the shelves of our pantry. I couldn’t stop beaming, and although they weren’t present at 11pm to welcome us, the love and administrations of so many dear friends lingered in the house—right down to the potted pansies on the front stoop. What a welcome!
Our home has seemed strangely normal, yet new. I was surprised to have forgotten which drawer the silverware was in, and to see how lovely our kitchen looked. And although the daffodils in the yard clearly mark spring, our “Joy to the World” door mat was a strange remnant of the Christmas season that reigned when we left.
Some adjustments have caught us off-guard. Our sleeping schedule has been in complete upheaval—the kids have not been ready for bed before 10:30 and we are on a streak of retiring at 1 am and not stirring until after 8:00. Both Dan and I are at a loss as to which side of the steering wheel one might find our blinkers, though we have yet to drive on the wrong side of the road. And it is odd to be so spread out around our big house. There are signs of the mama bear and her two cubs who have lumbered through our yard, which is a bit of a shock after living in a predator-free environment.
But, it is SO good to be home. On Sunday as I sat in the pew, rumpled and content from the hugs of our church family, I thought of the NZ family we recently left, and where they would have been sitting in church in Dunedin the day before, and what our Student Life teammates would be discussing in their staff meeting later that day as dawn leaked across the Otago peninsula. It is fascinating that a heart can be in so many places at once.
We have changed nationalities again—oozing back into the American lifestyle, while trying to hang onto the simple purity of New Zealand. Our days here are more full, the responsibilities heavier, and the schedule faster paced. But, we delight in the commodities of America, the accessibility and quality of goods—like my commercial sized washing machine and our heated floors. We have resumed the traditions of backyard baseball and hamburgers on the grill. In addition, we have traded rolling pastures for filtered sunlight through dense woods and the scent of pine. But both our New Zealand home and our New Hampshire home reflect the stunning beauty and majesty of God.
What is it that makes a place home? High above the Pacific, I had many hours to consider this question. Always, I come back to one thing. People. Relationships. Fellowship. It is through the Body of Christ that we experience God. He uses the hands and voices of others to demonstrate His love, His kindness, His pleasure, His forgiveness, His encouragement. I am grateful to have lived as a Kiwi, and I am grateful to be an American. But I am especially grateful to be a child of the living God, a servant in His royal priesthood, and a citizen of a holy nation belonging to Him (1 Peter 2:9.) That citizenship crosses all other borders and encompasses all other nations. Because of our adoption into that family, we are at home.