The word rings in my ears, and I sigh. Home? Where is home? I have lived on either side of the world and may leave at any point, so how can any one of these places be home? For I have friends and family stretched out across the globe. In the dictionary it says that home is the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household, but when I am stretched across an ocean having to decide where home is, I realize that I am richer than most. For I have three homes, the home of my blood, the home of my mind, and the home of my heart.
Cars racing by on the busy streets engulfed me. I was just one of the millions of people that rushed around in that city. The home of my blood is busy and I was just one in a sea of unknown people. The home of my blood is Toronto, the biggest city in Canada. In 1998, along with hundreds of others, I was born in one towering hospital, to two happy parents as well as many cousins, aunts and uncles. As I began to grow up, I formed relationships. I learned to walk. I learned to talk. I went to kindergarten and made friends that should last a lifetime. This was the only home I had ever known and in my mind, it would always be my home. It was permanent. Home was the small bungalow with the big basement bedroom that my sister and I shared. I knew that after church, we would come out from the parking lot surrounded by big buildings and head home, to play in that big bedroom. As a six-year-old, I knew it was home. I knew that after we went to the playground down the corner, or the water park across the road, we would be headed to the small green and white house on Newton Drive. My mind rested and felt secure in the home of my blood, the little house in the big city, where one little family lived.
My home was secure until I was about nine years old and then it was shattered. “We are moving,” they said, “to Calgary.” Oh, we had been to Calgary on trips before but we had never lived there. In my nine year old mind, I worried about leaving the only friends I knew, and the only home I knew. My home was no longer permanent; it was shifting. After we moved to Calgary, I grew to love the new place that I called home. It was the larger house, with the bedroom upstairs and the playroom in the basement. It was the place that was cold and close to the country. It was the place where we would go skiing on the weekends and pray that there would be no more snow in May. Calgary was the home of my mind where I spent years in elementary and Jr. High school. I learned how to think and share my opinions. I learned how to behave. I learned how to deal with hard circumstances and how to resolve conflicts. I learned what I stood for. My character was stretched and friendships were formed. I learned that I must stand up for my friends when they are being bullied and that I must be kind to everyone, even those who were being mean to me. I learned that home isn’t always where my family is and that friends can be made, even if I have no history with them. The home of my mind grew on me and I began to call it home. I loved the home of my mind, Calgary, but at the same time I missed the home of my blood, Toronto.
When I was fourteen, I moved to the home of my heart. In Toronto, I never would have believed that one day I would be on the other side of the world, but in Calgary a seed was planted in my heart for a far-away country. I visited there twice and that seed grew and became part of me. As we moved with fifteen boxes across the world, I felt like I was coming home to the friends I had made on previous visits. Even though I was leaving the only country that I had ever known as mine, I was going to people and places that I knew. It took a while for me say that this new country was home. I was torn between loyalty for the home of my mind and the overwhelming sense that I was home on the other side of the world. Experiences caused pieces of my heart to remain in this place, like when I held a dying baby in my arms, or when I saw a nine kilogram nine-year-old begin to thrive and grow. This home, Uganda, is where I feel most useful and most fulfilled. I am stretched to grow and change day in and day out. I see what really matters. I see lives transformed, and wounds healed. I love this home. This is where I am at rest and free to be myself. The home of my heart is in a place I never would have imagined, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. The home of my heart is not a building with four walls and a roof but of people, relationships and faith, all that really matters.
Home will never be a concrete, simple answer for me, for different parts of me are spread all over this world. I have no idea where my home will be in the next few years, but I know that it will slowly become home. Home can mean many different things to different people in different places but I am constantly reminded of the hope I have. For even as I daily struggle with the word ‘home’ being a permanent place, I’m reminded of a home that I am going to that will last forever. A home where I’ll be in the presence of God and that I will never have to leave. Although my home on Earth will continue changing, I know that I am on my way to a heavenly home where I will live permanently as a member of the family of God.