The day had come. The four years had flown by and now here we were flying back into Houston. Four years. Had it been only that long? Had I ever lived anywhere else? Had I ever lived in this huge city we were approaching that spread out as far as I could see from the airplane window?
Yes, I had. Once upon a time this place that made up for the flatness of the land with tall buildings that blotted out the stars had been my home. I had memories filed away in my mind to prove it. But everything was different now. Everything had changed. I had changed.
Four years. Four years of making new friends, of putting out roots. Now I was being uprooted. Two days before, a fellow global worker had prayed for our safety as we “returned home.” After he had finished I corrected him. America was not home. Now the plane was landing. At the airport a delegation of old friends from our church surprised us with a war hero’s welcome. One of them greeted me with flowers, a smile and the words every returning MK dreads: “Welcome home!”
It rankled a little. I managed a slight smile and pretended to be tired from our trip.
They took us to an apartment they had fixed up for us. Not only were more flowers waiting in a vase on the table, but the refrigerator and pantry were stocked and everything was so clean I felt guilty leaving my shoes on. The whole apartment was so tastefully decorated that we all agreed it was the nicest place we had ever lived in. It seemed that the whole church had contributed to making us feel comfortable during our stay. I felt something inside thaw just a little.
As time went by I gradually adjusted to the idea of a year away from home. I still had to deal with bouts of homesickness, though. During those times I would cry into my pillow and declare I would never learn to love this place. I didn’t WANT to love it.
Between such times, however, my fun-loving philosophy prevailed, and I decided I might as well enjoy the positive aspects of furlough. I made new friends and drew closer to old ones. I laughed with them, cried with them, loved them and was loved by them. After several months I began to realize the impossible: I had come home.
This article is a classic originally published in our early print magazines.