“When are we going home in Agrumpa?” is what I heard from the twins over and over during our trip to Cairns after being gone only a few days. It dawned on me that our home here is really the one they associate best with the word “home” (although they seem to feel at home in the village as well when we go there).
The word “home” is very emotive for me. It conjures up pictures of family dinners, my messy kitchen and my bedroom (aka my ‘hiding place’). That’s when memories from birthdays, holidays and other events come flooding back. We left PNG for a little over a week, and it only took that long for me to start missing my home in Ukarumpa. A big part of that was the fact that we had left our three older kids, and I missed them, particularly hearing about their daily adventures and struggles. (They did really well, by the way, and were very well looked after by friends while we were gone!) A second part of missing home is the close friendships we have with missionaries and Papua New Guineans here. When I’m away from friends, I can still usually contact them through email/Facebook/phone (we have cell phone service to our village now!) but the thing I miss when we aren’t in the same location is the possibility of seeing them face to face.
These last three years, we have owned a home here. Previous to that, we either lived in group housing (a small apartment, with three bedrooms and small living area) or in a home we rented from another family. When God made it clear to us that He wanted us to stay in PNG, we realized that we needed a place to put some roots into. We started praying on furlough for the right house and the funds to buy it. God provided the right amount just as we left the U.S. through supporters and friends from church!
(above: the garden in front of our house)
I think if we had bought a house right away when we arrived in 2002, I wouldn’t have appreciated what owning a house does for us: the top advantage being stability. There’s no worry about a home owner coming to PNG and wanting their house back, no moving out when we go to and from the village, (reducing our transition and travel stress!) and making changes to the house is up to us, according to what our family wants or needs. Just before we left for Australia, Ben hung a bunkbed from chains on the ceiling for Ellie so that there would be more space in the girls’ room. Back in 2009, when we started to ask if we should leave PNG and the answer was “no”, God showed me that He didn’t reveal His plan for us to stay in PNG when we first arrived because he wanted us to come here with open hands–ie not to get tied up in making life materially comfortable. (in many ways, that ship has sailed now, because having our own home has helped us acquire things that we wouldn’t have in temporary housing!)
At any rate, I am grateful. Grateful to be back in my own bed again and messing up my own kitchen with my favorite wok at my disposal. I’m grateful to have had some time away, where I didn’t have to cook much and I was able to spend some quality time with Ben and our twins.
I find myself echoing the sentiments from one of our favorite children’s books “Are You My Mother” by P.D. Eastman:
I love my house, I love my nest. In all the world, my nest is best!
Last night I smiled when Jacob announced at the dinner table it was time to do our “joy, junk and Jesus” (we changed from doing our ‘good thing, not so good thing’ to this when our intern Luke stayed with us earlier this year) Jacob proceeded to announce whose turn it was to speak. We went around the table and told the joys, struggles and where we saw Jesus at work in the day. That’s probably my favorite part of the day and what makes me feel like I’m really home with my husband and kids all around the table, eating food together and enjoying each other’s company.