The African dirt that snuck its way into the fibers of my clothes has officially been washed away. The 13 people that I spent every waking (& sleeping) moment with for the past 2 ½ months are now represented through words on text messages. I’m still trying to figure out what a phone is. Walmart, showers and the Sky Mall magazine from the plane on my ride home are screaming to me that I’m back in America. But my heart refuses to believe that. Really, I just think my heart is confused. I’m here, in America, but that can’t be right. It can’t be. Because Jane has a part of my heart and she’s in Africa. Mbarini also has a huge chunk...and she isn’t in America either. “Niwewe Bwana” is not a song on America’s Top 40…but that doesn’t stop my heart from singing it every 5 seconds.
The home I’m sitting in now is the one that raised me. I know every nook. I know that there are 13 steps leading upstairs. I know about the hole in my brother’s wall that he covered up with a poster. My bare feet know the feel of cool tile in the kitchen and I know the exact way to shimmy the front door to make it open. You could say it’s home.
I also know the perfect squatting position in the pit latrine. I know the sounds that goats make at all hours of the night. I know how to lie on my sleeping mat just the right way to get a good night’s rest. I know the way that African stars twinkle. I know my spot on the bus and my bare feet can still feel the prickly grass. I also know the exact way to shimmy the zipper on the tent to make it open. You could also say that East Africa has been home.
The fact of the matter is, as humans, our hearts are always searching for some place to call home. The months leading up to Journey, I was convinced that Africa was going to feel more like home than anything. My eyes were aching for new sights, my feet impatient for new lands, and my hands grasping for new hands to hold. We touched down in Africa and I was caught up in a whirlwind of adventure and newness and meeting the realest Jesus I have ever met, but a little piece of my heart ached for home - the home that raised me. Now I’m here in that very home and my heart is aching for home - my African home that had me seeking the Lord in a burnt orange tent.
Here’s the thing. My home in the middle of Texas is not my home. My home in the middle of East Africa is not my home. This earth is simply not my home. My heart will never be contently at home until I am kneeling before the Father in Heaven, singing praises at the top of my eternal-life lungs. My time on this earth is for me to hop around and set up tents wherever the Lord leads me and hold new hands and see new things and praise Him all along the way for the journey.
So Journey ended 2 days ago. But I’m not home. I’m setting up my tent, this time in a familiar place - the place that raised me. My sleeping mat is now a bed. My community is now my family and friends. But I know that my familiar God here is the very same big God in Africa. And that God is the one that, while I relentlessly pursue Him, is rushing toward me waiting to hug me Home.
Kate M. (A Journey 2014 intern)