I remember the summer before I left for the mission field. My plans included a return home for several months so I could prepare to move across the world.
I was going to attend a YWAM (Youth With a Mission) Discipleship Training School in the Netherlands. The classes were held at Heidebeek, the international missionary training school located on a quaint Dutch farm.
This adventure delighted and terrified me, so returning home before I left for a year felt especially warm and safe. I savored those days with my parents and rarely went out with my friends. Together we talked about our dreams and plans. We enjoyed each other’s presence in a special way knowing the separation would be long and difficult.
Last night while driving home from our family’s Christmas gathering, my daughter’s remarks reminded me of my own special summer thirty-one years ago,
“When I come home after living and traveling abroad, I don’t want to go out much. I want to stay home. Even driving across town at night seems difficult.”
Elya’s return home after fifteen months of teaching English in Korea and traveling throughout Southeast Asia definitely invigorated our Christmas celebrations. Our family cherished every moment spent with her and she delighted in being close to us as well. She’s making up for lost time having missed a majority of the last eighteen months of her second cousin, Stephen.
She’s drawing strength from home during this holiday season. Even those still living far away returned home through Skyping. Her sister, Andrea, opened presents with us from her computer screen.
My son and his girlfriend got emotional while Skyping us from the Philippines were they are enjoying Christmas with his father’s family.
Yes, family forms the foundation of our lives; a foundation we often do not know exists until we leave for the first time. Family fashions our faith and quenches our fears.
We whisper “I believe” a little bit easier when surrounded by others who share our trust. We sense the love of a Heavenly Father whose compassion pours forth through warm embraces from those we love.
We draw strength from home, whether an actual house, circle of loved ones, or the excitement we see in the face of a child eager to unwrap his gifts.
Family provides a covering of protection.
We see a clearer reflection of who we are through interacting with those we love.
Home and family are gifts, irreplaceable and precious at any season of our lives.