As a child, my mother would often say to me, “you’re my home,” as if telling me, “I love you.” She used the phrases so interchangeably that their meanings became intertwined. Home, to my mother, wasn’t the four walls and the roof that sheltered us, but rather a feeling, a sense of family, love, security, warmth, and belonging.
As an adult, I’ve discovered how right my mother was; how home is so much more than a house or a building. It’s obvious in so many different but profound ways. Church is such an example.
Church isn’t a building, or a chapel. It’s not something so concrete. Church is the people. The feeling of community, the sense of belonging and the collective call to a higher purpose.
Church is home.
When you begin to think of home in this way, in a manner that is fluid and flexible, it’s easy to find homes in the most unimaginable places.
This past week, I along with thirty-five other people, worked tirelessly carrying out our mission in Guatemala. We built four houses from the ground up. We delivered 250 water filters to people who haven’t had the privilege of access to clean water. We painted a church and we laid the foundation of another.
It was physically and emotionally exhausting work.
As such, I should have been excited to return back to my home here in Minneapolis. If anything, It meant a return to certain comforts. Here I have drinkable tap water, my own bed, a night of sleep uninterrupted by roosters who have a misunderstanding of time, and I’m not spending every single day on a four hour bus ride across bumpy roads into the aldeas to spend hours carrying cinder blocks.
But upon my return, I found myself homesick nonetheless. Homesick for a place I wasn’t born in, a place I didn’t grow up in. For a place I didn’t really know well until eight years ago. Homesick for Guatemala.
Without realizing it, we found something up there in the mountains. Something so much more than the things we built or did. Though we were detached and distant from everything we knew, in a place so different than the one we came from, we found a home.
Because home isn’t just a place. It’s a feeling. It’s love, security, warmth and belonging.
The food may have not tasted like our own, the places may have looked so different than those we are used to, the language may have seemed incomprehensible, but somewhere between handing a water filter off to a grateful Guatemalan and building a home for a family in need, we belonged.
Soon after returning from our trip in Guatemala, two dear friends of mine got married. At the wedding, they read a familiar reading, one I’ve heard at nearly ever wedding I’ve ever attended.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
However, this time, the reading seemed so much more prescient and relevant than it ever had before. There are times today when it’s easy to look around the world and see only violence, hate, animosity. It’s as if, in some ways, so many people have forgotten how to love, forgotten what it truly means to love your neighbor. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians speaks to the love one should have for their spouse, but it also speaks to all kinds of love.
It’s about the kind of love He showed us. The kind of love that makes up a home. The kind of love we bring with us every time we go to Guatemala.
Our time in Guatemala is not just about delivering water filters or building houses. It’s about creating homes. It’s spreading this kind of love, His love, to everyone we meet and receiving it in kind.
That’s why I can say, as my mother often did to me as a child: Guatemala, you are my home. Guatemala, I love you.
The people affected by Volcano Fuego, you are my home.
The community of Yiquiche Canou, you are my home.
The families who received water filters, you are my home.
The women who invited us into their kitchens to teach us the art of tortilla making, you are my home.
The children of the aldeas who never tired of futbol and hand-holding, you are my home.
The monks who show us grace and humility in all that they do, you are my home.
The thirty-five who took the unforgettable trip to Guatemala to serve His home, you are my home.
You, who are reading this, who have supported us in prayer, you are my home.
Mi hogar está en Ti. (My home is in You.)
Por los siglos de los siglos (forever and ever.)