There are no surprises. Even the youngest member of our family, five year old Hayden, has a well-worn passport. International travel is no novelty to us. We know there will be lines for customs, procedures of security check, and how to occupy our time for hours and hours of airplane travel. We land in LAX and I wait for that sensation of culture shock, though anticipated is no less jarring. Our five sense are flooded with sights and sounds we are not used to, but yet are not unfamiliar with. I whisper to Jason, “I hope the kids don’t make comments about seeing black people”, nervous about the unfiltered words coming from my little ones who live in a monocultural society. At the same time I mentally run through my own behavior and whether they are appropriate for this context, telling myself to go ahead and banter with the store clerk because that’s what people do here. I watch my husband and wonder if he feels as foreign as I do in this place. I marvel at the children’s reactions to being back in America, so filled with delight and yet tentative. By day 3, I had crossed the line from merely being a thoughtful traveler to crazy over-analytical wife who was overwhelming her husband with theories of why people behave the way they do here and what is the Christian meaning behind the behavior and how it affects our family’s history and future. It’s the career hazard of being a cross cultural Christian worker. I abandon the theoretical exercises (or at least stop spouting them out loud) and simply enjoy the good times to be had with friends, old and new, and family.
We had a too-brief stay in LA and was reminded of how much we loved living there. Then off to Colorado to reunite our children with their doting grandparents whose gracious hospitality allowed us to not have to lift a finger for anything. Mountains were enjoyed, Colorado blue sky appreciated, and even a sighting of Saturn through the telescope at Grandparent’s cabin was scored. Credit cards were maxed out and two years worth of shopping were caught up.
The glass half empty approach to our family’s unique cultural experiences would be to struggle to find where home is. Indeed, at the moments when the modern invention of jet plane lands us in a a different land within a matter of hours, it takes a while to find our balance amidst the sudden shift in culture. But quickly we discover our home among people, those who are connected to us through a smorgasbord of life experiences, those who remain faithful in our relationship despite geographical distance. It turns out home is not just where the bed you are used to is at, but amongst friends and family connected to you via strands of love and loyalty, shared experiences and commitment, common vision and faith.
As we’ve gone from home to home and back again, I can’t help but wonder if there is a home for us somewhere we’ve yet to discover.