If I close my eyes, I am back there. I am swaying in a van as a blur of unfamiliar noises, people, and landscapes fly past. I am holding hands with Bamlak as I lean against Selam and Alemtschay, their voices rising and falling as they sing songs to the Lord. I am listening to the rain cascading upon the roof as Yeshi and her kids play downstairs in the kitchen.
When I open my eyes, I am here. Home. But home doesn’t seem to be the right word. Being back in Ethiopia for a second time, experiencing and remembering all that I have, makes Addis Ababa feel like home. Yet, returning back to Bozeman feels like home too. So… what and where is “home”?
After these past two weeks, here’s what I know. I know that my answer to this question has changed. It changed after driving down a dirt road tucked away and hidden from the bustling and congested roads in Addis. A simple road hidden from view that led to a home. A beautiful black stone home nestled amongst vibrant green grass and lush trees. A home I have only seen in pictures growing up. This isn’t a home I’ve ever been familiar with. It wasn’t mine. But it was and is a home that has shaped my family.
In this seemingly ordinary home lived my mom and her family 55 years ago. My grandparents, Phil and Diane Jacobson, followed the Lord’s call to be missionaries in Addis Ababa for six years with their three children. Trusting in God, they uprooted their comfortable lives in America, sold everything, and flew to an unfamiliar place. It was in this home that my mom was raised to be the woman she is today. Watching her parents serve the Lord through their daily selfless actions of helping others, learning from others, and outpouring love onto others, shaped my mom and her two siblings. Had my grandparents not trusted in the Lord’s plan for them, our family would not be what it is today. A family rooted in faith. A family that loves deeply. A family that knows His promises are good and that we need only follow His voice when He calls us.
The van stops and God is pulling me into this home. Waves of emotion crash over me as I step out and am greeted by a woman whom I have never met. Tears trickle down my face as I attempt to put into words what this home means to me. Tears streaming from my eyes, weak hands finding strength in hers as I explain that my grandfather, who acted on faith and followed God to this exact home 55 years ago, passed away three months ago. I realize as I walk the rooms he once walked, that home means much more than we may ever understand. Home for my grandfather was wherever God was. Home to him was in these black stone walls where he shaped our family by listening to God and saying, just as Isaiah, “Here I am. Send me!” Home was in the time spent on Turtle Lake, surrounded by God’s beauty seen in the visible landscape and the moments shared with his family. Home was watching his children grow into the faithful children of God that they are today. Home was his church, full of fellowship with others and the music that brought him peace. Home was in his wife, whom he loved and cherished so profoundly. Home was never one place. It was wherever the Lord called him to be.
If I close my eyes again, I am back there. Standing in a home that is much more than that simple word. It is a promise. A promise that God dwells with us wherever we are so that He can be near to us. We need only lean into Him, trusting Him through this messy and imperfect life. When God calls us out of comfort and familiarity, He uses those moments to open our eyes and our hearts to all that He promises for us. I pray that from this point forward, I never lose sight of what the Lord has taught me through this experience. I pray that He continues to shape me into the woman He calls me to be. I pray that, just as my grandfather did, I will hear His voice and follow, never doubting that my home is wherever He is.
Lastly, I pray for my team, the staff and children of Bring Love In, and all of you. I pray that my team finds peace in returning back home. That this peace only He can give, which “transcends all understanding” is found in knowing they are home not just in Bozeman, but wherever they are called because God dwells within them. I pray that the staff and children of Bring Love In continue to live out the promise that God so visibly and powerfully displays in each of them. And I pray for all of you. Whether you’re reading this blog or supported one or more of us through prayer or financially, or for any other reason. I pray that He is your home. That you feel His presence in all of the messiness and imperfection of your life. He is there, calling out to you, waiting for you always.
Close your eyes and know you are home.