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photo credit to Eternity Fotos

Home is where the heart is, right? Or is home where you feel the most comfortable, where you were born, where you actually live out life?

One of my dearest friends attended a missionary re-entry class at the Global Missions Conference last month. She was trying her best to learn some things to help us with our upcoming transition. One of the little nuggets of wisdom that she shared with me is to never tell returning expats, “Welcome Home.” Instead, one should use a simple, “Welcome back.”

This is a wise thing to do. I certainly won’t hold it against anyone who tells me “welcome home” in January, but for our children, it isn’t home. We moved to Arequipa when Ana still had a paci and was just barely starting to speak English. We enrolled her in a Spanish-speaking preschool while we attended language classes, and she became fluent in Spanish along with English. Her memories of her “home” country are only traced through pictures that we took of her.

Just the other day, I was teaching her the pledge of allegiance and our national anthem so she would have a clue. The girl can recite every verse of the Peruvian national anthem (and there are a lot of them I assure you) by heart. Where do you think she calls home?

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While Ana only has a US passport, her younger two siblings are actually Peruvian. Both Maggie and Cohen were born right here in Arequipa. I honestly don’t think Cohen had any real idea of the states until our last visit, because of his age. They are both speaking Spanish, and when they speak English, they mix up the sentence structure because they literally translate the Spanish to English in their head.

The only place they have ever referred to as “going home” is our house in Arequipa.

They know their grandparents and uncles and aunts, but they have more collective memories with their Peruvian abuelos and tios and tias at this point in their lives.

They are our three little Peruanos, and for them, Arequipa is home.

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So don’t welcome them “home” when you see them in January. Maybe it will become home in the future to them, but their home is where the llamas live, where big red and white flags flap in the breeze, where a huge volcano towers off in the distance from the city, where Manuela cooks delicious Aji de Gallina for them and Etelvina offers to make Papa a la Huancaina. Arequipa is home, because Arequipa is where their hearts are. And a big chunk of their Daddy and Momma’s hearts are in Arequipa also.

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photo credit to Eternity Fotos

I am confident that our hearts will rest in new places that we will call our new home. But for now, two months from today to be exact, a “welcome back” will do.

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7 thoughts on “Home

  1. Marlee says:

    I started crying while I was reading through this post so I’m sure you were sobbing while you were writing it. It is so precious to read and I know your kids will love to read it some day. I am praying daily for your transition, friend. Love you.

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    1. Megan says:

      lots of tears at random moments, and it will only get worse I am afraid. 😦 But I truly am so excited to be welcomed back by our Tullahoma family. A sense of home is also where our family lives. We just have family in two countries now. Love you, Marlee. Thank you for sympathizing with me and being so intentional with helping us in the transition. Thanks for putting up with my moping. 🙂

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    1. Megan says:

      I can only hope, Kristin! California is a possibility for our next big move (after T-town). I have already checked into the bilingual schools where we can enroll the girls. I have joked with Greg that I will go hang out at La Fuente (my favorite Tenn-Mex restaurant in T-town) just to practice my Spanish if I have to. 🙂 We will have no regrets living these 6 years in another culture. Their worldview is already bigger than many adults I know.

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  2. Kathy Burnett says:

    What precious and insightful thoughts. Thank you so much for helping all of us here stateside know how to welcome you back into our lives. We are truly looking forward to having you all back with us, but when you do get here we will remember to just say “Welcome back!”

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    1. Megan says:

      Sweet Kathy, I am so excited to be welcomed by my T-town family (that raised me!). Thank you for being such an encouragement to us in our time here and when we return. You are a gift! Thank you for commenting. Love you!

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  3. Celia Bond says:

    We can’t wait to say, “Welcome Back”. What an inspiration all of you have been to all of us. We both just visited your dad this morning as patients. Your mom called us last night about the annual C’mas get-together this Sunday after services. God bless you in all your preparations to return to the States. We love you!!

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