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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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A new office space

This is a totally random post, but I feel like life with three kids and the work here have gotten the best of me, and I just haven't made the time to blog about the simple things in our life here.  I love blogging and journaling about little snippets of our life.  So this afternoon, while the girls are working on homework (they have a week of vacation next week which means they have tons of homework–sounds more like vacation for the teachers only, doesn't it??), I am going to write a short post on something new in our home.

For the past year, we have rented the “upper room” from our next-door neighbors.  We didn't have enough room for our living room furniture and our big long table.  Also, Greg needed a quiet place to study.  So, we rented a big room next door, and that is where Greg's office and our church meetings have taken place for the past year.

Last week, our neighbors let us know that they are planning to turn the big room (and the rest of the second floor area) into an apartment to rent out.  They said we could have the space for as long as it took them to get the apartment ready.  Also, there used to be a door to their side (easy access for us), but our landlord decided to brick the space up last week (whole other story) and so it isn't even easy to go over there anymore.

All that to say is that we decided to make some changes.  Greg needs his office space.  We decided to make a partition in our current living room, move some of the couch furniture to the other side, and move all of Greg's office stuff to our living space side.

I actually really like it.  Our living room is long and narrow.  After Greg put his bookshelves in (as the wall) it seemed so much homier (did I spell that right?).    Here is a little glimpse of his “office.” And for the record, he has asked for soundproof head phones for his birthday.  🙂

looking at it from the kitchen
looking at it from the kitchen
he loves his books
he loves his books

The backs of the bookshelves are all unfinished.  Greg looked at me and asked, “What are you going to do to those?”  I replied, “What do I do to everything?  I add pictures!”  I have been waiting to print and frame the pictures we had taken last October since… last October.  I figure it might still be awhile (and this solution comes out cheaper) so I decided to make it our family picture gallery.  Who says unfinished bookshelves can't look good???

Can you tell I am a fan of collages???
Can you tell I am a fan of collages???

So here it is… the cozy McKinzie living room quarters:

“C” is for cozy.

In two weeks the visitor train begins.  And it won't end until next year.  There is a good reason to keep things cozy around here. 😉

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A new office space