Home is Where the Heart Is

“Home is where the heart is.”

“There’s no place like home ” from the Wizard of Oz

“Home is the place where, When you have to go there, They have to take you in.” Robert Frost

I live several thousand miles from the place I call home. I grew up in a suburban town just outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota, a wonderful place called Bloomington. Though being in South Africa and living in Port Elizabeth is awesome and full of adventure, it’s still hard to be away from the place I call home. Almost daily I miss my friends from school, I miss my church and pastors back home, I miss my dads cooking and my moms hugs. I miss a lot of things, especially the fall time in Minnesota. The weather is perfect and the sights are beautiful. There is almost nothing on Earth that can beat the view of a Minnesota fall. It is even more beautiful when you are surrounded by friends and family who love and support you.

Though it is difficult to be this far from home, I am always reminded that “home is where the heart is.” This age old quote helps me to remember that I am far away from my house, but my home comes with me always. In Matthew 6: 19-21, part of the Sermon on the Mount of Olives, Jesus addresses where the home is, especially within the context of this quote. Jesus says “19) Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20) But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

This passage answers the typical follow up question of “where is home?” Home is where the heart is, there is no doubt about that, but we can decide where our heart is. If we place our trust in God, if we place our treasure and our worth in God, we are always home, no matter where we go. So why did I leave and go so far away from my house to find home? I will answer that question with an example from Star Wars. The adventure that finds our hero, Luke Skywalker, is very similar to the journey that a YAGM experiences. Though we have less space battles and fewer encounters with evil Sith lords, we YAGMS answered the same call that Luke did in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

Luke is a young adult living on his home world of Tatooine, a desert planet that is home to nothing but moisture farms and dangerous criminals. Luke has big plans for his future, he would like to join the Imperial Academy and become a pilot in the Imperial Army. This seems like a completely normal life decision for Luke. He knows that he is meant for something more than his life as a moisture farmer, but he doesn’t know exactly what is in store for him.

Through a few chance encounters, finding a droid, almost getting killed by Tuskan Raiders, and being saved by a mysterious man named Ben, Luke is eventually whisked away to answer a call that brings him off world. While he is finally leaving his home, traveling a fair distance further than I did, Luke has his entire world turned upside down. Everything he thought he knew, everything he had planned, his entire life, was suddenly changed. He could never go back and be the same, he would be forever different.

Jesus called people out to the Sermon on the Mount of Olives outside of town, he pulled people away from their friends and family and their previous lives, and brought them to a new place. It was here that Jesus began his ministries and began changing the world. People had never heard the things that Jesus was saying before, and they had never heard anyone speak with such authority before. If Jesus had spoken to these people when they were in their homes, or in their communities, there is a good chance that nothing would have happened. Some people would have followed him, others wouldn’t have, but the sermon would not have had such a profound effect on the people who heard.

It took Luke leaving his home planet to realize his true potential, thankfully, I don’t have to go that far, but it is important for us to leave our houses and to leave the places we call home in order to find our true home. YAGM has called 85 different people just like me to leave their houses and find their true home. We may not encounter evil the same as Luke, and I probably wont get to pilot and X-Wing fighter to destroy and enemies military base, but we have been called out by Jesus to be changed. We have been called out by Jesus to bring change to the world we know. We have all left our houses to hear what it is that Jesus is trying to tell us. Luke found his home as a Jedi Knight within the force, I have found my true home within Jesus, who brought me out to see his world and to be forever changed.

by Evan, 2016-2017



Hannah, second from the right, stands with members of her community at her service site.

Hannah, second from the right, stands with members of her community at her service site.

Hannah lives and serves in rural South Africa. She writes:

I believe the writers for Disney are geniuses. Disney movies entertain the youngest child to grandparents. They know how to use words to make us laugh and to wrench our hearts. From “Some people are worth melting for” to “I thought we all were the children of God” and “I love you,” the Disney writers know how to capture our hearts. Growing up watching Disney movies and now watching them as a young adult, I can also see the deeper messages in them: love, family, acceptance, personal growth, forgiveness, and so much more. A line I used to laugh at when I was younger is Pumba’s “Home is where your rump rests!”

Lately, I have been struggling with the concept of home. What exactly is home? I know it’s different from the word “house” which refers to a physical structure, whereas the word “home” seems to have more of an emotional attachment. I realize I have moved around a lot since I turned eighteen. A new place every year during college. An apartment in Philly for a semester. The house I grew up in during the summers. A house in Matsulu for 4 ½ months, and now a house in Langeloop for 5 ½ months. But were any of those home? Or were they just places I inhabited?

As my time here quickly moves to the end, I think about going home. But I’m not sure what that means. I’ll spend a month at the house I grew up in before heading off to school again. So what do I mean when I say I’m “going home” again? What do I mean when I sometimes say I’m homesick? What is the “home” I keep referring to?
At first when I thought about Pumba’s definition, I viewed it as one place where you put roots down. But what if we think of it in a more general sense? How many different places does your “rump rest” in a day? A week? A year? Is your home the comfy chair in your living room? And maybe also the window seat in your favorite coffee shop? What about the church pew?

While I like thinking of home as a literal place, I also wonder about the roots of our homes that we put down that aren’t attached to a place. What about the roots we plant in people’s hearts? What if my home is my people? My mom, dad, brothers, and sister; my college friends scattered across the US; my church family; my theatre and dance families; the YAGM across the globe from Hungary to Madagascar; the YAGM all over Southern Africa; my host pastor and first host mom; my host sister in Joburg; my friends in Matsulu; my host family in Langeloop; the volunteers at the drop-in center; the kids at the center. These are my home.

My home may never actually be a place, a space I occupy, but my home is all of the people around the world who care for me and I for them. You are my home, and I carry my home in my heart wherever I go. In a few short months, I will return to my, my friends and family in the US. But I will also be leaving a part of my home behind. My home will forevermore be partially in the US and partially in South Africa. My home has been stretched across two continents. While I am excited to return to my home in the US, I will shed many tears for my home here that I will not return to for an indeterminate amount of time, maybe ever. But for the next few months, I will cherish my home here and look forward to returning to my home in the US. I guess the cliché is true for me: home is where the heart is.