By: Sydney Armstrong
I remember around 8 years ago; my family was hosting a work team visiting the Dominican Republic from the United States. I sat in front of an older man but beside my father, hoping I wouldn’t have to carry conversation. Besides, all the questions for missionary kids are always the same. If this man were to get curious, I had the rehearsed answers lined up in my head. There was a moment, however, that he turned to me mid-meal and asked me a question I hadn’t thought about before: “So, where’s home?”
I didn’t have an answer right away. “Could I have a second to think about it?” I asked.
Just living in a house doesn’t make it home. I know so because I’ve lived in 9 of them across 4 countries. A home isn’t walls; it’s a feeling, I thought.
They say, “Home is where the heart is,” but I’ve left my heart in so many places.
I’ve made friends in the Dominican Republic I’m hoping last a lifetime, as well as been provided with mentors that nurture me in my spiritual and academic life here. In Panama, I was presented with many opportunities to experiment with the activities I love to do today. I picked up my now 10-year-old video editing hobby from there. In Costa Rica, I learned of bravery and honesty and morals. I am able to be who I am and stand up for my beliefs because of lessons learned in that country. And Guatemala City’s food will be dear to my heart for as long as I live. To this day, black refried beans for breakfast are a comfort food for me.
Am I making it too hard? Does this man really care? Is home just where my dog is?
All these thoughts ran through my head at once. I looked at that man straight in the eye and answered, “I don’t know.”
And he laughed. “You’re homeless?”
Was it humorous that I couldn’t find a place to call “home”? Is it funny that I can’t do it, even now? I felt really bad about my answer. Even if he would have changed his question to “Where did you love the most?” he wouldn’t get a decent answer from me, because I’ve loved so richly all over the world. Each place, each people and each culture are so beautifully different that it feels unfair to pit them against each other. They are all my home.
My roots go deeper than cinderblock stacks. Each “home” of mine is woven into me as if I were a patchwork quilt and I am a work in progress. I am very lucky to be able to feel as though my home could be multiple places, multiple people, and multiple feelings all at once, and I will carry my sewing kit and blanket with me to add on the new patches as I discover them.
*Sydney Armstrong is a missionary kid living in the Dominican Republic.