We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Friday, 11 September 2020

Home. Abode. Abide.

Home. It's a word I've been thinking about and a word that crops up in conversation more obviously these days and probably more frequently. Laura Ingalls Wilder says it is the nicest word there is. Charles Dickens says it is a name, a word and it is a strong one...

Where is home? While the four of us think that we just left home, many people here think we just came home. Is home where your heart is? Is it the people you are with? Is it a house (a humble abode) with cosy, familiar belongings? Is it a feeling? CS Lewis says "the fact that our heart yearns for something Earth cannot supply, is proof that Heaven must be our home." 

I know it is possible to miss home when I am home. I know it is possible to feel at home in a foreign culture... and not feel at home in my own culture. And we can laugh at this too! I could write another whole blog post with all the funny things we are adjusting to moving from Tanzania to England! From learning what blazers and bungalows are to packaged meal deals and eating with a knife and fork. From person-less shopping (yes, Louisa and I actually said goodbye to a machine in a grocery self-checkout) to trying to stay warm when it gets below 22°C.

I haven't moved house very many times in my life. I think I count only about 8 proper "home" houses in all my 43 years (10 including Magozi and Kimande) although we have had numerous months in multiple temporary "homes." But I have moved overseas across the world four times in rather significant cross-cultural transitions. I was born in England but grew up in Canada. Our children were born in England but grew up in Tanzania. (So yes, that "where are you from?" new friend conversation opener sometimes trips us up!) All to say, this time now of moving to an unknown place with no ties, no friends, no job, no house and very few belongings is not completely foreign and I do know all these things will eventually fall into place. But that doesn't mean it's easy! And this time seems to be particularly harder (thus the rather long delay in blogging as I try to sort my thoughts out!)

Our beautiful temporary home in Chapmanslade

Our last house in Tanzania

I have been looking through our past blogs and this post tells of the last time we moved house! https://themongers.blogspot.com/2014/06/keeping-joy-alive-when-house-is-home.html

Our Magozi house ... a truly special home to remember.
And I could write another post here on the very little a house really needs to make a home!


While we have been looking rather unsuccessfully for a house for a home in the UK for the past two months, we are not homeless. After 2 weeks quarantining in the beautiful converted stable at my aunt and uncle's in Chapmanslade, we had 2 weeks well looked after at Tim's mum's home in Sherborne St John. We were between these homes during the summer months and now with the start of school, we are so thankful for our temporary home here in Chapmanslade while we keep on top of the ten different estate agents we are registered with while we wait to find a house. A neighbourhood... a community... a home. 

Wait for a home. The word "abide" means to wait. Abode is a verbal noun from the thirteenth century  word "abide" meaning to remain, to wait, delay, dwell on ... to bide. To stay with someone or remain in their service. To endure, to sustain and stay firm under. Wow! So I am abiding. Where am I abiding?

The word made me think of the famous hymn, "Abide in Me." It was written by an Anglican minister, Henry Francis Lyte just before his death from tuberculosis in 1847 after a lifetime of poor health. He knew what it was to lose and find "home." Henry was left an orphan when he was 9 years old. He was taken in by an Irish minister, Robert Barrows and his wife, who gave Henry a home with their own five children and paid for his schooling which led him to Trinity College with poetry scholarships and prizes and then ordination with the Church of England. Lyte's hymn is a plea to God to remain (abide) with us through every stage and all trials of life. It alludes to the words spoken by two friends of Jesus following his crucifixion. The two friends are walking in their troubled confusion (sound familiar to anyone?!) to a place called Emmaus and do not recognize Jesus as he comes alongside them. Jesus listens to them tell of their struggle and grief. And then, after Jesus essentially tells them the whole story of God's redeeming purpose for history, the friends urge him to “abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” (Luke 24:29)

And it is in that abiding, us in Him and his love in us, whether we understand or not, we know there is a purpose. A very big purpose. And in this abode, despite whatever stage or trial we are in, it is possible to endure and be sustained, stay firm from our worries and doubts, to remain and rest ... and realise that we truly have a forever, eternal abode (which means no more goodbyes or moving away!) While I am not very good at waiting and resting, I am learning during this time of waiting in the unknown, something about abiding.

And for a beautiful traditional rendition of Abide with Me, check out this tweet from Monkton School where Amisadai and Louisa are settling in so well! They both went to join the Chapel Choir this week and yes, this is what they sang! You can also see a bit of panorama of the school's lovely setting!

Monkton Chapel Music

And for a different version of the hymn with all the lyrics, listen here to Indelible Grace...