Thursday, April 7, 2016

God is Our Home

I remember clearly the first devotional that Fae, Kristina, Rebeccah and I had as a team. First week of orientation we gathered together to pray for the upcoming year, plans, and relationships that we wanted to develop through this period of time. During praying and discussion, these were the words that shocked my heart, mind, and life from that day until now… God is our Home.

Hello, my name is Sofia and for those who don’t know me, I’m 18 years old and am from Monterrey, México.

I finished High School when I was 16 years old. I had the option to start college in Monterrey right after that or to leave Mexico and live in America for 6 months to learn English. I chose the second option. I went to America and lived in Hampshire, Illinois for three months and in Indianapolis, Indiana for three months. Now I’m in Taiwan.

I have traveled to several different places in America before, such as Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma and traveled to different countries in different continents such as Colombia, Mexico and Asia. The reason why I’m telling you all of this is not to show off all the places that I have been before (because I know that probably most of you have been in more countries than me). My reason is to use myself as an example of someone who has been far away from “home” several times. I have been traveling and living by myself since sixteen, yet I had never completely understood what “home” is really about.
This February all the Voice Missions volunteers needed to plan a trip to leave Taiwan for a short time in order to renew the entry date for our visas. I planned on going to Japan with my brother and friend who are teaching with me in Taiwan. My older sister and her friend came from Mexico to meet us there.

Planning the trip was already mentally stressful, but being in Japan was even more over the top. Between finding our way in the Tokyo subway, discussing with everyone which places to go or not go to, the extreme cold, walking long distances, and so on, I experience mental and physical stress like I never had before.

On our last day in Japan my heart felt something that it hadn't felt before. I was longing to go back to Taiwan, to go home. It was a feeling that took some time to identify. I didn’t understand why my heart was longing to go back if some of my closest friends and family were there with me, especially my sister who I hadn’t seen for 6 months. I thought I was wrong for having those feelings. I asked myself why over and over again. It didn’t make any sense to me if they were there. I felt as if I was betraying my family and myself.

I realized that what my heart was longing for it wasn’t Taiwan itself. Of course I love Taiwan but it wasn’t that. It was God. It was Home. My heart was longing for comfort and a safe place. That day was the first day in my life when I, myself, experienced “God is our Home”.

When my plane from Japan arrived in Taiwan, I felt full of peace, and it was one of the best feelings that I had ever had. It wasn’t because I was finally back in Taiwan. It was God. My heart was longing for Him.

I remember my brother saying something that impacted my heart at that moment. He said, “Sofia, I don’t know why, it’s weird, but I feel like as if I’m back home now, and here is not Monterrey, it’s Taiwan.”  When I heard those words it made me smile and I answer to him, “Yes, I know exactly how you're feeling”

For me “Home” was a house that I have back in Monterrey, a place where I could return if something bad happened to me while I was traveling and exploring around the world.

When I realized my lack of knowledge about what “Home” really is I found out a few things:
The definition of “Home” based off Wikipedia says: “The place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.”
I don’t know about you but I found something missing in this definition.

I realized that Monterrey wasn’t my home, my house or even my family. God is my home.

Home is a safe place. Home is where you go when you have nowhere else to go. When you find yourself in trouble and you turn right away to the person that you know for sure will console you. Home is the permanent understanding that it is our relationship with God that provides this for us. Since that day, I’ve been praying for everyone to find their homes. I’ve been praying for people who travel as a hobby, travel for work, are missionaries or anyone who is far away from their first “Home” to find their true home. Their safe place. That no matter where they find themselves in the world, where they are at in life, to make of any place a home.  To prepare our hearts for Him to live within us.

 “Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.”
2 Chronicles 7:15-16

“I have indeed built you an exalted house, a place for you to dwell in forever"
1 Kings 8:13 

~ Sofía Valencia

Elisa Sofía Valencia López was born in Mexico, and is currently serving with VOICE Missions in Chiayi County, Taiwan. She is passionate about learning languages, so she is excited about the chance she has to learn Chinese while in Taiwan before starting her degree in Linguistics. She is addicted to spicy candy, is enjoying her experience of interacting with her students here, and can’t wait to see what adventure God will lead her on next.

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