“but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” Matt 8:20

Our work, set apart before any of our days came into being, was completed. Ornaments and bookmarks were decorated, and Polaroids would serve as a reminder (even if only temporary) of our visit. Now beds were assembled and more were on the way, to be delivered by the teens at the transition center and G’s faithful team who continually visits and ministers to the orphans. We loaded up the “stuff”, gave last minute hugs, and headed through the mud and slush towards the bus that would take us back to Voronezh and eventually, for most of the team “home”. We left at the children’s lunch time, which gave them a destination they needed to rush off to, as well as sparing us a long tearful goodbye.

I looked up at the windows of the building and saw one lone teenage girl as she stood watching our departure. From her third story window she had a good view of twenty Americans, along with their twenty interpreters, walk away. I waved frantically from the bus, to catch her eye and acknowledge her perspective. She waved back and kept watching the trail of people filing past her perch, unaware of her pain, and passing under her tears.

When everyone had finally filtered on to the bus, our leader began commending the team for a job well done, persevered with grace, and “gold stars” all around. One of our youngest team members said, “so what does that get us?” to which our leader replied, “You get to go home.”

Applause broke out – but my heart broke with it.

Jesus speaks in the eighth chapter of Matthew, on the cost of being His follower. By this time in His ministry, He was gaining in popularity and many were seeking out His companionship for further learning opportunities and perhaps to see the “show” that surrounded Him. One eager young man asked to become a follower. Jesus’ welcome to him, was met with a response, “but first let me go and make funeral arrangements.”

Jesus then remarked on his own “homelessness”, perhaps in an effort to illustrate being tied to nothing and no one. Once, when told His family (mother and brothers) were outside, He said, “these are my mothers and brothers”, making His family with those in His presence, instead of those who shared His family history.

I believe there is a lesson there, for us who “go”.

We are uncomfortable, inconvenienced and exhausted by all things unusual: the food, the toilets, the beds, the buses, the weather, as well as the cultural and language barriers that seem daunting at times. But in the back of our minds at the end of any given day spent on foreign soil, we harbor and nurture the thought “we are going home soon.”

The image of the girl watching us leave to go “home: stayed with me. And as the “yeahs and yahoos” were shouted over our departure – I wept.

A single girl, peering out an orphanage window wiping away tears, represented the hundreds of thousands – “homeless”. No mother’s embrace at night, making warm meals, or giving hugs. No father’s instructions to sons, protection for daughters, or provision for family.

Our identification with Christ, must tie us to the circumstantial “homeless” and relieve our own “away from home-ness.” His identification with who family is, must bind us to make us family to those whose presence we find ourselves in. While we are away from home and family, we must learn ways to better BE family and create home for those we serve.

Perhaps then, when we walk towards our own “home” we will not walk away from those we leave behind, peering out the windows and wiping away their tears.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away.” Rev 21:4

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