"Home at Last" is the refrain of a touching Christian song about arriving in heaven. It will be wonderful to be home at last in heaven some day. Some of our church family experienced that this week in a limited but very real way. My son Caleb and his wife Christina Suko arrived home at last in Gig Harbor with their five kids after three years in Ukraine where they have served for ten years. We met them at SeaTac's pearly gates Tuesday night.
Nancy and I had been preparing for their arrival for two weeks. When they landed it was exciting for the kids to see how their cousins had changed as we walked to the parking garage.
When we got home they walked through our house noticing changes like the different cars and a travel trailer we now have, new HVAC system, bedrooms with desks instead of beds, and how amazingly green it is here with pretty flowers. The unfinished remodel of a portion of the garage into a new bedroom for the three girls was also exciting.
Missionaries returning from years on the field can experience culture shock as well as jet lag. The church they left is not the same; some have moved, some have died and some are new. The missionary may even feel like a visitor even though this is "home base." Even the country has changed with new national leaders and cultural shifts that often are shocking.
How we can help is to welcome them warmly, get to know them, and show genuine interest. That is what happened when Paul returned from the first missionary journey. The leader in Antioch "gathered the church together" and the apostle Paul and his companions reported all they had seen God do. Then it says, "And they spent a long time with the disciples." (Acts 14:28).
This Sunday we welcome them back to home base. Caleb will report briefly and speak and then again give a fuller report on August 6th. They will be with us off and on until they return to Ukraine in February.