by Valita Jill Patterson

“Home Sweet Home” is a phrase that most will recognize and will agree with but how does a person feel at home when they travel?

One of the first personal experiences that I was able to share with my daughter-in-law was about this very subject.  She came to live in Romania a year ago as a new bride.  She is a single child that was reared in Scotland by a devoted mother and father and spent all of her growing up years in the same house and community.  Then she moved over 1,500 miles or 2,400 kilometers to Eastern Europe.  It was my concern that she would be happy in her new home.  I was able to share the following story with her.

Largely because of our lifestyle of travel and work in missions, we are not homeowners.  My husband and I since marriage thirty-three years ago have lived in various rentals in Germany, Romania and Hungary.  We have also traveled in many states in the USA.  Several years ago, we were doing just that—traveling stateside among churches and sharing our mission’s report.  A church had generously offered to let us stay several consecutive days in their church’s apartment accommodation.  As I was awakening from a refreshing nap, I swung my legs over the side of the bed and the Lord spoke to me.  He said that He would give me a home wherever I was.  I was shocked in that I was not in prayer or any spiritual conquest for any kind of answer but there it was—a Word from the Lord.  Since that time, I have had a deep, comforting feeling of “Home Sweet Home” wherever I was.

I have also had some fun with this idea of home wherever I am.  One day, we were having lunch at a country club at the invitation of some of our wonderful supporters.  As we sat at the long, attractive dining table filled with friends and family, I thought, “Wow, don’t I have a nice dining room?”  One day, I was flying through an airport in North Carolina.  While searching for a place to spend my layover time, I saw hundreds of rocking chairs.  I took one and sat enjoying the people as I snacked on a sandwich and juice.  Once again, I remembered the Lord’s Word.  I thought, “Wow, don’t I have a nice, large living room with so many interesting guests and rocking chairs for everyone?”  Presently, I am in Bucharest, Romania.  This morning, as I took my little dog for a walk, I told the Lord, “Thank you, for our apartment here.  I love it.”  Bucharest is a big, bustling city with crazy traffic and years ago, my husband and I would have said that we’d never live here.  But, now, here we are and I am very much at Home Sweet Home.

The phrase “Home Sweet Home” is noted to be an English idiom.  Study also notes that an American song written in 1823 made the phrase popular.  However it came to be, it is a wonderful phrase that conjures up nice warm feelings of comfort and privacy and security and peace.  And, even if we are world travelers, we can still be at home wherever we are.

On a practical level, here are some pointers for feeling at home that I use while on the road or in the sky or in a hotel or in someone else’s home…

  •  Familiar items—Pack a few things that are familiar.  For me, it’s my e-reader, my favorite bath gel (hotel samples don’t make you feel at Home Sweet Home).
  • Comfort items—Pack a few things that bring you comfort.  For me, it’s a pair of colorful socks, a small fan, even a pillow or extra towel.
  • Convenience items—Pack a few things that you will have readily at hand without going out or making do.  For me, it’s some snacks and maybe boring but so convenient—a laundry bag for dirty clothes bag.

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Missionary Valita Jill Patterson has served on the mission field, along with her husband, for over 25 years, currently serving in Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania. She is a wonderful example of a lady in missions. I greatly appreciate her wisdom and experience! 

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