I’m no stranger to leaving home.
I served an 18-month mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have spent a couple years away at college and now I’m in Costa Rica for three months.
Besides that, the concept of home changed for me when my parents got a divorce. I was thirteen.
Now I have a room in three different houses with three different families and a place to stay with many, many more.
To me, all those places are home but not because I store my stuff there or have a place to lay my head. Those places are home because no matter where I go, no matter how short or how long the distance I travel, I always plan to return to them.
Home is where you return.
Whether at the end of the day, the end of a trip, or the end of our lives we all return somewhere.
We all want to return somewhere. It’s an innate part of human nature. We all yearn to return to a place where we belong.
Being in a different place with different people in a different culture is sometimes a little scafry because you realize how clearly you don’t belong there.
A man was selling henna tattoos on the beach in Jaco the other day. He seemed honest and the tattoos were cheap. As he carefully squeezed henna from a small bottle onto my wrist I noticed something I’ll never forget.
His hands were very dark because of both his race and exposure to the sun brought on by walking the length of the beach selling tattoos.
My wrist is as white as milk. No freckles, sun burns or hint of a tan has ever touched it and it only looked even whiter next to his dark fingers.
It was one of those moments where you realize something which should have previously been obvious.
I realized I don’t belong here.
This is where I am supposed to be, but I am aware I am a stranger here. I rely heavily on the goodness of the Costa Rican people to help me with the language, the food, the transportation, the culture, and my own safety.
They help me learn a language and a culture I never would have had the privilege of learning without coming here.
I’m becoming better while rediscovering who I am because of Costa Rica and her people, but when my time here is done I will return home.
I’ll go back to the people who know me better than I know myself and to my beautiful mountains: to where I belong, a better person than I would have been if I had never left.
I believe there is a plan for all of us to return home to a place we have forgotten, a place where we belong.
But we have to first come here, to earth, where belonging is difficult and sometimes may even feel impossible.
We’re not without guidance. I believe God gave us scriptures, modern-day prophets and the power to receive revelation directly from Him to help us maneuver and understand the language and culture of the world.
And to understand His greater purpose—to bring us back to Him.
Having forgotten who we were, we have to rediscover ourselves and rediscover God. We have to relearn all we were taught before to prove ourselves to Him. All while trying to belong to a place we do not naturally belong to.
When our work is finished we will return home: to where we truly belong, better people than we ever would have been if we had never left.
I believe these things and more. I hope they are true. As I’ve lived as if they are true without really knowing, I’ve learned what it means to have faith.
Faith is to live as if all you hope is true is true.
If God gave us all the answers there would be no point in studying for the test. There would be no growth or learning, just passive acceptance without real comprehension.
But He doesn’t leave us completely alone. He sends His Spirit to confirm the truth to us as we live true to our faith. I have had many of those confirmations; dreams, coincidences, feelings, understandings, answers, and more.
Most of all—my instincts tell me even when I’m with my family in my warm house surrounded by familiar foods and languages, that I’m not home yet.