Where is home?
Kate Montaung finds herself wrestling with this question more and more intensely as she moves to South Africa temporarily, meets the South African man who will become her husband and settles there long term, then walks with her mother—from an aching 8,000 miles away—through a nine-year battle with terminal cancer.
As the years go by, Montaung is stretched by grief—the obvious grief of losing her mom, but also the less stark but still real griefs of losing her homeland, losing a feeling of competence and capability (trading it for crosscultural stress) and losing her sense of place (no longer feeling truly at home in her native Michigan or in Capetown).
This book hit close to home for me. Montaung’s insights on the hardness and beauty of crosscultural living, crosscultural marriage, and loving people who are scattered across the globe made me weep my way through many chapters.
Her hard-won insights on suffering loosening our grip on an earthly template of home and raising our eyes to long for a heavenly home were personally soul-bracing and encouraging for me.
But I also think that Montaung’s crosscultural perspective on losing a sense of earthly home and gaining a greater awareness of a coming heavenly home is helpful for all of us who interact with people (immigrants) who have lost their motherlands.
There’s a grief clinging to immigrants which is often not acknowledged, especially in the lives of those who escaped horrific situations. “Oh, you must be so glad you’re here now,” is not nuanced enough to express what is going on in the heart of someone who is living in a new culture.
Instead, understanding that our immigrant friends often grieve for the loss of their homeland (war-torn or opportunity-poor though it may be) will help us better understand and support them as they seek to make a new home as our neighbors.
And it will also give us words to express encouragement that there is another Home that awaits those who follow the wandering Savior, who had no place to lay his head while on earth but who now sits in joyful communion at the right hand of God!