Friday, October 17, 2014
“Home is the nicest word there is.” ― Laura Ingalls Wilder
My family moved to Midland, Texas, in the West Texas desert in the late fifties and stayed until 1963 when we moved to Alexandria, Louisiana. My father was a Sears store manager and moved often. I went back to Midland to graduate with my class at Robert E. Lee High School in May of 1963. The guy who went to junior high school with me had gone to Andover prep school in Massachusetts to prepare him for Yale. He would later become President. Just one year behind me at Midland Lee and on the annual staff with me was Laura Welch who would become Mrs. Laura Bush, the First Lady. Also a year behind me was Tommy Lee Jones whom you should have heard about (he has won one Oscar and been nominated for three others). Graduating in the same class with me was Tommy Franks who would go on to become the General of the Army and led the Iraq Invasion when “W” was President. Last year was the fiftieth reunion of our class but almost nobody went. None of the people I have mentioned grew up in Midland and none returned after they left. Midland was like that. It was the executive offices of most of the oil companies that worked the Permian Basin. The actual oil workers lived twenty miles away in Odessa, Texas. That’s why the movie and television series “Friday Night Lights” was about Odessa Permian High School. The oil field worker’s kids were big and tough. The oil executive’s kids were brainy and poor at football. Midland Lee only won one game in its first three years. I think they later won a state championship, but that was after it grew and oil workers started moving to the bigger town. Midland is five or six hours drive from Dallas or El Paso, so there is just nothing much to do there. Every house has a six-foot tall cinder block fence around the back yard or there won’t be a back yard—the wind would just blow it away. There were dust storms, terrific heat in the summer, and terrific cold in the winter. Our high school had tennis courts that were lighted because it was too hot to play during the day. It was a strange place and still is I guess. The twenty-five years I lived in Texas, I lived in Houston, Dallas, Victoria, Midland, and Abilene. Don’t want to go back to any of them. I lived in eleven houses in twenty-five years and went to nine schools in four cities between first grade and high school graduation. Never lived anywhere long enough to make lasting friendships or to develop a feeling of home. Karen, on the other hand, lived in the same house from birth to marriage, all of her schooling, and the birth of her first child (in the same hospital where she was born). So guess who wanted to come to Africa to live for the rest of our lives? You guessed it, the lady with a solid family and ties to a town in Texas. For me, I have lived in this house here in Bunda, Tanzania, longer than I have lived in any house in my entire life. So, where is home to me? Where is home to Karen? Right here—home is where our hearts are, and we will be here till God calls us home. Sometimes, I wish He’d want us sooner than later, but we are here to serve at His pleasure, not ours. We have never been happier, living with people you will never hear about or who will probably never become famous even in Tanzania. We like it here, and that’s what counts. I hope you are serving God where you are because that’s what He asks of His children—to bloom where they are planted. I pray that others can see the flowers of your service.