Jesus Is My Home Address

by Helen Grace Lescheid

While my daughter Elizabeth was teaching in Swaziland, her brother and I flew to South Africa to visit her. After a week of sightseeing and sleeping in tents, I longed for a bit more rest.  I told my daughter to leave me at her duplex on her school compound while she and her brother continued their sightseeing tour.

“It’s too isolated,” my daughter warned. “You won’t like it.”

We arrived at Njanini High School in the dark. In the glow of the headlights, I watched my daughter use two keys as she opened her front door. “Extra security,” she explained.

The following morning, as my children prepared to leave, they asked,  “Sure you don’t want to come along?”

“I’ll be fine,” I assured them. But as I watched the taillights of their white Toyota disappear over the aloe-covered hillside, it suddenly hit me: “I am thousands of miles from home, and I don’t know anybody.” Suddenly, I remembered warnings we’d received at the Johannesburg airport: Never travel alone. Oh, God, I’ve made a terrible mistake, I groaned.

I hurried into my daughter’s house and double-locked the door as I’d seen her do the night before. I paced from room to room looking for one familiar object. Nothing but unadorned, cold cement walls confined the absolute basics.

I crawled into bed under the mosquito net and lay there shivering. Could I spend two-and-a-half weeks confined like this? “I’m all alone,” I groaned. “Whom do I contact in case of an emergency?”

I grabbed my Bible and began to read:

Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. (Ps 139:7-10)

Then Jesus is here too, I thought. He’s my home address.

The realization of God’s presence, gave me courage. Reason returned and helped me formulate a plan of action. I grabbed a small photo album that I’d brought from Canada and stepped out of the house. In the neighbor’s yard I saw a very pregnant woman sitting on the grass watching a toddler play at her feet. I approached her with a smile.

“Hello, my name is Helen,” I said. “I’m Elizabeth’s mother. I come from Canada. Do you want to see my photos?”

Her surprised look changed into a tentative smile. “Yes,” she nodded.

I plopped down on the grass beside her and began to tell her about my life in Canada. (Luckily she understood English.) Then she told me about her life in Swaziland.

This became my daily routine: meeting the neighbors and singing with the children. One day, a young woman who saw me walking by called from her home. As I entered her spotless living room, I noticed a plaque on the wall with John 3:16 on it. “I like that,” I said.

She looked at me puzzled. “Are you a Christian?” she asked. “Yes, I love Jesus,” I said. She grinned, and soon we were talking like two sisters who’d known each other for years.

Another day I met a young widow who lived in the poorest of homes. Still, there was a peace about her. “Life is hard, but Jesus helps me,” she said.

Day by day, I met another “family member.”  When my children returned, they couldn’t believe all the friends I had. And it all came about when I remembered, that no matter where we are, Jesus is our home address.

 

Find more of Helen’s writing at www.helenlescheid.com.

 

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