Thursday, January 20, 2011

Home is Where the Heart is

I have heard this before but I guess I never knew just how true this could be until I began to travel with my family.  I’m a single child so I’ve never had natural brothers and sisters or had that attachment that many know.  I’ve been traveling since long before I graduated high school.  Traveling abroad seemed as natural to me as putting on a familiar t-shirt.  Sometimes I found myself travelling alone and like anyone else my heart would yearn for home and family.  Once I married and had a family of my own I found that the longing to return home wasn’t as intense as it used to be.  Our family started traveling together abroad in the Philippines and then on to Japan and then just last year to Africa.  It was such a comfort to have them with me.  It was like for the first time I had brought my heart right along with me as we traveled.  My family is more than just blood they are my fellow mission team members and I’m so proud of them!  My heart now goes wherever we go because they are with me!


Perhaps it’s this sense of strength that has inspired me to try new foods and be less picky…I want to share in adventures with them thus the day we had an African food feast I highly anticipated it!  Many new things were being prepared including these rice balls…these things stick to your ribs!  Like in India where I visited and lived for some time dishes took quite some time to prepare so there were two ladies who came and worked all day on the meal.  Part of what flavors the food is the preparation itself.  These tools are not modern but they provide a unique flavor that I am sure would be lost in a modern preparation method.  Note this immense paddle that was used to stir the rice as it became thicker.  I found the food to be very tasty yet very heavy.  This is Fu-Fu in light soup with a savory meat.  I couldn’t even come close to finishing this though it tasted wonderful.  I smile looking at this picture now.  It looks rather like a bowl of mashed potatoes and gravybut it’s much heavier than that.  The Africans laughed as I grew so tired that I had to rest soon after eating this…yep, I’m still just an abruni!  I’m never a man for a nap so I picked up my camera and went outside to take a few pictures to work off my food a bit.  The sun was glorious through the fan palm on the guesthouse grounds.  The flowers on the grounds were a subject of fascination for me…but my head was so heavy…perhaps if I helped them stir the rice I would have worked this feeling off more quickly…seriously…doesn’t this look like mashed potatoes?  The mind is so funny how it grasps for the familiar when confronted with the unfamiliar!  Right now the snow and cold has become the familiar but I find myself clinging to Ghana now which has become my home away from home.  Where the flowers always blossomand the generator runs way too often!  Finally I found even I was growing weary with the scenery on the compoundso after taking a final picture of this tropical pine tree that’s never had it’s needles covered by snowwe headed out to see what the neighborhood was up to.  Can you imagine living in a place where your house was surrounded by castle like walls covered with rusted spikes to keep people out?  Would you leave all you know and are familiar with to see things like this?  I would have said I’d like to years ago but never would have dreamed that I’d be standing here with my family now.  We walked together with our African family seeing the sights strange to our eyes…relishing each thing we’d never seen before…enjoying the adventure with the familiar love we have for each other.  Smashed glass served as spikes on some, we come from a place that has houses that sometimes don’t have a fence at all let along defenses like this!  Growing near this formidable defense was a tree…chamomile!  I’ve had the leaves from this in soups in the Philippines without even knowing what it was…oh so good!  You can really feel the healing properties from it when you taste it in a dish.  Imagine getting your meat from a local butcher…that’s what they do here..few use the local superstore for their needs.  Spiked fences provide wonderful clothes lines..I’m sure this worked better than the razor wire fence we were using!  Glorious sights!  My children weren’t buying banana or plantain at Walmart…we were seeing where these things grew first hand!  Here the familiar and unique often clash.  Clover is familiar to all of us…but how often have you viewed it with a curious and suspicious tropical lizard watching you?  I’ve seen little flowers before…but how about these thorns…and again the lizard looks at me like I’m crazy!  What a blossom!  This palm nut cluster doesn’t even look like something from this planet!  The ground was littered with the palm looks almost Christmas-like…well almost.  I’m thinking someone looked pregnant..I’m just sayin’  .  Hey, are you smiling for the camera or threatening me?  I’m thinking not all the locals were friendly.  Sometimes we were so tired that we fell to using energy drinks…here was one that became one of our favorites…note this particular ingredient…talk about familiar yet stranger!  LOL!


  1. Joe, that was so interesting. I've learned much about other places from your blogs. You hit the nail on the head by showing "Home is where the Heart is" really means with your familly, you are home no matter where you are.

  2. Thank you Joe. I thoroughly enjoyed this post and the pictures are great.
    Home is indeed where the heart is!

  3. I had not visited in some time....but good to come to a somewhat familiar place. Have not blogged in some time....not sure why other than my life is very busy at the moment...planning a wedding! It seems so surreal how changed my life is since May of last year...And how time has flown since you took your trip to Africa! I love they way you put it, "taking your heart whereever you go" That is sooo very sweet! I hope daily life is good and God is blessing!
    grace to you old friend

  4. You were missing your sweet second home..
    The rice cake is my favorite :-)
    So many interesting your post that is great for everybody inclued me very much.
    The fence that make me big smiles Joe, especially an Asian country view:-)

    Obama Biscuits: It got be sweet?
    The flowers pictures are always beautiful Joe.
    The plam nuts are very colourful too.

    Have a nice sweet home dream...

  5. This really strikes home, Joe! During my traveling days one of the first things to catch my eye were the walls topped with broken glass surrounding so many homes in other countries. I expected different food, plants and animals but the need for that kind of defense really got me thinking about how lucky we were back home.

  6. Very informative, interesting post, thank you - yes you are right home is where the heart is. - God bless - Nita

  7. HA! I loved this! I was enthralled from the beginning and watching all the rice ball makings. Actually looked good to me! Then I had my mouth drop open at the glass shards, wow. But when you got to the lizard, and the "maybe pregnant" and the "do you think it's smiling", well, I was rolling over in laughter. If that's a smile of welcome, I don't want to know what "make my day" looks like :D Great, great post.
    Blessings, Joe :) XOXOXO

  8. Crunk huh? LOL! Were you tired from the heat, food? Just asking. Wonderful tour Joe. You show us things we've never seen. I enjoyed this. Yes I really do agree home is in your heart and along with faith and hope we carry it where ever we go.

  9. Howdy Joe! It's Janae's Fallgirl Shepherd here - I know it's about time I learn to leave comments over here rather than WL, at least it has kept me in touch a bit while I settle in over at the new space called WP, that's another story though I'm glad you've kept us updated, I've tried to stay connected via there too, it's good for something. Anyway I just want to say thanks Joe for always taking us along on your travels I may not be traveling much myself while I am enjoying being at home right where I'm at these day, it is fun keeping up with all yours. I Would not want to miss all out the fun of your travelogues/er, make that blogs rather, with the interesting cuisine, animal plant life and all the challenges seeing how God is working in your life it's pretty amazing! Interesting home defenses, and energy drinks with the goat weed it is becoming more popular here in the herbal tea and other concoctions - alternative medicines for whatever ails ya! God bless you and your family always("-")

  10. The home is where the heart is.
    same as u Joe i travelled since i was 16 or so...My dad always wanted to see the world.and i dont mean beaches with lovely ladies..No no..
    the ppl living with all their habits and things we dont even know they excist.
    and i took over Joe. as i said before the world ie seen by my dad trough my eyes.
    I have my home ...well u know
    Abt my aid sri lanka WP its in dutch and indeed not to understand by my WP friends.But i made it for my sponsors and they live in dutch speaking countries Joe
    i had an english entry as intro...I will put it back..Cos with copying to Wp i lost the text.
    I know Joe that u have same ideas abt life
    Awesome fotoos and the stories are always a pleasure to read.

  11. We all of us completely agree that our home is where our heart is and many of us can embrace the concept of home wherever we are when we are made welcome and beloved guests. Then, your heart becomes glad and the place you've traveled to becomes home. I have had that experience in some places over seas..and I would be right at home and happy were I there again.

    The pictures are, as always just a treat to the eye as I have said too many times already I know..I will never see any part of Africa but for your great photos and narrative.

  12. Joe I love it when you share your travels.. its like being there right with you somewhat..
    those rice balls look good.. but then I like rice.. and yes.. it does look like mashed potatoes..
    that lizard though.. I don't think he was smiling..
    think perhaps he might like to see what you taste like ..
    its wonderful that when you travel you have your family with you.. and what a wonderful experience for your children.. they will grow up understanding far more things.. than what they would if they were to stay at home..
    and part of that will be compassion for others.. something our children are in so need of here in the states..
    beautiful post Joe..
    btw.. wanted to ask you.. about your mission.. who sponsors it ? and can anyone sign up.. or do they have to belong to your church?
    just wondering..

  13. Those meals above look yummy Joe, it was just the rat meat I didn't like the sound of it. My stomach would have been turning over if some dished that up for me. You do need to drink a lot in those hot countries otherwise you will become tired and feel drowsy.
    All the best to ya and all yours
    Lady J

  14. I can not even imagine going to a place like this so I really really appricate seeing it and hearing about it first hand from you Joe.
    I was in aww of every photo. I remember walking across into Mexico and seeing so many things that I wont forget and yes travel gets in the blood. Happy you take your family . If you dont have family what is there.
    Loved your blog and did the locals or that littel lizzard bit or what. How close you go.
    My brother and I collected little lizzards when we lived in Germany. How I did that I will never know but I sure remember and I sure had fun. Have a peaceful Sunday.

  15. Joe! Listen up! I have awarded you the Stylish Blogger Award. Go to my page to copy it and put it onto your page and then do a blog with 7 things about you and pass it on to 15 more bloggers. Whew. You can do it, I just did :D

  16. I seemed to have missed this post. Good as always and yes home is where the heart is especially when your family is with you. Those lizards are ferociously cute.