Home for Christmas

by Anisha Hopkinson on December 13, 2018

Tomorrow we board the first of four planes on our way back home to England for Christmas. I say ‘home’, but like the vast majority of people who live overseas home is a peculiar concept. The concept of home is even more complicated in our little family of four as we span three continents by birth and nationality. We are a confused, but contented bunch.

This Christmas will be our American son’s first Christmas in a western country since age three as well his first in England. It will be our four year old Chinese daughter’s first Christmas ever.

My husband was born and raised in England and going back for him is very much a coming home. His parents have lived in the same house for forty years. We meet up with his old school friends. We go walking in the same woods he walked in as a child. English food, English humour, English manners are all a very big part of who he is. It’s lovely to watch him in his own environment, to see him take in a big breath of air – like he’s finally breathing easily again.

We love England, but for us other three England is a sort of a three quarters or maybe even just a half home. We claim it as our own, but don’t fully understand it.

“Mom, do they have rice in England?” my son asked today. “Yep. They just don’t eat it as much.” I reply.  The question surprised me though. We were in England just six months ago – does he really not know?

There are so many things we don’t know.

I am excited for my children to experience the jokes in Christmas crackers, carolers out in the street, cold weather, the gathering of all the family- grandparents, aunties, uncles, and cousins – together for a Christmas meal, to exchange gifts, for mince pies and mulled wine by a warm fire.

There is so much good to experience this Christmas in England. Then in the New Year we’ll come home to Indonesia, another not-quite-fully-home where we currently live.

In all the travel, in all the places we’ve lived, we did find home. Our mixed up and meshed together hodgepodge of cultures and experiences created our own unique family culture. Our favourite pancakes are rolled thin and served with lemon and sugar. We buy chicken on a stick slathered in peanut sauce from street vendors. We use chop sticks. We use forks and knives. We bake bread. We are squatty potty masters.

We are not just British, or American, or Chinese, or Indonesian – we are Hopkinsons. No matter where we are, we are home when we are together.


Merry Christmas, friends. May you be at home with the ones you love, wherever you are.


Does Forgiveness Seem Impossible?

by Abby Alleman December 12, 2018

“Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.” ― Henri J.M. Nouwen We […]

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‘Tis the Season of Incongruity

by Marilyn December 9, 2018

Deck the halls with calls for charity! Fa-la-la-la-laaa, la-la-la-la! ‘Tis the season of incongruity! Fa-la-la-la-laaa, la-la-la-la! #CottageChristmas or starving children? Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la! My heart is caught and I cannot win this thing! Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-laa. I don’t know about you, but I can’t do this. The sense of incongruity is overwhelming me this Christmas. I go from essays […]

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Looking for a Place to Land

by Editor December 7, 2018

by Kate Motaung I was a few weeks shy of twenty-one, and my plan was to stay in South Africa for five months. But just as my childhood stay in a renovated pump house stretched into a decade, what I thought would be a few months overseas morphed into ten and a half years. God’s […]

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In the wake of John Chau’s death, here are some questions to consider

by Editor December 5, 2018

by Arthur Davis John Chau’s death raises serious questions for Christian missionaries. Multiple narratives have emerged since 26-year-old American missionary John Allen Chau was killed two weeks ago when interacting with the people of North Sentinel, a remote island between India and South East Asia. He has been lauded as a missionary hero and scorned […]

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In a world gone mad, sympathy is not enough. Here’s something that is…

by Jonathan Trotter December 4, 2018

Cross-cultural workers often have tons of sympathy. We see the needs (physical, spiritual, etc.), we answer the call, and we GO. And that’s just great. Sometimes we stir up sympathy for the poor and the marginalized; we fund raise with pictures aimed to generate pity and money. And that’s not so great. But it is […]

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What is the Average Length of Service for Missionaries on the Field? The Long and the Short of It

by Craig Thompson November 30, 2018

Before you read on, I want you to take a shot at answering the question in the title of this post. Don’t think on it too long. Just go with your gut. What is the average length of service for missionaries on the field? Have an answer? OK, what number did you come up with? And […]

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How Should We Measure “Success” in Missions?

by Editor November 28, 2018

by Tamie Davis We’re probably in the back half of our life overseas, and we’ve started asking ourselves what we hope to accomplish before we leave. What will be achieved by the tremendous muster of financial, emotional and spiritual resources that keep us here? We know the stories of those who did not see the […]

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Family Factors in Missionary Attrition

by Editor November 25, 2018

by Andrea Sears Forging ahead with the results of our returned missionary survey… The first major section of the report has to do with factors related to family dynamics (nuclear and extended). We measured the frequency and strength of influence on the return decision for the following statements considered to be family-related factors: I was […]

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Oops, I went home for Christmas — How to readjust to life abroad after a quick trip “home”

by Jerry Jones November 23, 2018

This post is specifically for the masses who have been transitioning to a new life abroad and are thinking that a quick trip home for the holidays might be exactly what they need to crush their culture shock and get rid of that pesky homesickness. You’ll see them around just after Christmas. Fetal position. More […]

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The Not-So-White Saviour Complex

by Editor November 20, 2018

by Sajidah Hirkento When I first heard about the white saviour complex as a junior in high school, I was entertained, relieved, and pleasantly satisfied that they [sociologists/anthropologists/whoever articulated these things] had finally come up with a diagnosis for the disease whose effects I had observed and lived in east Africa. Finally, instead of endless and […]

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God’s Tender Mercies {and a survey}

by Amy Young November 19, 2018

Hello ALOS friends, Before we jump into the meat of this post, I have a request. After writing Looming Transitions  to help you with their transitions  and All the News to help you stay on the field via good communication with supporters, I want to help people navigate their first year on the field. In December […]

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