Home is where your heart is

sandateI remember many wise quotes from my mum, but the one about how “When God gives you another baby, you don’t have less love for the children you already have, He just makes your heart bigger!” This quote seems to fit the feeling about our adopted home in the Wychwoods.
It all began when Richard was asked to work for 6 months at RAF Brize Norton by his employer Boeing; he had been working with them as an engineer for the last 20 years in development, supporting the C-17 aircraft. His answer…yes please! So, off we set to England, our family and friends excited to come and visit while we were there, my teaching job on hold for our return.
Our relocation chap took us to see many homes, but we knew the moment when we walked up to the Old Manse in Milton that this was where we would live. The stone at the front door is carved with Aug 6th 1889, which is Richard’s birthday (the date not the year, of course!). We told the man we wanted the house before even going up the stairs!
The village immediately embraced us; people so kindly guiding and helping us settle into village life. We were excited when after only a few months of loving living in England, Richard was asked would he stay on long term, for two plus years. Well, much had to be considered of course. But, we again said, “yes please.” So, 6 months turned into fourteen wonderful years, ten in Milton and four at Cedar House in Shipton.
Our hearts grew bigger! We could really get involved now and we did; sharing this wonderful blessing was what we wanted to do.
The Wychwoods is an amazing ‘gathering of souls’. There are so many places we could have been sent, but there we were in this beautiful village where there were so many opportunities to give back to the world…with the most genuine good hearted people God could ever put together.
The start was Langston House, doing artwork with Mandy Rae’s mum, Roz Cox and the ‘oldies’. Then we started going to church in Milton, where the Hartleys and Milton church family took us in as their own. Next thing we knew we were enjoying meeting people and doing things all over the village and beyond as well.
We managed to find a balance between our new life in England that we were carving out, and the life that we had to leave behind us in California. And again, our hearts grew bigger! We were able to share England and the village with so many of our family and friends who all said, “how will you ever leave this beautiful place?” The answer we now know is “in our hearts we never will, it will always be home, home is where your heart is.”
When the time did come, in God’s poetic time, we had a church fundraiser planned 6 months before and it happened to be on the last Saturday before our house was to be packed up and all our things shipped. At the event, Richard’s band would be playing so he would be needing all his equipment, while Maureen would be cooking, needing all her kitchen equipment!
So, there it ended! In His timing, the whole evening turned into a farewell do-cum- fundraiser. We were both so humbled by the evening – it was yet another Wychwood Village lifetime memory.
We returned to our home in Southern California, December 2014, and settled into the home we bought in Laguna Niguel, South Orange County. It’s about an hour’s drive south of L.A. The joy we have being near our family once again is immeasurable!
Maureen has been working hard to make it a comfortable and joyful home for us, helped greatly with all the beautiful gifts and treasures we have been blessed to bring back with us from the U.K.
Richard is enjoying his new position, still an Engineering Project Manager with Boeing; they pulled him back to Southern California to work with International Commercial Aviation. So there has been, and will be, travel with this job. He is having fun meeting up and working with old colleagues in the company after so many years.
We are enjoying the blessings, yet again, of God’s grace on us; this is a beautiful community.
Our quiet walks in the serene Wychwood garden have been replaced with quiet walks by the sunny seaside. The lovely pub meals and luscious real ale have been replaced with smoky barbecues and local California wine. The wonderful village fetes are replaced with local concerts in the park. Occasionally, when the clear skies fill with clouds and temperatures get cool we are fondly reminded of Olde Blighty and we reflect on its wonderful change of seasons. In our back garden, we have a panoramic view of the hills where we can delightfully watch the beautiful evening sunsets and even had the surprise of great views of the 4th July firework displays from all over the city. We have been enjoying connecting with old friends and making new ones including Hans, the self-appointed ‘mayor’ of our street; it’s not Vi Miles rolling up, but you’re never going to top Vi!
We feel so blessed to have the gift of two ‘homes.’ Home is truly where your heart is.

Richard and Maureen Sandate

June – July 2017