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  • Writer's pictureKristen Hepner


The taxi driver was impressed that I could speak his language. He asked again, “so you’re a REAL American?”

There are almost 15 years of conversations behind that question. Stumbling around like a toddler who doesn’t know how to communicate their needs. Swallowing pride and stepping out into a whole new world that came with learning something so foreign.

“Your mother, is she Serbian? Your father? Grandmother?” the taxi driver needed to make sense of this crazy American who came to spend so much of her life in his land.

“Nope. My mom is American, so is my grandmother, yep, my husband is an American too,” I assured him.

Then he ended on, “do you have ANY Serbian blood?” and to that, I answered, “yes”.

I have Serbian blood.

Because while this place will never truly be MY home, I have bled here and grown here. I have birthed children here and raised them into adults. I have seen loved ones get married in this land and watched too many be buried in the ground. Life here in Serbian has made me so much more than I could have ever hoped for. Life here is so rich that it changes you from the inside and gives you something that you never knew you needed. I now have Serbian blood and I will claim it!

I replied to the sweet older man, “yes, I have Serbian blood. Your people, my people, have become a part of my blood and my soul”.

It is time for our family to go “home” and while I will rejoice and laugh and hug and cry with all of our precious family and friends, today I grieve and mourn leaving this home. They have become my family and my home. There are no other words to use.

I was at a birthday party a few days ago and a man that I watched grow up from a boy held his baby girl as she happily ate some bread. We laughed about how his mother made her pogaća (bread) and she’s been addicted ever since. And there was such a knowing in that statement. It was like time stood still and I looked around and I knew…and I belonged. I remembered my Snezena making my babies pogaća and their love for bread beginning. I understood because I had experienced the same sweet moment in life.

Questions stated coming to my mind like, “will I feel this knowing and belonging in wherever God places us next? Will I come to understand?”

And the answer is most likely, yes...but right now I am not trying to make it better and tell myself that it will all be ok. (Even though I know it will). Right now, I am just letting my heart grieve. I am trying to be still in the moments

and hugs

and smiles

and tears

and conversations

and seeing people's eye

and all the sweet moments of knwoing.

I will store these up in my heart over the next few days that I have left as they slip through my fingers.

Pray for our family when you think about us. It’s a hard goodbye.


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