Going back home

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The first three weekends of April kept us very busy last month! Both our sending church and our hometown church celebrate missions in the month of April, so we headed to Pennsylvania several times to go “back home.”

The first weekend of April called for us to travel to the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania. Allentown was our home before moving to Kenya. Aaron completed internship, residency, and fellowship there. I birthed three children there. We found a wonderful church and great Christian friends there. We loved our time in the Lehigh Valley, and it was where we had planned to return to serve this Home Ministry Assignment. Of course, we all know that didn’t happen, but we were excited to return to this home.

Leaving Goode, VA early Saturday morning, we were on our way to Macungie, PA to help kick off our sending church’s missions festival. Salem Bible Church set aside the month of April to focus on missions. They not only highlighted the missionaries they support but also encouraged members to get involved. We were privileged to be a part of this massive endeavor.

Aaron was scheduled to give the sermon to both Sunday morning services. Then, we were planning to stay for the international lunch and festival. As one of several missionaries on furlough, we were just a portion of the ‘entertainment.’ We set up a mock Tenwek Casualty department with the help of our pit crew (the group designated by the church to be our main support people). Everything was planned and re-planned and prepped.

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God had different plans however. There was a strong wind storm in the mountains of the Lehigh Valley Saturday night, and it knocked out the power to thousands of residents in the area. Unfortunately, Salem Bible Church had no power and therefore had to postpone the Sunday morning activities. Aaron, having to work early Monday morning, left for home. The boys and I stayed and re-planned our weekend.

Power was restored by Sunday evening, and the missions lunch/festival was turned into the missions dinner/festival. This was great news, except that it meant that I had to perform the Tenwek skit without Aaron. Pit crew to the rescue again!

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One friend acted on Aaron’s behalf, and even wore his white coat. Other friends read the lines for the patients and students. Noah volunteered to be the Masai injured by a hippo. Everyone pitched in at the last minute…And it was great!

The boys and I spent the week in PA. Half of our time was spent catching up with friends in the Lehigh Valley, and half of our time was spent with my parents in central PA. We were reunited with Aaron on Saturday back in Macungie. He delivered his sermon to both services on Sunday morning, and then we travelled back to Goode.

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Believe it or not, Joshua LOVED the baby chickens!

Our week at (our Goode) home was super busy with appointments and school and life as usual. Then, we loaded the van again for another trip to PA. This time we returned to our hometown, Mifflintown. Mifflintown, PA is where Aaron and I both grew up. We started dating in high school and attended Cedar Grove Brethren In Christ Church together before heading off to college. We were excited to visit this other home church and to see so many familiar faces.

Again, our weekend was fully planned. We attended the missions dinner and had the opportunity to share what God had done in our lives during our first term at Tenwek. The theme was Kamping with the Kelleys, and several people brought their RV’s or tents to camp out in the church parking lot. My dad and his friend roasted a pig, and we ate way too much food.

The next morning, we were scheduled to speak during the Sunday School hour. Aaron spoke to a combined adult class, while I taught a combined children’s class. I’m sure Aaron gave a great presentation, but I know that I had a lot of fun with the K-5 class! We sang in Swahili, ate yummy treats, looked at pictures of our daily life on the field, and learned about the Kenyan flag and mandazi.

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As soon as we were finished with our presentations, we packed up and raced back home, our current home. School and daily life always come too quickly when we spend the weekends away from home.

Since these three weeks of travel, we have enjoyed more downtime. In fact, we don’t have any more travel plans until late June. July will be another busy month with many nights away from home, but until then we will treasure our time in Goode. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our newest family member, and we all need this time to rest.

Praises and Prayer Requests:

1.) Praise God for His sovereignty! He is a good, good Father. May we run to Him even when we don’t understand what He is doing.

2.) Please pray for the Nichols and Hentzel families as they mourn the loss of Harold and Randy. If you haven’t heard this sad news, please read Aaron’s blog post about it.

3.) Please pray for us as we continually seek God’s will for our lives. May we trust in His timing, His provision, and His plans.

4.) Please continue to pray for homeschooling and my pregnancy. I’m feeling good, and I’m hopeful that I’ll finish up the majority of school in the next 2-3 weeks and that I won’t go into labor before then.

Psalm 33:4-11

For the word of the LORD is right and true;

he is faithful in all he does.

The LORD loves righteousness and justice;

the earth is full of his unfailing love.

By the word of the LORD were the heavens made,

their starry host by the breath of his mouth.

He gathers the waters of the sea into jars;

he puts the deep into storehouses.

Let all the earth fear the LORD;

let all the people of the world revere him.

For he spoke, and it came to be;

he commanded, and it stood firm.

The LORD foils the plans of the nations;

he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.

But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever,

the purposes of his heart through all generations.

 

 

Take the Pledge

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Take the Pledge

In my HMA post, I tried my best to explain what our purpose for being back in the States was. I’m happy to report that I’ve accomplished on more of those goals! The boys started swim lessons on March 24, and they’re loving it!

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Another one of the goals was to build our support team. A support team is made up of people who want to invest in our lives and our ministry at Tenwek Hospital. The most common ways to support any missionary include but are not limited to the following:

1.) Praying regularly for the missionaries and the ministry they do

2.) Maintaining communication with the missionaries no matter where they might be

3.) Helping the missionaries reach their goals

4.) Donating regularly to their ministry

While we enjoyed an awesome support team during our first term in Kenya, we are finding that we need even more support now. We need people who will lift us up in prayer every day. We need people who will call us, send us messages, and check in with us. We need accountability with our goals. And we need financial partners.

This post will focus mainly on how to become one of our financial partners, because we have found that people who invest in our lives financially often do the other 3 things without much effort. They want to see how we’re using their money! Whether you can give $5 each month or $5,000 each year makes no difference. Every penny counts. God delights in the sacrificial gift!

Since the beginning of the new year, we have traveled to many churches and shared our ministry with thousands of people. We are happy to report that our support team is growing each month as we meet with these people and churches. We have seen God move many hearts to join our ministry at Tenwek, and we give God all the glory! Since we can’t meet with each one of you or visit each of your churches, I thought I’d explain what joining our support team means. We call it pledging your support.

Pledging is a commitment a supporter makes to give a certain amount of money to our ministry on a regular basis. It could be $25 each month, $5000 each year, or $500 each quarter. Your pledge can be any amount given in just about any interval you want. It can be $96.35 each week if that’s what God lays on your heart to give! Many of you are already doing this, and we are so thankful! Thank you for being obedient to the call God has laid on your hearts to be a part of our ministry!!

If you are interested in becoming a financial partner, please let us know! Here are the easiest ways to join our team:

1.) Go to www.wgm.org/kelley and fill out the form for a recurring donation.

2.) Request a prayer card from us, fill out the detachable post card, and mail it back to World Gospel Mission.

You can start your donations today, or you can indicate when you would like to begin your contributions. Since our goal is to be back in Kenya by January 2017, you could pledge today to begin your regular support at the beginning of the New Year. Regardless of when you can begin your financial support, the pledge is important! We can not return to Kenya until 100% of our monthly support is pledged.

Please let us know if you have any questions. Either leave a comment or send us an e-mail.

Praises and Prayer Requests:

  1. Praise God for His abundant blessings! Please pray that we continue to trust in HIS perfect provision and timing.
  2. Praise God for a healthy pregnancy thus far! I am 31 weeks and feeling good (better than I expected). Please pray that Baby Boy #5 would be healthy and full-term.IMG_1633
  3. Praise God for all the new people and churches we have met the past few months. It has been a blessing to see the diversity of the Church and the many ways God works in the churches.
  4. Pray for all the traveling we have ahead of us. Pray that our van will remain reliable. Pray that the boys will maintain their adventurous attitudes. Pray that Aaron and I have the stamina to drive all those miles.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:1-6

 

 

 

 

Year 3.

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As I sit and try to write this post, I find myself at a loss for words. I so wish I had something elegant and Spirit-filled to write, but I don’t…

Instead, I rush the 3 big boys outside and then downstairs to watch a movie. I just need the house to be quiet. I rock Joshua and cherish the cuddles, for I don’t get enough time to hold this up-and-coming big boy. I lay in bed and cry over how much my heart hurts, and then I feel our littlest guy kick and punch from within. I am so blessed by these sons.

But right now, all I need is time to be sad. I give myself that time. It’s time to grieve what might have been, to shut out the world for a day, and to just survive.

This morning, in God’s perfect timing and provision, He led me to Psalm 28. Verse 7 says, “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” While I’m not leaping for joy today, I do most days. He is my strength and shield, today and always. I will put my trust in Him, for where else can we turn?

Once again, God has provided just what we need when we need it. From the countless prayers to the sweet notes and kind gestures, we are overwhelmed by the love the Father can lavish upon us through His Body, the church. Thank you for your obedience! You know who you are.🙂

Our Budding Missionary

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Our Budding Missionary

Before we left for Kenya the first time, we were intentional about calling our children missionaries. We told them that God had called them just as much as He called us. We prayed with them every day that God would help us to be the best missionaries that we could be. We still believe that the boys are missionaries both here in the States and in Kenya.

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Our four little missionaries. February 2013

BUT…Let’s face it, their ministry is mostly made up of shooting each other with Nerf guns, climbing trees, and playing soccer. Yes, they play these games with the nationals. Yes, they participate in our outreaches to the hospital, community, and orphanages. Yes, they are all missionaries, but I have one child in particular that is showing true signs of owning this title.

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Missionaries. Fall 2015.

Noah, our firstborn, has always been strong-willed, a force to be reckoned with. I swear he cried 100% of the time he was not held for the first 2 months of his life. Then, we figured out that he enjoyed the swing! We gained a little freedom then, but we still, 10 years later, spend much energy teaching him to submit his will to ours, and ultimately God’s.

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Baby Noah.

Noah is also our artist. Although he flat-out refused to color in kindergarten, he loves to create things out of random mediums, draw (and color his drawings!), and make scenes out of Legos or dough. One of my favorite creations was a 4-foot paper dinosaur made from construction paper and tape. I think he was 3 or 4 years old at the time. I wish I could find that picture!

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Family.

Now that he’s a big fourth grader, he has decided to use his God-given artistic abilities to serve others. After praying about it for a few weeks, he came up with a plan. He drew some pictures, had me post them on Facebook, and sold them to some generous buyers. Then, after he sold several pieces of art, he purchased some Bibles through Voice of the Martyrs. This is a great organization that supports the persecuted church and provides Bible to people in closed countries.

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His most recent item sold.

We are so proud of him. He especially has a heart for Muslims and would love to work in Egypt someday. No matter what he does in the future, we pray that he will be guided by the Holy Spirit and that he will live in obedience to Christ.

To God be the glory!

Praises and Prayer Requests:

  1. Praise God for our sons! We know God has a special plan for each of them, and we pray that we are helpful in them seeking the Lord’s direction in their lives. Please pray for us as parents and for the boys as we all learn how to obey God’s voice.
  2. Praise God for good travels and connections in February. We were able to speak 3 different times, and we have been blessed by our supporters. Please continue to pray that God would raise up our support team.
  3. I praise God for Noah’s love for Joshua. He is so good with babies. He often does his school work with Joshua on his lap. Pray for Noah’s heart to soften and for him to begin to hear God’s voice on his own. (He has been asking a lot of questions about how we know when God speaks to us.)
  4. I praise God for Jacob’s studious, helpful nature. He just finished Level 2 in spelling! (Yes, he’s in his pajamas! That’s a perk of homeschooling.)
  5. I praise God for Levi’s faith. He has committed to pray every day that we would get back to Kenya as soon as possible.
  6. I praise God for Joshua’s budding personality. He is so busy and curious. It’s hard for me to keep up with him!

  7. Please continue to pray for our unborn boy. Everything is going great!

Isaiah 54:13 “All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children.”

 

HMA

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Being married to a doctor has been my reality for quite a few years now. Generally, I don’t think about it much. He goes to work. I stay home with the kids. It doesn’t really matter where his work takes him or what he does. We’re proud of him all the same. However, it’s times when we get together with other medical professionals that I notice a few things…like, the way I can’t participate in any conversations. It’s mostly my fault; I have almost no interest in medical things and therefore make no effort to learn what he does at the hospital or clinic. In my defense, though, doctors use a lot of big, fancy words and acronyms! Who is suppose to keep up with all that?!?

Not me! I just take care of the kids, making sure they have what they need or engaging them in intelligent conversation…I just can’t understand all the tests and prescription names any better than he can understand calculus or why a baby’s diaper needs to be changed when I’m not at home. Which makes me think…do I have just as many weird words in my vocabulary as he does? Probably so.

That list of acronyms and fancy words is growing, and this time it’s happening to us together! As with each profession, there is a lot of new jargon to be learned as a missionary. After spending 2 1/2 years on the field, I thought that I had learned a lot of the ‘Mission-ese’ language. However, with just 4 days of training at WGM HQ, I realized I still had a long way to go. (By the way, WGM HQ stands for World Gospel Mission headquarters.)

Don’t worry. I won’t bore you with all the new lingo I must commit to memory and then figure out how to use in an intelligent fashion. I do, however, plan to explain a few things in the next few months. I hope these informational posts will help you understand what Aaron, the boys, and I are doing while here in the States. And they might help you hold a conversation with us when we get to see you face-to-face!

So…Have you figured out what HMA stands for?

If not, that’s ok. It’s the first acronym that I’ll explain.

Home Ministry Assignment (HMA) is what WGM calls furlough. Furlough is the time when missionaries (or military personnel) leave their field of ministry and return to their homelands. Every time we leave Kenya and return to the States, we are on HMA or furlough.

You may be thinking OK, that makes sense, but what is the purpose of HMA? 

I suppose that question could be answered in several ways. And the answers might vary based on a missionaries’ agency, family situation, ministry needs, etc. I’ll do my best to explain what WE are doing on this, our first HMA.

Before leaving Kenya, Aaron and I had an unofficial list of goals for our time back in the States. Some of those goals have already been realized, but others are still a work in progress. Some of the goals were big; others were rather small and unnecessary. Regardless, we had an idea of what we wanted to accomplish here in the States. Below is at least part of that list in no particular order:

  1. Transfer to a long-term sending agency.
  2. Spend time with friends and family.
  3. Get the boys swimming lessons.
  4. Make new friends in Lynchburg, VA.
  5. Raise a support team to enable us to return to Kenya.
  6. Save as much money as possible.
  7. Enjoy America!

How are we doing on this list?? No too badly. Here is an update with prayer requests in bold.

On #1, we’re good! This goal was quickly realized. We landed in the States in June, and by the end of July we had interviewed with WGM and were excepted as long-term missionaries! However, we just did our first training with them in January, so we are feeling like our HMA time has just begun…Now that we know what we’re supposed to be doing!

#2: Spending time with friends and family (most of whom live in Pennsylvania) has been harder than we expected. It takes us at least 5 hours to drive from our home to anyone we know in PA. That’s not a day trip. While I intended to attend all the holiday celebrations and birthday parties that we were invited to, I quickly realized that wasn’t going to happen. We’re either traveling (I’ll get to why in a minute) or we are recuperating from traveling. We did have a great Thanksgiving and a wonderful Christmas with family, but we have missed every single birthday party…I wish I could say that I’ll do better with this for the remainder of our furlough, but I know that having a newborn won’t make the traveling any easier.

Please pray for us and our friends and family. Pray that we will take comfort in knowing that we have eternity together. Pray that we will be gracious with each other, that we can communicate openly with each other, and that we will enjoy every second we do get to spend with each other.

#3: Swimming lessons haven’t happened yet…I’m determined to make it happen, but I haven’t been successful quite yet.

#4 has proven to be more difficult than I expected too. Moving to Lynchburg, Virginia wasn’t our first choice, but it was where God was leading us. We knew we would need to make new friends, and we weren’t thrilled about it. (Being introverts has its drawbacks.) However, it’s happening! Yay! God has led us to a great church with wonderful people. We are feeling plugged in (finally), and we are encouraged.

Praise God for his people! We are thankful for the people who have reached out to us and are making Lynchburg feel more and more like home. 

We are diligently working on #5, which is the cause of a lot of our travels. As you probably know, being a missionary isn’t a profitable occupation. We are supported by churches, friends, family, and some people that we’ve never met. When we aren’t attending conferences (missionary or medical or a combination of both), we are speaking at churches, telling our story, and sharing what God is doing at Tenwek. We are asking churches and individuals to join our support team.

When people leave their careers and move to a foreign mission field, they need to have a large support base back in their home country. We are no different. We need a lot of prayer.We need people who will commit to praying for us daily, and we have been blessed beyond measure in this area so far. However, we can never have too many people praying for us, so if you feel God leading you to support us in this way, please do! Additionally, we need financial support. Monetary support comes in two goals: 1.) one-time gifts and 2.) monthly support. For us, we have reached our one-time gift goal. Now, all we need to do is reach our monthly pledge support.

A monthly pledge can come from churches or individuals. It’s as easy as informing WGM that you (or your church) would like to contribute a set amount of money to our ministry each month. Ideally, you would continue these contributions for the entirety of our time in Kenya starting as early as now or as late as January 2017 (when we intend to go back to Kenya). If you have received our prayer card, the pledge card is the part you can tear off and mail back to WGM HQ. These are tax deductible gifts, which is why they must go through WGM and not us personally. We will not be released to go to Tenwek until we have reached 100% of this goal. Right now, we’re about a third of the way there. If you have questions about this, please read the support page or just contact me.

Please pray that God will raise up a support base for us. We are trusting that our monthly support goals will be reached by December 2016 so that we can return to Tenwek in January 2017. 

#6 just isn’t happening thanks to our Allentown house. Despite Aaron working full-time, we haven’t been able to save like we wanted.

Please pray that God will provide the perfect buyer for our house! And quickly!!

That leaves us with #7: Enjoy America. Well, we have enjoyed parts of America. I’m loving the library, the pizza drive-thru on Friday nights, the consistency of electricity and clean tap water, and Target. The boys are enjoying the traveling more than I expected. Noah, Jacob, and Levi all have spirits of adventure, which makes the long car rides and new beds every other weekend so much more bearable. (If only Joshua had the same excitement!) If it were up to Noah, we would visit each of the 50 states while on HMA. That might be more fun – and more doable – if Aaron wasn’t working full-time and if we didn’t have a 1-year-old and a baby on the way!

While we are enjoying HMA, our hearts – at least parts of them – are still in Kenya. We look forward to returning to our home in Tenwek and serving God there. The traveling is fun and adventurous, but it’s also exhausting. Our bucket list is still long. There are so many people we want to see and so many places we want to visit in the next 11 months. If you would like us to visit you and we haven’t made plans for such a visit yet, please contact us (again if necessary). While our plates are full, we will do our best to put you (and/or your church) on our calendar!

Please pray for stamina during our travels and for great family memories to be made along the way.

More Praises and Prayer Requests:

Please pray for a healthy baby and momma during the remainder of this pregnancy. Pray for a full-term baby and a safe delivery. (I’m looking forward to the American hospital this time around!)

 

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It’s a boy!

Praise God for the 100th day of school! I’m thankful that He has brought us this far! Please keep our homeschooling endeavors in your prayers.

Please keep this little guy in your prayers. While he thinks he’s big enough for school, he is in rough shape right now. He has a bad cold and is recovering from a circumcision!

Thank you for all the birthday wishes! It was a great weekend of celebrating me! Aaron and I went out for dinner. The boys spoiled me with presents. My parents visited. It was a wonderful birthday!

Thank you to each and every one of you who have supported us along the way. We so appreciate you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating, Learning, and Grieving

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The past 10 days have been a whirlwind of activity and have been filled with a mix of emotions.

First, we celebrated Noah’s 10th birthday with some friends. We enjoyed some homemade pizza, cupcakes, a movie, Nerf wars, and fellowship. I’m so thankful for the people God provides in all the places He takes us in this world!

I’m also thankful for Noah. He is one-of-a-kind, always keeping us on our toes, and is becoming quite the young man. I’m so excited to see what God has in store for him this year!

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Then, we packed up the van and headed north first thing Saturday morning. We drove about 6 hours and landed in Chillicothe, Ohio. Although this is Aaron’s birthplace, he was 2 years old when he moved to PA, and therefore didn’t have anywhere special he wanted to go. We just checked into a hotel and enjoyed the pool.

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Super Jumps!

Joshua was a little overwhelmed by the whole thing. He wouldn’t stop pointing and saying, “Oooo!” The big boys loved every minute of it!

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He was happy when he could touch the floor.

After a big breakfast at the hotel on Sunday, we travelled the rest of the way up to Marion, Indiana to World Gospel Mission headquarters. It was about lunch time when we arrived, so we found wings for Noah. (Wings was one of his birthday wishes.) Aaron and the birthday boy shared a large order of wings, and Noah made his daddy proud by eating the spicy ones!

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Monday was Noah’s actual 10th birthday. I decorated his door and the dining hall at headquarters. He requested sausage gravy and biscuits for breakfast and subs for supper. Also at his request, the boys enjoyed a no-school day and played with his new Star Wars Legos as much as possible.

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Wednesday was also an exciting day. After the boys finished their school work, lunch, and chores, they were treated to a fun snow experience!

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While the boy were busy having fun, Aaron and I were fulfilling the purpose of the visit to WGM headquarters. We were attending meetings and learning so much about being missionaries with WGM. Although it is a completely different world compared to our first missionary term with World Medical Mission, we came away from the week encouraged and excited for this next phase of missionary work. In the next weeks and months, we hope to put our new knowledge to work, so expect to hear about how you can get involved in our ministry.

After leaving headquarters, we ate lunch with some friends and drove the entire way home to Virginia! It took us about 10 hours, but it was well worth the work. When we woke up Friday morning, the snow had already begun to lay on the ground!

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Friday, January 22, was Hannah’s birthday. It was a bittersweet day to say the least. All of our plans of celebration were foiled by the weather, so we made an eggless cake (because we had no eggs) with pink icing. We couldn’t release pink balloons or visit her grave, but we did take time to remember her. It’s hard to believe that she’d be 4 years old. We miss her so much. Thank you to those who remembered and sent messages and/or called to express your thoughts. We are blessed to be loved so well by so many.

The boys had a blast playing in the snow and making snow angels. We decided the snow was a gift from Hannah.🙂

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Friday also marked the 20 week milestone of my pregnancy! I can’t believe how quickly it’s going…and how big I am!

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Through all the ups and downs of the week, God remained faithful. Just like He always does. As missionaries, we often quote the Great Commission, and we focus on the part about going out in the world to share the Gospel and make disciples. Today, however, I want to draw our attention to the beginning and the end of Jesus’ words: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me... And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18,20) Jesus is with us today, right now. He will always be with us. Please remember, no matter what today brings or what crazy thing God might be asking you to do, we are not alone. If God wills it, He will prove a way.

God bless you!

Praises and Prayer Requests:

  1. Praise God for His abundant blessings!
  2. Praise God for His Word!
  3. Praise God for people who willingly walk with us through the ups and downs of life.
  4. Please pray special blessings on Noah in honor of his birthday.
  5. Please continue to pray for the selling of our house.
  6. Please continue to pray for my pregnancy, homeschooling, and our travels.
  7. Pray for good ministry opportunities here in the States.

December Blessings

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And here it is. The last post of 2015. (Yes, I know it’s 2016, but this post is about December.) At the beginning of 2015, I was convicted to be more verbal about the blessings God bestows on me, so I started writing a post about it each month. This will be the last one. That doesn’t mean that I’m no longer looking for or acknowledging the blessings I receive. It’s just time to do something new. I’m not sure I’ll have a theme for 2016, but I will try to post at least once a month.

I’ll start with our annual, in-front-of-the-tree Christmas card picture. This was as good as it got this year…

If you didn't get a Christmas card this year, I'm sorry! We tried our best to remember everyone. So many got returned to us. If you think you might be one of those people, e-mail me your new address. :)

If you didn’t get a Christmas card this year, I’m sorry! We tried our best to remember everyone. So many got returned to us. If you think you might be one of those people, e-mail me your new address.🙂

December is always a special month. I just love Advent and Christmas and the school break. I usually enjoy the chilly weather (and my winter wardrobe), but I haven’t seen true winter weather for the last couple of years.

I’m as giddy as the kids over our traditions and gifts and Christmas Eve service. Here are a couple of pictures of the traditions we enjoyed as a family.

Here is Noah decorating his gingerbread house.

We decorated gingerbread houses.

 

The boys decorated the little tree with Army men.

The boys decorated the little tree with Army men.

But this year was a little different. We are in a different place without much of our normal Christmas things. There was no Little People Nativity set, no Christmas story books, and no Advent calendar. All those things are in Kenya, or on a container waiting to get to Tenwek. Instead of our normal daily countdown to Christmas, we enjoyed A Star From Afar and Adventures in Odyssey’s Countdown to Christmas. I was too tired for dozens of cookies, so I settled for two batches of Chex Mix, Jesus’ birthday cake, and Grandpa K’s sticky buns. (That was plenty of fat and sugar anyway!!) Rather than staying home all Christmas day, we travelled all the way to Pennsylvania as soon as our morning festivities were over. Definitely different, but very blessed. Here are a few pictures to show our Christmas excitement.

Reading the Christmas story.

Reading the Christmas story.

FAVORITE part of the morning: all the spontaneous love and excitement as the boys exchanged gifts that they paid for with their own money!

FAVORITE part of the morning: all the spontaneous love and excitement as the boys exchanged gifts that they paid for with their own money!

Happy Birthday to Jesus cake!

Happy Birthday to Jesus cake!

We celebrated Christmas a little early with Aaron’s sister and her family. Then, we celebrated with the rest of the family either Christmas evening or the day after.

Christmas with Nana and Pappy Phil!

Christmas with Nana and Pappy Phil!

 

Christmas with Grammy and Pappy Snyder!

Christmas with Grammy and Pappy Snyder!

Christmas with my mom's family!

Christmas with my mom’s family!

I think the boys were sufficiently spoiled with cousin-time, grandparent-time, good food, and lots of presents. However, Christmas was not the only source of blessing this month.

Levi passed both his hearing and vision screenings! Praise God!! He actually enjoyed the hearing test because he got to sit in a sound-proof room, which was a little too spy-like. They were jealous that they didn’t get to wear the special headgear and hear the secret sounds from the computer. Jacob insisted that he failed his hearing screening so that he could do it too!

Levi had to wear my sunglasses because his eyes were dilated.

Levi had to wear my sunglasses because his eyes were dilated.

Another big blessing was that our schedule slowed down considerably! It was nice to attend the same church two consecutive Sundays, rest on the weekends, and enjoy Advent. This rest was much needed and appreciated.

School went well between Thanksgiving and Christmas and then after Christmas until the New Year. We enjoyed France and Germany. I made a creamy, yummy chicken dish to celebrate France. Then, on New Year’s Day, we enjoyed sauerkraut and bratwursts to celebrate both the holiday and the end of our studies of Germany.

Joshua got his first real haircut. I’m surprised he still loves Aaron! (I promise he wasn’t hurt during the procedure! He just didn’t like the sound or feel of the razor on his neck!)

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Well, there you have it! The twelfth month of blessings! I’ll end with an outtake from our Christmas card photo session.

He loves the camera up close.

He loves the camera up close.

Prayer Requests:

  1. Please pray that our house in Allentown sells.
  2. Please pray that God would continue to raise up a support team for us.
  3. Pray that we would find time to rest and be restored as our traveling schedule gets crazy busy from now until the baby is born.
  4. Pray for the baby and my pregnancy.
  5. Pray for health of all. We are passing around a cold. Not a big deal, but we have a lot of driving to do this coming weekend. Please pray that everyone will be well by Saturday morning.

“We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you.” Colossians 1:3

We truly appreciate your love, support, prayers, and encouragement!!