Never at Home

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Never at Home

I’m not one to repost a lot of quotes, pictures, blogs, etc. on Facebook. However, once in a while, I come across something that speaks too strongly to my heart to ignore. Many of you saw the quote I posted recently. If not, here it is:

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” (shared from Third Culture Kids community)

Me and my littlest third culture cutie. :)

Me and my littlest third culture cutie. 🙂

This quote may not be super profound, but it is timely. As I pack up box after box and as my apartment becomes emptier each day, the reality of these words sets in more deeply. The packing becomes more than a physical chore; it is now an emotional endeavor to finish well, to find joy in the good-byes, and to be content no matter where God takes us.

For whatever multitude of reasons, God has called the Kelley family to be a missionary family. In an effort to be obedient children of God, we follow wherever God leads. Two and a half years ago, God told Aaron and I to go to Africa, to Tenwek Hospital in rural Kenya to be exact. We did it. Joyfully. We sold and gave away the majority of our possessions, and we moved our family of 6 from our happy life in Pennsylvania to a life unknown in a place unseen. So much has happened since that first plane trip across the ocean. We said “good bye” to one member of our family and welcomed a new member into our family. So many lessons learned, so my friendships made, so many changes experienced. After a very full 2 1/2 years, we are different people. And that’s part of the emotional roller coaster I’m on.

I am a different person. The events of my life at Tenwek have shaped me into a new person, for God uses all things to mold us into the person He wants us to be. That’s exciting and encouraging because I want to grow in righteousness and to mature in my Christian walk. I see evidence of this growing and maturing process as I reflect on the past 2 1/2 years of my life. However, that means I return to my friends and family (who have also changed in my absence!) a different person. My mind spins with curiosity. Will my friends understand me? Will I understand them? Have we changed too much? Have we grown apart? Will I fit into the same circles of friends? Or should I just wear a sign that says “warning: weird missionary” on my forehead? Will I remember how to drive? How to get from point A to point B? Will I be able to figure out all the new technology? And what about my kids?? 

With all those thoughts and worries racing through my mind, I must push those anxieties aside and focus on the job at hand. In the next week, I must finish the packing. Every single possession that we accumulated while here must be tossed, given to someone, or stored in a container. The old curtains have replaced my pretty ones. The pantry is looking rather bare. The boys are forced to purge, purge, purge! It’s a lot of work, and to be honest, I was quite grumpy about it for the entire month of April. Fortunately, Father God spoke gently to my heart earlier this month. After we spent a day in Nairobi buying gifts for friends and family, he convicted me of my bad attitude and blessed me with a better one. Now, instead of resenting that I must do this packing and good-bye thing over and over, I’m trying to find joy in it.

No, it isn’t much fun to pack and purge every few years. No, it isn’t fun to say good-bye to those you love. BUT it’s a blessing to have two completely different homes, both filled with lots and lots of people who love me. We love the Tenwek community and the work God has called us to do here. They are showering us with love and support as we face our first furlough. In fact, we eat with a different family almost every day until we leave! We also love our American home. For the next year, I get to fill my time with playdates, birthday parties, and holidays with the family. I can’t wait to see my boys play with their cousins again…and to meet the newest ones! This year in the States will surely be just as full as our life has been here at Tenwek. It’s just different, and that’s ok.

Lots of third culture BOYS!

                 Lots of third culture BOYS!

As Aaron mentioned in his last blog, God has shut the door for us to return to the Lehigh Valley as we had hoped. We are trusting that He knows what’s best for us as we relocate once again. This time we will be moving to Lynchburg, Virginia. That means a new church, new friends, too many other news to mention. We are sad that daily life won’t happen in Pennsylvania. However, we are excited to see what God has for us in Lynchburg!

All this moving is a great, recurring reminder that our real home isn’t anywhere on this earth. We were made for something more, some place eternal. Heaven is where my heart belongs, and I can’t wait to finally be there! I hope you’re there with me!

Praises and Prayer Requests:

1. Praise God for our heavenly home!

2. Praise God for the church! We are so blessed by the body of believers!

3. Praise God that Aaron is well. He has made it to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro and is on his way back down. We hope to see him soon!

4. Please pray for us as we anticipate a lot of travel, reverse culture shock, and just plain craziness in the coming months.

5. Please pray for MKs (missionary kids) everywhere. Satan seems to target them in efforts to thwart God’s work through missionaries all over the world. Just pray for God’s sovereign, protective hand to rest heavily on these kids.

6. Pray for all 6 of the Kelley clan. We’ve been battling head colds for over a week now. It’s taken a toll on me as I’m playing single mom and on Aaron as he’s climbing the highest mountain in Africa! Please pray for healing.

I’ll close with the Great Commission, because I need to be reminded of it when things get tough. It’s found in Matthew 28:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

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5 responses »

  1. I am praying you all through this, Stephanie! I know God has great things to do using you all. Be strong and very courageous for the Lord your God WILL prepare the way and go with you! Continue speaking of His Light, unconditional love and complete forgiveness to all who stand/sit still long enough to hear it! Blessings!

  2. Praying for you in Indiana. When do you start your journey to the United States? How can we financially support you going forward? Lots of love,

  3. We live in lynchburg !!! My husband is a retired surgeon. We are looking forward to meeting you all. Please contact us as soon as you get back in the states.

  4. Stephanie, my name is Allison, I have followed your blog since the time word was sent across the ocean that your beautiful daughter Hannah was sick. We have very good friends that are serving at RVA in Kenya and they notified our church family that a fellow missionary family needed prayer. I have faithfully follow and prayed for you and your husband over the last two years. My husband and I recently left Buffalo New York to move to Lynchburg Virginia for my husband to begin aviation mechanic school at Liberty. My husband is a pilot. We have felt the Lord calling us into Mission aviation for the last couple years. In order to serve a mission aviation pilots also need to be mechanics, so we came to LU for Jon to get this training. We moved to Lynchburg with our four children in April leaving behind our wonderful church, our entire life in New York and all of our family. I can totally relate and empathize with this last blog you’ve posted. We sold most of our possessions, packed up and simplified to follow the Lord’s leading to Lynchburg. Your husband’s last blog a week or so ago was so encouraging to us also. I was so excited and could hardly believe that the Lord is leading you to Lynchburg. I can only imagine know how much you all wanted to get home to your family in PA in the states. My husband and I and our children will definitely be praying for you guys as you transition to this area and we would absolutely love to meet you and help you get settled then when you arrive. We have a daughter who is going to be 13, two boys ages 11 and eight, and a little 2 1/2-year-old daughter that we recently adopted. We have found an amazing church, and have made some really good friends and are starting to know the area bit. Please know that we are praying for you and your family and are so excited to hopefully get the chance to meet you when you come. Thank you so much for following the Lords call and being an encouragement to the rest of us who are also sensing God calling us to do a very difficult things. We kind of feel like we know you guys already just from the way you’ve shared your hearts and lives so graciously with all of us over the last few years. Our email is
    Jdoalo@msn.com , please feel free to get in touch with us as soon as you arrive. God has been so faithful to us and providing new friendships and everything we’ve needed here in Lynchburg, I know he’s going to do the same for you and your family. God bless you guys!
    Love and prayers, Allison O’Connor and family

  5. WOW Steph, out of all the things you’ve written over the years, this hit home with me the most when you said, “Heaven is where my heart belongs, and I can’t wait to finally be there!  I hope you’re there with me!” AMEN to that and I look forward to seeing you there when it is our time to go.  I hope you have a fun time at Lego and I wish you, Aaron, and the boys safe travels as you return back to the U.S.  Thank you so much for your many words of wisdom and the many lessons that you learned and shared with everyone over the past 2 1/2 years.  I have truly enjoyed listening to and seeing how much you and Aaron have both grown in Christ and watching how the boys have grown and matured as well.  I pray that God continues to use your family as mentors to the many Christians who have been following both yours and Aaron’s blogs and although God’s plan for your family is not allowing you to return back to PA at this time (you will definitely be missed), I know that He will guide you both to do great things in VA.  Don’t worry about remembering how to drive. It’s just like riding a bicycle. You never forget.  Just remember, the brake pedal is on the left side.  LOL!!!  Love and Best Wishes to you all.  In my prayers,  Lisa

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