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)
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.
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:
8 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.”