Monthly Archives: July 2015

It’s All Goode!

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No, that’s not a typo. Rather, it’s a lame say on words.

Last Monday, we finally moved into the little house that God provided for our first furlough. It’s a missionary house in Goode (pronounced gude, like rhyming with rude, and said best with an Appalachian accent), and it’s quickly becoming our home.

The boys’ picked out new sheets at Target, and I chose matching comforters. They love their new bedroom. They actually have floor space to play!

Sorry that it's a mess...they have a blast playing in their room!

Sorry it’s a mess…Noah did make his bed in the morning, but all the playing messes it up!

Since their room is actually the master bedroom, they even have their own bathroom. Let’s see how clean they keep it…Those lessons will start this week. Even better than their bedroom is the backyard. It’s wide open and great for afternoon sprinkler play.

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My favorite room in the room is the schoolroom. It makes me anxious to start the school year, but I should probably have all my curriculum first! Levi is using Aaron’s old desk, and Jacob is using my childhood desk that my dad built for me. Noah gets the table in the corner, not because he’s bad. He’s too tall for the desks, so he and I will use this little kitchen table and chairs. I love that there’s a lot of floor space too.

This will be Noah's work space.

This will be Noah’s work space.

Jacob's little desk.

Jacob’s little desk.

Levi's kindergarten desk

Levi’s kindergarten desk

Adjacent to the schoolroom is the living room. It’s a hodgepodge of furniture, but it does have a TV for our Friday pizza and movie nights. Aaron and I made our bedroom in the basement with the living room and schoolroom. Joshua’s room is off the kitchen. (Yes, it’s a weird set up.) My favorite part of the kitchen is the dishwasher, and the dining room turned out quite nicely.

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So, there you have a little virtual tour of our cute little missionary house in Goode. God is so good, such a great Provider. We are blessed beyond measure and once again humbled by God’s hand in all the details of life.

Praises and Prayer Requests:

1. Praise God for our house! We are so thankful for all the people who made this happen. I should write a post just about all those details! It’s amazing to see how God works. Pray that we’ll (including the boys) be good stewards of all that God has given us.

2. Praise God for beautiful weather! The boys have been outside every day since moving, and they’re loving it. Please pray that we’ll make good friends as we get settled into our new neighborhood.

3. Please pray for my dad. He was hospitalized on Friday for kidney issues. The doctors aren’t sure what is causing the issues.

4. Pray for Aaron as he begins his new job.

5. Pray for Tenwek. Too few missionaries are left to carry the workload of the hospital. Please pray for them, that God would sustain them. Pray for the Kenyan staff, that they would work diligently to help bridge the gap. Pray for the community, that they would rise up and help wherever they can. Pray for unity among the entire Tenwek community, that everyone would hear and obey the voice of the Lord.

Romans 12:4-6  For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly…

 

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On the Move

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Yesterday marked one month since our re-entry into our home country. In many ways it seems like it’s been much longer than that. So much has happened. Too much to wait until the end of the month to write about!

After living with another family for the first weeks, we moved back into our townhouse. The big boys are sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags, while Joshua is in a pack-n-play in another room. We’re eating either around the kitchen island or outside on the deck since we don’t have a dining room table. Camping chairs and a card table furnish the living room. Boxes and piles of stuff are in every room. The smallish pile in the living room goes to Virginia, and the large pile in the dining room will be packed for Kenya. This living arrangement isn’t ideal, but it’s been our lives for the last few weeks as we sort, purge, and pack.

We're considering getting one of these for the basement in our Tenwek house!

We’re considering getting one of these for the basement in our Tenwek house!

Last week, we took 6 different planes and about as many cars to get from here to Colorado Springs and then from Colorado Springs to Indiana and then from Indiana back to Pennsylvania. We spent a week in Colorado to attend DAR (Debriefing and Renewal) at a little retreat center in the Black Forest. Each of the boys were in class from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. They had fun playing outside, meeting new friends, and learning how to process being a missionary living in the U.S. While they were occupied, Aaron and I processed our lives too. We didn’t get to go on field trips, but we did take time to pray, talk through life, visit with friends, and remember how big God is. It was beautiful, fun, and relaxing. So worth our time and money!

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In order to attend our World Gospel Mission interviews on Saturday, we left Colorado Springs a little early to fly to Indianapolis. Then, we had to drive almost 2 hours to Marion where the WGM headquarters are located. We reached our destination around 10 p.m. and we tried to crash. The big 3 boys did sleep right away. Unfortunately, though, Joshua had enough of the traveling and refused to sleep. Between all the attempts at getting him to sleep, Aaron and I got around 2 or 3 hours of sleep that night. While we missed the Friday evening events, we were able to attend all the meetings and interviews on Saturday despite our exhaustion. Things went really well. In fact, we felt at home at the headquarters even though we had never been there before. God was gracious to us in our sleep-deprived state. Just a few hours ago, we received confirmation that we will be going back to Tenwek with WGM! We are very excited to officially be a part of the WGM family!!

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This week is occupied with more packing as we anticipate our move to Virginia. With less than a week to go, we have a lot to do to get ourselves ready for the 6-hours of driving and the unpacking that will follow.

Today, as I was reading my devotional, God took me to Acts 20:24, “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus.” What a good reminder that it’s not about me, for my life is about serving God. All the logistics, all the traveling, all the preparing and moving. It’s all for God’s glory!

Praises and Prayer Requests:  

  1. Praise God for being so big and yet so interested in every detail of our lives!
  2. Praise God for his faithfulness and trustworthiness. While we don’t know how everything will fall into place, God does. Please pray that we remember this truth in every moment of the next weeks.
  3. Praise God for the many blessings we’ve seen along the way thus far. From dinners with friends to unexpected provisions, we are so blessed. Please pray for us and the work crews helping us both here and in Virginia. Pray that all the packing and unpacking will be done safely and timely.
  4. Please pray for the boys as we move. Pray for a safe and smooth drive to Virginia. Pray for a great week of unpacking and settling into our new house.
  5. Pray for Aaron and I as we prepare for another trip at the end of July. This time we will go south and have only Joshua with us. While this will make our travels easier, it means the big 3 must sleep in yet another place. Surely, they are growing weary of the constant change! So far, they are doing so, so well in the midst of all this transition. (Even the DAR experts thought so!) However, I don’t want to push them too far! Please pray for their perseverance.

May and June Blessings

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Both May and June have been jam packed full of travel, adventure, stress, and blessings. I’ll apologize in advance for this lengthy post, but I just have to give God glory for His handiwork in our lives the past two months!

May 10, Mother’s Day, was a great way to begin the month. May 10 is also my father’s birthday, so this day was doubly blessed this year. We ate breakfast with Aunt Barbara and a few visitors to Tenwek. Noah, Jacob, and Levi each shared something that I had taught them. Noah won the non-contest for saying that I taught him math! We celebrated that my dad is still alive as a cancer survivor. But, of course, we also mourned that I can no longer be with all my children on Mother’s Day. We took this picture in front of our Tenwek apartment. Levi is holding a pink rose in remembrance of Hannah.

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A few days later, we packed up a few suitcases and headed to Nairobi for one last shopping trip. Then, we trekked to Naivasha for the Samaritan’s Purse Post Resident Retreat at Enashipai. It was a fun, relaxing, and rejuvenating time. While the teaching was nourishing to our souls and the pool was refreshing for our bodies, our favorite moment of the week was hiking at Hell’s Gate. The Mitchell six plus the Kelley 6 loaded the Chupp van and journeyed to the national park. Along the way, we saw giraffe, zebra, warthogs, etc. Then, we eluded monkeys while eating our lunches. And finally, we began the ‘lovely’ hike down the gorge and back up.

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The day after we returned to Tenwek, we participated and attended the Tenwek MK Fine Arts Festival. It’s an annual event for the missionary kids to display their best schoolwork and perform their best talents. Levi and his preschool class sung some songs. (It was adorable!) Jacob and his first grade class recited some Scripture. Noah, much to his liking, didn’t perform. However, he did display many of his favorite pieces of art.

The Kelley Corner at the Fine Arts Festival

The Kelley Corner at the Fine Arts Festival

As if that wasn’t enough adventure for the month, Aaron traveled to Tanzania a week later to climb Africa’s highest mountain, Mt. Kilimanjaro! He, along with several other guys, drove to Nairobi, took a bus to Tanzania, and then hiked up the mountain. It took 4 days up and 2 days down. If you add in the travel to and from Nairobi, that meant I was acting as a single mom for 9 days.

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Aaron at one of his many farewell parties

Well, that brings us to the beginning of June and the end of our time at Tenwek. While Aaron was gone, I was in full pack down mode. I even hired a man to help me carry the heavy boxes I was packing! Once Aaron was back, we both started packing up everything in the house. It all needed to be out! A lot was given away. Even more was stored at Tenwek. The rest was packed into suitcases to come home with us.

In all this craziness, our Tenwek family supported us so well. Someone was always available to hold Joshua and/or entertain the big 3. Many of the families hosted us for a meal or brought us a meal. Everyone prayed us through this stressful, busy time of packing. We so appreciate our Tenwek community!

Finally, after all the hard work, we smushed ourselves and our bags into a van and headed to Nairobi. After one sleep at a guest house, we were on a plane to London! For the most part, this leg of the journey was uneventful. We all slept through the majority of the first 11 1/2 hour flight from Nairobi to Switzerland. Joshua wasn’t so happy during the short hop from Zurich to London, and Jacob almost lost his lunch/breakfast/whatever-meal several times. It’s a good things that flight was so short!

Next stop: Legoland!

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In an effort to transition from one culture to another in a smooth and healthy way, we opted to spend 3 nights in England. Many veteran missionaries had suggested taking an extended layover somewhere in Europe, and we thought that sounded like excellent (and fun) idea. I found a great deal at the Legoland Resort in Windsor, England. Although the expensive food was a shock to our minds (and wallets), Legoland proved to be as fun and decompressing as we had hoped.

Me (and Joshua) with Stephanie

Me (and Joshua) with Stephanie

The food was pretty good. The brick-shaped French fries were a hit. One night we ate a buffet dinner in the resort. All-you-can-eat ice cream and a kid-level counter of food were the highlights that night.

Noah and a giant, talking pharoah

Noah and a giant, talking pharaoh

The accommodations were excellent. We chose to stay on the Adventure floor. (Think Indiana Jones.) As soon as we entered our room, the boys began to solve a puzzle that would give them a code to open a treasure chest. Inside the chest was Legos (of course)! The TV had a Lego station. Everything was covered in Legos. From the Lego parrot in the one corner to the Lego soap in the bathroom, every detail was fun for the boys to discover.

Jacob and Yoda

Jacob and Yoda

At Legoland, the rides were all tailored to younger kids. Noah could ride all the rides by himself. Jacob and Levi, however, had to have an adult with them for many of them. With Joshua strapped to my chest the entire time, I was not allowed to participate on the rides, which meant Aaron had to ride a lot of rides. Often, he and Levi would ride the same time with Noah, and then he would ride again with Jacob while Noah and Levi stood with me and Joshua.

Levi in driving school

Levi in driving school

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Once we experienced as much fun Legoland had to offer for 2 full days, we packed up to board the plane from London to Newark. This flight went really well. We arrived to our temporary residence around 5:30pm on June 13. After dinner, we crashed for the night.

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My parents, Aaron’s mom and stepdad, my sister and her son came to the Ellis’ to see us the next day. Later that evening, we attended our welcome home party at our church. It was so, so nice to see so many of our friends and family members. At the party, we were presented an large envelope full of gift cards, which have come in handy the last few weeks!

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Since then, we had so many play dates and dinner dates with different people. It has been fun to reconnect with so many people. The boys are doing great despite their lack of memory of these people. We also had a family welcome home picnic near our hometown. Again, it was nice to see our aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. that we haven’t seen in 2 1/2 years.

one of the perks at staying at Peaceful Dale!

one of the perks at staying at Peaceful Dale!

Aaron spoke during church on Father’s Day to give the congregation a short update on our first term as missionaries. Then, so that Aaron, Joshua, and I could go to Lynchburg for his interview, the big 3 boys went to my parents’ house for 2 sleeps and Aaron’s mom’s house for 2 sleeps. Our travels started terribly as our car overheated within the first hour of driving. My dad was able to leave work to bring us my mom’s car. We arrived to Lynchburg safely and got to see our little rental house. The interview went well. Then, we traveled back to PA to get the boys. We ended up buying a minivan and a car the next day. God is good at providing what we need at just the right time!

Noah found a new creature to catch!

Noah found a new creature to catch!

With Aaron’s start date pushed back until August 1, we moved from the Ellis’ house to our townhouse in Allentown. Since then, we have been unpacking, purging, repacking, and still visiting with as many friends and family members as possible. It’s overwhelming to be managing our townhouse in PA, our rental in VA, and our future home at Tenwek. The logistics are crazy difficult to figure out, but God is faithful. Repeat it with me. God is faithful! 

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We took our first family visit to Hannah’s grave.

Praises and Prayer Requests: 

  1. Praise God for His constant provision for us. It’s amazing to see how He keeps giving us what we need at just the right time.
  2. Praise God for His peace that surpasses understanding! While I should be so stressed that I can’t sleep, I have a peace that all these details will be fine. Our Father God is a good, faithful God. He is trustworthy. He will see us through this crazy time of transition.
  3. Please pray for wisdom in selling or renting our townhouse.
  4. Please pray for us as we travel this coming week to do our official debriefing from July 5-10. Another time zone change. Another strange place to sleep. More packing. More logistics. More flights.
  5. Please pray for us July 10-12 during our candidate review with World Gospel Mission. Another time change. Another full day of interviews. More flights. More logistics. Then more unpacking.
  6. Please pray blessings upon all those people who are helping us with all these details! We so appreciate them!!

I was reading the Bible in 1 Timothy today, so I’ll close with the words of Paul: “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service.” (1:12) I’ll continue to follow Him wherever He leads. “Here is a trustworthy says that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (1:15-17) Amen!