Category Archives: Bucket List

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!

 

 

 

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Greek School

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I must first make a disclaimer: The sum total of all my Greek knowledge comes from two movies (My Big Fat Greek Wedding and My Life in Ruins), my use of the Greek alphabet in my math classes, and my incomplete viewing of Drive Thru History. Please keep this in mind as you read (in this post and in any that may follow) about our adventures in Greece. 🙂

Our purpose for traveling to Greece was to attend a CMDA conference. It’s a yearly medical conference designed for medical missionaries (but you don’t have to be a missionary to attend), and this is the first time it was held in Greece. Since we’ve never been to Greece, we were super excited to go!

While Aaron attended medical classes all day, the boys and I got to have fun. An entire group of adults traveled to Greece from the States to run a children’s program. (Another small group of ladies came to offer a spouse’s program, but I’ll discuss that in another post.) As soon as we would finish breakfast each morning, I’d drop the boys off at “Greek School.” They did an awesome VSB program on Paul’s mission in Greece in the mornings. The boys learned memory verses and songs, made great crafts, and learned some Greek history and culture. I would pick them up for lunch at 12:30. We’d eat and then it was time for more fun. They swam and played in the afternoons until 4:30. Sometimes, Levi and I would take a nap before meeting his class at the pool, but he did attend several afternoon sessions without me. From 4:30 until 6:00 was free time. Then, it was time for supper; bedtime quickly followed.

Levi's favorite part about Greece was the pool. The water was freezing!

Levi’s favorite part about Greece was the pool. The water was freezing!

Noah and Jacob: on their way to Greek School one morning.

Noah and Jacob: on their way to Greek School one morning.

After playing all day, the boys crashed at night!

After playing all day, the boys crashed at night!

One evening, the boys did get to attend the evening session because they were the performers! Levi and his preschool buddies sang songs. His favorite was “This Little Light of Mine.” Then, the elementary school kids sang and danced for us. It was great! I wish I could post the pictures, but I can’t. Too many of the missionaries serve in closed countries, so we were asked to avoid posting pictures of anyone (including kids) to protect each other. Noah and Jacob LOVED their songs; they still sing them! One song even involved a Greek-style dance. Too, too cute!

That completes my little review of what the boys did in Greece. I’ll try to post more about the rest of our adventures soon. Thanks for reading! We are honored that you care about what is happening in our lives.

Praises and Prayer Requests:

1. Praise God for all the people who made the conference a success, especially the people who loved on our kids!

2. Praise God for the way the boys are learning God’s Word and His love for them. Seeing them sing praises to God brought tears to my eyes.

3. Please join me in praying for the eternal salvation of my kids. My #1 prayer is that each of my children would get to heaven! I pray that God will do whatever it takes to get them there. (One down, at least 4 more to go!)

4. Please pray for all those people serving in closed countries. It was humbling to realize how much people are willing to sacrifice to spread the Gospel. People literally put their lives at risk to reach the lost. Pray for their safety. Pray for the people they are serving, that they would receive salvation.

5. Pray for the Church, that we would not be religious like the people Paul was preaching to in Athens. Pray that we will have a personal relationship with the Living God!

Acts 17:22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 

 

 

The First 14th…

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As many of you saw from Aaron’s blog, we went on a kid-free vacation to celebrate Valentine’s Day, my birthday and a very belated 10-year wedding anniversary. It was a short but restful and wonderful experience. It was the first 14th that was more sweet than bitter, the first one when no tears were shed. Maybe that was because I prepared myself ahead of time and shed those tears on the 12th as I wrote my last blog post. But maybe is was because we are moving on and enjoying life more and more.

It’s hard to say that. It’s so, so hard to come to terms with the fact that life moves on, that life is good without our princess, that the 14th doesn’t mean tears. At the same time, though, it’s so freeing to say it. It’s a burden that is lifting as each month goes by and God continues to love us lavishly. Let me tell my version of the week celebrating…me!

It all started Tuesday night at a “newbie” fellowship group. The ladies who are serving their first (or second) term get together with a seasoned missionary to read and discuss Your Beautiful Purpose by Susie Larson. (It’s the book I referenced in my last post.) This a great time of fellowship and sharing how God is working in our lives and what He is teaching us in the midst of this new life. The host provided delicious scones for me and another missionary who celebrated her birthday on the 13th of February.

Then, at our ladies Bible study/prayer time we celebrated again. This time it was Wednesday afternoon, and I shared the celebration with yet another missionary who has a February birthday. The hostess made my favorite birthday cake: red velvet! My mentor blessed me with a gift. All the ladies enjoyed sweet fellowship and laughter.

Then, that night at home, we had guests for dinner, so I made myself a chocolate cake with mint icing. There was no singing, but the boys gave me the gifts they purchased for me. I kind of miss their typical CVS gifts. One year I received a “Your a nice boy” card from Jacob, and I always received lots of candy and interesting girly things. This year, they went to a local duka and picked out really nice gifts.

Love this boy more and more every day!

Love this boy more and more every day!

Love my sweet boy. :)

Love my sweet boy. 🙂

Can't help but love this kid!

Can’t help but love this kid!

Thursday morning was busy with packing and finishing up school with Noah. When it was time to teach my math students at 9:00, they were a little too eager for their test. As soon as I opened the MK school room door, I knew why. They had decorated the room with balloons and streamers. On one desk, they set a place for me to sit with cake (red velvet and peanut butter icing!), ice cream and Kool-Aid. They sang to me and blew noise makers, and they gave me chocolate and cards. I have the best students in the world!!

We left for Ngerende at 11 a.m. and arrived there in time for a late lunch. The attention and service we received there was amazing. After lunch, we went on a game drive.

God always keeps His promises...and almost always provides gorgeous sunsets on the mara.

God always keeps His promises…and almost always provides gorgeous sunsets on the mara.

Friday, my actual birthday, was very relaxing. We went on the morning game drive, enjoyed the pool, were pampered with massages and (of course) ate really great food! My students sent more cards and a gift with Aaron so that I had something to open on my birthday. One of my students made wooden candlesticks! (BEST students ever!!)

It's quite chilly in the mornings on the mara!

It’s quite chilly in the mornings on the mara!

These two brothers hunt together.

These two brothers hunt together.

This male lion is a bit tired.

This male lion is a bit tired.

Saturday morning started with our last game drive of the vacation. All three of our drives focused on finding two things: a male lion and a leopard. We quickly found a young male lion, which was awesome! However, the elusive leopard could not be found. People found him the day before we arrived, and friends of ours saw him after we left. For whatever reason, the leopard eluded us the entire time. We did find this amazing pride of lions! This was perhaps the coolest thing we’ve seen on a game drive!

This pride of lions was amazing to watch.

This pride of lions was amazing to watch.

After the game drive, we were served a huge breakfast…and then, a personalized cake! A group of Masai men and women and the Ngerende staff sang to us, one of them gave a speech (a true Kenyan celebration), and we cut and ate the cake. What a way to be set home, huh?

The ceremonial cutting of the cake with the chef.

The ceremonial cutting of the cake with the chef.

On our drive home, I was wondering why God provided so many lions but not one leopard. (I realize that seeing a leopard isn’t a life changing event, but I really wanted – and even prayed – to see a leopard!) God spoke to me. He is so tender and so much in the details of our lives! He told me that He welcomes us to pray about everything, but He requires that we trust HIM with the answer. On some issues, He answers quickly and more abundantly than we expect. In this instance, I asked for only one male lion. Instead, He gave us two young but maturing male lions and an entire pride of female and young male lions. On other issues, however, He is silent or He says ‘no’ or He says ‘wait.’ I’m not sure what our answer was on the leopard issue. I’m guessing we’ll eventually see one here since we live two hours from the mara! But God used this opportunity to remind me to trust in His answer and timing in other, bigger issues. Aaron and I have been praying and trusting God for some pretty big things. Sometimes, as we wait, we get discouraged and/or question God’s promises. Did He really speak those things to us? Maybe we misinterpreted Him. 

Through it all, we trust. God is faithful to keep the promises He made. We, as humble and obedient children, must do our part while we wait for those promises to come true. Rest assured, if you have been praying for something for a long time, God is hearing you. Maybe you, or the other people involved, just aren’t quite ready for the answer. Maybe the timing isn’t right. God sees the BIG picture. Trust Him with everything.

2 Samuel 7:18-29 records Davids prayer to God. I find great wisdom, humility and courage is his words.

Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said:

“Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 19 And as if this were not enough in your sight, Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant—and this decree, SovereignLord, is for a mere human!

20 “What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, Sovereign Lord. 21 For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant.

22 “How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. 23 And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? 24 You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, Lord, have become their God.

25 “And now, Lord God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, 26 so that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The Lord Almighty is God over Israel!’ And the house of your servant David will be established in your sight.

27 “Lord Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you.’ So your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. 28 Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. 29 Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, Sovereign Lord, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.”

Praises and Prayer Requests:

1. Praise God for emotional healing and continual comfort.

2. Please pray with us as we attempt to discern God’s direction for our lives. There are so many decisions in front of us, and we are questioning some things. Pray that God will give us clear discernment in these matters and that we’ll rest in His perfect plan and timing…even the timing of telling us His plan!

3. Please pray for us as we anticipate March 14, surely the hardest 14th of the year. Since this post took a week to write due to internet issues, my emotions are different than during my birthday weekend. I’m already feeling the weight of grief descend as we get closer and closer to the one-year anniversary of Hannah’s death.

4. Please pray for the Tenwek community. It seems like God has some BIG plans for the hospital and the surrounding community. Pray for us, the Tenwek family, through all these decisions. May we have a unity that can only come from God. We are, indeed, all different parts of the body of Christ! (Romans 12:4-5)

Trying on a Skirt

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I learned something profound yesterday: the way we dress ourselves in culturally dependent.

When one is preparing to move to a foreign country, it is wise to undergo training about the culture where one will be living. We did that. We learned what to wear, and what not to wear. We learned about the local food, how to get American food, and all about the importance of hospitality. We learned differences in the perception of time, communication and daily life. The list goes on and on. Essentially, the things that are determined by culture is overwhelming. I’m not sure you can get a true appreciation for this truth unless you live in a foreign land.

I thought my realization of this important fact was coming along quite smoothly…until yesterday. I had gone up to Industrial to order firewood because it’s remarkably chilly in Kenya, especially from sunset to sunrise. On the way home, I noticed that one of the fruit stands had apples! How exciting! Apples must be imported and usually purchased in Nairobi, which  means we buy 30 apples at a time on the occasion we travel to the city. One Kenyan lady was wise enough to purchase the fruit she knew we Americans like and sell them at her duka. Genius!

We stopped by to purchase the apples, and I ended up buying a kanga as well. I didn’t have the correct amount of money, and she didn’t have any change, so I agreed to take the items and bring the woman the money later the same day. So, yesterday afternoon, Jacob and I walked back up to the dukas to pay for our apples and my beautiful new kanga. Another woman was watching the stand and took the owner’s absence as an opportunity to sell me more stuff as I waited for the owner to return. The owner is a seamstress and had several beautiful skirts displayed, so I held one up to my waist. This is where the teachable moment took place.

I was encouraged to try on the skirt, so I looked at the dirt on the ground and gave the sweet lady a confused look. In response, she laughed at me and say, “No, no! Let me show you how to put on a skirt.” Then, she proceeded to turn the skirt inside out, put it over my head, and straightened it out for me. Then, she said, “You put your skirt on like trousers. I have shown you the right way.” Indeed. The skirt fit very nicely, so I removed it over my head, of course. Then, she insisted that I try on one of the other skirts. Again, she turned it inside out and I acted like I was diving into it. I felt silly, but I guess it’s a good way to keep your skirt clean when the floors are dirt.

I ended up adding the one skirt to my order. Jacob liked them both, but I thought I should show a little constraint. Getting 6 apples, a kanga AND a skirt in one day is quite exciting here in rural Kenya. As soon as we got home, Jacob wanted me to change into my new skirt. I decided to wait until it was washed, dried and ironed. But rest assured, when it comes time to wear my new skirt for the first time, I will step into it like I’m “putting on trousers.” 🙂

My new skirt hanging on the line.

So, the moral of the story is this: When you go to order firewood, stay focused on the task. Otherwise, you might buy things you don’t need…and get laughed at in the process!

Now that I am adequately humbled for the week, I’m wondering what my next cultural lesson will be!

Praise and Prayer Requests

1.) Praise God for good friends. My boys ate dinner with another family Friday night so that Aaron and I could have a quiet, candlelight dinner for two to celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary.

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2.) Praise God for a relaxing Father’s day. The boys made cards for Aaron, and we took pictures.

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3.) Praise God that we survived the weekend! It was emotional but God was with us. Here’s a picture of all 10 bunches of flowers Aaron got me for our anniversary. I spent hours arranging them. Now my entire house is covered with containers of flowers!

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4.) Please pray for Aaron and I as parents. We are still trying to figure out the boundaries of life here at the compound. The boys have been more disrespectful than usual, not only to Aaron and me but also to other adults and their peers.

5.) Please continue to lift the Murphy family up in prayer. (They are the missionary family from Zambia I mentioned in an earlier post.)

6.) Praise God that Selah is continuing to improve!

7.) Please pray for the patients at Tenwek. Aaron had a particularly hard case this week. I’ll let him share whatever he feels is appropriate, but I’ll ask you to pray for this particular patient and for all the people who visit the hospital. So many are so sick. Pray for both physical and spiritual healing. Pray for protection over the hospital and all the people who work there. Pray that above all else, that Jehovah God would be glorified!

Thank you for praying so diligently for us! I will close with a passage of Scripture that the Holy Spirit is teaching me to apply to my daily life here in Kenya: 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

One Wild Weekend

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I’m happy to report that this week was less eventful than last week. Noah’s eye is healing nicely. Safari was amazing. Jacob and Levi are alive and well….I guess the only excitement we had was the safari, so I’ll share some pictures and some of the experiences we had last weekend.

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My prayer for the weekend was that God would show His glory through our safari. Of course, I wanted a fun, relaxing weekend away from the compound, but I needed God. He delivered. (I’ll try to share different pictures than Aaron. You should check out his blog too. www.aaroninkenya.com)

Saturday morning started with a long, dumpy ride to the Masai Mara with the Roberts family. Four adults and 6 boys (ages 10, 8, 7, 7, 4, and 2) anxiously awaited the wild life. God delivered! We saw giraffe, zebra, warthogs, and many other animals before we arrived at the safari club.

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Once we checked into the Fairmont Safari Club, we enjoyed some time in the pool, ate lunch, relaxed in the sun and gazed at some hippos. Yes, hippos swim in the river right next to the club! Then, at 3:30 Aaron and I joined 2 other people for our first game drive. It was amazing!

Hippo

Elephants, gazelle, lions, and so many other animals were added to our already long list of animals. It’s awesome to see these animals in the wild. You can’t really appreciate their size, camouflage or demeanor unless you see them in their natural habitat.

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Our last stop of the day delivered 2 lionesses and 4 lion cubs. I was silently praising God for such an amazing day, but He was not finished. As we drove back to the club, the biggest pink sunset appeared. The pictures Aaron took are beautiful, but they cannot give justice to the handiwork of God. Again, I praised God and thanked Him for this blessed assurance that He was with us, but He was not finished with the outpouring of blessings.

Pink Skies at the Mara

After changing for a quick evening game drive followed by dinner in the lodge (at least that’s what we thought was going to happen), God surprised us again. We saw hippos grazing and then were treated to a bush dinner. Masai came to perform for us. We were served a huge outdoor buffet of gourmet food. And we were protected by a man carrying a very large gun. Then, we got to retreat to our beautiful tent for a restful sleep. A perfect ending to a perfect day.

Bush DinnerFairmont Safari Club Tent

Sunday involved 2 more game drives. This time, we saw many of the same animals, but we visited the rhinos who are protected by Masai guards. Despite our guide’s best efforts, we never spotted a leopard or cheetah. I guess we’ll have to go on another safari!

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Since Sunday’s drives were a little less eventful, I had time to reflect on the weekend. Thinking over all the blessings we’ve received through our 2 1/2 months of mourning, I began to miss Hannah all over again, like it was fresh and new. The realization that the entire weekend would not have been possible if she was perfectly healthy and here with us hit me. I’ve been missing Hannah terribly ever since. I’m so thankful for friends and family here and all over the world that are willing and eager to listen to me, cry with me and pray for me. Please continue. Each day brings its own set of mixed up emotions. Fortunately, each day also brings God’s new mercies! Praise Him, for He is worthy!

Praise and Prayer Requests:

1.) Praise God for being Elohim, Creator God! What an amazing God we serve. He is holy, just and big!!

2.) Praise God that Aaron and I had a fun weekend away.

3.) Praise God for the community at Tenwek. They are so wonderful and accommodating.

4.) Pray for wisdom while Aaron and I make decisions about how to fit into our Tenwek community. Parts of us want to jump back into life with full force. However, that doesn’t seem to be working. (Aaron’s headaches are most likely stress related.) Pray that we will move at an appropriate pace even if it’s slower than we’d like.

5.) Pray for us as we near the 3-month mark of Hannah’s passing. June 14 is also our 10 year anniversary. What a bittersweet day that will be. Pray that we know how to plan for that weekend.

Psalm 119: 89-94

Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.

Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures.

Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you.

If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.

I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life.

Save me, for I am yours; I have sought out your precepts.

Bucket List: Visit WV

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One more thing checked off our bucket list! We visited Lewisburg, WV. If you haven’t heard of this small town, let me explain why it was so important to us…
As many of you know, Aaron and I are high school sweethearts. We’ve been a couple since I was 15. He’s two years older than me, so we spent some time apart throughout those dating years. We was in college two years before I followed him to Mansfield University. And then, the hardest part was that I was student teaching in northern PA while Aaron attended West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) in Lewisburg, WV, which is in southern WV. We were an 8-hour drive apart for about 10 months. All the while, we were engaged, and I was planning our wedding!
Needless to say, we got married and I moved to Lewisburg with him. Lewisburg is where we first lived as a married couple, where I got my first real (teaching) job, where we eventually had our first child. Not to mention, it’s one of the cutest little towns in the States!
During our short time there, we met so many wonderful people who greatly impacted our lives. Ever since we moved away, we’ve been longing to go back. Last week we finally had our chance. WVSOM celebrated their 40th anniversary with a long weekend of activities. We not long enjoyed our time at Aaron’s ‘preschool,’ as Jacob calls it, but we also visited our church and one of my work friends.

Here is a picture of the boys at a playground:

They loved meeting our friends and exploring the town. Noah was quite proud that he had been to many of these places and had met many of the people before, “when he was a baby.” Aaron and I were proud to show off our beautiful family and share what God has in store for us.

Prayer Requests:

1.) I’m scheduled to start homeschooling on Thursday, Sept 6. Noah will be in 1st grade; Jacob will begin a kindergarten curriculum. Please pray for us as we begin a new routine.

2.) Pray for wisdom and strength as we prepare for our last purge of the summer. It’s getting increasingly difficult to decide what to keep, what to sell, and when to do what. (We’ll be setting up shop at the Macungie Memorial Park on Saturday, Sept 8 if you’re interested in buying our ‘good’ stuff.)

3.) Pray that our prayer and financial support will increase as we begin to visit churches and send out prayer letters.

4.) Pray for God’s timing in the selling of our big items: the house, the van and the car.

Thanks!

 

Bucket List: Philadelphia Zoo

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Yet another item checked off the bucket list!

We have lived in the Lehigh Valley for 6 years, and we finally took the kids to the Philadelphia Zoo yesterday. My mom came along to keep our monkeys at a safe distance from the monkeys living at the zoo. 🙂

One of the boys’ favorite things was the merry-go-round. Jacob was so excited that he got to ride in a turtle’s shell. (In case you aren’t familiar with Jacob, his favorite animal is a turtle.) Levi was  a little freaked out my the monkey, but he liked the butterfly with a handle.

Noah had his face painted like a snake right before the ride, so he thought it was only appropriate that he ride in the basket with his friend snake. (He’s so cute.)

All four kids were so good the entire day, and they had so much fun. Here is a picture of Miss Hannah. She spent most of the day being cute in the stroller…and blowing razzberries, her new favorite activity.

On a side note, I have a Noah story. We were talking about moving to Africa, and he asked, “Mom, so where are we moving: Kenya or Africa?” I tried to explain that both were correct because Kenya was in Africa. I think he gets it now, but it took some analogies. This is a cool picture of the animals we saw at the zoo and might see when we move.

My favorite animals were the giraffes. Quite an amazing animal that gives testimony to the awesome workmanship of Creator God.

Oh, wait. That’s Hannah dressed as a giraffe. Here is the real giraffe.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”